Despite the lack of frequent posting over here, I have been keeping busy with book stuff. I’ll try not to ramble too long about it all. 🙂
I’m making AI Audiobooks on Google Play
I’m finally getting to this one. It was one of my main goals for 2022. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to accomplish this. I thought I was going to have to buy some fancy software and work on learning it. Thankfully, Google Play opened up the option for authors to convert epubs to audiobooks. The system is slick. The technology is AI, so it’s digital. There is no human reading the book. While some people argue that they “need” a human voice, I don’t. I never did. I have been using the Kindle’s text-to-speech feature since 2010. You can get used to the robotic quality of the AI voice if you open yourself up to it.
The main perk to generating AI audiobooks over on Google Play is that I can now price audiobooks at the same price I have my ebooks at. I wasn’t able to do that before. The reason I can now is that it doesn’t cost me anything to make these audiobooks AND I can make it in 15-30 minutes. This is a huge win-win. It’s a win for me since I can finally get my books into audio format, and it’s a win for those who would like to listen to my audiobooks but haven’t been able to afford them.
At the moment, I’m about halfway through my books. I have almost 100 books, so it takes time to get these converted to audio. I am taking a break with writing to focus on this. I have found if I try to do these “business end” tasks while trying to write, I spread myself too thin and burn out.
I’m working on copyrighting some books.
The US Copyright Office has (again) modified their website, so it took me a little bit of time to navigate my way through it this weekend. Thankfully, I’ve done this enough times where it wasn’t too bad, but I do think if someone has never done this before, they will probably get confused. Yes, I know you own your copyright when you write your book, but there have been too many times when authors have been required to show proof of copyright to a retailer (mostly Amazon, though some author did get hit by Barnes & Noble a couple of months ago). The best way to prove your copyright is to file it with the US Copyright Office.
I realize the $65 standard registration fee is a good chunk of money, but I’m actually in favor of it because that fee will stop a thief from taking my work and trying to copyright it. In a world where theft is rampant, I like safeguards.
To put things in perspective, recently an author in a FB writing group got a false takedown notice on her pre-order. Now, a pre-order has no sample, so you can’t see the text. Yet, someone in another country claimed it was their book. Amazon removed her pre-order and said if she didn’t prove her copyright, they would not re-instate it. Amazon does not care about the specifics of the situation. If someone wrongly accuses you of theft, they will remove your book and tell you 1) prove your copyright OR 2) deal directly with the accuser and get the accuser to tell Amazon they were wrong. Guess what? This accuser isn’t backing down, and she has no US Copyright Registration Number. I’m telling you, that thread is every author’s worst nightmare. Don’t think a lawyer can help you if you get hit. One author spent $24,000 trying to settle things in his favor, but the person he was up against was in another country, and it didn’t work. In the end, he had to rewrite his book so Amazon would take it. Now that $65 to register your copyright doesn’t look so expensive.
I’m not doing pre-orders anymore.
In light of the situation with the author I mentioned above, I’m not going to do any more pre-orders. Instead, as soon as I’m done with the final draft, I will send it to the copyright office and just publish it right away. I don’t know if it’s rare that someone out there will claim copyright infringement on a pre-order, but I see no reason to look for problems. I’ve had enough times in the past of having to fight Amazon. You get hit enough from Amazon, and you don’t mess around anymore. I need to do whatever I can to protect my work.
I did finish the second draft for Daisy’s Prince Charming
And I have sent it off to my editor. I don’t know when I’ll be publishing this. It all depends on when I can get things ready for the copyright office.
What app are you using on Google Play? I would be very interested if I could do an audio book using AI.
Do you have an account over on Google Play publishing? https://play.google.com/books/publish/u/0/ I know you have a publisher taking some of your books. Do they have your books on Google Play? I had to sign a contract to make the audiobooks, and that was in a link that Google Play sent me. I think they sent this email out to all authors who publish on Google Play. It’s possible that if your publisher uploaded your book to Google, then the publisher can create the AI audiobook for you, but you’d probably have to ask them to do it.
In order to make your book into an audiobook with AI, you need to have an epub file of the book uploaded over there. When you click on your book’s content, there’s an option to create an audiobook. I created the audiobook directly on the Google publishing platform. The app is the Google Play app, and it’s how I listen to the audiobooks.
Google Play’s contract says you can take the audio files and upload them on other avenues so long as you keep the audiobook up on their site. Some retailers will allow AI, and Kobo is one of them. I publish directly on Kobo, and I requested an audiobook tab. If you look the FAQs over there about audiobooks, they give you the email to send the request to. My plan is to put these AI audiobooks on Kobo, too. It’s be nice if Findaway would open up AI audiobooks. Then you could pretty much get in just about everywhere. But at this time, Findaway only allows human narration.
I’m using Findaway right now. Contract was just signed and everything.
Sounds like you’re going with a human narrator then. I like Findaway. They’re an awesome company.
Here’s hoping the process goes well for me!
I think it will. The process is pretty smooth as long as you get along with your narrator. 😀
That’s good to know.
I just came across this You Tube video that goes into making AI audiobooks on Google, if you ever end up doing it. I thought it was very helpful so I’m passing it along. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDMQ9bG5tMc
Thanks! I’ll watch it later when I get a chance.
I’m not sure how I feel about AI. I would much rather use a human voice, but they are SO expensive, and that’s why I’ve only done one book that way under my other pen name. And I wasn’t that pleased with the results because I used a less expensive narrator who sounded way too commercial for fiction. The thing is, I listen to audio books ALL the time, so I’m pretty picky about narrators. On the other hand, AI is a good low cost option. I would have to actually hear it before I made a judgment. After all, I think the Aussie Siri voice on my phone sounds fine. I wouldn’t mind hearing him read a book. LOL
I paid $10K into having a human narrator on a series and might have only made $1K back after almost two years. There is no way I’m going to bother. I did sign a contract with someone on ACX for five books, so those are locked up. But the rest are being made into AI. With the economy going the way it is, I don’t see how any author can afford a human narrator unless everything is through ACX’s 50-50 split, but ACX’s terms are so terrible that it’s not even worth it. I owed ACX money for a few months because ACX allowed people to listen to my books and then return them for a full refund. So the royalties ACX gave me had to be paid back. I hate ACX and wish I’d never singed those five contracts with that narrator, but what are you going to do? The contracts were signed in 2021 before I realized what a monstrosity ACX was. The narrator really wants to do these books, so I’ll go through with them.
My narrator only cost $360. But this was a long time ago. AND this was before ACX changed their terms. I wish there was a good affordable option for human voices, but I don’t know what that would be. I have a couple of author friends who do audio on all their books now. I cringe to think what they’re spending. Can you get samples of the audio of different author’s books on Google Play?
That’s not too bad. My narrator was really good, so she was worth the money.
Looking back, I’m still glad I made those audiobooks and hired her, but I can’t afford to do it again. I think it’s a matter of time before ACX opens the door to AI narration. Amazon doesn’t like to be the highest priced place in town, and AI is going to lower the price of entry to so many authors that it’s going to end up with a tidal wave of AI audiobooks. Google Play is letting you make these for free, and the process is so slick to go through. This is like the Kindle when it first came out. Suddenly, authors could enter the market without a publisher, and it cost them nothing to publish. The quality of content wasn’t necessarily comparable to trad books. I mean, covers sure weren’t professional back then. Sometimes formatting was a pain, and the quality of the story wasn’t always the best. But those ebooks opened the door to where we are now. I think this AI audiobook thing is going to have the same effect in the next couple of years. Price to the consumer is going to end up being the tipping point. These AI books might not be the same “quality”, but they are affordable, and for avid readers, that will matter more than anything else. As long as other retailers don’t made returns as easy as Amazon does, this can be a good thing for authors who need to boost their income.
I tried narrating my own books, but I got too many complaints, so there’s no point. AI does a better job than I do. Some authors have the ability to do it well, but I’m not one of them.
Google does offer samples. I went with the AI voice Mia for all of my books because I wanted something slower than most AI voices. They have different types to choose from. I basically chose what I wanted as the customer because even if no one else wants to listen to my books, I do. I am excited since I can download these books on my iPhone. I was unable to lug the Kindle with me to walk or do chores around the house because it’s too big to put in my pocket. I’ve been listening to AI for over ten years. I’m so used to it now that a human voice is actually jarring to me. Weird, isn’t it?