Writing Partnerships

Using The Audiobook Service ACX

I think I speak for many of us when I say we’d like to have our books in audiobook form. Besides being a possible way to connect to new readers who don’t necessarily like to sit down with a paperback or e-book and another possible source of revenue, audiobooks have a prestige to them. It’s sort of magical hearing your characters come to life in your car or in your earbuds through sound and description. It’s pretty powerful.

However creating an audiobook can be difficult. In addition to a book to narrate, you need an actor to read your book aloud if you aren’t comfortable or able to do it, plus recording equipment, maybe an engineer, something to edit the book with, and then some! And that can run up in terms of costs.

As one might expect, there’s a service that tries to make the process cost-effective and easy to do. Audiobook Creation Exchange, or ACX, is a service through Audible.com, which in turn is owned by Amazon, aims to match authors and their books to producers so they can create the audiobook together. I heard about it from an acquaintance of mine who had her book turned into an audiobook and got interested in it. So after some research, I’m sharing with you how it works and if it can potentially help you gain a wider audience.

First, what exactly is ACX? Founded in 2011, ACX is kind of like a matchmaking/dating service with the goal of creating an audiobook. Anyone who owns the right to the audiobook of a novel (such as authors, editors, publishers, agents, etc) can go on and find audiobook producers (narrators, recording studios, engineers, etc) who would be interested in producing your audiobook. The video they have on their website (the link is below) claims that only 5% of authors get their books turned into audiobooks, so they’re trying to change that.

What do you do? If you decide to use ACX, you sign up for the service using your Amazon account. Then you search for your book through Amazon’s database. Create a Title Profile, which include a description of your book and what it’s about, as well as what you are looking for in a producer (gender, special talents or accents they can do, etc). You also must upload a short one or two page excerpt for producers to use.

What happens next is that producers will look for books that they may be interested in narrating (and hopefully they may decide to do yours if they come across it). Producers will audition by taking your excerpt and recording themselves narrating it, and then sending it to you. Once you have a few auditions, you can go over the auditions, as well as find out a little bit more about the producers auditioning for you. You can most likely find out acting and audiobook experience, hourly rate, and so on and so forth. If you find an audition you really like, you contact the producer and make them an offer.

What sort of offers are there? There are two sorts of offers you can make to a producer once you’ve made a decision, and knowing which one to use is very important, so consider them carefully before sending a producer an offer. These are the sorts of deals available:

  • Pay a flat out fee. This is where you pay for the production costs of the audiobook. Each producer has his or her own rates, and you pay that amount for every finished hour of audiobook there is (for example, if I have an audiobook produced of either of my novels and the finished product is eight hours long and my narrator charges one-hundred dollars per hour, I would pay $800). You pay this fee at the end of the production period when you have reviewed the final product and given it your full approval. The fees vary wildly between producers, usually somewhere between $50-$200 with the average being around $100. You can also negotiate rates with your producer on their rates. The upside of this is that you get all the royalties at the end of production of this and you can decide whether to do exclusive distribution rights (which means the audiobook can only be sold through Amazon, Audible, and iTunes and you gain 40% of the royalties) or non-exclusive rights (which means you can sell the audiobook through other distributors and receive 25% of the royalties through the companies listed above).
  • Royalty Share Deal. In this deal, you forego fees and instead agree to split the royalties of any sales with your producer. This deal is handy because you don’t need to pay any fees upfront. However you can only distribute your audiobook through Amazon, Audible, and iTunes with this option and you only get 20% of the royalties, with the producer getting the other 20%.

Most narrators do a combination of these methods, so you’re probably going to find someone who is willing to either of these methods. Once you’ve hashed out the details with your producer, you’ll send them the official contract, which says you’ll work together to produce the audiobook, and that Amazon can distribute it for seven years, which is how long the contract lasts.

What’s the process like? The production process takes about 3-8 weeks, depending on the length of the book and the producer’s schedule. The producer will upload the first 15 minutes of the audiobook to the ACX secure website for you to get a sample. If you don’t like it, you can stop the process there or start a dialogue with the producer to see what could be fixed. After that, the producer will upload the book chapter by chapter until the whole book is completed and the author approves the final product. Once that is done, the producer will upload the book onto Audible/Amazon/iTunes, and you as the rights holder will get a notification email.

What happens after the book is uploaded? Hopefully people will buy the audiobook. In any case, Amazon has a contract with you that allows them to distribute through them (exclusively or non-exclusively, depending on the deal you made) for 7 years. After that, you can take down the audiobook, decide to have a new version produced, or extend the contract for another year. As the rights holder, it’s all up to you.

What if I want to narrate the book myself? There’s a process for that where you can do that. Basically you produce the audiobook yourself and upload it onto ACX’s website. Makes giving an offer easier, from what I hear.

What if I decide at the last minute the whole thing’s a mess or I don’t want my book in audio form? Well, then you can cancel the contract. As the rights holder, it’s well within your rights to do so. However, if you do that you’ll have to pay a fee one way or another so that the producer can come out of this with something. Depending on what deal you took, you could pay up to 75% of the producer’s fees or $500 plus whatever costs the producer incurred for producing the book.

How do I design a cover? ACX has their own cover guidelines that are too much bother to go over here, so I’m linking the page that has the guidelines to this article. Once you have some idea of what they’re looking for, it’s up to you to create or find someone to create the cover according to these guidelines.

What’s a Bounty Payment? As I understand it, if a new buyer to Audible buys your audiobook, you get a $50 bonus from Audible. It’s a great bonus system, from what I’m told. It encourages authors to advertise about their audiobooks, so new listeners will be encouraged to get the audiobook through Amazon, Audible, and iTunes.

What countries is ACX available in? At the moment ACX is only available in the US and Great Britain, though ACX is hoping to expand to other countries soon, most likely Canada and other North American countries before becoming established elsewhere. So keep your eyes peeled if you want to do an audiobook through ACX.

How much will my audiobook cost to buy? Depends on the length of the book in terms of hours. The more hours the book is, the more they charge. To guess at the price of your book, an hour of audiobook is about 9,300 words, so do some math and then visit ACX’s website and go to the price chart on the Distribution page to figure out how much your book will probably cost.

Should I do an audiobook? Well, that depends. Personally I’d recommend only going through the process if you feel there’s a demand for your audiobook. It’d suck to go through the whole production process and, whatever sort of deal you have with your producer, only receive a couple dollars here and there, or maybe nothing at all. So before deciding to try and produce an audiobook, see if there are a lot of people who’d want to buy an audio version of your book, and how much they’d be willing to pay for it.

 

There’s a lot of potential in audiobooks, no matter how you look at it. Perhaps your book will be read by a great many in audio form, if you decide to go this route e to produce it.   Jut make sure you feel that it’s right for you, for your book, and that there is a demand for your audiobook before you do so.

Has anyone here used ACX before? What was your experience like? What tips do you have for authors considering using it?

And here’s the link to the website if you want to do more research on your own.

Categories: Amazon store, Author Platform & Branding, Book Formatting, Book Promotion, Marketing & Promoting, Publishing Trends, Writing as a Business, Writing Partnerships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Guidelines to Making a Writing Partnership Work

One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that with the right co-author, writing books can be easy and productive. For those looking to join forces with other writers, here are a few things I suggest you do to make your partnership a good experience.

1. Pick your partner. Pick a partner you are familiar with and work well with. Many people gravitate toward their critique partners or long-time writing friends.

2. Have a contract. Even if you are best friends, have a contract made out for each project you will be undertaking. The contract protects all the authors involved and allows you to outline all your writing tasks before hand.

3. Assign each author a task. By outlining the responsibilities and assigning a task to each author, no one is stuck doing everything. Strengths can be divided among both authors and weakness in one author can be taken by the other.

4. Figure out who gets last say. This one is important. There will be times when you and your co-author don’t agree on how something should go. It is best to decided ahead of time who will have the last say in the argument.

An example contract

Anyone have experiences with writing partnerships they would like to share?

Categories: Writing Partnerships | Tags: ,

A Sample Co-author Contact

Thought I’d post this for those looking to Co-Author a book with another author. I suggest that you always write up a contract. This is the co-authoring contract that I use whenever I join forces with another writer. Depending on your needs, it may need to be modified for you.

Co-author/ address:

Co-author/ address:

Co-author/ address:

We, (co-authors names), are entering into an agreement to write a full-length book in the (Specific) genre with the sub-genre being (sub-genre) to (Working title of the Book).

The following shall set forth our understanding with respect to our respective rights in (Working title of the Book) and the royalties and other considerations to which we may be entitled pursuant to said Agreement.

1. It is decided between the parties that the book will be referred to as (Working title of the Book), a working title that may at a later date be changed.

2. The copyright in (Working title of the Book) shall be secured and held in the name of (author) for the term of the copyright, and for any additional or new copyright which may hereafter be embodied in any copyright law throughout the world.

3. All moneys, advances, proceeds and other considerations which may become payable to us with respect to said Agreement and from the sale, lease, license or other disposition of any and all rights in and to (Working title of the Book) now existing or which may hereafter come into existence shall first be used to reimburse any outstanding expenses incurred by mutual agreement in writing and researching the book; remaining funds shall be apportioned between us as follows:

Percent to author:
Percent to author:

4. It is expressly understood that we hereunder do not intend to form nor shall this agreement be construed to constitute a permanent partnership between us. The terms of this Agreement shall be coextensive with the life of (Working title of the Book).

5. No mutual expenses, for which we are all responsible, shall be incurred without mutual agreement of both parties.

6. The authorship of (Working title of the Book) shall be: (name of author or co-author). We will instruct the publisher that these names are to appear on the jacket and title page of (Working title of the Book).

7. Each party hereto warrants and represents to the other that any material written or provided by her in connection with (Working title of the Book) is not in any way a violation of a copyright or common law or right of privacy and that it contains nothing of a libelous, obscene, or illegal character, and each party agrees to indemnify and hold the other party harmless against any loss or damage arising out of a breach of any of the foregoing warranties or the other incorrectness of any of the foregoing representations.

8. It is decided by both parties and agreed upon that the division of labor shall be thus:

9. In the event that one of us is unable or unwilling to continue or complete work on (Working title of the Book), the other may complete work on (Working title of the Book), without the assistance or advice of the co-author who is unable or unwilling to continue or complete work on (Working title of the Book). In that event, we agree to discuss modifying the relevant clauses of this agreement to reflect the new proportion of work we each will contribute, and, if we are unable to reach an agreement, to submit these negotiations to binding arbitration. We agree that we will not take any action that will harm (Working title of the Book).

10. We have employed and hereby designate (Agency) sole and exclusive agent in connection with this (Working title of the Book). All payments due or to become due to us in connection with the sale, lease, or license of this (Working title of the Book) shall be made to and in the name of the said agent who is hereby authorized to give receipt for same in our behalf. Said agent shall receive gross commissions on all licenses of fifteen percent (15%).

11. The terms and conditions of this agreement shall be binding and inure to the benefit of the executors, administrators and successors of each of us. Our respective signatures herein below shall constitute this to be a complete and binding agreement between us. This agreement may not be assigned by any party without prior written consent of the others, except that any party may assign his share of the gross proceeds hereunder to a third person, subject to the terms and conditions of this agreement.

Signed and agreed to:

Categories: Writing as a Business, Writing Partnerships | Tags:

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