Audio Book Angst

For the last few years, all I’ve been hearing all around the indie-publishing work is how important it is to get my books into audio. Audio is IT. It is the fastest-growing sector in publishing. More and more people are listening to audiobooks rather than sitting down with either a physical book or an ebook.

I have to say, in this new Pandemic World, I question whether that is still true. Most people no longer have the commutes they did. They can no longer go to the gym. When are they listening to audiobooks? Perhaps while walking or jogging around their neighborhood? While cleaning their house?

I honestly don’t know, but with the end of the year, I had a bit of profit to spend so I decided to drop it into producing an audiobook.

To begin with, I started with Findaway Voices.

I tried them first because of the problems I keep hearing about with ACX (the Amazon-owned audiobook company), most notably what has been audible-gate where their practice of accepting returns (which are deducted from the author’s royalties) has made it so that many customers are using Audible as an audiobook rental service and not paying for any of the books they’re listening to. This means that authors aren’t getting paid for their work.

I thought that the best way to interest narrators on Findaway would be to offer to pay the entire cost upfront. The website told me that it would cost between $100-$200 per finished hour to make my book. My book, according to their calculator will be 9 hours long (it’s 75,000 words). I figured that was a good price, so I put my book up.

One week later I got a number of narrators suggested to me. None of them sounded just right and all of them charged $250-400 per finished hour – a lot more than what I had been quoted! (I polled some author friends and learned that that’s a typical, even a low price. Some said they paid as much as $550 per finished hour.)

At the same time, I saw a post by someone on Facebook saying that their book had been in process of being published to Amazon for the past year. Wait, what? One Year? Yes, that’s right. It has been a Year since they’ve had their book made into an audiobook and it’s still not for sale on Amazon. There is no one who will respond to their frantic emails or to tell them when they can possibly expect it to be published.

That’s flat-out unacceptable.

Others who responded to this person said that their books, while not taking a full year, did take many months to be published to Amazon. Considering that Amazon is the biggest retailer for books, I can’t imagine investing $3000+ and having that investment just sit for so long.

I went to ACX.

There, I put my book up for an audition, this time choosing the royalty share option. This is where the narrator makes the book either for free or for a small-ish down payment and you split the royalties with them (20% going to both of you for every sale with the book being sold exclusively on Amazon, through Audible, and iTunes). I got a lot of auditions! I was surprised. A number of them said that they’d recently watched and loved Bridgerton and so were thrilled to narrate a Regency romance. (Thank you, Julia Quinn and Shonda Rhimes!!!!)

I found a narrator who I love. Her voice is perfect and she does all the accents exactly right. I am thrilled! That’s the good part.

Here’s where I’m stuck in the process right now: the ACX website is horrible!

I was told to upload my manuscript. I get a “Browse” button, choose my file, and then… nothing. There’s no upload button. There’s no save button. Nothing!

I tried to upload the cover I just have my cover designer create for my audiobook. I get the same “Browse” button and then a tiny bit of orange appears beneath it. It’s not a real button. I can’t press it to upload or save my cover. Nothing. How are they going to distribute my book if I can’t upload a cover?

I went to the help page.

It’s very helpful.

It says to upload your cover.

That’s it.

I pressed “Contact Us” and it takes me to the Audible website. I managed to chat with someone who told me to go to Amazon Author Central and get help there. There is no option on their help pages for ACX help there, so I clicked whatever I could to get the box to send them an email. I told them my problem. We’ll see what they say! Can’t wait.

Have you published an audiobook? Have you managed to get the ACX website to work? I’d love to hear about it!

Merry
 

Meredith Bond is an award-winning author of a series of traditionally published Regency romances and indie-published paranormal romances. Known for her characters “who slip readily into one’s heart,” Meredith’s heart belongs to her husband and two children. Meredith’s second favorite pastime is teaching others to write.

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