ACX and Audiobooks

Time has become vapor in these days of crisis. I missed blogging last Wednesday and didn’t notice. Sorry.

Last night I submitted my first audiobook to ACX. Great platform with a lot of improvements. Learned a LOT! The next time will be much faster.

Should you produce your own audio book?

Maybe.

It helps to have a background in, or be able to learn, sound engineering. You must have a good microphone and place to record. There are great instructions at ACX, Amazon’s audiobook publishing platform, but I don’t agree with all of them.

Microphone Woes

My old condensor mic stopped working, so for recording Creativity Wears Boots, I bought a Blue Snowball. What a nice little microphone! That stopped working. My computer couldn’t find it. So I submitted a warranty claim and Blue was excellent. Amidst all this Covid madness, they replaced it with, they said, a Yeti Nano, which is a step above the out-of-stock Snowball. What I got was the Ice.

Blue Snowball iCE USB Condenser Microphone 988-000067 B&H Photo
The Ice. Good for single source narration.

The Blue Snowball Ice is a fine microphone, I finished up my recording with it, but the Ice is a step down from the Snowball because it’s uni-directional. The Snowball is uni- and omni-directional.

Amazon.com: Blue Snowball iCE USB Mic for Recording and Streaming ...
Blue Snowball – Omni and Uni Directional with a switch. Good mic!

Another call to Blue and they sent out a Blue Yeti Nano. THIS MICROPHONE ROCKS! Clearer than the clear Snowball, richer tones, it’s a great microphone. Unfortunately, I had to do some pickup recording so a couple chapters sound better than the others. That’s why I started with my book before recording any of my other author’s books, so I could make the mistakes on mine.

Hands-On Review: the Yeti Nano from Blue Microphones
The Blue Yeti Nano – Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

So, good microphone, and my office is covered with sound tiles (hard to make stick on the wall, which is another story).

Which Audio Recording Platform?

ACX recommends Reaper as your audio recording platform. It has a free 60-day trial, is ranked #2 for audiobooks, and is very confusing.

I used Audacity, #14 on the list, free, and very easy to use. I also downloaded an ACX Check plug-in which told me how to process my files, which meant making them louder and limiting peaks. Prior, I removed background noise, equalized, deepened, normalized and added a hint of reverb.

Audacity outputs to a wave file, so freac is a free audio converter to MP3 formatting, for uploading to ACX.

ACX Uploading

ACX now has a nice feature. When you set up your book and load a file (follow their directions), it immediately analyzes the file and tells you if it’s acceptable. Of 37 audio files, only one was rejected (which was odd, because Audacity’s ACX Check said it was fine. ) Another boost of volume and limiting of peaks and it was set. (For future, set the gain higher and turn on the limiter).

I finished setting up my account and submitted it. I got an email that the submission was accepted and after they lightly process and analyze it, within 30 days they’ll let me know if it’s rejected or it will be available on Amazon, Audible and iTunes (wider distribution is possible if you’re willing to take a deep cut on royalties. Most audiobooks are purchased on these three).

Oddly, you don’t get to set your own price. They’ll do it for you based on the length of the product.

Are You Ready for the Work?

Audiobook production, like self-publishing, is a long, complicated process. At Prevail Press, we help people daunted by self-publishing while giving them a great brand affiliation.

If you find recording too daunting, you can pay an independent or ACX-affiliated producer, or split royalties with ACX producers. Nor do you have to go with ACX, there are other distributors.

It’s a lot of work that may or may not be worth it, but as time goes by, audiobooks will become more and more of the market.

Got questions? Ask away!

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