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ACX AUDIOBOOK NARRATORS – TRUE vs. FALSE

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  • Jim Smith January 15, 2015, 1:00 pm

    Enjoyed Videos 1 & 2. Where can I get information about the dates for your next ACX MasterClass?

  • Dan O'Day January 15, 2015, 1:32 pm

    Thanks, Jim. Two ways to learn the exact class dates:

    1. Keep an eye on this blog for the announcement on the day it opens.

    or

    2. Make sure you’re on our Alert List, in which case you’ll be given advance notice.

    Either way, we expect to announce the complete class schedule very soon.

  • Stephen A. Matthews January 15, 2015, 5:17 pm

    I have to admit that I am intrigued by what you are promoting. I have listened to the testimonials and endorsements and I still do not have a clue as to when ( and how much). Will that information be forthcoming or am I being hasty?

  • Jennie January 15, 2015, 11:11 am

    Thanks for the second video. I can’t wait to sign up!

  • Patrick McCall January 15, 2015, 11:22 am

    Add me!

  • Dan O'Day January 15, 2015, 12:42 pm

    @Jennie: We’re reserving the first slot for you!

  • Marc Gold January 15, 2015, 1:38 pm

    OK, so after watching the second video, now I’ve got a couple of numbers-related questions which I think are important to address:

    1) I know that the master class teaches you how to pick out the books which are the most likely to sell well, but how much have the books that the graduates of the class have narrated actually sold, and how much money have they typically made thus far off of them?

    I browsed around on Audible for a bit and came to the conclusion that the typical audiobook on the site sells for about $20-25, which equates to somewhere around $6 in royalties for the narrator per copy sold (going by the equation in the vide0). The average book also seems to be around 10 hours in length, from what I could gather. Assuming that ACX’s estimate of 6.2 hours of work per finished hour of book is more or less accurate, that’d make for 62 hours of total work for that 10-hour book.

    At that amount of time input, in order to have your final earnings come out to be the equivalent over time of $30/hour (i.e. 50% more than I was making at my old job before I became a voice over talent), the book would have to sell 414 copies total. Is it fair to expect that level of sales over several years if you’ve taken the class and learned how to audition for the right books? I have no clue how many downloads an audiobook gets on average, so I’ll have to take your word for it on this, whatever you tell me.

    2) On a related note, the retired air traffic controller (whose name I’ve forgotten somehow) said in the video that currently, using the new editing technique in Audacity, he’s at about 2.5-3 hours of editing per finished hour of book. That’s what the ACX FAQ said it should take (they said 3). Is that as fast as can reasonably be expected from the new technique, or is it possible to go even faster without messing anything up? I’m extremely quick with computers, but I haven’t seen this particular technique, so I can’t tell if my high general usage speed would be of any additional help here or not.

    Sorry for the extremely long post. I tend to be a very risk-averse person when it comes to money, and as of half an hour ago, 95.7% of the books currently accepting auditions on ACX are royalty share. I’m going to keep my expectations reasonable and not assume that I’d get the high per-finished-hour or stipend jobs, even if prior students have managed to do so. Without a fixed price tag up front, I need to be quite certain that the money will follow before I spend a lot of time on a business endeavor like this one. Please let me know if my concerns are unfounded or not. If you’d rather not respond directly in the comments section here, email would work fine, too. Thanks.

  • Barbi January 15, 2015, 2:20 pm

    I can’t wait to find out when your next class is also can you tell me if this class is possible to take at one’s own time as I am an actor and currently under contract so I would like to take a class at my off time looking forward to hearing from you thanks for these videos they’re very insightful.

  • Stephen A. Matthews January 15, 2015, 10:22 pm

    I have to admit that I am intrigued by what you are promoting. I have listened to the testimonials and endorsements and I still do not have a clue as to when ( and how much). Will that information be forthcoming or am I being hasty?

  • Dan O'Day January 15, 2015, 10:23 pm

    Thanks, Jim. Two ways to learn the exact class dates:

    1. Keep an eye on this blog for the announcement on the day it opens.

    or

    2. Make sure you’re on our Alert List, in which case you’ll be given advance notice.

    Either way, we expect to announce the complete class schedule very soon.

  • Fred Keeler January 15, 2015, 3:47 pm

    I’ve been doing voice-overs for years and have wanted to record books since first listening to Frank Muller. A lot has been said here about the numbers and the editing. It has always seemed to me, however, that a person has to have a knack for this particular genre. I hope I’m wrong – and the necessary skill can be acquired. Successful as I’ve been with corporate videos, documentaries and commercials – recording books has never worked out. Maybe I just haven’t tried hard enough.

  • Tanya January 15, 2015, 4:48 pm

    I’m definitely interested in the Master Class! As an author, looking to continue writing as well as narration, I know how valuable the marketing advice must be…along with the technical short cuts.

  • Al Soifer January 15, 2015, 9:29 pm

    This all sounds awesome and I can hardly wait to sign up…..except I live in Canada and have no legitimate way to obtain a US Tax ID. Seems like we’re the forgotten frozen wasteland up here LOL! Seriously, any chance of ACX opening up to Canadians?

  • Dan O'Day January 15, 2015, 10:01 pm

    @Marc Gold:

    how much have the books that the graduates of the class have narrated actually sold, and how much money have they typically made thus far off of them?

    We don’t have that information. We wouldn’t feel comfortable asking our graduates to reveal their incomes. (The average might be high, it might be low. I just don’t have an answer for you.)

    the typical audiobook on the site sells for about $20-25, which equates to somewhere around $6

    Actually, the narrator’s royalty share on a $20 title is $4 (20% of $20). On a $25 title, it would be $5.

    that’d make for 62 hours of total work for that 10-hour book.

    It’s a bit more complicated than that. You’re talking about the “list price,” while other factors can affect it.

    For example, sometimes a title is purchased as part of a subscription that allows the subscriber to pay $14.95 for any one title. (Or for two titles, depending upon their subscription level.) And sometimes people can buy additional credits which allow them to purchase more titles at a discount.

    That makes it sound as though in those cases, you’d earn less in royalty income, doesn’t it? But the math becomes complicated by the fact that some titles are more likely than others to be purchased at a subscriber’s discount rate…

    …which can result in a larger sales volume than it otherwise would achieve. So now you’re balancing “lower sale price” with “more units sold.”

    Then there are special promotional prices that, again, produce a smaller royalty per sale. But Audible selects those “promotional” titles because they think they’ll be especially attractive to buyers…which, once again, can result in much greater sales volume.

    Bottom Line: Estimating an average dollar amount per royalty share sale isn’t as easy.

    the retired air traffic controller…said in the video that currently, using the new editing technique in Audacity, he’s at about 2.5-3 hours of editing per finished hour of book. That’s what the ACX FAQ said it should take (they said 3). Is that as fast as can reasonably be expected from the new technique, or is it possible to go even faster without messing anything up?

    ACX is breaking it down into 3 elements:
    2 hours to narrate one finished hour
    3 hours to edit one finished hour
    1.2 hours to run a quality control pass over the finished product.

    Hence ACX’s statement: “We have found that it generally takes a total of around 6.2 hours for a Producer to complete one hour of an audiobook.”

    ACX surveyed its narrators in 2012. ACX reported that among the people who responded, it averaged anywhere from 6 to 10 hours PFH.

    When, however, Rodney said he’s got the editing down to “2.5 to 3 hours per finish hour” he was referring to both recording and editing…with no time spent running a QC pass afterward.

    So your comparison should be ACX’s estimate of 6.2 hours PFH to Rodney’s 2.5 to 3 hours per PFH. Quite a striking difference between those two.

    Without a fixed price tag up front, I need to be quite certain that the money will follow before I spend a lot of time on a business endeavor like this one.

    Marc, I would be wary of anyone who would claim to predict with any certainty what your financial return would be. There are too many variables. If you need to be quite certain that you will earn 50% more than you did at your old job, you shouldn’t take our class.

    I agree with Leslie (as seen in the video above these words): I think it’s a mistake to enter the audiobook narrating field with “making a lot of money” as your primary motivator. There are other, more predictable ways to make money — some of them even legal.

    In my opinion, you should sign up for our class only only if you’re attracted to the idea and challenge of narrating audiobooks, are willing to put in the work, and — lastly — would like to be paid for your efforts.

  • Dan O'Day January 15, 2015, 10:09 pm

    @Barbi: Yes, you definitely can take the class according to your own schedule. That’s not a problem at all.

  • Dan O'Day January 15, 2015, 10:16 pm

    @Fred Keeler: This may simply be a matter of semantics, but audiobooks aren’t a genre; they’re a medium. Within that medium is a variety of genres. While we have sneaky ways of forcing our students to sample even genres they assume they’re not interested in, ultimately we encourage them to focus on the genres that appeal to them.

    If you’re saying you’ve attempted to record audiobooks and didn’t enjoy the process — if the medium just didn’t resonate with you — then it sounds as though it’s not for you.

    If, however, you’re saying it does appeal to you but previously you hadn’t figured out how to do it efficiently and well….Then our class might be a good fit for you.

  • Dan O'Day January 15, 2015, 10:18 pm

    @Tanya: It’ll be good to have someone in our class with a highly developed vocabulary. Looking forward to having you with us.

  • Dan O'Day January 15, 2015, 10:20 pm

    @Al Soifer: I don’t have any inside information, but I’m surprised that ACX hasn’t already opened the door to Canadians. I do think they will in the future, but I can’t predict when that will be.

  • Dan O'Day January 16, 2015, 10:31 am

    Thanks, Jim. Two ways to learn the exact class dates:

    1. Keep an eye on this blog for the announcement on the day it opens.

    or

    2. Make sure you’re on our Alert List, in which case you’ll be given advance notice.

    Either way, we expect to announce the complete class schedule very soon.

  • Dan O'Day January 16, 2015, 10:32 am

    Thanks, Jim. Two ways to learn the exact class dates:

    1. Keep an eye on this blog for the announcement on the day it opens.

    or

    2. Make sure you’re on our Alert List, in which case you’ll be given advance notice.

    Either way, we expect to announce the complete class schedule very soon.

  • Shaun Toole January 16, 2015, 9:06 am

    What technical requirements are there for the class? Skype? I’m looking forward to your class schedule and rate announcement. I know a lot about audio editing already, so I’m really intrigued by the editing techniques you teach. A week or two ago, I signed up on ACX and had an author contact me within the first day about narrating their book. I’m excited, but I also want to know how to target profitable projects and build up a following as a narrator. I don’t expect all the authors to come to me, as in this case – at least, not yet!

  • Rebecca Haugh January 16, 2015, 9:18 am

    Hi! Definitely intriguing because I’m interested in the category and have recorded two audiobooks so far. For both, I wasn’t responsible to edit, which sort of spoiled me? I know there is more to the audiobook industry besides ACX, but all the help you’re offering sounds great, in concept. I totally flaked on ACX and my profile there because I didn’t have a clue about what were best practices (like you’re suggesting) and I knew several people complaining that they weren’t earning any money there (although they were narrating books for royalties). So, until now, I really haven’t dived into ACX. Side comments: I just wish you posted how long the video is before I start sitting down to watch! Please do that for the next video?
    And I would say it’s a little misleading to call this a “training” video… It’s more of an introduction to what you can get out of the ACX Masterclass, and answers to concerns raised. Or at least I think it would be a little more straight forward that way.
    Thanks!

  • Margo Vaughn Nelson January 16, 2015, 9:45 am

    Tell me when you’ve got the next video up.

  • Marc Gold January 16, 2015, 9:52 am

    Thanks for your response before. I guess I should clarify my thoughts a bit. I’m not looking into narrating audiobooks with the primary intent of making lots of money. I’m looking into it because I think I’d enjoy it and be good at it. That said, I need to be able make enough money off of full-time voice over work to support myself, since that’s what I do for a living now. No matter how much I enjoy something, if I can’t pay the bills, I’ve got a problem.

    Perhaps a better question would be this: if I took this class, would it enable me to make a living just off of narrating audiobooks, or would I always have to do other voice over work on top of that in order to get by? I know the graduates of this class have been very successful at winning auditions and producing audiobooks, so I believe that the instruction works, but I don’t know if they have extra sources of income beyond that. I’m young and single, so I only have what I earn myself. If it really is practical for someone like me to make a living off of this, then you’ve got my interest.

  • Dan O'Day January 16, 2015, 10:37 am

    @Shaun Toole: Technical requirements for joining the class: If you don’t plan to attend the classes “live” (we hope you will, but there always are some people with time conflicts), the only thing you need is an Internet connection.

    The classes are taught via teleseminar — over the telephone. You can dial in with any phone, Skype or other VoIP.

    All the classes are recorded, and all class members are able to download any & all of the mp3 recordings.

    I also want to know how to target profitable projects and build up a following as a narrator.

    Excellent! You’re already thinking smarter than most of the narrators on ACX.

  • Dan O'Day January 16, 2015, 7:00 pm

    Thanks, Jim. Two ways to learn the exact class dates:

    1. Keep an eye on this blog for the announcement on the day it opens.

    or

    2. Make sure you’re on our Alert List, in which case you’ll be given advance notice.

    Either way, we expect to announce the complete class schedule very soon.

  • Dan O'Day January 16, 2015, 11:03 am

    @Marc Gold:

    if I took this class, would it enable me to make a living just off of narrating audiobooks, or would I always have to do other voice over work on top of that in order to get by?

    I don’t have access to any statistics, but I’m sure only a small percentage of narrators on ACX derive 100% of their income from audiobooks.

    More commonly, it’s:

    • One income stream for voice actors

    • An opportunity for performers (voice actors or not) to make money while doing something they love

    • An opportunity for audiobook narrators to get better & better, due to the potential opportunity to work as much as you want (as Steve Marvel noted in one of our videos).

    There are few people — on ACX or elsewhere — who derive 100% of their income from audiobooks.

    While it’s possible for a talented, skilled, and disciplined narrator to sustain a full-time income on ACX, it would require total dedication and also time to progress to the point where you’re able to attract a reliable flow of the best-paying jobs.

    ACX also can be something that eventually you leave behind, if you become so good that all of your gigs come directly from publishing houses, via your agent. (There’s no need for an agent on ACX.) Even then, however, most of the “top rung” audiobook narrators count audiobooks as one of the things they do — usually in addition to voice overs, acting, etc.

    If it really is practical for someone like me to make a living off of this, then you’ve got my interest.

    It’s possible, but in the situation you describe it doesn’t sound like the best solution for you. It sounds as though you need a steady, reliable source of full-time income now, and you’re more likely to get that via a full-time, salaried job somewhere.

  • Marc Gold January 16, 2015, 11:57 am

    All right, I think that makes it clear enough what I need to do for now. I’m still interested in audiobooks, but I think I’ll wait until I get the rest of my voice over career up and running, and then come back and revisit this later. Once I’ve got a reliable income stream going from other lines of work, I can pursue this without worrying so much about how much I make off of it. Assuming the master class is still being offered down the road, I might enroll in it at that time. Thanks for your help.

  • Jeffrey Kafer January 16, 2015, 1:29 pm

    I’m immortalized! 19 minutes in, my quote is labelled as incorrect, when it isn’t. The key word is “eligible”. Because SAG-AFTRA does not have a unified contract, or Rule 1, any union member can do any audiobook. That’s true and not in dispute.

    BUT….. the book is not union eligible in that it WILL NOT count toward SAG-AFTRA earnings or pension, which is usually the number one concern of anyone in the union.

  • Jeffrey Kafer January 16, 2015, 1:31 pm

    I should clarify my post above. Not ALL books are union eligible. Only those with a stipend or those that pay $225 pfh or more.

  • Dan O'Day January 17, 2015, 3:26 pm

    Thanks, Jim. Two ways to learn the exact class dates:

    1. Keep an eye on this blog for the announcement on the day it opens.

    or

    2. Make sure you’re on our Alert List, in which case you’ll be given advance notice.

    Either way, we expect to announce the complete class schedule very soon.

  • Dan O'Day January 17, 2015, 11:25 am

    @Jeffrey Kafer: Your comment, as seen in this video, began: “#7 is not correct.”

    The “#7” to which you were referring — and which immediately preceded your comment in the video on this page — was:

    Audiobook Lie #7: “If you’re a union member, accepting audiobook gigs can get you in a lot of trouble.”

    That was #7 in its entirety. “Eligible” can’t be the key word, because that word doesn’t appear in the statement which you pronounced “not correct.”

    The claim that union members can get in trouble by accepting audiobook gigs on ACX was and remains untrue.

  • Tommy G. Kendrick January 17, 2015, 2:21 pm

    I’m a bit confused by the union aspect. The impression I got from the video is that ANY ACX title can be narrated by a SAG-AFTRA member. But the ACX site has some qualifications. For instance is says on a Royalty Share deal there has to be a stipend involved. Is this information conflicting or ??? Just trying to sort it out as there’s a RS book available that I’d love to audition for but I don’t see a stipend involved, and I am a union actor. Any clarification? I may just not be understanding how this works…which is but one reason I need a class. 🙂

  • Dan O'Day January 17, 2015, 3:12 pm

    @Tommy G. Kendrick:

    The impression I got from the video is that ANY ACX title can be narrated by a SAG-AFTRA member.

    That is 100% correct.

    A SAG-AFTRA member can accept any narrating job offered on ACX without danger of violating union rules.

    Not all jobs offered there are eligible for SAG-AFTRA coverage — i.e., contributions to the member’s Pension and Health accounts.

    To qualify for SAG-AFTRA coverage (again, that refers to contributions to Pension and Health), it has to pay:

    1. A minimum of $225 per finished hour or $1,000 per book for non-royalty shares

    or

    2. A minimum of $100 per finished hour on a stipend. Because stipend books pay both per finished hour and royalty share, that means a minimum of $100 per finished hour plus royalty share.

    I hope that clarifies the issue for you.

  • Elise Rooker January 19, 2015, 12:12 pm

    Informative! Really looking forward to taking the master class!

  • Dan O'Day January 19, 2015, 12:34 pm

    @Elise Rooker: And we’re really looking forward to having you in our Mastermind Group.

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