Thursday, October 23, 2014

Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing: Marva Dasef's Tips on Producing Audio Books, Giveaway

Hello and welcome to our series, Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing. Our "tipster" author today is multi-genre writer Marva Dasef.  She's giving away the winner's choice of one of her audible books. Take a peek at the books she has available at Audible .com 

Please leave a comment to be eligible for the drawing on Sunday at 9 p.m. 

Listen to an audio sample of Missing, Assumed Dead at the end of the page.

Marva, you have entered the audible book market big time. Audible books add another dimension to a book bringing the story alive to the listener. Thanks so much for sharing great tips on the process of producing an audio book.

The winner of the drawing can choose one of Marva's audio books.
Thanks, J.Q. I decided to ignore all of your excellent questions on the writing process, marketing and publishing books so I can talk a little about the process of producing an audio book.
Audio Rights
First, make sure you have the audio rights to your book. This seems a no-brainer, but when’s the last time you read your contract? If you’re an independent author, then you’ve obviously got your audio rights even if you’ve published your book through Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, etc. (if an ebook) and anywhere you might have used if you have a print book as well. I use CreateSpace myself and it’s been functioning well for me for several years.
Production Companies
I searched around for audio production companies and saw several vanity press types.  No way.
I’ve been spoiled by Kindle (plus those other guys) and CreateSpace. I never pay a penny upfront. I do a lot of the work, then the distributor takes their cut when a copy sells.
Pondering all this took me to ACX. Ta da! Wouldn’t you know it. Amazon also has an audio book production company. Why am I not surprised?
I checked it out and found it’s kind of like a dating site. You, the author, auditions narrators/producers. Pretty easy to do. Check the rather huge number of producers and start paring it down. What’s your genre? Do you want a male or female narrator? What age sound do you want your narrator? Accent? And other potential criteria.

You should also check what terms the producer will accept. I selected split royalties since that costs me nothing up front (my favorite mode of operation).
Distribution of Audio Books
To split royalties, you’ll also need to give up a bit of autonomy, that is, you need to assign exclusive distribution to ACX. But that’s not so bad a deal. Your audio book will appear on Amazon (click to buy directs you to, on Audible, and on iTunes. That covers a huge bunch of the audio market.

After pondering the complexities of distribution contracts, you need to create a parking place for your audio book. ACX makes it easy by linking your audio book to your print or ebook Amazon page. Add a few other pieces of information, then upload (a Word file is fine) a couple of pages of your book for audition material. While you might have found the perfect voice, you really want to know how the narrator sounds doing your material.
Why is this? Well, once you’ve uploaded your book info, the people who want the job  are looking for good matches to what they offer.
My producer did just that. He courted me. Aw, gee, gosh. The dating game is afoot. I’m easy and my producer was good, so we paired up. The rest, as they say, is history. I now have five audio books released, plus one more on the way.
Here are the main points to consider:
  • What kind of contract can you live with? Pay a fixed rate per finished hour (that’s the other method) and you get to keep all the royalties OR split the royalties and both you and the producer take the risk and share the rewards.
  • Think hard about who your narrator is. I know you’ve got a voice in your mind when you write, even when writing in 3rd person, you’ll most likely have it close 3rd and want a voice to match your main character.
Now, read the rest of the articles on J.Q.’s featured posts on book marketing. That’s a topic I know nothing about.
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WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE A FREE AUDIO BOOK? Comment here to win your choice of any of Marva's audio books. Do you listen to audio books? Have you produced an audio book? Find all of her books at Audible .com

Find out more about Marva on the Marva Dasef blog and Marva's website.

Enjoy listening to a sample of Marva's romance/mystery e-book, Missing, Assumed Dead.


Melissa said...

A friend of mine is putting her books on audio. I found the process--especially the process of interviewing 'voices'--very interesting.

Good luck with your book. I enjoyed the post. :)

Loni Townsend said...

I'd like to do an audiobook, but as an unknown with an epic fantasy, I haven't found many actors who are willing to share the royalties...and I can't afford to pay upfront. *sigh*

Someday, though. Someday...

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Melissa, making the decision on what voice to use is one I really hadn't thought about. What does my main character sound like? And how do you discover the voice you hear in your head in a narrator?

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Loni, yes maybe someday. Keep writing those books and the actors will be knocking down the doors to get to do your characters!!

Cellophane Queen said...

I hit the jackpot when my producer contacted me for my first audiobook. He was just getting into audio, and my first book was only 3 hours. Do you have a longish short story? It might be the way to break in.

Thanks for having me, JQ.

Note: The 3rd book in the Witches of Galdorheim series was just finished up and submitted to ACX review. It ought to be out by early November.

Miss Mae said...

Hi Marva,

Wonderful to meet you, and love your post about audio books. :)

I've only been audio for a couple of months, right now have two available. And I'm also with ACX, iTunes. And I have to say -- I LOVE going audible! :)

I do plan to get all my books into audio, but I'm not rushing it right now. As you said, I want to get just the right "voice" for each one.

And we are so alike, because I have no money to put upfront either - I chose producers who were willing to work with me regarding royalties and marketing. It's a whole lot better when you have someone beside yourself working just as hard to grab those sales!

Again, thanks for this excellent post. I think we authors should ALL consider going audio because I see it as the wave of the future.

J.Q. Rose said...

Marva, thanks for being here! Audio books are in my future too so this is a topic for me to absorb.

J.Q. Rose said...

Miss Mae, yes you and Marva are proof we should look into this special way to get our books out into the world. A wave of the future with sound waves? Okay, I'm sure I got a groan instead of a laugh with that!

Miss Mae said...


Anonymous said...

Marva, thanks for sharing this information about audible books. I found it very interesting.

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Susanne, Good to know you liked Marva's post. Thanks for stopping in.

Cellophane Queen said...

Miss Mae, I saw your name in the list for JQ's mystery hop. I look forward to reading about your books, too.

I still prefer reading to listening, but I'm trying to do some of both. With Whispersync, I can switch back and forth. Cool feature.

Susanne Drazic: thanks for dropping in.

Melissa: I hope your friend has found her perfect narrator.

Loni: Do it sooner rather than later. There's a really big line up of books looking for narrators. Epic fantasy is intimidating. Is there a way you can split your book into smaller parts and call it a series?

Anonymous said...

Hi Marva, thanks so much for the informative post. I had wondered about putting my books up for audio, but thought it would be far too expensive. Now I see from your post that there are a lot more options out there than I'd realised. This has been very helpful, thank you! And I wish you all the best with your audio projects.

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Helena, it would be fun to try an audio book, but you'll have to review your contracts with your publishers to be sure you have the rights to do it because they may be planning on doing audio books too.

Cellophane Queen said...

Nice to hear from you, Helena. I tend to just charge ahead with things like this. Puts me on the bleeding edge.

And as JQ says, you have to be sure your existing contracts give you audio rights. Sometimes, publishers interpret "digital rights" to include audio.

Best to ask first.

J.Q. Rose said...

Congratulations to Loni and Melissa. Marva is generously giving them their choice of an audio or e-book. Thanks Marva!

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