Recently, an author friend asked what my experience with audiobooks was like.
In the beginning, I could only afford to do royalty share which meant I used Amazon's ACX platform for finding and using a narrator. Being a new to audiobooks author and without a budget to contract anyone, I took a lot of chances on some narrators that were new and just starting out. This roll of the dice has had mixed results.
I have met and worked with some AMAZING narrators that I can no longer afford. LOL.
I have had to cancel several contracts due to lack of communication or ability to complete the work.
I have had to be patient as new narrators were figuring out the audio part and what editing they needed to do.
I have had to accept that not every audition I liked turned into the reading I had hoped for.
Still, I have a lot of audiobooks out there and the ones that are published have a range from awesome to good. I wouldn't say any of them are awful, but I do know that some get more narrator praise than others.
So, if you are an author looking to get into audiobooks, here would be my advice:
Save up and pay for it in installments. Like, here is a deposit, you get X on this chapter completion, X on this, and so on until you have it APPROVED and then send the final payment. (This would be if you want those files and control over loading them which means not exclusive to one channel). That way if there are technical issues with wherever you are loading it, you can get them fixed before that last payment.
Have a schedule and communicate clearly what you need, when you need it by, and then be prepared to get flexible becasue life will happen and if they get sick, a sinus or ear issue, yeah, you must wait a minute becasue they won't sound the same.
Listen to MULTIPLE samples, not just your audition piece. Go check out anything they have already published or up for sample and listen to them.
If you have male and female characters and are using one narrator for both, be sure to include a scene in the audition that has both and multiples so you can hear the change of voice for each.
Use the SM groups and ask your author friends who they use and worked with and like IN the GENRE you are looking for.
Make sure you both understand the terms and conditions of the contract (especially if you are contracting outside of an established program like ACX where some of that is done for you).
Research your narrator's social media presence. Are they also promoting the work they did? If they make royalty share, it is more likely, but not always the case. If it is a one and done type thing, you get the full royalty but also the full brunt of marketing it if there is no incentive for them to push it out there too.
Look at the covers in your genre. Sometimes they are the same as ebook and print, sometimes not. Be aware of that so you have the right image ready.
Listen to the podcast interview on Creative Writing With Dr Nagle podcast (Amazon, iTunes, etc.) with Brad Gorchowski. He is very candid about the narrator expreince he has had.
Use your resources and learn, keep learning, and save to get the right narrator.
Check out my available audiobooks here: https://www.audible.com/author/Cara-North/B002BLLE1U