ACX, Audible and The Last Roundhead
Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) is a website that connects authors, agents, and publishers with professional narrators to created audiobooks. These are then distributed through Amazon, Itunes and Audible. ACX comes under the Amazon banner and it is a really innovative way for writers to add audiobooks to their list. As audiobooks are one real growth area in publishing, the ability to access such a simple system makes ACX the most convenient way to get your books to market.
I approached audiobooks with some trepidation (I am after all a computer idiot), but it was easy enough to sign up and log my details on the ACX secure server. Once I had registered my book I started looking at producers to narrate my first novel – The Last Roundhead.
Finding the right person to work with is massively important, and they make it easy to look through the potential narrators and listen to showreels. You can either put your work out to tender and see who is interested, or, as I did, find someone whose work you like and approach them. ACX has a number of different contract types, from profit share to direct payment which you decide when you post your books.
The Last Roundhead is not a simple book to narrate. It has footnotes and archaic language; it steals outrageously from some of the great writers of the 17th Century. This all means any narrator must have a grasp of theatre, classical literature, and history, as well as having comic timing and strong story-telling skills. As I listened to the showreels, there was one producer whose work leaped out as perfect: Bill Allender.
So, I emailed Bill and asked him about his availability. He was snowed under with work at that point (and I warn you good producers are in demand), but would be happy to do it if I could wait a couple of months. I had spent a long time listening to showreels and I knew Bill was right for the role. Blandford is my baby in many respects, so waiting for the right person rather than rushing to get it done seemed the right move.
It was definitely the correct choice. Once he was available, we agreed on the profit share contract and I sent Bill over the word files and waited nervously. It wasn’t long before he came back with a sample reading and the first 15 minutes (the all important prologue).
‘What do you think?’ Bill asked. ‘Remember I’m happy to take direction as an actor.’
It really didn’t need much direction at all. I asked if the pace of the first few paragraphs could be sped up. Not long after the reworked version was done and it was perfect. I played it to a mate to see what he thought.
‘It’s like Brian Cant is telling us the story.’
For those of you under the age of 40, that was high praise indeed. As we progressed with the recording, Bill would ask if there were any changes and kept in contact with me to make sure things were done to both our satisfaction. I did feel I should get all Orson Welles, but there was really very little for me to input. I checked the recordings as they were uploaded to ACX and they were perfect. Bill is a consummate professional and the whole process was finished very quickly. From the first test sample to completed project took perhaps five weeks. That may seem a lot for 10 hours of narration, but for every hour there are at least three times that in preparation, production and editing. Producers definitely earn their bread.
Once the narration was produced and uploaded, we had to wait for ACX’s internal checks to go through the work and process it for sale. That didn’t take too long and The Last Roundhead is now available on Amazon, Itunes, and Audible to download as an audiobook. The whole process with ACX, from signing up to completed audibook, worked seamlessly (even for an incompetent luddite like myself), and the finished product is all I hoped it would be. If you are thinking of using ACX to get your books out on audio, I can highly recommend the platform. The one piece of advice I would give is to do some research and find the right producer for your work.
To hear more of Bill’s wonderful narration try Malcolm Archibald’s Jack Windrush series which is available on Amazon or take a look at his website here