In my last post I told you about how I got started in audiobooks and voiceover. There are lots of people out there who want to do audiobooks, but are daunted by the process. Believe me, it IS a process and it takes some time to grasp, but it’s not impossible. As with all voiceover work, the very first thing you need to do is get some training. Just because you are an actor and just because you can read doesn’t mean that you can jump right into audiobooks. You don’t want to wind up booking your first job and have no idea what you’re doing. That said, that’s kind of how I got started, but I did have quite a bit of vocal training first. Please do yourself, your potential author, and the audiobook community a favor and take some voiceover classes before you attempt an audiobook. Ok, now let’s assume you’ve gotten training. I’m going to walk you through the process from start to finish.
Specifically I want to teach you this process by using the ACX website. We all need to start somewhere and ACX provides the perfect platform to do so. ACX makes the process of creating an audiobook accessible, which means that it’s equally great for people starting out and those continuing a career as an audiobook narrator. It gives noobs the opportunity they need to get their feet wet so that they can start building a resume, a following, and make strides towards taking their career to the next level. And where else in your acting career would you ever be given the chance to compete in one of the main marketplaces on your first try. There is no way that your first film is going to make it to the Big Screen or that the first play you will get cast in will be performing on Broadway. Your first audiobook however, will be sold on Audible. It’s a rare and wonderful opportunity and who knows how long it will remain open to everyone. If you’re thinking about getting into audiobooks, do it now. That said, this is also why training should be your number one priority. You only get one chance to make a first impression – so make it a good one! Once that first book is out there, you can’t take it back. It doesn’t have to be a bestseller, but the narration does need to be good enough that people will want to hear you narrate again. Without further ado – here’s how to narrate an audiobook on ACX.
This recipe assumes that you have already gathered the necessary ingredients ahead of time.
1 Trained Voice
1 Strong Imagination
1 Recording Studio – Sound proof area, Microphone with Pop Filter (USB mics have greatly improved and are great for starting out), Computer, DAW (you can use the same DAW for editing & mastering or choose different ones for each task), Copy Stand or Tablet, Good Lighting, Mixer (optional)
1 or more VO Demos – preferably a Narration Demo, but a general Broadcast (or Commercial) Demo will suffice
10 or more Highlighters
1 Complete ACX Profile (View Mine Here)
Sign a Contract
Read the Book
Read the Book
Underline words that you don’t understand or know how to pronounce
Look up the words you’ve underlined & make notes about them in the margins
Highlight the Characters
Read the Book
Develop the Characters – Attitudes, Accents, Speech Patterns, Vocal Tone, etc.
Suss out your character's voices
Record the First 15 Minutes
Edit & Master the First 15 Minutes
Upload the First 15 Minutes for Author Approval
Record, Edit, and Master the rest of the book
Upload the Finished Files for Author Approval
ACX Quality Control
This little Audiobook Goes to Market
Prep is important. The more time you spend on your preparation, the less time you’ll spend cooking your book.
Before you start recording, be sure to check all of your audio levels and settings to make sure they are appropriate for the work you are doing and your voice.
Don’t expect immediate cash flow, well-seasoned experience will result.
Marketing is the key to success. (You will need to market your book as much as you can. ACX will help you do this by issuing you free codes that you can send out to friends and reviewers – they will get to download your book for free and will hopefully write you a great review. Also keep this in mind when choosing an author to work with, because they should be willing to do as much marketing for the book as humanly possible.)
*Before You Can Begin Your Audiobook
In order to hit the ground running there are a few things you should do before signing up for ACX.
First you should read every single page of the ACX website so that you fully understand the process, the contracts, and any other details. There is a TON to read, but later you’ll realize it was time well spent. If you have any questions call ACX. Their customer service is excellent and they will get you the answers you need. The one place that ACX customer service is lacking is in the technical support department with regards to recording, editing, and mastering – if you need help with these things, you’re better off asking a professional or experienced friend. ACX can explain to you all the technical specs that you need to meet, but they cannot help you with how to get there.
Next you should choose a few short books or pamphlets that you own and practice the entire audiobook creation process from start to finish several times. If you read my last blog, then you know that I booked my first job without even auditioning and that I had to teach myself everything about this process on the fly. Now, I wouldn’t change a thing because it’s all worked out well for me, but if I knew then what I know now, I would have practiced creating an audiobook before creating an ACX profile.
Now, you can set up your ACX profile, just follow the step by step directions on the site. Be sure to enter your tax information so that you can receive any payments and/or royalties. And also upload your demo and tag it appropriately. If this is your first book, under the “How would you like to be paid?” category, you should choose Royalty Share and/or Unspecified Hourly Rate. This will give you the best shot at getting an author to take a chance on you. It’s been quite some time since I set up my profile, but I know there may be other areas where you need some guidance. Feel free to comment with any questions or shoot me an email.
As I finished writing this post, I just received an offer to produce my next audiobook. So it’s back to work for me!
Next Week: Audiobook Recipe - Serves 1 (Part II)