Letters to the Editors – Week 33

After six months or so of working on ACX, I would like to share with you something I have found that helps avoid a lot of frustration and problems as you work to produce audiobooks for the Rights Holders. I have no reason to believe this approach is not appropriate for any other Voice over Work platform, but within the context of ACX I think this is especially useful.

Just as I believe a lot of Producers are on ACX to develop their chops (and I am absolutely in that category), a lot of Rights Holders are brand new to this process and have no experience either. The jobs that a new Producer will get are those in the $0-50 range, and many of these books are books self-published through CreateSpace. Rights Holders are on a tight budget and cannot pay large fees, just as the Producers have small bodies of work and cannot demand or expect those high fees.

The result can be two people with good intentions and high hopes kind of fumbling their way towards ecstasy – and with my apologies to the first 30-40 Rights Holders who hired me, I am grateful for the opportunity they provided to produce their work. In my last 30-40 projects, I have been determined to be more communicative and developed a communications process that has made things work much more smoothly and has resulted in more repeat business and more satisfied clients.  This process helps new Rights Holders understand what is happening, what to expect, and what they need to do next.  It also assists in managing expectations by letting the Rights Holder know what is their responsibility, and what the Producer is contracted to do.

I start this process with the audition, usually commenting in the audition with:

Thank you for the chance to be heard for this project. I look forward to hearing from you!

It’s my pleasure to present this audition for your book. I appreciate your time and consideration, and hope you find my interpretation of the manuscript to your liking. Of course, any changes you feel are needed in style or performance can be made as we proceed – if my timbre and production quality are satisfying to you, the performance can easily be adjusted. I wish you the best, and hope to hear from you soon. I look forward to working with you on this project.

If the project is one I am especially interested in, I will tweak the above with an extra sentence on how many similar titles I have produced, or what particularly in my background makes me especially suited for this project – for me, topics I usually expand on are military, religious, self-help, or technical.

If the stars align and they make an offer, I might be cautious about accepting it (not too often, but as you get busier, you tend to get a little more selective).

I am interested in producing this book for you as a Royalty Share project, but I can’t commit to the timeframe you requested for the finished book.  I can have the First 15 to you by your deadline of Friday of this week, but to complete the book, at nearly five hours running time, it will take more time than you have requested.

I understand that there is often a desire to get a project to retail quickly, but just as in writing, producing the audio book is very time consuming – some estimates indicate as much as a six to one ratio of production hours to finished hours.

If you can extend the Complete Audiobook deadline to June 29, I will accept your offer.

If they adjust their offer or agree to whatever conditions you need to have, or if you liked the offer in the first place:

It is a pleasure for me to accept your offer and work on this book.

I look forward to working with you, and will do my best to make this a successful audiobook for you.  The timeline will present no problems, and I will begin working on it very soon after you have the opportunity to upload the manuscript.  During production, I hope you will feel free to contact me regarding any issues or questions you may have.

If you wish to contact me directly, please send an email to xxx@xxx.com

Thanks again for your time and entrusting this book in its audio form to me.  I will do my best to exceed your expectations!

Hopefully, they will upload the manuscript or email it to you, and it will be in a usable, easily readable format.  I follow up on their upload with this:

I have taken a first look at the manuscript, and will begin recording shortly. Generally, I do not include any disclaimers, copyright notices, Tables of Content, footnotes, endnotes, or other legal and/or categorical information. I will record any Prefaces, Introductions, Dedications, etc., and they will be uploaded, generally as their own sections for the final audiobook. If you wish me to do anything different in this production, please let me know at your convenience.

During the recording process, there may be certain instances where a phrase or wording may be slightly changed in order to make the audio flow more smoothly. Most often, this is in changing a phrase to a contraction where the manuscript may have the more formal presentation of the words. If you wish for me to include precisely what the manuscript has, please let me know.

The next step, as you may know, will be the First 15 where you will be able to get a better sense of what the production as a whole will sound like. This is a single audio file that will include the Opening Credits (required by ACX), any Intros/Dedications you may have, and as much text of the manuscript as will fit in 15 minutes. Remember, this First 15 is a single run of what will become many separate sections of the book – if there seem to be inordinately long pauses in the recording where sections meet, be assured they will be addressed for the final version.

Thanks again for this opportunity.

There are times when things don’t go so well, and through my teary eyes I will sometimes send this:

Thank you for allowing me to audition for your project. While disappointed not to be chosen, I wish you the best as you proceed with your book.

If you have a few moments to spare, I would appreciate any feedback you could provide as to why my audition was not to your liking, so that I might improve.

Again, thank you for your consideration.

In almost all cases, I think it is to my benefit to stay upbeat, positive, respectful, and kind.  Polls and studies indicate that individuals who publish more than one book published their first book before the others, and their experiences with the first book affected their subsequent works.  That is to say, if I make someone mad and they have more titles, I can forget about getting that work.  If I am helpful and polite even when I have lost a job, I haven’t burned that bridge.

More next time!

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