Getting Good Audiobook Projects

There are two main ways that I obtain offers to do the audiobooks I narrate. They both work through a website called the Audiobook Creation Exchange or ACX, which exists to connect book authors or publishers with narrators and vice versa. With one exception, the books I have done so far were the result of auditioning for the opportunity to produce a specific book that has caught my attention. Another of the first books I did came as the result of an author finding me using the narrator profile that I posted on ACX.

The profile is a brief presentation that summarizes my work and hosts brief audio samples of work that I believe reflects my strengths as a narrator. Some samples are from books that I have narrated that are currently for sale on Audible, and others may be excerpts from other works that show how I handle various genres.

To use the audition process I go to the ACX site and find the listing of books posted by rights holders (usually either publishers or authors) seeking narrators. At any given time, there may be hundreds of titles to select from.

For each book there is an excerpt that can be downloaded to my computer. If the script looks like something I might like to perform, I record the audition and submit it as an MP3 file to the rights holder via the ACX site. The rights holder considers all the auditions submitted and selects one narrator to do the project. An offer is made to the narrator and terms of payment are agreed upon. This is either a payment based on a rate per finished hour of the project, or, more frequently for relative newcomers like me, a share of the royalties from sales of the finished audiobook.

After doing a number of projects, I have learned to be somewhat discriminating about the projects I seek or accept. There is a plethora of self-published books out there that are sold on Amazon and some of them can be real clunkers. Too often the author skips the step of having an editor check for and correct errors. I’ve run across published books that are for sale on Amazon that include incomplete sentences, words that don’t exist, incomprehensible sentences and paragraphs, and whacko ideas from the lunatic fringe.

Facing this landscape, an experienced narrator will do a bit of investigation before auditioning for or accepting a project. There is a link on the ACX site to the Amazon listing for available projects. There you can find out more about the author, read reviews, and read a bit further into the book than might be available from a short excerpt that constitutes the audition script. You can also look up authors on their websites, find other works by the author, and determine publishing connections.

I must admit that the books I have produced have not always been literary masterpieces, and I have become a bit more discriminating about projects I’ll try for or accept. After all, my name does appear on the Amazon listing for the audiobook, and a search of my name will bring them up as books associated with me, so a bit of discrimination is warranted in this process of finding projects.

As one accumulates a body of work in audiobook narration, it becomes clearer where your strengths lie, and you can find better projects to try for in those genres. So don’t look for me in the sci-fi or romance genres. I tend toward the non-fiction, philosophy, and academic areas. Even these kinds of works can sometimes be poorly written and inappropriate, however, so caution is always a good idea before jumping headlong into a project that might be problematic in some way.

I also commit to spending many hours reading these books and then listening to what have I recorded. So if only to retain my sanity, doing a bit of research on potential projects can be a worthwhile part of this fascinating process.

About Philip Benoit

A producer/narrator of audiobooks and voice-over announcer, I currently have 15 titles listed for sale on Audible. A search of my name on Amazon will provide a list of those books as well as a listing of college-level textbooks that I have co-authored. "Modern Radio and Audio Production" is currently in its tenth edition.

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