She’s speaking of ACX, the Audiobook Creation Exchange outfit. Having just heard the audio version of her self-published thriller, Nan was more than a little excited when she called. When she spoke with us, she was probably indulging in a little hyperbole – or her husband, Chuck (not his real name) (his real name is Warren), is just not as much fun in bed as you might think.
The point is, Nan is quite pleased with her oral experience so far. She stumbled across ACX; made her novel available for taping; provided a short segment for narrators to audition; sent messages to five different voice actors, receiving three auditions; selected her reader; and, now, she’s only a piece of cover art away from making the product available for sale. Easy peasy.
Fun fact: According to the Urban Dictionary – the term “easy peasy” comes from an ancient television commercial for Lemon Squeezy dish detergent. No, we'd never heard of Lemon Squeezy dish detergent, either, but now we want to own a bottle.
At this point, Nan doesn’t know if there’s money to be made in audiobooks or not. But there is the potential of a few more bucks in the bank account and that’s good enough for her. Good enough for us, too. After all, if it wasn’t for the potential of earning enough jack to buy a cup o' joe at Method Coffee, self-publishing would wither and die.
So we thought we’d jump into the game. Because our lovely young niece listens to books no matter where she goes, we thought we’d start with a novel intended for MG readers -- Something Wicked. Despite good reviews and the occasional fan letter, the book's e-sales are lagging (despite the higher price, paperback sales pretty much match the e-numbers) and we hoped an audio version might find a receptive audience.
Preparing an audition script from the opening of SW – easy peasy – we signed up for ACX and posted the book on the ACX site for any interested narrators. Like Nan, we sat back and waited for the auditions to fill our inbox. Like Nan, all we heard was...
We’d been too optimistic, hoping the world would rush to our door. So we pulled ourselves together and started listening to audio samples, trying to find the just-right person to make our book come to life. Since SW is the story Ann Lippens, girl detective, we focused on actresses and found some terrific talent. Since Nan had found five potential narrators, we did the same, sending each of them our pitch.
Not much later, we’d heard from the first actress. She was traveling out of the country, wouldn’t be able to provide an audition tape until later. Maybe much later. So we were one down.
The next day, we received two auditions and had the promise of a third in another couple of weeks. Two days later, the last narrator contacted us, providing her take on our work. Hey, with three auditions in hand, we felt pretty good about the process. If things worked out, we might not need to hear the two-weeks-from-now audition, much less the effort from the woman going to Spain.
Finding a quiet place, we sat down to listen to the talent.
Our first actress definitely had possibilities. Her voice was light, pleasant – “This is a voice you could listen to all day,” one of us remarked – and clearly professional. If there was any concern, it was almost a weird one: the voice was so smooth, there was never any sense of drama. Even as our story's first victim fell from a cliff, doomed, she sounded more bemused than frightened.
Not perfect for our needs but this was definitely a good start. Still, bottom line, we had strike one.
Our second actress was good, too, but we suspected she would be. Her credits as listed on ACX list was impressive and, if true, she clearly had chops. She zipped through our pages easily, quickly...and maybe too quickly, providing a 3-and-a-half minute version of our 5-minute audition. She also made an interesting acting choice, sounding pissed throughout the audition. This time, as our victim fell to her death, she sounded like she couldn't wait to knock the crap out of the rocks below.
Again, not perfect, but interesting. However, strike two.
Our third narrator had the kind of husky, dark voice that was immediately attractive. Breathy, her words oozed sexuality. If Ann Lippens had been a teenaged bar slut, she’d have been golden. (One of us liked her voice so much that he wanted us to immediately write a story about a sexy teenaged bar slut who maybe liked the guys on the football team a little too much. The other one of us disagreed.)
Do you even have to ask? Strike three.
Worried that we'd only begun and already struck out, we approached another pair of narrators. But, again, we've rambled a bit too much for today. More next time.