Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Updates on ACX Audiobooks and a New RSS Reader

 by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig
Just thought I'd write an update today on a couple of different topics that I’ve mentioned recently.
One topic is ACX, the audiobook distributor.  I’d mentioned in this post that I 'd made my self-published books available for auditioning to narrators and outlined the process I'd gone through to get to that point.
I’ve found narrators for all three of those books.  Once you listen to the auditions on the ACX site, you make an offer to one narrator (there’s actually a ‘make an offer’ link right underneath the audition) and send a note to the others, to let them know.
A pop-up window will ask you to specify your terms for the contract.  Most of the contract is set by ACX, but they’ll point out the areas you’ll need to give input (like the payment arrangements…by the hour or royalty share…and your deadlines for completion of both the first fifteen minutes and the project itself.)  Then you hit send and the contract goes off to the narrator.
ACX asks that if we do any contract-type negotiation or make specific arrangements or notes for the narrator, that we do it through the ACX message system.  That way there’s a record of our conversation in case there are any questions or problems later.  In their words:
IMPORTANT:To be sure that you end up with a binding contract, please work out all details of your Offer via ACX, using our internal messaging system (simply by clicking “Send Message” on the Producer’s profile). If you negotiate and agree to details via some other channel—phone, video chat, whatever—those details aren’t going to be reflected in our system, and you might not end up with the contract you want, or any contract at all. And that’s not the safest way to work.
If the narrator is interested, he or she will accept the offer through the ACX site.  Once the first fifteen minutes are completed, the narrator uploads the audio to the site (and, once again, we get a notification email.  I rather like these notification emails, though, since audiobooks aren’t the only thing I’m working on.)  If we accept their first fifteen minutes, we click the ‘accept’ link under the audio.  We can also send a message to the narrator with specifics regarding their narration.  This way, if we’re not all on the same page, we can make sure we ask for changes before the narrators  invest time in the rest of the book.
This is where I am in the process…I’ve approved two of the three books’ first fifteen minutes now.  Each book has a slightly different feel/narration to it since I’m getting all of the books done at once for the sake of time.  But each sounds good.  Slightly campier sound to Dyeing Shame so far, but it’s a much campier book than the other two.  The narrator nailed that aspect of it.
On to the other topic I’ve mentioned lately (or fretted over in the comments): the fact that Google is pulling the cord on Google Reader in July.  I was pretty exasperated when the news broke. It does bring up (as many others have said) the issue of whether we can trust Google, or really any of these online cloud services.  We believe they’ll continue a service, we invest time in it…and they discontinue it.  
Since I subscribe to 2346 blogs to curate writing links for Twitter, I’m considered a power-user.  I was a little concerned about the process of migrating to another reader service and the possibility of losing folders or blog subscriptions and having to face a time-sucking challenge of restoring data or organization. 
I exported to several different readers, but quickly found that my favorite was Feedly.  It was organized much the same way as Google Reader (or, at least, we could configure it to be very much like Reader).  Here’s the big thing—it hasn’t crashed yet.  With the number of blogs that I work with on the site, Google Reader would frequently crash—either freeze up, slow down tremendously, or need to refresh, and I’d lose my place as I was working through the list of posts.   This hasn’t happened with Feedly yet.  (Yes, I’m knocking on wood as I type this.) It hasn’t crashed, despite a tremendous amount of influx by new users via the  exodus from Google Reader (at one point, over 500,000 users migrated to Feedly in a 48 hour period.)
All of my folders transferred over and I didn’t lose any subscriptions en route to Feedly. 
I can read blog posts by title, if I want to (that’s usually how I like reading them). You can also choose other views…a tile-type view, full post view, etc.  Go to “prefs” on the left-hand side of the screen, under your name, to make adjustments to your settings.  You might want to change the Feedly default settings if you’re used to Google Reader.
One irritating thing is that Feedly isn’t supported in Internet Explorer/Windows.  That’s the only irritant so far, however.  You can use it on Firefox and Chrome or Safari…I’m using it in Firefox.  Firefox and I sometimes don’t get along, but it’s worth putting up with some conflicts to get Feedly. 
Have you checked out ACX yet (US-only right now, but I believe they have plans to be worldwide)?  Found a new RSS reader?Do you read blogs with an RSS reader?