The ACX Experience – From Printed Page to Audio Book

Recently I embarked on a new challenge, converting one of my books into an audio book. ACX is an Amazon company much like CreateSpace in that it provides an easy, affordable way to produce books, in this case audio books rather than physical books. ACX acts rather like a passive agent, creating a neutral middle ground where authors and producers can meet and explore working together. It’s a fairly simple and straightforward process.

voice over spikesI registered information about my book Marcia Gates: Angel of Bataan back in March of last year. I uploaded the first chapter, the blurb, the cover image, my desire for a female voice and my choice for a payment arrangement. There are two ways to pay for a book producer/narrator: one is to pay them up front for their time, estimated to be roughly between $100-200 an hour; the second way is to pay no up-front fees and split the royalties with them 50/50. I chose the latter for several reasons. First, I was not comfortable parting with a large up-front outlay when I was trialing this whole idea for the first time, and it made sense to me that if the producer were to be heavily invested in the success of the book (i.e. royalties), s/he would do his/her utmost to promote it just as I would.

Marcia Gates Angel of BataanI quickly had an offer from a producer. She uploaded a sample and I listened as the first chapter of my book came alive. It was interesting to hear a voice so different than my own read my words in ways that varied slightly from my intended emphasis. However, I liked her expression, and if it seemed like there was room for improvement, the good news was that I thought her voice was closer to a fit than not.

Offers sent and accepted, the next milestone was for her to produce a 15-minute sample for my approval. I quickly found out that she and her husband are voice-over actors and have their own sound studio, so producing the sample was all within her means. The fact that her husband was a professional voice, as well, sparked an idea. My book is written in an epistolary style, using copious amounts of letters, newspaper articles and telegrams to tell the story as it unfolded in real time. As the book is told from the point of view of my aunt and her mother, I wanted a primary female voice, yet some of the letters are from men, and a male voice would make a nice contrast in those areas. I asked her if her husband would be up for playing a few “bit parts” in my book. Not only did they readily agree, they even expanded his role and he narrated parts of my father’s autobiography that I had incorporated into my book, as well.

All went well until they had a computer meltdown. Halfway through the process, they lost many of the files and had to re-record several chapters. It was disheartening, but not a show-stopper. I did not have a target release date, so while the delay was disappointing, it was not the end of the world.

Finally, after many months of e-mailing and checking chapter after chapter, she uploaded everything to ACX on November 25. We were done! From start to finish, it took 9 months (hmmm), but I’m sure the normal timeline is much shorter than ours was. I waited anxiously for ACX to review all the files and process it all into the saleable audio book.

It took them until December 10 to process the files. I queried them at some point and they said the average process time was 14-20 days, so we were well within that range. The book went live on both Audible and Amazon on December 10; after that, it was just promoting and waiting for sales.

ACX has offered ideas about that, as well, one of which was sending me a list of 25 gift codes to use for giveaways. I’m still figuring the best way to use these, but I did split them with my producer so she can offer some as well.

All in all, I think the ACX experience is pretty straight-forward, uncomplicated and everything they say it will be. It’s definitely a new experience to hear my book in the spoken word; it adds a completely new dimension to the story. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who has a good book out.

Wanna win a free copy of the audio book? Hop on over to my blog at http://mjb-wordlovers.blogspot.com/ and leave a comment. I’ll be choosing 5 random winners from the comments.

Author: Melissa Bowersock

Melissa Bowersock is an eclectic, award-winning author who writes in a variety of fiction and non-fiction genres. She has been both traditionally and independently published and lives in a small community in northern Arizona. Learn more about Melissa from her Amazon author page and her blog.

27 thoughts on “The ACX Experience – From Printed Page to Audio Book”

  1. Melissa, I inherited an Audible contract when I left my previous publisher and at that time they (the publisher) told me the contract was for seven years. I haven’t been able to find that information – do you know if it’s accurate? Since I didn’t walk through the process from the beginning, I’ve been a little confused as to what I actually inherited!

      1. Thanks, Melissa! I was a little surprised to find out my ex-publisher signed my book up for 7 years (if that’s true) without even mentioning that fact to me, but there you go….

  2. melissa – “I did split them with my producer so she can offer some as well.” ; my understanding with ACX is you both should get 25 promo codes, unless that’s changed and/or was diff when you did yours

    melinda – all the contracts i’ve done w/acx w/a narrator have been for 7 years; but, not idea if that’s valid for you, since you were with a publisher; acx seems to respond well to phone calls and emails, but i would call first, find out which email address to send to “if” they can’t answer on the phone

    btw, hopping over to comment for my free audio book 😉

    1. Adan, it’s possible the code thing has changed, since my producer never mentioned getting any directly from ACX. 25 seemed more than enough, though, at least to me.

      1. I know what you mean, I’m still slowly using mine 😉 But if your narrator would like more (they seem to be able to use a lot of them, for jobs etc) ACX had told me all they need do is call them & they’ll send out their 25 to them.

  3. Interesting to me from two angles. I love to read aloud and am good at it so would like to connect with an audio company as a reader. Also, I’d love to have my own books out as audio books. But if Tui is correct it looks like this company will not work for me as I am also outside of the U.S.

      1. I’ve queried ACX a couple of times asking when Canadian authors can use the service. Last time was probably almost a year ago and they had no timeline. If someone has more up to date info I’d love to hear it. Thanks for posting this Melissa, good to hear that it was a relatively simple process.

  4. Hello, Melissa. I did the same with my novels and they were picked up by Sci-Fi Publishing LCC. They optioned also the 3rd volume in my trilogy. Quite happy with the results. I managed to be part of ACX because I lived in the use and kept all administrative relationships there, too (bank, SSN, etc).

  5. All good info here. I never thought of sharing my coupons with the producer. My experience with ACX has been excellent. If I have a question, they answer my e-mail within 1-2 days.

  6. Melissa,
    Thanks so much for this info. I’ve been thinking about audio books but wasn’t sure what the process was, where to look into it at, etc. May I ask how well the audio book sells?

  7. Nicole, it hasn’t sold a lot, but I haven’t really been touting it much lately. Between moving to a new town, releasing my last book and getting knee-deep in a new one, I’ve been too distracted to do it justice. However, I’ve got a TV interview lined up for just before Memorial Day, so I’m hoping that’ll give it a nice push.

  8. I’m also outside the US, but I enjoyed reading about the process. Maybe one day ACX will come to Australia and I can give it a go myself. 🙂

    1. Lois, I don’t think there’s a distinction. You just need to find the right producer for your book. Mine made a point of asking about content and language; she did not want to be involved in anything that went against her own beliefs, Luckily this was not an issue for my book. I’m betting there will be plenty of producers out there who could have fun with your books. I think you ought to give it a rip!

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