I’m pleased to report that the audiobook of Diary of a Small Fish has just launched on Audible, Amazon and iTunes. The experience working through Amazon’s ACX platform was so satisfying, I thought I’d tell you all about it.
Back in the mid-autumn of 2013, while doing exactly nothing about promoting or selling my novel, I stumbled across ACX. I quickly learned that I could have my audiobook produced through the ACX platform at no out-of-pocket expense by splitting royalties with one of their many participating audiobook producers. Oh sure, I thought, how many of them will go to all that work (probably 25-50 hours of time) and expense (some of them pay for studio time) for a self-published novel by an unknown, on a straight royalty basis? I was skeptical.
But, what the hell – posting the project was simple and easy. It starts off with an Invitation for Auditions. It includes book description/blurb, and a full chapter of the manuscript. Once posted, the project is reviewed by the producers who search on their own, or you can search the roster of producers, listen to their voice samples, choose as many as you want, and send them an invitation to submit an audition.
I had no expectations at all – but in the short space of three days, I received 6-7 auditions. All of them were professional – and totally different! As I mulled the ones that had come in, others continued to arrive, until I had more than a dozen to choose from – any one of which would have satisfied me.
Then lightning struck. I received a message from ACX. They awarded my project a “production stipend,” essentially offering the chosen book producer a $100 per hour stipend (up to $2500) if the project was completed within 60 days of an agreement.
Notice of the stipend is attached to the title on the project page (a nifty red banner!). Within two days, I had another 8 auditions.
I spent a great deal of time looking up each of the artists. There were a number of people who’d just gotten into the field and had no credits to examine. There were some who had several credits in ebooks. There were some radio and television voice actors – commercials, mostly, but a few who’d also done theater.
I narrowed it down to two, based upon the voice alone. Then I made my final decision based upon the resume of the artist.
You will not have heard of Keith Sellon-Wright (yet), but the odds are you’ve seen him before – if you watched American television at any time during the past 25 years. I mean, just go look at the man’s IMDb! Wings, Love & War, Silk Stalkings, Married With Children, Almost Perfect, Seinfeld, The Practice, Charmed, Frasier, The West Wing, Gilmore Girls… I’m only half done.
Anyway, who would have thought, eh?
Here’s the kicker, though. Keith’s a hell of a guy. He’s a great character actor, works very hard at his craft, and he brought every element of his experience to bear in producing the novel in audio form. Most importantly, as the author of this story, I was curious to hear an experienced actor interpret it – and I have to say that Keith really nailed Paul Forté.
So – it took Keith a few months to get to the project due to prior commitments–discussed and agreed to during the “offer-acceptance” stage. Once Keith accepted, the clock began to tick, and he had 60 days to deliver. A week before deadline, he delivered (on the ACX website project page) chapter-by-chapter recordings, which had been done in a studio, with an engineer/editor, all paid for by Keith. I listened to each chapter, sent him back my notes, and he addressed them. In the space of 5 days, I listened to 15 hours of audio (original and re-recorded segments) and had many emails and phone conversations with Keith. In the end, he uploaded all of the chapter files, and a 3-minute “audio sample” used on the Audible site for promotion, and I clicked “ACCEPT.”
Now to sell the damn thing.
From what I’ve been able to find, marketing and promoting of audiobooks is the same slog as ebooks, etc., but My Partner and I haven’t settled on any particular plan. It will probably entail a lot of grumbling and whining about “cutting through the clutter” and “differentiating” us from the incessant spam with which we compete. More homework to do on this subject.
So that’s it. I now have a new audiobook, at a cost of zero, narrated and produced by an experienced professional actor into a very high-quality product.
Thank you, once again, Amazon.