Nancy's Notes From Florida

Author Nancy J. Cohen discusses the writing process and life as a Florida resident.

Audiobooks with ACX – Auditions and Narrators

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 18, 2016

Audiobooks with ACX – Auditions and Narrators

This is Part 2 of my series on Audiobooks with ACX. Once you’ve submitted your book’s profile, you are ready to accept auditions. Here’s where it gets hairy if nobody responds. Be patient. Eventually, you’ll begin hearing from narrators, also called producers.

woman headset

Soliciting Narrators

You don’t have to sit around and wait for narrators to contact you. You can search for your own on ACX. Click on Search and then Producers for Hire. Various filters are provided that will help your selection, such as genre, gender, voice age, and style. You can also fill in the type of payment you’re willing to offer.

Narrator Voice

The narrators list their websites, so you can see how many titles in your genre they’ve done. Their producer site on ACX lists their payment preferences and offers samples for you to listen.

Narrator Filters

See which voices strike you as matching your main character. Can you distinguish between different characters in scenes with more than one person? Can you hear the narrator’s voice well, or is it too low? Too raspy? Too fast, or too high-pitched? Too faltering? When you find someone you like, click Send Message from her ACX page and invite her to submit an audition.

When you receive auditions, you can click Like, Dislike, or Maybe to organize your selections. Narrators do not see this. When you want to listen again, click on the Like link for the samples to pop up. Be very discerning. Don’t take the first person who comes along.

Payment Plans

Find out what payment plan is acceptable to the narrator you like the best. Is she willing to work for royalty share alone? Some will only do royalty share if you also pay $100 pfh on the side or split the production costs. It’s not unreasonable on the narrator’s part to want to get paid, considering the hours and money she’ll put into production. Or is she only willing to accept an up-front payment of $200+ per finished hour? What’s the difference?

ACX sets the retail price based on finished length. They pay 40% royalty on retail sales. With royalty split, you get half (20%) and the narrator gets half (20%). The contract lasts for seven years. This is a good option if you don’t have the cash to pay the cost up front or if you’re not willing to take the chance that sales will exceed your initial expense. If you do royalty share and decide to cancel this arrangement after seven years, then you lose any rights to the recording. You’ll have to start all over again.

If you pay per finished hour (pfh) for the recording or have obtained a recording from another source, then you’ll retain rights. But you need to decide on exclusive or non-exclusive distribution. In an exclusive deal, your audiobook will be downloadable from Audible, Amazon, and iTunes, but you cannot offer it for sale anywhere else nor will it be available in CD format. Your royalty is higher this way than for a non-exclusive choice where it drops to 25%. With royalty share, it’s automatically an exclusive deal.


Another option for producers is royalty share plus a stipend, in which case ACX pays the producer $100 per finished hour. Each book, upon submission to ACX, goes into a set of algorithms that take into account publication date, reviews, ratings, and your social media presence. If you’re lucky, they’ll offer you a stipend. If your book is accepted, you’ll see a green banner on your title in the ACX system.If it doesn’t qualify, and it’s been active on ACX for a while, you can take it out of production and reactivate it later. The stipend algorithms may be applied again.

Choosing a Producer

Once you’ve agreed on a method of payment, ask the narrator if she’s willing to send you several chapters at a time for you to review while the book is in production. Also ask about her availability in terms of scheduling. Does she have a block of time free for when you’ll want to get started? Do you? Be prepared to commit your time for a month or two and agree on a set of dates. Do all this before you make a formal offer.

Making an Offer

When you are in agreement with a narrator you like, go to her ACX page and click on the “Make an Offer” button. You’ll have to set deadlines for the first fifteen minutes and for the finished book. Make these reasonable, because you’ll need time to review the files. This offer expires after a certain number of days. If the narrator accepts, you’ll be asked to upload a pdf file. Then you sit back and wait to receive the first 15 minutes for review.


Coming Next: Audiobooks with ACX – Reviewing Your Files


Permed to Death audiobook, book #1 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, is available at Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. Narrated by the talented Mary Ann Jacobs from Voice Over Visions. Hairstylist Marla Shore is giving grumpy Mrs. Kravitz a perm when her client dies in the shampoo chair. If that isn’t enough to give her a bad hair day, handsome Detective Dalton Vail suspects Marla of poisoning the woman’s coffee creamer. Listen to Sample Clips

PERMED TO DEATHnewflat_audio (640x640)




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Body Wave (Bad Hair Day Mystery #4) is on sale for $1.00 at Smashwords until July 31. Use Coupon Code SSW75. Marla the hairstylist goes undercover as a nurse’s aide to help solve the murder of her ex-spouse’s third wife.

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July 28
Killer Knots original edition ebook will be on sale for ONE DAY ONLY on July 28 for $2.99. Mark your calendars now. Available at most online retailers.






8 Responses to “Audiobooks with ACX – Auditions and Narrators”

  1. Good information here, although the ‘hybrid’ option also includes a range of narrator fees. And as for setting dates for the 1st 15 minutes and completed work, I ask my narrators to choose the dates best for them, and then fill in the information on the offer form. Also, you can make an offer from your own project page; you don’t have to go to the narrator’s page (at least it’s how I’ve done everything. You can get a lot of the preliminary negotiating out of the way by communicating directly with the narrator via email (or even phone calls) before using the ACX messaging system, which leaves a lot to be desired.

    I’ll emphasize your point about making sure you have a good block of time to review the narrations. You can’t “hear” any faster than the narrator reads, so a 10 hour book is 10 hours of listening, and that doesn’t include all the starts, stops, and notes you’ll probably be making where there might be a skipped word, or a word substitution, or the inflection seems off, or the pronunciation isn’t right … That means stopping the recording, noting the time stamp, making your notes–and you’ll probably be listening to it several times to make sure you heard it right. I know some authors who say they just sit back and listen, but I have to do a word by word comparison. One narrator left out an entire paragraph by mistake.

    • Yes, I did a word for word comparison too, and then I listened as a customer. It is time-consuming but necessary for accuracy. Compare it to doing line edits as a writer, and then reading the book through for continuity and smoothness.

  2. Thanks for the excellent detailed information. I had no idea there was so much to it.
    Nancy G. West

  3. Reblogged this on Eliza March Writes . . . and commented:
    Here’s part 2 from Author Nancy Cohen

  4. Sandy said

    Thanks for the thorough discussions on this topic. I’m sure I will be back to reread all the threads. It sounds daunting but doable. 🙂

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