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  • Catherine Downen

Creating the Audiobook for The Markings

Just two days ago on June 10th, I released the audiobook for The Markings. As a self-published author, I couldn't believe I would actually have the option to have an audiobook, but I was wrong. When I began researching if I could do it I realized that a lot of self-published authors felt the same way I did. So how did I do it?

The process began with a lot of research because there are a lot of different avenues you can go. The biggest question for me was where do I want the audiobook to be published? There are tons of platforms that support audiobooks, but I ended up deciding that getting my book on Audible and iTunes would cover most of the market. Lucky for me there's a way self-published authors can turn their books into audiobooks and it's called ACX.

What's ACX?

Well, think KDP but for audiobooks. KDP is Amazon's self-publishing service that allows you to self-publish your book to Amazon and the Kindle store. ACX works similarly for Audible and you get the bonus of having it listed on iTunes. However, these are the only two places you can publish your audiobook if you go through ACX's best royalty plan. I believe they have another option where you can take the audiobook and distribute it elsewhere, but the royalty share is low and you'll struggle to find a narrator willing to split that small of royalties with you.

So I decided to use ACX and go through the exclusive program so my novel would only be available on Audible and iTunes because, to me, that was enough of the market. I didn't see the need to take the book anywhere else and deal with the hassle of managing it on multiple platforms.

So how does ACX work?

First, you make a listing for your book that will be posted for narrators on ACX to see. Think of it as a job listing and you're looking for applicants. You enter the information about the book like title, genre, page count, and blurb. Then you select how you want to pay your narrator. ACX offers you different ways to pay your narrator. The first being you pay them based on the hours they put in upfront and then you get all the royalty from the sales. Or you can do the royalty share program which means you don't pay your narrator anything up front and the two of you will split royalties on the book for its entire life on Audible. The third option they offer is a mix of the two. You offer them an upfront payment just to pay for their efforts and then they also receive royalties, but a smaller share.

I'm an indie author and The Markings is my debut novel. I didn't have the budget to pay a narrator upfront costs (we're talking THOUSANDS of dollars) so I listed my book as a Royalty Share where I would split royalties with a narrator for the life of the book. It was the best option for me, and I'm sure most self-published authors would agree.

After you've listed all the information for your book you will upload the first couple pages of your novel for them to read. Any narrator that's interested will record themselves reading the sample pages and send it back to you as an audition.

The biggest risk I ran with my project was what narrator would pick The Markings (a 100,000 word book that could end up being a 10 hour long audiobook) when someone else is willing to give them THOUSANDS of dollars up front? I thought the same thing, but I was thankfully surprised! I had over 10 narrators audition for my project. What I quickly learned was these narrators want to work on a project that will be fun for them. They love what they do and they do a lot of them so they are constantly looking for any projects to be apart of.

I reviewed my ten narrators and selected Katrianna Paige to narrate The Markings. (fun fact she was actually the first one to audition too!) I had a BLAST working with her and I'm so excited that I'll get to do books 2 and 3 with her for the series.

So what happens after you pick a narrator?

You send them your book! Now here's what everyone's asking. How long does it take? I wish I had known this before starting the process as well. When I selected Katrianna as my narrator and I sent her the manuscript it was the very end of March and The Markings came out April 24. Katrianna (as with most narrators) was currently working on a different project and had lined mine up to directly follow it. I was lucky, some narrators book projects MONTHS in advance.

After a week or so Katrianna finished her current project and moved on to The Markings. From there it took her about a month to record the entire book. I believe we finished the audiobook around May 20th. This was nearly a month after The Markings had already been released in paperback and ebook formats. After that, ACX took another three weeks to review the project and approve it. Now, over two months after auditioning Katrianna, the audiobook is finally out in the world!

Would I do it again?

YES YES YES!!!! I had so much fun working on this audiobook. ACX made it so easy and enjoyable and Katrianna was AMAZING! I would do somethings differently, though. The first being my timeline. I want the audiobook ready to go for release day next time so I'll be sure to start the process much earlier. Also, with this being my debut novel I was editing the manuscript up until the week it was published which meant I had to keep emailing changes to Katrianna. Most of the time the changes were for parts she hadn't gotten to yet, but sometimes she had to go back and rerecord some parts. This time around I want to be 100% done with my manuscript before sending it off to her.

All in all, I had a great experience making the audiobook for The Markings. There's an unreal feeling of hearing the words you wrote spoken back to you. I have to give a million thanks to Katrianna because she brought it to life. I highly recommend her if you're looking for a narrator for your own book. If you have any questions about the audiobook process feel free to reach out to me!

Interested in The Markings audiobook? You can find it here, and preview a sample of the book. THE MARKINGS AUDIOBOOK

Don't forget to subscribe to my mailing list so you don't miss any future blog posts! Next time I'll be posting my review for A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins.

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