|Image by Brett Jordan|
Good news for self-pubs: Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) has just become available in the UK, making it possible for self-publishing authors there to produce professional quality audiobooks.
The platform has been available in the US since 2011, and plans are in the works to expand availability to Canada, Australia and beyond.
Audiobooks are flying off the (virtual) shelves. We’re all trying to cram a little more into each day, and we’re listening to books at the gym, while walking the dog, and during the daily commute. The audiobook is custom-made for reaching readers on the go.
If you’ve produced an audiobook through ACX or if you have plans to do so, you’ll also want to know where and how to post reviews.
Here are a few things to know ahead of time:
ACX is a division of Audible, which is a division of Amazon. If you’ve created your audiobook through ACX, it will be available for purchase on Audible.com.
Readers can log into Audible.com with their Amazon account information—they don’t need to create a separate Audible account. But it’s not obvious on the Audible website just how or where readers should go to post a review.
If you want to review a book, it must first be in your Audible library. This means that a reader (and potential reviewer) must have purchased it or received it via giveaway or free download. You don’t need to be an Audible member (site subscriber) to post a review, but you need to own the book.
Here’s how to find the review option in Audible:
Audible.com > Library > My Books > Rate and Review
Click on Write a review. This is where you post a review.
Help with writing a review:
After clicking on Write a review, a template opens with boxes for readers to enter their comments. The template includes writing prompts—questions readers can answer to quickly create their “review.”
Some sample questions:
Could you sum up this book in three words?
What other books would you compare this book to?
What did you find wrong about the narrator’s performance?
What did you like about this audiobook?
Reviews on sites like Amazon and Goodreads are more like recommendations and ratings than true reviews. (I’ve discussed this in a previous post.)
The kind of reviews encouraged by the Audible template are even less like reviews—they’re more like book blurbs. But providing the structure might encourage reluctant writers to post their response to a book, and that’s a good thing. The more voices speaking up, the better.
On the other hand, some of the questions—like “What other books does this one remind you of?” and “Could you sum up this book in three words?”—appear well-designed to capture the kind of information about reader behaviour and preferences that Amazon guards so closely.
But readers don’t have to use this template. They can write a review with a different focus, and post it in the Further Comments box at the bottom of the page. Audible reminds reviewers that not all reviews will be accepted. (Don’t forget the brouhaha over reviews at Goodreads last summer.)
Tips for writing an audiobook review:
The principles for writing an audiobook review are the same as they are for an Amazon book review. I outline the basics here, but here are a few of the main points:
Keep it short—200–300 words.
Use an informal tone.
Provide reasons for your opinion.
Don’t forget about the audio component.
This is your opportunity to rate both the audio format and the voice actor’s reading performance. Consider and comment on any of these aspects, or on anything else that stands out:
Have you also read this book in print or as an ebook? How does it compare?
Did you like the reader’s voice?
Was the reader male or female, and did the voice suit the book?
Could you easily understand what the reader was saying, or were some words garbled? Was he reading too quickly or slowly?
Was there enough expression?
We’re just at the beginning of the explosion of audiobooks onto the market. And positive reader reviews can be an excellent way to promote your book. Beyond the recommendation, though, reader feedback—about the book itself and also the audio adaptation—provides you with important information about how your audience is responding to your work. You can learn a lot from readers’ comments—don’t underestimate the potential value of a bad review!
Author Options for Creating an Audiobook
Amazon and Goodreads: Guidelines for Reader Reviews
How to Enjoy Audiobooks More and Listen More Widely, by Sue Katz
Audiobooks and the Return of Storytelling, by T.M. Luhrmann