This is something I thought about for a long time and then finally made a move, after looking into the ways and means for going about it. I went with Amazon’s ACX program, which is easy to use and gets the audio book right onto Amazon, although there is an exclusivity clause. With audio books, I don’t think this causes the dilemma that goes with publishing print books. Audio book outlets are more limited, so why not go with the most popular?
After giving the idea a lot of thought, I decided to start with my Steampunk Adventure novel, The Wake of the Dragon. The book is very Victorian in tone and I thought a pleasant, male voice would suit it best. This immediately ruled out the possibility of doing the reading myself. So, my choices were either to tap my supply of acting and voiceover contacts or to solicit a reader.
Part of the ACX platform is an option to connect voice readers with books for either an hourly rate or a royalty share. The hourly rate would have cost more than I have to invest at present, so I put my book up for a royalty share basis and waited. I could always change my mind later if there was no interest.
Amazingly soon, I received a notification of an audition. Excitement! A voice reader was interested in my book! I listened to the audition and the reader had a good voice, but not the right voice for the story. The story is very English and required an English accent, preferably with gentle tone. The first audition was from an American who came from a radio announcer background. He had great voice control and clarity, but I had to accept that he just wasn’t the right voice for this project. It isn’t easy to turn down first nibble on a new platform, but it was the right decision.
More waiting ensued. The benefit of always having too many projects going at once is that such waiting can pass unnoticed while I’m busy with other things.
A fair bit of time passed. Weeks, months… I don’t really know how long. I just left the project on offer and put my attention on things I was actively doing. Suddenly, out of the blue, I got a notification for a new audition. This time I approached it with a little less enthusiasm and the determination that if it wasn’t the right voice, I would not ‘settle’. If the right person didn’t materialise out of the ACX program, eventually I would find an actor myself.
However, when I listened to the sample, it was really good. The sort of vice wanted is listed with the project and this one fit the description. A pleasant, gentle, male English voice that would suit a Victorian novel well. Eventually I would learn that the reader is an actor and voice actor who has done non-fiction books, but chose only my airship adventure from the fiction category. We communicated, got on well, and he was very easy to work with. I accepted his first fifteen minute sample, required by ACX, sent him the printed version and left him to get on with it.
Over the last holidays, I didn’t give the project a thought. I was insanely busy and actually forgot all about it for a while. Then in February, I received a message that it was all done! I listened through the files and was very pleased with the result. There were a couple of minor things to correct and we discussed sound effects, eventually agreeing to try just a few subtle ones for scene changes. We had discussed accents and he did an amazing job of them, keeping the dialogue intelligible while giving the impression of a diversity of characters.
As of this writing, the minor corrections and sound effects are being done and this project will be ready to launch very soon. I’m hoping this month! I will need to listen through the files again, over eight hours worth! Then approve the final version and Amazon does the rest!
So, watch this space. If The Wake of the Dragon does well in audio book format, there may be others. It’s very exciting and feels almost like releasing a new book.