Why An Audio Book?

The hot topic in my writing circles lately is audio books. I sense a fascination among my fellow authors. Several have made them, many want to make them. And why not? Audio books are enZACAaudioCDjoying an enormous surge in popularity, having more than doubled sales in the last several years.

For the author, it’s never been simpler to make one. Amazon’s ACX and Audible are among the companies that have sprung up to meet this need. If you have a Kindle book listed with
Amazon, your work is all but done. But before we discuss the how, let’s talk about the why.

First, it’s interesting to note that 18 to 24 year olds make up almost a quarter of the listeners. These are tech savvy young people, who have grown up with ear buds perpetually in their ears. These are multi-taskers, young people who as students did their homework listening to music and walking an elastic band across their fingers. It’s a short step from listening to music to listening to a story.

Non-fiction books, and particularly “how to” books are admirably suited for audio, allowing hands and eyes free to focus on the job. I suspect there is even an audio book for making audio books. If not, I’m going to make one.
My doctor was the first to suggest I consider an audio book. I had gifted her a copy of Mestaclocan. I could tell from her expression there was no way, with her incredibly busy schedule, she would ever finish it. She has offices in Solvang and in Santa Barbara, a 50 minute drive apart, a perfect time for an audio book.

As goes the tablet book, so goes the audio book in terms of use. In both cases, there are multiple advantages to their use, which constitute reasons to consider this format. But there is a consumer adjustment period for every new format; one expert estimates a period of ten years. According to her, we are 5 years into the audio experiment, with five more to go, with increases each year.

With that kind of encouragement, I decided to give it a try. My choice was ZACA, my most recently published Zack Tolliver, FBI series book. As the most recent of the novels, it lags behind the others in sales. Perhaps an audio book will give it a boost.

I chose ACX as my producer, given the Amazon relationship, which means automatic retail shelving. I wanted to create an audio book for no cost. First, a caveat; my definition of cost is cash forward, not royalties. Royalties to me constitute a promise of a percentage of something that does not yet exist, money I never had to begin with.

ACX requests title, ISBN or similar, and a tax number. If you published and already sell a book, you have these things. On the ACX platform, you register your book and use the check-off form to define your narrator needs. Unless, of course, you decide to record your own book. That calls for equipment you may not own, and a studio setting. If you have these things, along with the voice, ability, and time, you can save your royalties. Time is the greatest consideration to me. A 250 page book, for instance, can require six or seven hours of recording, not counting edits, patches, and retakes.

Once I registered my book, I completed a check-off form to determine the kind of voice I wished in my narrator. That completed, I waited for an offer. When none came for several days, I grew impatient and utilized a second option. I defined the voice I wanted, found one I liked among the offerings, and made my offer. It was accepted within the hour, and I was on my way.

For the author, it is a buyer’s market, with over 40,700 producers ready to offer their services through ACX. The important thing is, the production of an audio tape of your book does not need to take up a lot of your time. You can get on with other things. Meanwhile, it means another income stream from royalties, however small.

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