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  • Donald J. Bingle, Writer on Demand

Turning Your Book Into an Audio Book


I do plenty of readings at writing and genre conventions, book signings, local author nights, and the like of excerpts from my books or short stories. You can find two of my readings online: Seasons Critiquings at http://vimeo.com/57106257; and Someday at http://vimeo.com/63190661. I think I do a pretty good job at readings and I like the opportunity to add pauses and inflection to the bare words to make them even more dramatic. But I never felt that I was up to the task of recording an audio version of one of my novels. I don't have a good sound set-up or microphone, my office at home is hardly free of ambient background noise, I'm not proficient at editing, and I'm not a tech savvy kind of guy. The last thing you want after producing a professional product as a novel, properly edited and formatted, with a nice cover, and good reviews, is to screw it all up with an amateurish audio version, especially since audio books are more expensive for fans than the e-book version (and, perhaps even the dead tree version). There's an audience, however, for audio books and I thought I might be able to expand my platform as a writer by making an audio version of my spy thriller, Net Impact, available to them. After all, I tend to write cinematically and some of that should be able to translate into an audio rendition of my story. So I began to poke at acx.com, the audio production equivalent for Amazon of their Kindle e-book and CreateSpace paper book creation sites. The process is pretty straight-forward. You notify them you hold the audio rights for your book (make sure you haven't granted those rights elsewhere), then can produce and narrate the book yourself or locate a production company or voice actor to narrate/produce it for you. You can contact companies or actors after reviewing their credentials or post for auditions to be submitted to you, indicating what type of voice you are looking for or what types of characters populate your book. Intersted actors will then submit audition files so you can tell if you think their voice and style matches that of your book. You can indicate you want to pay a flat rate for services or you can indicate that you will give a 50/50 split of the royalites for the work. In my case, I knew an actor and voice-over guy from my high school days who had some audition samples available and was an acx.com listed narrator. I contacted him, sent him a copy of my book, and asked if he had any interest. Like many actors, he is always looking for the next gig and because I wasn't in a huge hurry to post the book, I could let him work on it at his leisure between other projects. My friend, Bruce Pilkenton, sent me an audition file of the prologue of the book and of voice snippets of several of the major characters. (While some narrators read the book primarily in their own voice, Bruce actually does the accents and such of the various characters involved--and, since I have a book with characters from New Zealand, Australia, England, China, and more in my globe-trotting espionage thriller, having an actor who would do separate accents/voices for the different characters is way cool.) We went back and forth a couple times on one of the characters, to make sure he sounded older, but not crotchety, and Bruce was very open and professional about handling my suggestions. Bruce quoted me a price (quite reasonable compared to what some others have spent on their audio books) on a flat fee per finished hour of the audio book. (Finished hours is much different (lower) than hours spent and gives you a firm cost, rather than an open-ended one.) Then I sat back and Bruce worked on the audio. Being a diligent fellow, he looked up words he didn't already know, so that he would pronounce them correctly, going so far as to track down a YouTube ad for the brand of New Zealand beer my spy drank, so he would get the pronunciation right. As he finished sections, he woiuld post them on acx and I would listen to them at my leisure, noting the Chapter and timecode for quite minor corrections which came up (e.g., he said "professionally" where the text actually read "professorily") so that Bruce could go back and fix the word or sentence. He also re-recorded a few lines where I thought one of the characters sounded a bit whinier than I had intended. Bruce did a great job on the foreign accents and ramped up the intensity and pace in the action sequences. Very cool. I spent a few minutes while waiting for things to finish to send acx.com my tax info for payment purposes and to upload cover art meeting their specifications. Real easy stuff. Once the whole thing was done, Bruce made the last fixes, I spot-checked them, and we picked a 5-minute sample to use for promotional purposes. (You need to pick something which doesn't need any prior explanation, says something about the nature of the book or characters, but doesn't have any real spoilers.) I gave final approval to the book and paid Bruce by paypal for his work and the book was released to acx, who then takes a couple weeks to check it for quality control purposes, before making it available on Audible.com, Amazon.com, and on iTunes. (The reviews from the written version of the book translate over to the audio listings after a few days--so you have some review power going for you from the start.) Anyone can purchase an audio copy of the book and audible.com subscribers can download it separate from or as part of their subscription service, too. You even get a bonus if someone joins audible.com and picks your book as one of their first three downloads. Now, of course, I need to let the world know my audio book is available, so I've started filling out the necessary forms for things like International Thriller Writers and BookGoodies.com, etc. AuthorMarketingClub.com is probably my next stop. I've also posted on Facebook and Twitter, of course, and a few sales have already started. I also have a promotion I want to do, which I am announcing here on GoodReads first. For a limited time anyone who emails me at orphyte aol com with evidence that they bought/downloaded Net Impact in audio from Audible.com, amazon.com, or itunes can choose to get an e-copy of one of my novels (Net Impact, GREENSWORD, or Forced Conversion) OR one of my Writer on Demand TM story collections (Tales of Gamers and Gaming; Tales of Humorous Horror; Tales Out of Time; Grim, Fair e-Tales; Tales of an Altered Past Powered by Romance, Horror, and Steam; or Not-So-Heroic Fantasy) for free by email from me. [Duration of the promotion is at my discretion, so don't delay. And, since I clearly know how many audio copies actually do sell, please don't bother to try to scam me--there are easier ways to steal books if you are into theft. All decisions by me as to eligibilty are final. Free books shall not exceed the total number of unreturned audio book purchases of Net Impact during the promo.] Here's a description of Net Impact to get you in the mood: Dick Thornby is not Hollywood's idea of a spy. In his rough and tumble job there are no tailored Italian suits, no bimbos eager to please, and no massive underground fortresses built by evil overlords seeking world domination - just an endless series of sinister threats to the safety and security of the billions of mundane citizens of the planet. Sure, Dick's tough and he knows a few tricks to help him get out of a tight spot, even if his boss accuses him of over-reliance on an abundance of explosives. But he's also got a mortgage, a wife upset by his frequent absences on "business" trips, and an increasingly alienated teen-age son who spends way too much time playing in gaming worlds on the computer. When a young computer expert back at the Philadelphia headquarters for The Subsidiary, an international espionage agency created in the aftermath of 9/11, discovers that bad guys are involved in a vast conspiracy, Dick is forced to partner with the espionage neophyte to battle evil on multiple fronts, leading to a final confrontation that incorporates real-world conspiracy theories and cutting-edge technology. In the end, Dick can save his partner, save his marriage, save his son, or save the world, but he can't do it all. Aloha, Don

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