Sometimes it seems like every industry has a secret language that everyone is fluent in but you. This is especially true when first starting out. Trying to figure out shorthand and the AFDs can be tricky (Acrynomys For Days - it's not a thing.. but it COULD BE).
Fear not, friendly friend. I'm going to lay down some definitions so you can go to Audiobook Term Town sounding like the boss you are.
ACX - The Audiobook Creation Exchange, owned by Amazon and free to create a profile, upload samples, and search for open auditions for Audiobooks.
Ahab - It's not an acronym but a nod to Captain Ahab in Moby Dick and is Penguin Random House's platform for auditions. Like ACX, you can set up a profile and samples and search for auditions.
APA - The Audiobook Publishers' Association is a purchasable membership that houses virtual lectures, The Audie Awards, a chance to speed date publishing houses, social gatherings, and a yearly conference called APAC (APA + Conference) that is a vast networking moment for the community.
CRX File - Stands for "corrections" and is used when a proofer/editor finds mistakes or miss reads in the audio and needs the narrator to do a pickup (re-record the sentence or phrase). Working with a proofer or publisher usually includes a packet with a spreadsheet outlining the location and reason for the pickup, a voice match reel so you can listen back and match tone and pitch, and a highlighted script for finding the context and location.
DAW - The Digital Audio Workstation. This is where the mouth magic happens. In short, it's the place where you lay down your soundwaves and is the space where you can edit your audition together. There are a ton of options out there, but some industry favorites are Audacity (free), Reaper (cheap), and Studio One (pricier).
FX Stack - "effects stack" refers to the plug-ins in your DAW that clean up your audio and make it sparkle. A stack can apply equalization, a tri-comp, a limiter, and gain in a specific order to achieve a commercial (or audition) ready audio performance.
**BIG BONUS** This can be a bear to set up, so click the link for an incredible step-by-step process with Reaper with the amazing Steven Jay Cohen and watch your anxiety about this step MELT away. THEN donate to his caffeine intake because we ALL want him to continue to share his genius.
HEA - What we all want in life is essentially a "happily ever after," and in audiobooks, and books in general, a romance, review, or character breakdown might include this to show that the world can indeed be a happier place. Fun fact - if a lovey-dovey doesn't have a HEA, it's not considered a story in the "romance genre."
MC - This is the mono mojo, the primary person of people, the soliloquy of the story. In other words, the Main Character (If you didn't know I like alliteration by now, I can't help you).
MMF - I include this here because it is a gateway to a BUNCH of additional acronyms that have to do with sexual expression in a book. M stands for male, F for female, if there are two M's next to each other - it means that the men engage in sexual intercourse with each other and the female character. If you see MFM, the male characters are only with the female character and do not engage in intercourse with each other. Whether you decide to narrate steamy romance or erotica, these terms will help everyone know upfront what to expect in the pairings.
MS - You've read a lot. I'll keep it simple. "Manuscript"
PANA - As of this writing, a new association is in town called the "Professional Audiobook Narrator's Association." Unlike the APA, which is geared towards publishers, this is the first Audiobook Narrator-focused association. Its mission is to advocate for raising industry standards and halting the use of AI in audiobooks.
PFH - Stands for "Per Finished Hour" and is the industry standard for calculating payment. SAG-AFTRA, for example, suggests that if you are a producer on ACX, you should receive a minimum of $250.00 PFH. Because audiobooks can take anywhere from 4-6 hours of additional time to produce, the PFH rate ensures that the finished product allows for a livable wage during the creation.
PNR/ P&R - This is a type of narration recording style called "Punch and Roll" where you begin recording and if you mess up - you stop, put the cursor back to the sentence before, and start recording again over the mistake- creating a clean read for a finished session. This method is my personal favorite as it saves me time from having to go back and edit out all of my flubs afterwords.
ALSO PNR - Context clues for this one, friends. This term is also an acronym for the book genre "paranormal romance" and is ALSO a gateway for a bunch of shorthand to different genres and sub-genres of romance books. Click the link to see a quick reference guide.
RH - Stands for "Rights Holder" and is not always the author. Sometimes, a publishing company has purchased a book's rights, and they will be your main point of contact for a contract.
RMS - aka the bane of most new audiobook engineers' existence. It stands for "Root Mean Square" and is the one number given for the value of the total waveform. If your highs are too high, or your lows are too low, that number will be out of the accepted range ( -18 decibels to -23 decibels ), and you'll need to tweak your audio.
RS - This type of contract, found predominantly on ACX, is called a Royalty Share. This means that the production contract awards a 50-50 split of the royalties earned by an audiobook (after terms and fees) for the next seven years. RS contracts used to be an excellent passive income opportunity - but in recent years have been riddled with scams and titles that can't afford to market to gain sales. My two cents - proceed with caution on these books and do your research.
RX (7,8,9) refers to IZotope RX Audio Editor, which is currently in its 9th edition (RX9). It is an audio clean-up suite, aka magical audio elves that come in and fix not-so-great audio with such a deft hand that you believe in Christmas morning magic again. SERIOUSLY - SAVE UP AND GET THIS if you ever want to engineer your stuffs.
SAG-AFTRA is the combined forces of two previous unions, the "Screen Actors Guild" and the "American Federation of Television and Radio Artists." The union has a specific section designed to support Audiobook Narrators, and many professionals benefit from their health and pension options. They also offer industry information and host lectures and seminars.
SOVAS - the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences. They host an award with the same title and have a bunch of categories for all sorts of voice-over work, including audiobooks!
ANNNNNNNND there you have it... slip any one of these bad boys into a watercooler conversation and bask in the industry head nods and smiles of acceptance.
... or at least, be able to follow along in a Reddit thread.
TTYL! - B