Have you ever wanted to take your eBook or paperback (fiction or nonfiction), then turn it into a Audiobook?
Of course, you have. You can hear Reese Witherspoon or Hugh Grant in your head, narrating your story as you write it.
ACX.com (owned by Amazon) has made it easy for authors to create Audiobooks. It’s another way to monetize your product; plus, the Audiobook industry is a huge, growing market.
The good news is the process is pretty much free for the author (I didn’t spend a dime). The bad new is ACX (Amazon) sets the Audiobook price, but then the author and narrator split the profits 50/50.
I interviewed my talented narrator, Kerri Owens, to give you an insider’s guide to the Audiobook process. Here’s our quick Q&A:
1. What are your top 3 author tips in selecting the right narrator?
Tip #1: Know what you want in a narrator before you begin listening to auditions. You want someone who has the tone, pitch, and rhythm you had in your head when you were writing the story.
Tip #2: You may not find a narrator who matches your expectations perfectly, but if you find someone you like and with whom you can work well, then go for it. Don’t be afraid to let the narrator know when something is not quite right. Speaking as a narrator, I would MUCH rather know upfront if something is not to the author’s expectations, than to find out after much of the book has already been recorded, or even worse, not finding out at all.
With that said, know that on ACX, once the audition and first 15 minutes have been approved, the narrator is not required to send you any audio until the project is complete. At that time, you will listen to the project and request changes. That can be daunting for you, as well as the narrator.
A much more efficient process is to request the narrator to send you smaller sections along the way. That way you can catch anything that is not to your expectations or vision for your characters in real time. That system will require a longer time frame for completing the initial product, but you will get that back and more in the late stages of production. If you have been listening along the way, you will have already caught mistakes, misinterpretations, and creative differences. Your final listen will be a quality control check and require little if any correction. The narrator really does want to give you a product that makes you proud!
Tip #3: Be flexible. Have a time frame for project completion in mind, but also know that life come up and the narrator may not be able to complete the work in the original time frame. This is especially true if you implement tip #2, and the narrator sends you chapters along the way.
2. What advice would you give if the narrator isn’t getting the book’s ‘voice’ quite right?
Kerri Owens: As I mentioned before, never hesitate to request changes. Give the narrator a chance to ‘get it right.’ It may take a couple of tries, but a professional narrator will welcome the chance to try again. One thing Marcy did for me that was especially helpful in recording Pennies from Burger Heaven was to send me a clip from another movie. (Paper Moon with Ryan and Tatum O’Neal). I was imagining the character one way, but Marcy wanted harder and more edge. The movie clip gave me an AHA! moment that allowed me to get inside the character’s head and bring her to life. You may not have a movie clip to send your narrator, but be specific in what you want. This is your creative baby. Don’t settle!
3. How long should an author expect the narrator to take to complete their book?
Kerri Owens: That is difficult to say. Most narrators have “day jobs.” Audiobook work is not that lucrative, unless you are among the elite few. Between jobs, family commitments, community work, and life in general, the narrator may not be able to turn out a book quickly.
On the other hand, if you hire a narrator who records full time, he or she will be able to give a much quicker turn-around. The “send chapters as you go” strategy takes much longer on the front end, but pays off exponentially in the end. Audio engineering takes time. It takes me about four hours to turn out one finished hour of narration. People who have worked in the audio industry professionally prior to becoming a narrator (like my brother), can edit faster.
4. What do you like most about narrating books?
Kerri Owens: I love, love, love bringing characters to life. I try not to just ‘do’ voices. I try to ‘feel’ them. I want to use my voice to bring the characters to life. I try to get inside their heads, and when I do that, my tone, inflection, and rhythm naturally change with the each character. The process is really more in the brain than in the vocal chords. It’s not always easy, especially when many characters are involved, but it’s a challenge I embrace and truly enjoy.
5. What do you like least about narrating books?
Kerri Owens: Audio editing at the end! As I get better at it, I enjoy it more, but it’s not my favorite part of the process.
6. What interested you in narrating Pennies from Burger Heaven?
Kerri Owens: When I took on the Pennies from Burger Heaven project, I was not looking for audio work. My life was crazy busy, and I promised myself a much needed break. Although I love narrating, there were other things in life that were requiring my immediate attention.
Then, along came Pennies. I didn’t go looking for Copper…she came looking for me! By the time I read the audition script, Copper had my heart. I knew that I had to bring her to life. The story was captivating, and the characters were well developed and engaging. Marcy McKay’s writing style is fluent and beautiful which carries the story effortlessly along. I was honored to be a part of this project!
In Summary, Kerri Owens says, “The simple answer is to maintain open dialogue with your narrator. Know from the start what his or her arrangement is and how much time he or she can devote on a given week. Then, be flexible. Remember that a quality product is more important than a fast one.”
Here’s a post by SkipJack Publishing (my publisher) on Audiobooks to give you another perspective.
Congratulations to the winners of my Audiobook of Pennies from Burger Heaven: Tonya Lucas, Barbra Jackson & Stephen Kotowych!
What do you think of Audiobooks – love or hate them?
Please leave comment. Let’s talk.