Part 1: Production
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.)