Publishing an audiobook – Belinda Austin

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By Belinda Austin

Single and Looking, Daisy (Secret Lives of Sisters) is my 11th book and I made the decision to immediately do an audiobook because the book is hilarious and has so many crazy-funny characters which would make a highly entertaining audio book. I had done only one other audiobook before and that was five years earlier, Return of the Bones, Inspired by a True Native American Story. I chose to do Return of the Bones as an audiobook not because the book is funny but because the book is a moving, heartbreaking tale with a hopeful ending.♥

I again chose ACX to produce and distribute my new release Single and Looking, Daisy. My main characters are a 39-year-old woman who is a bit of a screw-up, unlucky in love, but she always looks on the bright side. After Daisy’s five sisters and aunt invade her house for an old-maid intervention and pray over her, Daisy’s 14-year-old cat begins talking in English with a British accent because the cat’s name is Shakespeare so naturally, the cat is British.

Choosing the right narrator can make or break the success of an audiobook, especially one that should make people laugh out loud. An important requirement from a narrator was a male British cockney accent for the cat Shakespeare, along with bubblehead Daisy. I entered my title in ACX as a comedy and filled out the form checking off the box for a narrator with great comic timing. I initially decided to look for both male and female narrators and specified in the narrator notes that I needed someone who could do a British accent and male and female characters.

I uploaded a script for potential narrators to record an audio sample. The script can be up to three pages long and my script was the maximum size because Single and Looking, Daisy has an assortment of eight colorful male accents. The voices of Daisy, her five sisters, mother and aunt had to be distinguishable and reflect their eccentricities. Therefore, I chose narration and dialogue of short funny scenes from the book, 12 in all, each with different characters.

There were two scenes between Daisy and her cat, one of which included her elderly aunt. I had two scenes for the cat because it was important that the narrator get the British cockney accent and the cat’s sassy personality just right. I, also, chose scenes with four of the sisters interacting with Daisy. I was limited by 3 pages so I couldn’t include all of the men in the book but the script had scenes with a Puerto Rican New Yorker, a black man, a Chinese man, and a German man, all with accents. I, also, included a scene with Daisy’s mother, a scene with the voice of God, and a scene with Daisy’s drunk brother-in-law.

I initially received eight auditions from male and female narrators and after listening to the men attempting to sound like women, I modified my request to just female narrators. There are male voice actors who can sound like women, especially if a character is elderly or has a deeper voice but Daisy is a bit daffy. I received an additional five auditions from women. Some of the narrators would be great for nonfiction. One woman had a sweet voice but sounded sad. Others did dialogue well but their monotone narration took away the humor from funny situations.

The narrator I chose blew me away with her accents and narration. Stacy “got” my book and brought the story to life. Had I not been happy with any of the auditions, I could have looked for a narrator on ACX by doing a search for “Producers for Hire” and entering criteria to shorten the list. All narrators have samples on their profile pages. Searching for a narrator is time consuming, however, because an author would have to send a message to a narrator asking for an audition, hope that the narrator is interested, and is free to narrate the book on a timely basis. Again though, let me stress that the voice acting is paramount to a book’s success, especially for fiction. The author always has the option to narrate the book, and this is a good choice for a memoir.

Timewise, I uploaded the audition script on a Wednesday evening, began receiving auditions by Friday morning and by Monday my narrator and I were under contract. I emailed her the manuscript, along with some notes on the story and additional characters, and feedback on her sample. The publisher as author of the story, is the director of the audiobook and the narrator looks to the publisher for guidance.

The entire process to make an audiobook for Single and Looking, Daisy (Secret Lives of Sisters) from auditioning to the day the audiobook was released took about ten weeks, which included multiple rounds of editing, i.e. listening with comparison to the paperback for any errors and then noting exactly where in the audiobook the error occurred. There was, also, a five-minute retail sample created from the finished audiobook. I started the sample towards the beginning of the second page to include a scene where Daisy accuses the cat of being in the beer again and some other humorous dialogue. The Amazon/Audible/iTunes sample for Single and Looking, Daisy can be played on my website

There are other audiobook companies similar to ACX to choose from when making an audiobook such as ListenUp, Author’s Republic, and Findaway Voices. They all offer narrators to choose from but offer different royalty rates, terms, etc. Here is a listing:

Belinda Austin writes Women’s Fiction, Chick-Lit, Romanic Comedy, Humor, Psychological Thrillers and Suspense. Belinda writes Science Fiction and Fantasy under the name of B. Austin and Historical Fiction under the name of Belinda Vasquez Garci. She has a degree in Applied Mathematics and worked as a Computer Programmer / Software Engineer / Web Developer. Her book, Return of the Bones, Inspired by a True Native American Story won the New Mexico / Arizona Book Awards for Best Historical Fiction. She is a Zumbaholic and lives in Florida.

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