ACX Audiobooks – A “New” Frontier – Part 2

ACX Audiobooks

Payment methods, distribution rights, the bounty program  and narrator auditions were discussed in my first blog post about converting After “I Do!” A Marriage Map to an audio book. This post explains the marketing decisions, cover art, the final editing process and the finished product.

Decisions, Decisions

I initially listed The Mystic Princesses and the Whirlpool on ACX, as well. After receiving a few inquiries about the pricing structure, I realized that a producer with the enough experience and talent to handle all of the voices in The Mystic Princesses would cost more than I wanted to pay.  And, one producer asked a thought provoking question about my marketing strategy, which made sense to me. If she agreed to royalty sharing, she wanted to ensure that I’d sell enough books to make up the fee she would have received by direct payment.

Marketing Strategy

While discussing strategies with my husband, who has a marketing degree, he suggested that I hold off with recording The Mystic Princesses. He liked my ideas but thought I should wait until books 2 and 3 are ready so that I could negotiate with the same narrator and have continuity in the “voice.”  I ended up contacting all of the narrators who’d reached out to me to tell them I was withdrawing The Mystic Princesses project. Fortunately, that decision will allow me to evaluate whether to use the 25% royalty option with ACX and then upload the audiobooks to Smashwords when I am ready to move forward with their conversion later, and may be in a better position to pay a producer directly. That will provide an option for The Mystic Princesses being added to libraries.

 The Cover Art

While I was waiting for After “I Do!” I started to work on my cover art as the size requirements are different for ACX. The covers are square rather than the portrait style. According to ACX’s website, some of the cover art requirements are as follows:

  • Must contain the author’s name and the title of the book
  • Square 2400 x 2400 pixels
  • Minimum 72 dpi
  • File format must be .jpg in RGB colors only

 Fortunately, I own the copyrights to my artwork and I am an adequate user of Photoshop allowing me to convert my covers without having to pay additional artwork.

ACX Audiobooks - A "New" Frontier - Part 2

 

The Final Editing Process

When I heard the final transcript of After “I Do!” I couldn’t have been happier. There was one mispronounced word, so I sent a message to the producer about it.

Using the Audio File to Market Your Book

While waiting for the finished file, I started to research whether I could place the preview of the book on my blog as an audio file to help market After “I Do!” The answer is yes. But while researching, I also ran across the Whispersync requirements outlined below. 

The Finished Product and Whispersync

Audible has a function called Whispersync that allows buyers to purchase both the audio file and the Kindle file together. For Whispersync to work, both files need to read the same, word-for-word. At this point, I was not a happy camper anymore. I was using an older version of After “I Do!” as I listened to my narrator and didn’t think minor word differences were a problem because I didn’t know about Whispersync. I’d recommend that you print the most current version of your book and have it handy for the editing process. It’s much easier to note the change and the time stamp while listening to the audio file if you have the correct version.

ACX Audiobooks - A "New" Frontier - Part 2

After learning about Whispersync, I sent a quick note to my producer that we might not be finished yet and then grabbed the current print version of my book. Luckily, I had some on hand.  As I started listening to the file all over again. I hoped that the print version and the ebook version were also in sync.

After listening to the entire book a second time and painstakingly noting where there were differences I decided I liked the producer’s version better and noted that these differences were almost always contractions. My producer spoke using the contractions where I’d formally written out the two words. But with the conversational tone of the book in mind, I made the vast majority of the changes in my ebook file and print book file and only had one more edit for the producer to make.

ACX Audiobooks - A "New" Frontier - Part 2

The changes have all been made and the files have all been submitted to CreateSpace, Amazon and ACX. I’m still waiting to learn whether Whispersync will work with After “I Do!” A Marriage Map. But, I’d like to say that with the right producer, this process is very straightforward. The hardest part is right now. I want it live so I can show it off. I never have been good at waiting.

Oh No! I Spoke too Soon

I was nearing the end of the ACX review period when both my producer and I received a message from ACX. During the review, ACX detected a “clipping” noise at certain points of the audio files. ACX has sound quality requirements that each file must meet. Neither my producer nor I could hear the clipping sounds, but performance quality requirements are essential, so she made the suggested corrections and sent the files back to me. Now, remember, I’m not as patient as I should be. I’m back to the 10 to 14 business days for ACX to approve my files on their end.

ACX Audiobooks - A "New" Frontier - Part 2

A Last Minute Touch-Up

To wrap this up, I started the audiobook process on September 22nd and was finally approved by ACX December 1st. By December 6th it was live on Audible.com, Amazon.com and iTunes.  When I searched my title on Amazon.com, it came up twice. The square cover required for Audible.com was quite eye catching. However, my reviews weren’t reflected on the audiobook. I contacted Amazon Author Central and requested that the audiobook be merged with the ebook and the print book. Within a few hours, Amazon replied that it would take 1 to 3 days to accomplish the request. The downside is that as soon as Amazon.com began this process the audiobook disappeared from the search results.  It only took one day for Amazon to combine all of the editions. So, by December 7th, the audiobook version was live again.  And when Amazon finished merging the editions, all of my existing reviews were reflected on Audible.com. However, they were not reflected on iTunes.

 After “I Do!” is just under an hour long, so don’t expect a completed project that is ready for sale overnight, especially if you’ve written a novel. Like the rest of your books, the recording needs to be correct, and that takes time.

Clip art courtesy of Microsoft Word.

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