Dual Narration Audiobooks on ACX

So, you want two (or more) narrators for your book on ACX. OK, we’ll break this down on several points to make sure it’s the right thing to do and how to do it. There are financial, legal, and logistical issues we have to address, but one thing at a time.

Should You Have Multiple Narrators?

Typically, I see requests for dual narrators because the book has two main characters of different genders. Most of the time, it’s a heterosexual romance novel. You want to voice both your lovers with different actors to give it that “real” feeling. I get that. I do. But you have to think about a few things before seeing if it works or not.

What Works

Dual narration works when the two characters are both Point-of-View (POV) characters. Either First-Person or Third-Person Subjective/Limited POVs are what you need to pull this off (and usually best with First-Person). There should be clear delineations of who is the POV character at all times.

A good example of this being done is the final book in the Divergent series, Allegiant. Prior to the final book, the series used Tris as a first-person narrator. In the last book, Veronica Roth splits the narration between Tris and Four. This necessitated a second voice actor for the chapters from Four’s point-of-view.

For Third-Person, look at the A Song of Ice and Fire series (Game of Thrones) from George R. R. Martin. While the audiobook does not use multiple voice actors, it easily could. Each chapter is clearly set from a specific character’s point of view. In fact, it’s the chapter title.

What Doesn’t Work

Single First-Person, single Third-Person Limited, and Third-Person Omniscient POV do not need multiple voice actors to narrate their audiobook. Ever. It’s pointless and confusing. Imagine listening to something where the voice jumps back and forth inside a chapter with only paragraph or dialogue breaks.

How Do You Do It?

If you’re still set on doing a dual/multiple narrator audiobook, here’s somethings to think about.

Financial

ACX does not allow for multiple narrators. Period. It just doesn’t. It has no mechanism for paying more than one Producer. If you’re interested in doing a Royalty Share, forget it. It just isn’t going to happen. You will need to pay your narrators for their work. Not ACX. You will need to negotiate a Per-Finished-Hour (PFH) rate with them and then pay them when the work is complete. Then you can go to ACX with the finished audio. The upshot is, you’ll get all the royalties (40%) instead of splitting it with the narrators.

Payment will have to be done through some exchange other than ACX (PayPal, Stripe, etc).

Legal

You will need to coordinate the contract between yourself and the narrators. Since ACX does not facilitate this, it will be up to you, the Rights Holder, to shepherd this one through from start to finish. You should set up guidelines, deadlines, and delivery method. I’m not going to lie, it’s work. A lot of work. It’s your book, so it’s on you to make it work.

Logistics

One of the main hangups with multiple narrators is getting them to sound the exact same. This usually means they need to be in the same recording environment. This means studio time. This means money. Either you’ll need to make sure the voice actors are compensated for studio time or you pay it yourself.

Should I Do It?

Odds are you should not. It’s not necessary. Professional voice actors are usually skilled enough to pull of multiple voices. It’s up to you to find the right one and to put up an audition to weed out the ones that won’t work.

If you still want to do it, great. Good luck. Just keep in mind what I’ve mentioned above. It’s a lot more work and you’re a lot more limited in your options of payment. It can be done and it can be done well. There are audiobooks out there with two (and more) narrators. Heck, some books even have a full cast doing the narration. But those often are modified/abridged to remove things like attribution tags and modify the dialogue to cover things usually said by the narrator.

A Shameless Plug

Regardless of whether or not you use multiple narrators, feel free to contact me about narrating your next audiobook.

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