Editor’s Note: This story was originally published in 2019.
While readers and writers have been skeptical of the fluctuating publishing industry in recent years, one literary market has all surprised us a little: audio books.
Somewhere on the way to long commutes and omnipresent smartphones, a market for audio books broke out: people who otherwise don’t read much.
This exploding market makes it imperative for authors and publishers to publish books in audio form and on the most popular platforms – Audible (Amazon) and iTunes.
Enter Amazon Creative Exchange audio book (ACX), which connects audiobook storytellers with books for storytelling.
As with other publishing services you can find on Amazon – CreateSpace for print-on-demand books, CDs and DVDs; and Kindle Direct Publishing for e-books – ACX makes it easy to create an audiobook from start to finish.
If you are an actor or a speaker, this market is where you can make money.
Not sure where to start? Here is our guide.
How to become an audiobook teller
actor Kris Keppeler has been doing voice over work for over a decade.
“I started working freelance and bidding for work,” said Keppeler. “I bid and got a short audio book, and it went well. When ACX came over, I started auditioning there … It took a while to figure out where my voice fits. “
Based on her experience, Keppeler gives some advice – and warnings – to anyone interested in audio book work.
What you need to know before you audition
Before you audition for months to land your first gig, we have a few tips to help you get started.
“My voice just fits in with the audio book work,” said Keppeler. “Because of our training, the actors are particularly geared towards audio book work.”
This is because actors learn to portray multiple characters, which is particularly necessary for telling fiction. Even for nonfiction books, acting training can help you animate the narrative and make a book interesting.
“You definitely have to train something,” said Keppeler. “If you listen to audiobooks regularly and like them, this is a good place to start. But you really have to feel like doing this type of work because it is a lot of work.”
How is telling an audio book different from reading a book?
“When you read a book, you see and hear things in your head,” she said. “Then when you tell this book you have to vocalize what you see and hear in your head. It is not easy!”
Since an audiobook listener relies solely on your narration, it is important to paint the picture just right (and fulfill the author’s vision). It’s a marked difference from other voice-over work like commercials, where pictures or videos add to the narrative.
Because of this need to draw the reader into a fictional world, telling fiction requires acting skills. Not everyone is suitable for this.
But “Nonfiction books have their own challenge,” said Keppeler. “Sometimes what you read is a little dry, but you still have to make it interesting.”
She says it doesn’t necessarily matter if a book is interesting you.
“At this point, whether it is or not, I tell it and find the interesting parts for myself and put it in my voice,” said Keppeler.
Even if you don’t like the topic, you can still enjoy the process of creating the book for readers.
Learn the right technique
Before she landed her first appearance on ACX, Keppeler was submitted auditions for more than a year on the platform.
Why does it take so long to land a gig?
Some of it, says Keppeler, just learns how to tell correctly. “I had a coaching session that finally got me to do a pretty good job.”
Author Joanna Penn has recorded audio versions of some of her own books. If you can’t afford coaching, she offers some Tips for beginners at The Creative Penn to get you started.
Some tricks to keep in mind:
- If you’re new to recording, schedule sessions a few days apart to make sure you have enough energy.
- Avoid dairy products before ingestion. Same goes for foods like peanut butter or anything that clogs your mouth or throat (yeck!).
- Try to modulate your breathing so that you are not holding your breath. This has a real impact on endurance.
Find your niche
After mastering audiobook reading techniques, Keppeler said, she had to find her niche.
She used trial and error. She took the storytelling that got in her way and listened to customer feedback. If a writer liked her voice, she knew it was a good fit.
“There are so many different genres in voice-over in general,” she said. “Most people find that they have certain specialties and that certain ones don’t fit.”
Once you know your voice and which genres suit you best, jobs come a lot faster.
Just audition for performances that match your voice and the success rate is much higher. You can even search for books by genre.
“I’m becoming a bit of a non-fiction specialist,” said Keppeler. “[When it comes to fiction]It’s hard to learn to play the different voices. Fiction books are heavily character-based, so you’ll have to deal with them [those] unless you are hired to work with a group, but that is not that common. “
The challenges of audiobook narration
Some of the work involved goes beyond recording the voice-over. “Especially when you work with ACX, you have to do the production yourself,” said Keppeler. “[That’s] work on and control yourself. There is a technical learning curve. “
Audiobooks take hours to work through, which makes them a lot more labor intensive than a lot of other voice over work.
“What I learned while working on smaller jobs went a long way towards making me jump into audiobooks,” said Keppeler.
So you might consider starting small.
Search online for Voice over jobs – You can find promotional videos under five minutes or training videos for companies between five and 15 minutes.
Even online course videos that require a few hours of voice-over are much shorter than most audiobooks, which are closer to 10-15 hours. Hone your skills on smaller jobs and work your way up to the longer projects.
What about submitting the technical material to an audio editor? Keppeler says that for what you paid for, an audiobook is usually not worth it.
You are expected to receive, produce and deliver a finished product. Any additional help you bring in will reduce your pay. Keppeler says you’re better off learning to do it yourself.
The Creative Penn also offers one Some editing tips::
- Avoid turning pages – read from a tablet, Kindle, or other electronic device.
- Turn off all devices’ Wi-Fi connections and put them in airplane mode to avoid static noise. (You can be there even if you can’t hear them.)
- Everyone The ACX file must be a single chapter from the book. It is easier to record these as separate files than to cut them up later.
- Due to the technical requirements of ACX, you need to add a few seconds Room tone at the beginning and end of the file.
How Much Money Can You Make Reading Audiobooks?
ACX does not set or recommend prices in order for manufacturers to charge fees.
But it does indicate that many narrators are members of the SAG-AFTRA union, in which minimum price restrictions are listed.
These guaranteed prices vary depending on the publisher / manufacturer. author Roz Morris tells writers The audiobook narration is expected to pay around $ 200 per hour completed.
However, according to Keppeler, most freelance audio book work is paid for in license fees. As you may have guessed, this reduces the upfront cost of an author as well as the risk of hiring you.
While ACX is a good place to get the job, the pay is usually lower, especially when compared to freelance broker websites that aren’t entirely dedicated to audiobook narration.
When recording an audiobook with ACX, you can choose to set your own hourly rate or share the royalties 50/50 with the rights holder (usually the author or publisher of the book).
If you charge a flat rate, you will be paid after the book is completed. License fees are paid monthly based on previous month’s sales.
Most of the time, Keppeler focuses on short books that she can finish quickly. And she gets a flat rate of about $ 100 per finished hour instead of royalties.
“I’ve got licensing deals, but only with short books at ACX,” she said.
“I don’t want to tie up my time because you [typically] Do very little with royalty books … I have four royalty books [on ACX]and about $ 20 a quarter. “
Whether or not a license agreement pays off depends largely on an author’s platform. The Creative Penn points this out. Research an author before signing an agreement.
If you’re just looking for a quick job and you’re not into long-term sales, then you can work with a writer regardless of their target audience. Set a flat rate and get your money when the job is done.
However, if you want to build a long-term relationship with an author and have found someone with a sizeable audience, you may be better off with the licensing deal.
In the long run, you could make a lot more money on sales fees. Your working relationship with the author is also strengthened as you are invested in the success of the book.
Where can I find audio book work?
As with any freelance activity, booking an appearance directly with the customer in your network gives you the greatest possible autonomy in setting your tariff.
Bidding on an exchange site like ACX offers the lowest of the two.
“I only go to ACX when I have no other paid job,” said Keppeler.
ACX also makes it difficult to achieve one of the basic requirements for successful freelance work: repeat customers.
Keppeler said the platform wasn’t really designed to connect writers with storytellers over the long term. Instead, audition for each job. It eliminates a great opportunity for storytellers to work with an author on a series or future books.
The direct connection via a freelance broker offers this possibility. Keppeler said that was how she found the author of this series of books on Wiccawho offered her ongoing work.
What ACX is Well, she said, build your portfolio.
If you are just starting out, the platform gives you an opportunity to improve your skills.
Practice your storytelling and editing skills through auditions and improve writer feedback. When you’ve landed a couple of gigs, use these as samples to land customers elsewhere.
As audiobooks become more popular, Upwork is releasing more audiobooks. Freelancers, she says, are more suited to general voice-over appearances, but not audiobook narration.
Audiobook narrators must-haves
Keppeler’s top tip for anyone dealing with voice over is to invest in a good microphone and headphones.
Early on, she says, “I lost the job because I didn’t have really good headphones and there was background noise that I couldn’t hear. If you send something that isn’t good enough, they’ll never hire you again.”
Eventually she hired a professional to improve her setup. She says she wish she did it ahead of time instead of tinkering.
A good preamp or audio box can also help clean up your sound and remove background noise. However, Keppeler cautions against buying a cheap one – it’s a tool that is worth spending your money on.
Finally, “You must have a desire to learn the technical part of it,” she said. “You can ruin an audiobook with poor editing.”
How to get started
ACX offers comprehensive instructions and FAQs Check these out for writers, storytellers, and publishers before you begin.
Here is an overview of how it works:
Create a profile to detail your experience.
Upload samples to your profile to demonstrate your various skills – accents, genre, style, etc.
Determine whether you always want to be paid per hour finished, through licensing agreements, or whether you are open to both.
Find books that authors / publishers have published and record a few minutes of the manuscript to audition for the performance.
If you are chosen by the author / editor you will receive an offer. To accept the job, accept the offer. All of this should be done through ACX (not by phone or email) to ensure that the terms of the contract are being adhered to.
Take a 15 minute sample and edit it for feedback before recording and editing the entire project. You also have the right to approve or request changes once you’ve submitted the full project.
After the project is complete and approved, you will receive a flat rate or monthly royalty based on book sales.
If you’re just getting started with voice over work, try browsing Upwork for smaller projects You can use it to find your voice, build your technical skills, and expand your portfolio.
Or you can reach into your network and get creative to find independent appearances.
Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a former branded content editor at The Penny Hoarder.
This article originally appeared on www.thepennyhoarder.com