My friend, M.L. Rigdon, is my critique partner and supplier of peanut butter cookies. She hired actors to make her action/adventure novel THE ATLANTIS CRYSTAL into an audio book. I bugged her, and she’s agreed to share why and how she did it with us. Thanks, Mary Lou!
1. Why did you decide you wanted to make one of your novels into an audio book?
Initially, because my sister nagged me. She’s always right, so I gave in and confronted the opportunity. There is also the responsibility to give one’s work every chance and that there is a readership out there unable to read the written word. (In college, I hoped to read for the Braille Institute located next to campus. Never got around to it, and today salve the guilt by donating to the local Literacy Council. Think about doing that in your area.) I heard on NPR that libraries are being overcharged by some traditional houses for audio books, causing library systems financial problems when it comes to offering patrons audio versions. I plan to sell mine cheap.
2. How did you choose The Atlantis Crystal for your first audible?
Actually, it’s the second book, and I wanted the next one to be with the same author name, M.L.Rigdon. The theme is meant to be a parody of Indiana Jones with a quirky, kick-butt librarian not as narrowly focused as Indy and with more quirks, like her love affair with junk food—something fun and funny but with action that would carry the story verbally. I’m hoping to make use of the films coming out in February and March, Uncharted and The Lost City. Hitting a trend can help find new readers. And sales, of course.
3. What steps did you have to do to accomplish your goal?
I went about it sort of backwards. Having a history in theater provided insider knowledge and access to people in the arts. I contacted the daughter of a friend. Dana Bixler works in NYC and does stage and voice for animation. She decided to work through ACX and I contracted her through ACX to narrate Her Quest for the Lance, the final book in the Seasons of Time fantasy trilogy. What strikes me about Dana’s work is her flexibility and difference from most narrators. She creates a persona for each character. There is a distinction beyond the raising and lowering of the voice. She and her friend Dylan Tacker, another NYC actor, signed to narrate TAC and are now working on the sequel, Seductive Mines.
4. When the actors finished their work, what then?
The completed file is sent to me via ACX and I review it for changes and errors. After the corrections are entered for the narrator/s and verified, Dana releases the file to ACX for it to be mastered. When it’s ready, I pay the producer/narrator (I use PayPal) and ACX uploads the book to Amazon Audible and iTunes.
ACX has step-by-step instructions for everything. I would narrate my own works but then I wouldn’t have the time to write and manage thirty books.
5. Are you happy with the experience? Will you do it again?
Next one is already in production. I’m starting to outline the next Philadelphia adventure but have plenty of other books for them to narrate until it’s done. I’d like to focus on the fantasy books and have already asked Dana about podcasts for YouTube and would like to work on shorter advertising options like TikTok.
6. Any words of wisdom for the rest of us?
If you can afford it, or if a corporation offers to buy your book for audio (check your rights and the contract carefully!), it’s worth it to hear your works literally brought to life. Good narrators/actors do things with your words that are incredible. It’s expensive but with advertising/exposure, can be another form of income.
7. Anything else you’d like to share?
Keep in mind that the digital market is overloaded. There has been talk about declining sales in the digital format due to market flooding and unfortunate mistakes in final products. If a new writer doesn’t have a following, it’s not easy to establish a readership, even with the many advertising options online. Audible books can provide an avenue for exposure to reach more readers, since there are many who cannot read, or find it difficult due to various challenges, and some prefer the spoken version rather than handheld. I haven’t contacted the library systems yet or would pass along that experience. I’m just getting started with this, but ACX has endless instructions. It’s not the only vendor out there, but the only one I’ve had time to check out and have so far been satisfied with the results.
And thank you, Judy/Judi for the invitation!
Thanks so much for sharing with us on my blog! I read and enjoyed The Atlantis Crystal. A fun romp! I’ve included a link for it, and there’s a free sample of the audible readers can try.
If you’re curious about ACX, here’s the link for that, too. https://www.acx.com/
Have a wonderful February!