My guest today is an author friend I met through Bee Zee Books, Rik Stone. Rik has recently put his debut novel, Birth of an Assassin out in audible form. He graciously agreed to visit and give us a look at his journey into audio publishing. You can click on the picture of the handsome rogue from the UK to learn more about him and his writing, but first let’s jump into the meat of this post.
A cyber friend of mine, author Thomas Drinkard, read and enjoyed my debut novel Birth of an Assasin. He reviewed the work, put it on Amazon, and then made contact. The conversation went something like this:
Tom: Thought I’d drop you a line to tell you I have read and reviewed your book. You won’t be disappointed, so I don’t mind giving you the link … Giving thought to your work a little later, I think it would make a great audio book; have a look at the site http://www.acx.com/ and see what you think.
Me: Yeah, thanks, Tom, it looks good, but I think it’s a bit rich for my blood. Thanks for thinking of me, though.
Tom: Look again. It isn’t necessarily going to cost you anything, other than maybe the cover. Read up on the SHARED option.
I studied everything I had overlooked on the previous browsing of the site and saw that until about ten/twelve months ago the option to independently produce an audiobook with ACX was only available to authors in the US. Not anymore, now it also includes the UK and is spreading further, strike one to me! Reading further I found that if the author is willing to split the royalties with the narrator (royalty shared option) then the whole thing can be carried out free of initial costs. For me that meant have an audio book produced or don’t, so the share didn’t seem too important. As an aside, the contract runs for seven years, so if by that time you feel you might have done better somehow elsewhere, that option isn’t dead in the water. Next steps; join ACX using your Amazon account and add your title.
Before I forget, I should mention what was said about the cost of cover work being a possibility. Unlike paperback or eBook, the cover has to be square, 360×360 as I remember. I bypassed that cost by cutting my original cover down to size, missed out a couple of bits that weren’t terribly important and dragged the name Rik Stone down onto the new cover, so the cover was cost free too.
Okay, you’re a member and you’ve claimed that you are the title owner and ACX has accepted that fact. Now you need to find a piece of text from the book that will excite the socks of a prospective narrator, I think off the top of my head it is around 400/500 words, but don’t trust me the site will tell you that. Choose something that is appealing and at the same time will stretch the range of the narrator’s voice. Found it? Then upload it and, as ACX will tell you, wait for the auditions to roll in. There are a lot of books up there begging audition, so I think that suggestion might be a little optimistic. I did have a couple of interested parties, but not enough to call it a stampede. I took the other approach, I searched through the narrators I might like, listened to how they performed samples of other people’s works and found several that sounded right for my stuff, so I made contact with them and told them where to find the auditioning sample. Job done, I waited for a response.
Because the setting of Birth of an Assassin is post war Soviet Russia, I pretty much wanted an actor whose accent was English but didn’t belong to any particular English speaking country. Enter Dennis Kleinman. You can listen to some of his samples of my book at http://rik-stone.com/audio.html and see if you can pin down the origin of his accent; I can’t.
I don’t know if all narrators work the same, but Dennis sent completed chapters to me one or two at a time and I was able to check for accuracy as we went. If there was anything I wasn’t happy with, Dennis changed the work immediately and without complaint, kudos to him. At the end of the work, which took just under three months, I gave it the okay and the rest was down to Dennis. What do I mean by that? It is up to the narrator to produce the sound quality that ACX will accept, so by this time the author is out of the loop.
Once accepted, the audio goes live. Now it is up to both sides, author and narrator, to market the book; another benefit of the shared royalty option, you have just doubled those campaigning on behalf of the audiobook.
My views: Early days to be too definite about anything. My work is available in paperback and eBook for Birth of an Assassin and The Turkish Connection. The eBooks sell copy, the paperbacks look nice on my desk stuck between two wise owl bookends and the audiobook for Birth of an Assassin gives that extra dimension of professionalism. I have several other books queued up behind what is out there awaiting publication and I’m a believer that a single successful book, I mean really successful, will sell everything else you’ve ever written, and this will also apply to that first audio book.
So far what is here, is written in the view of an independent author, but it applies to most authors. Trade published authors don’t necessarily sign away the audio rights with a book contract, so a nod from the publisher can give them the go ahead to do the same with their work.
Do children born into poverty become impoverished adults? It happens; pitfalls and roadblocks to advancement are everywhere. Rik Stone grew up poor amidst the slum-lands of fifties North East England, leaving school at 15 without any academic qualifications.
After working in shipyards and a stint in the merchant navy he worked quarries in South East England. Life was without horizons until he studied for, and completed, a BSc degree in mathematics and computing.
Taking a company pension at fifty, he was able to follow personal desires and began writing. Now, he is offering up his debut novel Birth of an Assassin, the first in a series. The second book in the series is also now available, The Turkish Connection.