“To audio or not to audio?” It’s every self published author’s question.

My friend and author Eliot Peper told me once that producing an audiobook is important as an investment in your “platform.” As a self published author you operate a business that competes with a ton of other books, many of which have big publishing houses behind them. They set the standard for what your book must be, and your “platform” is the way you present it to the world. It’s your book (including the quality of its cover and interior,) but also your social media, your blogging, your emailing. It’s your publishing company.

image courtesy of Book Riot

So, even if you don’t think your going to set any sales records, your audiobook is a part of your package. It tells your prospective readers that not only do you believe your book is worthy of an audio version, but that you believe enough in it to produce and pay for it. Producing an audiobook is not cheap; the range in cost is between $150 and $400 per finished hour of narration. For a 75,000 word book that will be eight hours long you are looking at a cost range of $1,200 to $3,200. But it’s an investment in your platform, and shows the world that you are serious about your craft.

So with that said, I’m now doing an audiobook of my new novel, The Two Gates. To do so I signed up with ACX, a platform that unites authors and narrators together. ACX enables you to list your book for review by narrators who then “bid” on the job. One of the cool things about the site is that you upload a three to four page sample script taken from your book for the narrators to audition. Auditions then come in as narrators bid for your book. It’s pretty simple!

After three days up on ACX I had more than 10 auditions. All were very good, but the second one I received turned out to be the winner. My book is set in the 1960s and involves mostly men, so I wanted a male narrator. I also wanted someone with a mature voice, who evokes sort of a mid-west flavor. While the book is about John F. Kennedy, the main character, Patrick O’Shea, is from North Carolina and went to school in Charleston. He’s not really a southern boy, but he isn’t a blue-blood from Massachusetts either. I wasn’t sure how to describe what I was looking for, but I figured I’d know it when I heard it.

And I did. I chose a very experienced narrator with more than 60 books under his belt and a long acting career. His voice evoked exactly the kind of feeling I was looking for, and I personally could listen to him for hours (which is really the test!) So via ACX I made him an offer, and he accepted. This is step one of the process. The next step is to get him the full manuscript and to await him to complete the first 15 minutes of the book, after which he will produce the rest.

Stay tuned for more on this process.

And one final thought: hearing your words read by a professional narrator is pretty damn cool. For me, it was amazing and almost worth the price of admission!

Ken Davenport has written an alt-history thriller about John F. Kennedy and the Vietnam War called The Two Gates out now on Amazon. Learn more at www.kendavenport.net.

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