Friday, January 10, 2014

Marva Dasef talks about how she made Tales of a Texas Boy into an audio book!

by Marva Dasef

There may be more ways to skin the audio cat, but this is how I went about it.

Sometime or other, Amazon let me know about their audio book production site, That may have come through CreateSpace, which is the Amazon POD (print on demand) site. I've had good experiences using CreateSpace, so I clicked on over to see just how hard...and was.

Before I did the clicking, I had some assumptions:

1) I'm going to have to do my own narration, and that would be impossible since I don't happen to have a sound studio at home. Matter of fact, I'd have to search through the Big Box O' Computer Stuff for a microphone.

2) Since someone else will need to narrate, I'll have to spend a lot of money upfront to hire someone to do it.

3) It will take months to produce a final product and have it up for sale.

4) I don't have a lot of money to spend.

The only true point from above is 4). What I discovered when I browsed through ACX is that there were professional narrators for hire. Okay, that meant I wouldn't have to do my own talking. Then, I found the Royalty Split option. I wish I could put little stars and sparklies around ***Royalty Split*** (stars, but no sparkles).

Audio books are the new big thing just like ebooks were the new big thing a few years ago. If you haven't already jumped on the audio bandwagon, you should at least start thinking about it.

On the site, you'll find producer/narrators who want to do business with you. You can browse the available narrators via samples they have posted.

When you're ready, register your account, assert your rights to your book (by selecting it from your works available at Amazon) and upload a 1-2 page sample script. You can either wait for narrators to approach you, or you can make an offer to ones you like the sound of. They may not find your book in the available list since there is always a lot of books waiting for a marriage of author to producer, hopefully one made in heaven.

Some might be quite willing to work with you on a 50-50 royalty split basis. There are lots of them (including mine) who do it that way. If not, you can spend a little money upfront by offering a flat rate per finished hour. In the Narrator search, you can set your price so to speak: $0-$50, $51-$100, and so on.

With the 50-50 split, the most lucrative way to proceed is to let Amazon be your exclusive distributor. Your audio book will be offered at Amazon (with a link through to, membership (if you like audio books, this is a good way to keep your listening pipeline filled), and iTunes (good old Apple).

Okay, once you have signed up with a producer/narrator, they'll need the full DOC or PDF copy of your book. Give them a nice clean copy. Title page, page breaks on chapters, no headers or footers, no blurb, no About the Author, no nothing except your book's words.

You'll also need to set a deadline for completion. I asked my producer what he wanted for the completion date. I figured he'd know better than me. Consider that the completed narration will take 4-8 weeks depending on the length of your book. So you don't have time to waste!

The producer/narrator will then begin recording chapter by chapter. You'll get email notifications from, and you have a direct message line to your producer if you want to communicate. My producer, Don Baarns, and I have become chatty friends over the last few months. We have talked by phone to go over some pronunciation issues, mostly lots of stabs at how to pronounce my last name. I'd take bets that most of you would not say Dasef correctly on the first try. You'll have to listen to the audio book to answer that burning question.

As soon as your narrator uploads a chapter, listen to it immediately and make notes on things that require change. I indicated where the change was by the time stamp and a few words to identify where the change was needed, and the change itself. This seemed to work for my guys (my narrator is my producer's son).

We got through all the chapters, my producer uploaded the revised chapters. I listened again and noted changes (very few) like we did on the first round. When everything was ready to go, I clicked the Publish link. At that point, ACX takes over to ensure your audio files are usable as is (mine were), and they do other arcane things to it, and, finally, make it available for sale.

A hint especially if you're doing a royalty split or a flat rate per finished hour: Don't get too fussy about changes. Certainly, do NOT change the wording after the chapter is uploaded. You want to mess with your words? Do it before you upload the document.

The narrators are taking a chance on you, particularly with royalty split, so be as prompt and organized as possible. I think your producer can 'fire' you if you're a prima donna. Stay humble. It's okay for "I am" to become "I'm" in the narration. Don't harp on nitpicks. That's why my producer liked me enough to ask to produce my next book. He found me easy to work with, and he says likes my writing.

Go for it. You really don't have anything to lose. The ACX site has lots of Help info that explains all parts of the process. Go through those first.

Now, here are the links to my finished product. I hope you consider buying it if you buy audio books. If you join, please select Tales of a Texas Boy as one of your first three books (it could be the freebie you get for joining). You'll find out about the bonuses when you jump in to

Also in paperback and ebook formats

How do you handle a crazy jackass? Eddie knows. If you ask Eddie, he'll tell you pigs can fly and show you where to find real mammoth bones. Take his word for it when he tells you always to bet on the bear. These are things he learned while dreaming of becoming a cowboy in West Texas during the Depression. Through Eddie, the hero of "Tales of a Texas Boy," we find that growing up is less about maturity and more about roping your dreams. Hold on tight. It's a bumpy ride. A wonderful read for anyone who enjoys books like "Little House on the Prairie" or "Tom Sawyer." A great bit of nostalgia for seniors, too.

Find me on my blog at and on my website at


  1. Really great post Marva! Thanks so much for sharing it on Penny's Tales

  2. Excellent advice, Marva. This is a subject I've contemplated, but thought there must be some sales qualifications. I emailed Marva about that last week and she quickly answered that was not the case. Now it's on my To Do list. Thank you Penny for hosting and Marva for all these helpful hints.

  3. Thanks to both of you for sharing this. And Marva, thanks for taking that first icy plunge for the rest of us! This is a must do for me now.

  4. Very interesting. Must you get publisher permission first? Or is this only for self pub books through Createspace?

  5. Lorrie, you need the audio rights. Few ebook contracts grab them. Ssome very forward thinking publishers do, but unless they seriously believe they'll create audio books, they shouldn't or will readily agree to return them. To be sure, check with your publisher. And read the contract paragraph on assignment of rights.

  6. Penny, thanks for having me. With the questions people were asking, I figured I'd try to put all my thoughts in a post and you have provided the opportunity.

    I did learn one more thing last night: If you have foreign words (and that can include alien exclamations), try to find the pronunciation for your narrator. Fortunately, in Tales of a Texas Boy, my narrator speaks fluent Spanish so didn't need to rely on me for the few phrases I used.

  7. Great post. Very informative. Thanks, Marva & Penny.

  8. Thanks so much for this info, Marva. You have helped to solve the mystery of how to produce an audio book. You make it sound pretty easy, but I know you did your homework to make it work right. Best wishes on your new venture!