This is a very, very short children’s book that explores most of the sounds common farm animals make. Since the total runtime of the audio is 3 minutes and 16 seconds, my review probably has more words than the book. Literally a minute of that runtime is a note to kids, parents, and teachers.
– It’s cute.
– There’s not much of a story though. It’s just a survey of various animal noises because the kitten’s asking them how to meow. How would a kitten know the word without knowing how to do it?
– I know I’m way overthinking it, but the lack of logic drives me nuts. She’s also a lost newborn kitten in the beginning but talking to her mother at the end. She’s also a lost, newborn kitten trekking all over a farm. They don’t tend to walk that far for a few weeks. (Yeah, yeah, I get it, the whole animal talking thing didn’t bother me one whit. That meets general suspension of disbelief standards.)
– Also, if you’ve ever tried to teach anybody anything, you know that demonstrating it once isn’t really going to stick.
– Animals included: dog, owl, horse, goat, pig, chick, cow, mouse, duck.
– What this book has going for it is the very clever wording. There’s a nice, poetic cadence to the arrangement.
– Audio performance is okay. The rendition of meow at the end is stellar, but the whole audio has a slight tinny quality to it. (That might be ACX’s processing of it.)
I’m going to chalk this up to I am NOT the target audience. If you have a small child or really love children’s stories, this will probably be a great experience for you.
(If you click through and buy something, there’s the chance I’ll earn like $0.04 ….)
The Collins Case – 2 FBI agents track down a kidnapped family. Kid friendly.
If fantasy’s more your thing, go Redeemer Chronicles. The first, Awakening, is available as an audiobook.
Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts – a kid deals with her parents’ divorce, bullies, and the wonder of discovery.
Try The Dark Side of Science – Genetically altered kids fight for the right to live.
Recently, I had the unique opportunity to test the audiobook creation process of two different companies for creating audiobooks: ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) and Findaway Voices. It’s not a true experiment because there are too many variables, but I happened to have two short stories to produce simultaneously.
ACX – Audiobook Creation Exchange
Besides being around a while, it has become the behemoth to beat simply because it’s an Amazon company. By default, that means it’s got major moving power when it wants to. On the flip side, it’s a massive company, therefore some things can fall by the wayside.
Major advantages: They have access to a lot of narrators. You as an author have way more control over the narrator selection process. Pacing’s ultimately up to you and the narrator you choose.
Hint: Try to find somebody who’s reliable and great with communication. It will make a world of difference in the long run.
Major flaw: They’re business practices kind of stink. In short, they’re out for the bottom line, not really you as an artist. To be fair, part of this problem stems from them being so big. Must be difficult to be so popular.
Findaway Voices – Draft to Digital Associate
This company’s a relative newcomer to the audiobook creation scene (at least to me).
Note: You can use them with Kindle Direct Select titles but in that case you HAVE to go directly through Findaway Voices, not through Draft to digital and then Findaway. Basically, the ebook has to be exclusive to Amazon’s program for the length of time you have it in select. But you have more freedom with the audiobook.
Major advantage: They publish to far more platforms than ACX. Their customer service is top-notch, and they walk you through the audiobook process. Your share of the royalties will be much greater than with ACX (80%, I think).
Major flaw: By default, they’re a “middleman.” Everything takes longer when you involve more people.
Note: These will cover the Author side because that’s where my experience lies.
The ACX Process:
Step 1: Authors decide they want to publish an audiobook. Yay.
Step 2: Authors create an ACX account (basically, sign in with your Amazon.com account) and assert their rights to a title.
Step 3: Choose an excerpt and decide whether you want to do Royalty Share or PFH (pay per finished hour).
Step 4: Wait for auditions. Guess this one can vary a bit, but I’d recommend browsing narrators and sending the top 10 an invite to audition.
Step 5: Choose a narrator and offer them a contract. They accept!
Step 6: Review the audiobook files with the manuscript as the narrator uploads them to ACX. Send the narrator time-stamped corrections and any other directions within reason. Review the revisions!
Step 7: Review the whole audiobook, hit approve, and wait for it to pass quality assurance. Note: this is sound quality assurance not editing for mistakes. This typically takes 2 weeks.
Note: PFH offers attract a LOT more auditions.
Royalty Share is a double-edged sword and rarely outright profitable for the narrator. Essentially, the narrator accepts the responsibility for creating the audiobook and splits the royalties with the author. On the other hand, with ACX’s push for Bounties over royalties, getting a bunch of small RS projects might be profitable.
I had an issue with one of my books not going to production for several months, but it turns out that was a matter of my narrator not hitting the confirmation button from his side that says I paid him.
Findaway Voices Production Process:
Step 1: Author decides they want to publish an audiobook. Sweet.
Step 2: I thought the book had to be published through Draft to Digital but it appears they’re merely associate companies that refer business to each other. So if you go through Findaway directly, you should be okay with Kindle Direct Publishing Select Titles.
Step 3: Click on the “Create an Audiobook” button. You may have to search for it by clicking on the “Other Formats” button.
Step 4: Fill out the paperwork for your tax information, cover, book manuscript, and such while you wait. In a few days, they say 1-7, they’ll get back to you with a selection of 7-ish narrators.
Step 5: Browse the narrators by listening to their samples. Choose a few to invite to submit an audition.
Step 6: Wait some more. The rep from Findaway Voices will let you know when they have some auditions for you to compare.
Step 7: Choose a narrator and wait for the first 15 minutes. This is where I’m at right now. It should take another 3-7 days to get this.
Step 8: Review the files and give feedback through their commenting system. Review the updated files. Approve.
It took way longer to get the book through the publishing process because they had an issue with my cover and took two weeks to tell me they had an issue with the cover. Then, once I fixed the problem, it took another two weeks for them to tell me that the fix was fine.
Which Company is Better for You?
The answer depends entirely on your personality and financial situation.
Some things to consider …
Findaway Voices is only available for PFH. That means, if you have no budget for this process and must go RS, they’re out of the race and ACX is your winner.
If you hire a narrator through ACX, you have to be exclusive to Amazon companies and ones they negotiate special deals with, like iTunes. In terms of choice and freedom, Findaway Voices wins hands-down.
If you’re a control freak, ACX probably edges out the competition here. You have direct access to your narrator every step of the way.
If you’re somebody who likes to be guided and helped along the way, Findaway Voices can fulfill that mentoring role. They’ve got a lot of experience at this.
If you’re really good at selling people Audible subscriptions, ACX will be more profitable.
If you’d like a bigger piece of the pie you made, Findaway Voices is your answer.
ACX provides you with codes to help promote your book. Findaway Voices offers your book in WAY more places.
I’m probably going to continue using both companies. They fulfill different niches. The PFH model means that you have to shell out more money at once, but you can probably find a “cheaper” narrator through Findaway Voices because they will help you keep to people in your price range. I’ll have to see how sales do on multiple platforms vs. Amazon exclusive. Shorter projects will likely end up with Findaway Voices. Jury’s still out on whether longer projects will work that way.
New to Draft2Digital? Check it out. (Note: this is a referral link. It will basically tell them I sent you.)
Associate links to follow…
Free Kindle Reading App
Audible – If you buy some of my audiobooks with your first credits, I’ll pay the first month’s bill (beyond the free ones). (Terms and conditions: must have proof of purchasing my books, like a screenshot. Will also have to have paypal.)
In the last couple of months, I’ve spent much time setting up Audiobook Edge to bring authors/narrators and readers together. (If you’re not a member yet, no problem. Go here to fix that.) I want everybody to get something good out of the experience, but I realize that some weeks there might be a shortage of codes. To help remedy that, I will be offering up to 5 copies of my books each week as necessary to fill in some of the gaps.
*Please note, that I’m not purposefully shorting the list, but I am keeping the number of books low so people get the maximum exposure possible.
This post will introduce you to the works I have available.
Over the past few years, I’ve embraced the opportunity to work with several talented narrators to give my books that added layer. I have 8 titles with one in the works and another under contract. I’m waiting to see what happens with The Davidson Case before leaping to find somebody for The Keres Case. First, I’ll break down which books are credited to which narrator. Then, I’ll give you details on which are available to you.
Who Did What:
Ashlynn’s Dreams became my first book to morph into an audiobook. I knew zip about the process, but luckily, Kristin Condon submitted an audition. Eager to begin, I closed auditions very soon after hearing how close Kristin came to how I pictured the characters of Jillian and Danielle.
These things, meaning audiobooks, don’t happen overnight. They take weeks and months, depending on how much time the narrator has to devote to a project. The sad reality is that very few people can make a living off of this sort of work. Over the course of several years, Kristin worked on Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts, Nadia’s Tears, The Collins Case, and The Kiverson Case. Then, life interfered and we parted ways.
Julie Hinton stepped in to take over the creation of Malia’s Miracles. She did a lovely job taking my scattered notes on the characters and bringing her talent bear here. I’m grateful for her willingness to tackle the center of a series. She’s currently working through Varick’s Quest. My guess is that should be ready Summer 2017.
Brian Troxell performed the prequel to the Devya’s Children series, The Dark Side of Science. I absolutely love this guy’s voice and range of characters. He did a superb job. It’s best to be familiar with the Devya’s Children characters before jumping into this book, but it can stand alone. Some might disagree with my choice, but I wanted a male voice for this story. The rest of the Devya’s Children series is set very much in the head of Jillian and Danielle, but Dark Side is third person. I wanted more of a storyteller of old feel to its presentation.
Caitlin Jacques became the voice of Victoria Saveron and many more characters from Awakening. I would have hired Julie Hinton again as I enjoy working with her, but I wanted a new voice for the Redeemer Chronicles series. The auditions for this one were very tight. It was a very tough decision because I got some great auditions, but I’m happy with how the project turned out.
Lightning Quick Summaries:
Devya’s Children (YA, Science Fiction)
The Dark Side of Science (prequel) – a scientist struggles to regain her memories so she can help her children survive a brutal competition.
Ashlynn’s Dreams – Jillian and her babysitter get kidnapped so she can learn to be a Dream Shaper.
Nadia’s Tears – Jillian struggles to wake her sister from a coma while Danielle tries to save a friend from stupid decisions.
Malia’s Miracles – Jillian and her siblings fight cancer and try to stay free.
Varick’s Quest (coming soon…) – an admirer of Dr. Devya snatches Jillian and Danielle for his own purposes.
Heartfelt Cases (Christian Mystery)
The Collins Case – 2 FBI agents race against time to save a kidnapped family.
The Kiverson Case – Ann and Patrick play a deadly game with a man bent on revenge.
Redeemer Chronicles (Fantasy)
Awakening – a girl and her two friends try to survive zombies and her uncle’s schemes.
What You Can Request:
Although technically anything I have available in audio form is up for the asking, you will likely get the most out of the first in each series. If you’d like Malia’s Miracles but you want to catch up first, head over to my website and join the Spec Fic list. You’ll get Ashlynn’s Dreams for free. That should help a little. If you like the book and review it on amazon, you can then email me the review link with a request for a copy of Nadia’s Tears. (These are very limited, so act fast.)
As with all audiobooks, you should listen to the retail sample to see if you enjoy the narrator’s voice. I personally love each of the narrators I’ve worked with. That said, having listened to 15+ audiobooks in the last few weeks, I understand that not everybody’s going to fall in love with every voice. That’s just the way life goes.
For Kristin Condon, I’d recommend going with Ashlynn’s Dreams.
The others currently only have one title each.
Sorry, I couldn’t find the audiobook version of The Dark Side of Science. Click through and you should still get to an audiobook sample though.
Caitlin Jacques’ audiobook debut:
Julie Hinton’s first work for me.
Audiobook Buying Ninja Tips:
Any book you own the official kindle version for, you should be able to buy on audio for around $1.99. I have mixed feelings on this. From a reader perspective, it’s awesome, but it does tend to short the authors/narrators. (Royalties are based on sale price.) For example, the Dark Side of Science was free on amazon for a few years. If you download it, you should be able to add the audiobook for the steeply discounted price.
If you find that you love audible and want to move to a paid plan, an easy way to help your favorite author/narrator is to buy their book first. ACX offers bounties, which is an ingenious way on their part to get some free advertising out of people. I’ve got 8 title, so if you’re moving that way, I’d love for you to choose one of them as your first book. Oh, and before you move to a paid plan anyway, do the free trial, so you get the first book or two free.
Meet the Narrators:
Caitlin Jacques – Sorry, she’s a bit of a mystery. I couldn’t find an official website.
Audiobooks allow one to do other things while still experiencing stories. They’re great for long car rides, quiet afternoons, and something to do while ironing. Let me show you a whole new world.
As Always …
If you haven’t done so yet, join Audiobook Readers’ Edge.
If you’re an author/narrator with an audiobook you’d like featured, sign up for Audiobook Authors’ Edge.
For a limited time, I’m offering a fantasy book to anybody who supports Audiobook Edge.