If you’re following my #TuesdayTips on Twitter (also accessible through my Evernote notebook of them), you know that #44 on 24 March 2020 contained instructions for downloading your data from Facebook. After getting my data, I excavated the following post I made on 9/28/14 in a FB narrator’s group. I’m publishing it here — with some links, of course! — because its lessons remain timely. I’ll add some comments in purple.
[I want share] a recent experience about breaking an ACX contract in the hopes it helps someone else.
The 2 lessons to the story:
1) If you hear warning bells before you audition, either request the book or forget about auditioning.
2) Life’s too short to deal with bad text and a non-responsive rights holder!
The abridged version:
- I broke a royalty share (RS) contract on ACX before recording the first 15 minutes. The manuscript was terrible, and the rights holder became unresponsive.
- I sent her 2 messages through the ACX message system before requesting project termination.
- You have to send the reasons for termination to INFO@acx.com. I first wrote to firstname.lastname@example.org but was told I had to send the request to INFO@acx.com.
- ACX dissolved the project and deleted it from my dashboard the next day.
- If you ever need to dissolve a contract, feel free to copy any of the language from my messages.
The unabridged version, complete with my messages to the RH:
I saw a book titled “Keeping A Journal”. I’ve been keeping a journal for years and know the many benefits of this practice. It was a short royalty share book of an hour or less. Even though I couldn’t find anything about the author, I auditioned because I wanted to share the message about journaling. I’d say now that if you can’t find any info about the author, don’t even bother auditioning.
The audition script seemed a bit repetitive. The word choices seemed like someone who was trying to sound more educated than she is.
I heard the warning bells and almost didn’t audition. Whenever I hear warning bells now, I listen to them! I thought about asking for the complete book before the audition. However, since it was so short, I decided to go ahead with it. Anyone who has been burned by doing a short ACX book probably thought the same thing!
The rights holder (RH) selected me and sent the manuscript right away. She said she teaches journaling classes. “Great!”, I thought, “She obviously knows what people commonly ask when they start journaling and will get right to the heart of it.”
I thought the book would get better than the audition copy. I was wrong. It got worse….much, MUCH worse.
My first message to the RH explains some of the book’s problems:
Hi, [RH]! I hope you are enjoying a relaxing holiday weekend.
I had planned to record, edit, and submit the first 15 minutes of Keeping a Journal today. However, I wonder if I have the final version of the manuscript.
Before I continue, let me assure you that I view my narrations as a collaboration with the author. We want the same end result — happy listeners who leave great reviews/ratings and who want to refer their friends to the audiobook.
I was excited to see your book on ACX because I am a firm believer in the power of journaling. I auditioned and agreed to a royalty share contract only because I want to promote the value of journaling, not because I need the work.
After reading the entire book, I feel I must tell you the version of the manuscript that I have is not ready to be made into an audiobook. Here are a few issues that might be remedied with some strong editing:
1) Much of the content is overly repetitive and makes starting a journal seem more difficult than it actually is. The prolonged and redundant discussion about preparation alone is enough to dissuade anyone from keeping a journal. The actual ideas expressed in the book could be more simply stated in about 2 pages.
2) Some of the word choices are incorrect (“once you INHERIT these various tactics…”), and the overall language is formal and highfalutin rather than conversational.
3) The book doesn’t fulfill the promise of the title about self-discovery and finding joy. The book mentions benefits of journaling, but none are listed or explored. I think most people are concerned about what to write or how the journal will help them over time. Those topics also are not addressed. A listener who hears the journaling “rules” will be inclined to give up the practice before even starting.
When I auditioned, I thought that this book would offer concrete tips similar to Jim Rohn’s excellent advice in his program How to Keep A Journal.
I’m afraid that if I record the version of the manuscript that I have, listeners will rate the content as 1-star and automatically make my performance a 1-star rating as well. I further predict that any reviews would be very negative and highlight the points I have made in this message. With many other books available on this subject, 1 bad review would cause this one to fade to obscurity.
My intent is to help you produce the best product possible. I apologize if my candor angers or hurts you. I am direct, concise, and honest in my communications because no one ever solved a problem by beating around the bush.
Do you want to send me a revised manuscript? ACX doesn’t care if we change the due dates on the contract.
If not, I must ask you to terminate the contract.
Thank you for your time and understanding. I look forward to your response.
Today, I’d simply ask the RH if I have the final version of the manuscript and then skip to end where I ask for a revised edition. I wouldn’t list any of the various problems I found in the text as it’s not my job to tell the author how to write. I also don’t enjoy spending my time trying to educate a RH who may not value my help.
She didn’t respond. Ten days and both deadlines passed. I wrote to her a second time:
Hi, [RH]! I hope your week is off to a good start.
I wrote to you on 30 August about problems in the manuscript for Keeping a Journal but haven’t heard from you.
Are you revising the manuscript? Both deadlines for this book have already passed. I need to know if you plan to send an updated manuscript or terminate the contract.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Six days later, I sent my third and final message to her:
Hi, [RH]. I hope you are well.
I’ve written 2 messages to you about the manuscript for Keeping a Journal (30 Aug. and 10 Sept.) but have not received a response. I’m assuming that you don’t want to go forward with creating an audiobook of Keeping a Journal at this time.
Therefore, I’m going to ask ACX to terminate the contract and remove it from my project list.
Perhaps we can work together in the future. Best wishes for your success!
I then wrote to ACX to request project termination. I gave my reasons and outlined my dates of communication.
As a reminder, the ACX message system is the official documentation. While you may communicate with RHs outside of the system, all messages affecting production dates should be sent through the ACX system. Furthermore, contract dissolution is more easily accomplished when it occurs before the first 15 minute checkpoint file is recorded or uploaded.