Monetise your skills: become a narrator on ACX

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WendyAnneDarling

Wendy Anne Darling – author and audio specialist talks to Blackheath Dawn on becoming an narrator on Amazon’s Audio Book Creation Exchange. 

I have always loved to read aloud, so it’s no surprise that I finally stumbled upon ACX; Amazon’s audio book production arm, where authors can find narrators to produce their books in audio format. After setting up my own studio, I started sending out auditions and, much to my amazement, I received my first ‘gig’ after only my 5th audition. Not too shabby when there’s around 4 times more narrators in their system than projects waiting! OK… enough horn-tooting.

Finding narrators on ACX

Authors can find narrators either by going through ACX’s system and picking out narrators or, more usually, by posting details of their book plus a short segment to have interested narrators find them and send in auditions. There appears to be no time limit and authors are free to leave the listing open for as long as it takes them to find what they’re looking for. Authors can also decide to withdraw their book as well, should they change their mind. I got my third gig 6 months after I sent the audition!

How do the narrators get paid?

Pretty simple. Payment is either made on a fee per finished hour (FPFH) basis or a royalty share. FPFH is set by the narrator and usually based on narrator experience and popularity. New narrators may start with a low rate while others can get pricey. To put fees into perspective, remember that a narrator pays for their own recording and production equipment or recording studio time and each finished hour (reading, recording, editing and mastering) can easily take 7+ hours. When you find your narrator and agree on a FPFH, you will pay the narrator directly before ACX will put the audio book on sale.

ACX royalty, split and stipend

Those who do not want to pay the narrator directly can agree to a 50/50 royalty split. Please note that this is 50/50 after Amazon has taken out its chunk. All projects I have done so far have been 60/20/20 splits – Amazon gets 60% and author and narrator split the rest. Amazon sets the price based on the finished length of the book and the author has no say in this. In the case of a royalty split, Amazon takes care of paying the narrator their percentage earned. Needless to say, you are much more likely to get a ‘yes’ to the royalty split concept from an experienced and talented narrator if your book is already selling very well!

One possible tool for tempting an experienced and/or talented narrator is to see if ACX might approve the offer of a stipend. If you can show that your audio book has good selling potential, ACX may offer $100 per finished hour to the narrator out of their own pocket if you are using the royalty split method. You are more likely to get good narrators to audition if they know that at least they have the stipend.

The process then takes around 3 months to complete. The narrator produces a 15 minute segment for author approval first, and then produces/uploads the rest. The author should listen to the files before giving final approval or requesting final edits after which the files are uploaded for the last time. ACX then does a quality control audit to make sure the audio is up to their standards before it hits the ‘shelves.’

One huge plus to consider when you are considering whether to have your book produced is to remember that no reader of your book is likely to be more totally immersed in your writing than your narrator is; they know it intimately! Personally, I would love the opportunity to mark possible edits and send to the author for an additional fee and, while no editor can truly guarantee catching 100% of errors, I catch the vast majority of them and am less expensive than a professional editor. Just an idea for you to consider!

Thank you for reading, Wendy Anne Darling

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