Finding a Narrator on ACX

Many of you may remember the article I wrote on using Audiobook Creation Exchange, or ACX, which helps authors who want to put their books into audio form meet narrators and then get them onto Amazon. Well, about four months ago, after a lot of thought and getting feedback from some of my friends, family members and readers, I decided to get one of my own novels turned into an audio book. This past Saturday I finally found a narrator and finalized a deal with him.

Based on my experiences over the past four months, I thought I’d write another article for anyone thinking about using ACX to produce an audio book. This time, I’ve got tips on how to find your narrator.

First, don’t expect narrators to come looking for you. We like to imagine that the clamor to be the narrator of our audio book is like a bunch of knights taking on quests of courage and valor in order to win the hand of a princess, but in reality it’s more like you’re the princess’s father or mother and you’re writing various knights and princes to get them interested in your darling daughter. Believe me, even if narrators are proactive about finding projects to work on—and many of them are—there are new books being uploaded onto ACX every day, and yours can become quickly lost among the others.

The best thing an author on ACX can do—especially if your name isn’t JK Rowling, George RR Martin, or Harper Lee—is actively seek their own narrator. ACX has several thousand narrators, many with multiple audio samples for you to listen to and decide if someone is right for you. And you can narrow down your choices based on specific factors you’re looking for: age, gender, language, accent, and even what sort of payment they’re willing to take. When you find one you like, you can message them and invite them to submit an audition for your book if they’re interested.

Just keep in mind, really good narrators or ones who can do difficult accents can be hard to get sometimes. For my own novel, I needed someone who can do an American Urban accent, and when I first started searching the number of samples for that sort of accent was over three-hundred. Sounds like I could have my pick of the lot, right? Wrong! After eliminating narrators I didn’t like or I felt didn’t fit what I was looking for, I found that a lot of narrators who could do an American Urban accent were either busy or they charged for their services. In fact, one narrator told me after I told her I couldn’t afford to pay her that a lot of the best narrators or those who can do particular accents often charged for up-front payments and royalty shares.

That’s not to say you can’t find a great narrator who can do a difficult accent or voice who fits your budget or needs. I found one who is good at what he does and was willing to meet my needs. It just took a lot of work to find the guy.

You also have to sometimes deal with the fact that sometimes particular vocal styles, languages, or accents may not have a lot of people who can read them. I played around with the search tools a bit, and found that only twenty-two samples came up when I looked for samples of Japanese accents read by women or men attempting to sound like women. I wonder how much they charge.

Another thing to be aware of while searching for a narrator is that some books get stipends. This was something I learned while searching for my narrator. Twice in the first two weeks a book is available for auditions on ACX, it is evaluated to see if it is eligible for a stipend based on factors such as reviews, past print and e-book sales, and length. Especially length. The longer the better. If your book receives a stipend, then even if you can only afford to do the royalty share option, your narrator will receive some money after the completion of the project from Audible, ACX’s parent company. How much depends on how long the book is, usually $100 for every completed hour of audio and up to $2500. Books that are stipend eligible are marked by a green banner on the book’s profile page.

Now my book wasn’t marked stipend eligible, but it’s something to keep in mind. ACX actually recommends waiting during the first two weeks to see if your book is eligible for stipend. Though perhaps that may only be feasible for that five-hundred plus page novel that’s been selling like hotcakes you published a while back.

I have two final points to make. One, is to be aware that ACX sometimes loses messages sent through its system. This is something I learned ACX has a problem with. Messages sent to me or that I sent would sometimes disappear into the ether and I wouldn’t know if I wasn’t hearing back because the other person’s life has gotten crazy busy, or because once again the system gobbled the message up. Just a heads-up so you know when you wonder why the enthusiastic narrator you came across hasn’t gotten back to you after a week even though previous messages have always been returned in two or three days.

And finally, don’t stress out if you don’t have immediate success finding someone. It took me from early August to late November to find my narrator, and I spent quite a lot of lunch breaks looking through ACX’s databases. It can be grating if you don’t hear back from someone, or if someone you thought was a good match doesn’t pan out, or nobody you come across you like. That’s just sometimes how things work out. If you need to, take a break and worry about other stuff. When you come back, you may find things will go quite well for you.

What tips do you have for finding a narrator on ACX? How did you find yours?

Sex Sells, But…

I write romance and erotic romance, it’s how I hope to make my money. But I didn’t choose this genre because of the possible money aspect. I actually fell into it when I agreed to co-author a romance novel with a writer friend. I found I loved it and I had a knack for writing romance. I didn’t find the sex scenes the least bit embarrassing or awkward to write. But that’s not everyone.

Just because sex sells, it doesn’t mean that you should write it. I’ve noticed in the 14 years that I’ve been studying the market that the best sex scenes work when the author is comfortable with their writing, but not every novel needs sex to float. I’ve read books were the sex scenes were awful and added nothing to the story. You tell it was placed in there just to sale the book.  Take out the sex and the book would have done great without, probably would have been a better book.

In this day and age sex is more open and sought after by readers, but not all readers. There are those readers who prefer clean fiction-whether that be romance or paranormal fiction. Sex might sale and sale good, but if you are not one of those comfortable writing sex scenes and describing all the “dirty” details, then why should you. There are readers out there that are not comfortable reading about sex.

I have an author friend who started out writing clean romances, found she was missing something, added sex and loved it. Some of her readers didn’t. She gets hounded to place less sex in her books or put it behind closed doors.

If you don’t want to write sex scenes, then don’t feel pressured to cross your comfort zone. However, if you some day want to be comfortable writing about sex. Then work from where you are comfortable and slowly add to it. Increase the amount of sensuality in a scene (i.e. petting, kissing, emotional need, etc), or the amount of sex. Push yourself a little further each time.

If you are like me and comfortable writing about sex, why stop yourself? Use a pen name if you don’t want people to get confused. Hide your double writing life. Whatever makes you comfortable. If you are one of those who don’t like writing about sex, then don’t. It comes out awkward and sometimes quite humorous. Trust me on this…or not, after all who am I to you?


Found this link about Writing Sex Scenes and thought I’d share it: “We all know that sex sells. But when it comes to writing, it can be difficult to pull off a sex scene. In certain genres (like general fiction and memoir), a writer takes a big risk by exposing nitty-gritty details.” Writing Sex Scenes: How Much Is Too Much? By Writers Relief Staff