Wednesday, November 19, 2014

MG/YA Author Marva Dasef Explains Audiobooks

Carpinello's Writing Pages brings readers a treat this month. Fellow MuseItUp MG/YA author Marva Dasef has hopped in to talk about the third type of books: The Audio Book. You may know a young person who doesn't read, but might listen to an exciting adventure!

Here's Marva:

I thought I’d talk a little about the process of producing an audio book. Since I now have six audio books, I’ll call myself experienced enough to offer advice. Five out of my six audio books are definitely in the childrens’ division. Four of those are in the same series: The Witches of Galdorheim.

Now, down to business.

First, make sure you have the audio rights to your book. This seems a no-brainer, but when’s the last time you read your contract? If you’re an independent author, then you’ve obviously got your audio rights even if you’ve published your book through Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, etc. (if an ebook) and anywhere you might have used if you have a print book as well. I use CreateSpace myself, and it’s been functioning well for me for several years.

I searched around for audio production companies and saw several vanity press types.  No way.
I’ve been spoiled by Kindle (plus those other guys) and CreateSpace. I never pay a penny upfront. I do a lot of the work, then the distributor takes their cut when a copy sells.

Pondering all this took me to ACX. Ta da! Wouldn’t you know it. Amazon also has an audio book production company. Why am I not surprised?

I checked it out and found it’s kind of like a dating site. You, the author, auditions narrators/producers. Pretty easy to do. Check the rather huge number of producers and start paring it down. What’s your genre? Do you want a male or female narrator? What age sound do you want your narrator? Accent? And other potential criteria.

You should also check what terms the producer will accept. I selected split royalties since that costs me nothing up front (my favorite mode of operation). To split royalties, you’ll also need to give up a bit of autonomy, that is, you need to assign exclusive distribution to ACX. But that’s not so bad a deal. Your audio book will appear on Amazon (click to buy directs you to, on Audible, and on iTunes. That covers a huge bunch of the audio market.

After pondering the complexities of distribution contracts, you need to create a parking place for your audio book. ACX makes it easy by linking your audio book to your print or ebook Amazon page. Add a few other pieces of information, then upload (a Word file is fine) a couple of pages of your book for audition material. While you might have found the perfect voice, you really want to know how the narrator sounds doing your material.

Why is this? Well, once you’ve uploaded your book info, the people who want the job are looking for good matches to what they offer.

My producer did just that. He courted me. Aw, gee, gosh. The dating game is afoot. I’m easy, and my producer was good, so we paired up. The rest, as they say, is history. I now have five audio books released, plus one more on the way.

Here are the main points to consider:

What kind of contract can you live with? Pay a fixed rate per finished hour (that’s the other method) and you get to keep all the royalties, OR split the royalties, and both you and the producer take the risk and share the rewards.

Think hard about who your narrator is. I know you’ve got a voice in your mind, even when writing in 3rd person, and you’ll want a voice to match your main character.

Surprise for Readers:

WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE A FREE AUDIO BOOK? Comment here to win your choice of any of my audio books.

Where to find Marva and her audio books:
Find me on my blog or my website.

Find all my books at


  1. Thank you for allowing me to run on about this topic. I'm finding more and more authors wanting to go with audio, but are a bit unsure of the steps involved. My method is certainly not the only one. However, I hope it shows that anybody can have their books in audio format without spending hundreds of dollars.

  2. I'm so curious how you managed to find a producer who was willing to do the royalty split. I found one, but, mostly, they don't seem very interested.

    I'm also curious how you managed to get free audio books to give away since you did the ACX exclusive thing.

  3. Hi Dawn: It's possible that royalty split producers aren't as easy to find now. I started audio book production nearly a year ago. Producers were hungrier for audio book credits and may have been more open to royalty split.

    Giveaways: For each book produced, ACX provides me with 25 coupons to purchase gift books at Now that I have six books, I've got 150 coupons. Originally, I'd just give people the coupon to buy whatever they wanted. My producer clued me to giving myself the credit and then buying the person a gift of one of my books. That ensures my books got the small amount of royalty, not John Grisham or Stephen King. They don't need the money or publicity, especially on my coupon.

  4. This is fantastic! Felicia has been wanting to do audiobooks for her Stanley & Katrina series but she has her character voices in her head so much, we aren't sure if she would be happy with any one else doing the voices (plus she is considering voice over work in the future). All that being said, it is one of those things she talks about but with daily life, it rarely makes it on the short to-do list - maybe one of these days... and this post will certainly help a bit. Thank you for sharing Marva. We appreciate it very much.
    Christine(Cool Mom)
    for The Stanley & Katrina Gang

  5. Very interesting post! I have to say that just recently we had a longer than normal road trip to do with the kids and we loaded some audiobooks onto my phone, stuck earphones on my kids and they happily listened the whole way there and back! They loved it and I definitely see a market for audiobooks! Thanks for sharing in the Kid Lit Blog Hop!