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tristan hunt

Audiobook Production Audiobooks Narrator Interview

How to Get Talented Voice Actors to Audition for your Audiobook.

I recently taught at Storymakers Writer’s Conference about audiobook production via ACX. And one question I was asked was how to get narrators to even audition. I guess many of them are listing their books and no one is showing any interest in auditioning even if they send a message to the producer.

Top 3 reasons why you’re not getting auditions:

#1 You don’t understand the producer’s perspective in this, and when they understand stand that, they will likely have more auditions than they know what to do with. Watch this video to get the producer’s perspective from an actual producer:

#2 You don’t understand that on ACX, you basically have two industries coming together, which is seriously awesome if you ask me. ACX is giving actors the opportunity to earn royalties on books when they were almost always only paid for their time in the past. (Not even Jim Dale got royalties for Harry Potter!) This article in The New York Times explains this rather well: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/31/books/making-books-when-acting-speaks-volumes.html And independent authors rarely had the chance to ever see their books produced into audiobooks due to productions costs. ACX has opened those things up to actors and authors. And what a great opportunity it is!

#3 You’re not showing that you value the actor’s time, talents, and skill like you should. Getting continued payments on work already done is a wonderful thing and it’s why so many people want to be published authors. However, you’re basically asking an actor to believe in your book as much as you do when they didn’t even write it. You’re also asking them to do hours and hours worth of hard work that takes specific time, talent, and technical knowledge for free—risking not getting paid at all if the royalties don’t cover the production costs. You might try to argue that you wrote the book for free. But how much did it cost you to write the book? As far as I know, there is little if any cost to writing a novel, but there is cost in producing an audiobook. And would you expect a professional artist to produce an amazing cover for you without paying them? You know what your sales are like. Would a portion of the royalty be enough to make it worth the artist’s time? In most cases, probably not… But acting is an art and unfortunately many narrators have been burned on royalty share deals. So many of them will not do royalty share deals without some sort of compensation for their time. I mean how do you honestly expect them to even feed their families? If you just have your book listed as a royalty share deal, this is one reason why you are not getting auditions.

To finally get auditions, follow these simple steps:

#1 Don’t consider audiobook production until you have at least three books published and are making enough from royalties to fund all or most of the production cost. And yes, even if you traditionally published the book, you could have or might be able to get audiobook rights for your book. Being able to choose your own narrator is huge for success in this growing market, and the payout can be awesome. To be honestly, most publishers don’t care about the narrator chosen for your books, they just hire someone, and that someone might not suit your story. I’ve listened to several traditionally published audiobooks where the wrong narrator was chosen for the story, and I find it difficult to even finish listening.

#2 As you list your book, show producers that you value their time and talent by offering to either pay a decent rate for each finished hour, or offer a royalty share along with a slightly reduced rate for each finished hour. The budget for the project is what they look at first before they even consider auditioning. To do this, check both “Royalty Share” AND “Negotiated Hourly Rate” for the project’s budget. That way it will say “Royalty Share or Negotiated Hourly Rate” on the listing of your book.

#3 Don’t neglect the comments section. I see so many authors who leave this blank, but this is your chance to sell your story to the producer so they actually want to work on your book. Also make it clear that you have an open mind, that you consider them the expert, and that you want them to have some creative freedom as they perform.

#4 Have a marketing plan listed in the comments section too. If producers see that you’re willing to market this book, they’re more willing to work with you and even help you market the book.

#5 Find a great scene that shows tension and quality writing. Also make sure you have a male and female voice in the sample.

#6 Also remember that the most talented producers are actually in high demand and because of that, they don’t even have to audition if they don’t want to. However, many of them will take the time to audition if you’re offering to pay them, you display good writing in the audition sample, your Amazon rank and reviews look good, and you ask them to consider auditioning if they like what they see. So if you find one you really like, and you’ve heard their work before, then just message them about wanting to make an offer.

Note: ACX allows you to just make offers, but I think it’s best to message the producer first to see where your book would fit into their schedule. If you don’t do that, you will probably have to redo the offer.

Audiobook Production

HOW TO choose the BEST ACX Narrator for your Audiobook ~ Part 2

Voice-Over Artist, Tristan Hunt, and I have started a YouTube series of How-To’s to help authors with the audiobook production process of their books.

The number one question I am asked about audiobook publishing at writer’s conferences is, “How do I choose a good producer/narrator for my book?” THIS IS PART 2

Please comment and let us know if this is helpful to you, or if you have any other questions for us. Thanks for visiting!

The next thing to ask yourself as you begin to look for a producer/narrator is:
If it’s written in third person, how many male and female characters are in the story?

If there are a majority of male characters in your story, then you should probably choose a male narrator. If there are a majority of female characters in your story, then you should probably choose a female narrator. But be sure to listen to the samples from the narrators you’re considering to see if you like how they do voices for the opposite sex. You want your listener to be drawn into the story and held there by the voice of the reader, if a strange sounding voice is too jarring or distracting, it will yank the reader out of the story and they won’t enjoy the experience as much as they could have.

Note: ACX is probably the best place to find the right narrator for you story and get production going.

Audiobook Production

How To Choose the Best Narrator for Your Audiobook Part 1 ~Audiobook Production via ACX

Tristan Hunt (aka Jason Downs) and I have started a YouTube series of How-To’s to help authors with the audiobook production process of their books.

The number one question I am asked when I teach about audiobook publishing at writer’s conferences is, “How do I choose a good producer/narrator for my book?” Please comment and let us know if this is helpful to you, or if you have any other questions for us. Thanks for visiting!

I think it’s important to listen to what Tristan is trying to say about this endeavor being a creative “production.” This is a collaboration to create a new product and a new way to experience your story. One reader told me she gets something different out of each format, which I found intriguing. But even reading an eBook is a different experience from reading the same story in print. So it’s important to make sure the audiobook experience is just as enjoyable and unique to that format. And if you don’t take care in your narrator choice, you will hurt sales because that experience won’t be as great as it could have been for your audience.

The first thing to ask yourself as you begin to look for a producer/narrator is:

Did you write the book in first person or third?

If you wrote in first person then you must match the gender of the reader to the gender of the main character. If you wrote first person from more than one character’s point of view, then you need a reader to match the gender of each.

Note: ACX is, in my opinion, the best place to find the right narrator for you story and get production going.

Narrator Interview

Exclusive Q & A with Storytellers Tristan Hunt and Cheri Schmidt

Join us on BookTube!
Starting now, I’ll be posting to YouTube twice a week. Join me and Tristan Hunt (aka Jason Downs) for exclusive interviews, publishing Q & A, audiobook recommendations, how-to advice on audiobook production, book trailers, behind the scenes of production, and Sophia’s Messy Kitchen Cooking channel. Check back every Tuesday, and Saturday for something new.
Audiobook Production

Audiobook Production Via ACX Q&A ~Part 3

Audiobook Production and Marketing by Cheri Schmidt –royalty shares

Note: I hope you don’t mind me joking about the fact that I look like a vampire. It’s actually something I hear ALL OF THE TIME. I take it as a compliment, because vamps are considered good-looking, right? The other reason people might say this is because I do look quite a bit younger than I actually am…um, did you think I was going to tell you my age? Nope, you’ll just have to guess. And actresses like Nicole Kidman made pasty white acceptable in Moulin Rouge. At least I thought so…or maybe I just hoped so. And, okay, I guess Nicole does look like a vampire in this picture. What can I expect really, when I have such fair skin I only freckle or burn in the sun and brown hair so dark it’s almost black? And my guess is that people usually say vampire instead of Snow White because of the widow’s peak I have? It’s all right, I give you permission to laugh at me and my paleness… (This picture was found on Pinterest. I’m not sure where it’s from, but I think it was promo for the movie. Although this pic of Nicole does inspire me to wear red in the next author portraits I plan to have taken…)

(Note: We’re in the process of re-recording these interviews for the next writer’s conference…so please stay tuned!!)

Anyway, on to the questions! Two of them this time…

Question: Do you prefer to be paid an hourly rate or in royalties or in both?

Answer: (There was a lot to talk about with this one. I cut it down so this clip wasn’t too long which is why it starts partway through.)

Basically, Jason said of course he’d prefer both, but it isn’t always easy to work it out that way with ACX’s business model. Which is fine. I do not regret going through ACX for audiobook production. I’d actually recommend it to any author wanting to reach a new market with their stories. Which is why I’m doing this blog series on audiobook production via ACX.

Also, as I recommended in my post about choosing a narrator, it might be best to select both Royalty Share & An Unspecified Hourly Rate when listing your book so that you can attract quality producers. Don’t go into this expecting to get a well-produced audiobook without spending some money to compensate the artist for their time. Because this is a new market, we don’t know enough about selling this product to guarantee royalties will be enough to cover the time and cost of production.

I can personally attest to the fact that Jason does care about quality a great deal. It’s obvious to me that he puts a lot of hard work into what he does. And I love how he acts out each character. As he said, it is why I chose him out of the auditions I got. I will also say that Jim Dale sort of ruined me in terms of listening to audiobooks. Because of how he performed the Harry Potter series, I don’t enjoy audiobooks unless they are done that way. Being able to distinguish between the different characters really pulls me into the story. My stories have been compared to Harry Potter because of the magic and wonder in them, but there is also a great deal of romance that the Harry Potter books didn’t have. Because of that, I wanted someone who wouldn’t baulk at the high level of romance in my stories, so for me, Jason fit the bill for both. Anyway, I hope everyone else gets as lucky as I did with Jason.

Question: Is doing a royalty share for a book ever worth it?

Answer: I like that we get the producer’s perspective on this from Jason. For me as an author, I’m willing to take the risk of doing the work and waiting for the royalties. I foot the cost of editing and cover art, and the time to write, etc., expecting to make it back with royalties.  Of course it will take a while, but not too long. I guess I was sort of torn, I didn’t feel it was fair to expect the producer to take that same risk on my book, but I also wanted them to have the benefit of making money on work already done. Maybe this is because I’ve done commissioned, work for hire before, and sometimes that feels like you’re doing a lot of work that you’re paid for, but then to make more money, you have to do that work all over again. With a book I can do the work once and then sit back and collect royalties. And I can see that the work a producer does is creating a new product, just like I did when I wrote the book, so I want the producer to be able to enjoy that same benefit if they want to. The eBook of Fateful has been really good to me since I first published back in 2011. That one story has made me quite a bit of money. I’ll even tell my girls to say, “Thank you, Fateful,” when I buy them something special using my royalties. I know it’s probably silly of me to think this way. Many would say, it’s my book, so why don’t I want all of the royalties? I guess I also know that I would not have the enjoyable audiobooks that I do if not for Jason’s talent and hard work. Does that make sense? Please tell me what you think in the comments. I’m curious to know.

Ironically, however, right after we did this interview and Jason said that royalty shares had not paid off for him financially yet, we did experience an unexplained pop in sales. Like a huge pop in sales. Like from one month to the next, it was an 8000% increase… of course I don’t expect royalties to always be that high. In my experience, it just doesn’t work like that. It’s really just a rollercoaster of royalties for eBooks or audiobooks, which is better than a flat line in sales. So while Fateful was a royalty share with a stipend paid by Audible, it’s one royalty share that has started to pay off in royalties too. I hope it continues to do so. I’m doing everything I can think of to help it along. Note: If your sales have flat lined, then check back for when I get into marketing strategies…

Sorry about the delay in this post. Some family stuff came up.

In my next post, I’ll cover how to list your book so you’re more likely to get a stipend from Audible.

Audiobooks

Cheri’s 6 Reasons to Try Audiobooks for the First Time.

audiobooks-stagger - CopyOn my other blog I asked readers to tell me what they thought of the samples for the audiobooks I have published. I’ve been surprised by many of the rather unenthusiastic comments. Some have even said they don’t listen to audiobooks, so they can’t comment on the samples. Really? They won’t even take two minutes to even listen to the sample? I’m having a hard time understanding this. Honestly, to me this is similar to people who won’t read, just in reverse. And it reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Mark Twain.

“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” ~Mark Twain

It’s true that it’s hard to find time to read, especially when you have children to care for, a fulltime job to do, and laundry to sort. This leads me to my first reason to try audiobooks.

1 Listening to an audiobook is far more convenient than sitting down to read.

You can multitask with an audiobook in ways you can’t with a printed book or an ebook. You can enjoy a story or learn to speak French while doing laundry, preparing dinner, or driving to work. Basically, you can listen to a story being read to you at times when you cannot read at all. So let me put it this way, “The man who does not listen to audiobooks has no advantage over the man who cannot hear.”

And with Whispersync via Amazon, you can keep the story going from your Kindle to your car without interruptions, making audiobooks even more convenient. Keep listening while you drive the children to soccer… Life doesn’t have to interrupt your enjoyment of a good book.

2 Listening to a book rather than reading it IS NOT cheating like watching a movie is.

Movies have been changed from the original book because much of what is in a book can’t be translated into film. The internal monologue, the descriptions of feelings, taste, and smell are not things that can be shown on the big screen. Sure an actor can show emotion on their face, but it’s still just not the same. Books that are made into movies need to be stripped down to dialogue, scenery, sounds, and action. Movies just can’t be as rich and allow you to use your imagination like a book does.

But most audiobooks are unabridged, which means it’s exactly the same as the physical book, just more entertaining and more convenient. And listening still allows you to imagine every nuance written upon the page. The story is not imagined for you, it’s simply lifted from the page.

3 Listening to an audiobook can help you momentarily escape reality when life sucks.

When a book is acted out by a professional reader, the little inflexions in the voice, the laughter, and the tension all make the story fill your senses and bring it to life in a way that the story surrounds you. Maybe you need to run as you try to escape the demons in your life. Maybe you’ve been crying and you wouldn’t be able to focus on the words to read them. Maybe your vision is failing you because of an illness. Maybe you’re in so much physical pain you can’t even lift a book to read it. Maybe you’re blind but you love to enjoy a good story. Listening to someone read to you is actually easier than reading Braille. When you can EASILY sink into another world, time, or place, you can take a momentary break from reality so that when you do return to facing your demons, you’re refreshed and ready to battle again.

4 Audiobooks can make you smile when you realize you’re caught in a traffic jam.

Nowadays, most audiobooks are digital, meaning you can have several with you at all times on your smartphone. Stuck in traffic or driving a long distance? Escape the monotony with a great story.

5 There’s nothing quite so delicious as having a romance whispered into your ear.

Need I say more?

6 Have you listened to Harry Potter as read by Jim Dale?

Um, you’re totally missing out if you haven’t. Your children are missing out too. And if none of the above reasons are enough to get you to try an audiobook, then start with Harry Potter and you’ll be hooked.

Of course, you’re welcome to try one of my audiobooks as well…

Not sold yet? Listen to chapter one of Fateful right now.

Tristan Hunt is like listening to Jim Dale, just sexier… 😉

And if you’re smart, which I’m sure you are, go download the Kindle copy of Fateful for FREE,

and then snatch up the 10 hour long audiobook for $1.99!

(Just click on the image below.)

Thanks for visiting my website!

Why do you love listening to audiobooks? Let me know in the comments.

Audio of Cheri’s books are available  in the USA from Amazon, Audible, or iTunes.

Also from AU Audible.

And from UK Audible.

Audiobook Production

Audiobook Production Via ACX Q&A ~Part 2

A series on audiobook production via ACX by Cheri Schmidt.

Here is Jason Downs (aka Tristan Hunt) and Cheri Schmidt (aka that pale vampire) doing a Q & A for a writer’s conference. Second question: Can the author approve the voice of each character?

(Note: We’re in the process of re-recording these interviews for the next writer’s conference…so please stay tuned!!)

Jason brings up a good point. You’ve already been through the audition process, so there shouldn’t be too many surprises. And you really should trust this person that you’ve hired to know what they’re doing and allow them to do their job without you nitpicking over details that just don’t matter. Let them have creative license with the story. This is a collaboration…

However, I feel it’s important to note that you should take care in the audition sample you choose to post for the book. Make sure you have voices of the two main characters in there, along with some accents that might be necessary. I would also suggest choosing a scene with some tension and dialogue for both a male and female character.

Oh, and there’s one more thing I forgot to mention. If you’ve described your characters well enough, the right voice for each one will be, or should be, pretty obvious to the professional you’ve hired. That’s one thing that changed for me after I first heard my stories “performed.” As I wrote, I could hear how it would sound as an audiobook. I couldn’t do that before. I think it also improves your writing, because you know what will and won’t work better than you did before.

Thanks again for visiting my blog. Check back later for more… And please comment and share. 😉

Audiobook Production

Audiobook Production & Marketing Via ACX

Converting readers to audiobook listeners one bookworm at a time…

“Yes, it’s still reading, just more convenient.” -Cheri Schmidt

Many readers think listening to an audiobook is cheating, that it’s like watching the movie. But if the audiobook is unabridged, then it’s exactly like the original book. The only difference is that the story has been lifted from the page and brought to life for you.

In this new market of audiobooks, we as authors need to connect with our readers and use those free codes that we get from ACX to introduce them to this new format.

Erin from WrathsQueensBooks is one of those readers for me. In this video, she is holding the original copy of Fateful that I sent to her a very long time ago, and she has now just enjoyed it on audio. Her very first audiobook. (I’m grateful to her for taking the time to listen to my story once again after having already read it.)

Audiobook Production

Audiobook Production Via ACX Q&A ~Part 1

A series on audiobook production via ACX by Cheri Schmidt.

Here is Jason Downs and an extremely pale vampire—I mean me doing a Q & A for a writer’s conference. First question: How closely do you work together?

(Note: We’re in the process of re-recording these interviews for the next writer’s conference…so please stay tuned!!)

(Good grief! It was really hard for me to post that to YouTube…)

Cheri’s additional thoughts on this question…

I think how closely you work together largely depends on the author and how involved you want to be. But it is a creative collaboration, so perhaps more authors should be more involved. That doesn’t mean that you need to be nitpicky or annoying, though. That just means get to know each other a little so you can make the best decisions for the story, and better market the book after production is finished.

My guess is that producers and authors that have done a royalty share deal are more likely to work together closely during and after production, because they both benefit financially if sales are good.

Jason mentioned that he’s had some authors who just approve the audio without making any changes, and I wanted to comment on that. I don’t know if all producers do it this way or not, but Jason would post chapters as he finished them. Either one at a time, or a few at a time. I couldn’t resist reviewing them right away, but I have heard of authors who don’t bother listening to the chapters at all. And then when it’s finished they wonder if they should listen to it or just approve it. I don’t think that is wise at all, and I was surprised to hear from Jason that some authors actually do that. Yes, producers edit their work, but things can still be missed by mistake. Just like authors need more than one editor, so does a narrator. With ACX, I feel like the rights holder is final QA, and if you don’t listen just to make sure there aren’t any random repeats still in there, you’ll make your producer look bad and that will affect his rating in the reviews. I have listened to audiobooks with repeats in the finished product and it always surprises me, because it wouldn’t have been all that hard to fix.

However, while reviewing the audio, remember that every change you ask for could cause a change in sound. So be very selective. I’ve heard of some authors who feel like that’s how they wrote it so the producer had better not change a single word! Oh please, sometimes that just happens when reading. But if it sounds natural and still makes sense, then leave it like it is. That will be better for sound quality. And you’ll likely have a better working relationship with your producer if you’re not a pain to work with.

Thanks for dropping by, and check back for more videos of this Q & A…