Audiobook Advice from Around She Writes
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
June 2018
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
June 2018

This month is audiobook month and we're celebrating by collecting some can't-miss audio advice from around the community.

Audiobooks have exploded in popularity over the past decade – in fact, according to the Association of American Publishers, they’re the fastest growing segment in publishing today.

“Not only is audiobook production constantly improving, but recent developments in technology have made audiobooks extremely convenient for the consumer," says CEO and Cofounder of the Scribd app, Trip Adler.

Like all of us here, I’ve adored books since before I could read them myself. My parents told me that whenever one of their friends came to our home, I’d run to them with a book and ask them to read to me.  The day I realized I’d learned to read stands out in my memory as one of the greatest days of my life. And since then, holding a book in my hand and reading it has remained one of the greatest pleasures of my life.

It was therefore a surprise to me to learn that audiobooks were such a hot trend, and that many people were back to listening to stories read to them even after they’d learned to read for themselves. As I began to talk to friends about this, I was startled to learn how many of them already were part of that trend: younger ones were listening as they exercised or did housework; older ones were listening because their decreased vision made reading more difficult.

Read more from She Writes member Monica Starkman in "Audible Audiobooks: How & Why I Made Mine."

Getting started

If you’re sitting on a published novel that’s not yet available on audio, what are you waiting for? Just think of the excitement in reliving the debut delight, and hearing your characters come to life in a whole new way. Plus, you’re opening your novel up to a whole new readership!

Not sure where to start? Our She Writes members are full of audiobook advice:

1. Adapt your book for audio

Change or eliminate anything that may be distracting of confusing to the listener such as references to other pages, footnotes, long lists, and any graphics such as charts or graphs.

2. Choose your process

What’s the best route for you: Would you like to try your hand at narrating in a studio, or do you want to leave it to the pros and hire a narrator and producer?

On self-narrating:

It’s not the destination; it’s the journey, right? Confession, I’m a destination kind of a woman. When I set my sights on something I like to get there and usually feel a sense of failure if I don’t. But in writing, publishing, and now in creating an audiobook, I got it—really got it—that a satisfying journey is actually part of my destination.

Some authors hire out and turn their project over to audiobook experts. There’s nothing wrong with that if that’s they’re journey. But I wanted to participate in the creation of my audiobook. Call me a control freak, but the writer in me still wanted to retain influence over how my story was interpreted. I didn’t know what that would mean or what shape my participation would take, but I knew I that for me, sending the book to a narrator who sat somewhere across the country and just waiting to hear the product through my computer speakers wasn’t going to do it.

Read She Writes Betsy Graziani Fasbinder’s full post, "7 Life-lessons I Learned by Creating an Audiobook."

On hiring a narrator:

Listening to another voice narrate has been spellbinding both for the acting involved as well as the interpretation of each character. The voices produced by my narrator were spot on or improved upon the voices I created in my head. The experience was thrilling for me!

Read Diana Y. Paul’s "The Audible Format: A 'How-to' Guide" for more great insight about her experience.

On using Amazon’s site to create your audio book:

After listlessly clicking around on the ACX site, I stumbled upon an area I had not seen before.  It was a whole list of affiliated narrators, samples of their work and even links to the narrators’ own websites, which I quickly realized meant that I didn’t have to wait for narrators to find my script and audition—I could go looking for them! 

SWP author Michelle Cox offers some great tips in "Audiobooks—Don’t Let the Narrator Come to

You!"

On audio rights:

"Audio rights are now seen as increasingly valuable, to the point that even Audible is bidding against traditional publishers to acquire the exclusive audio rights to promising projects," says Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords. As the number of smart speakers in homes around the globe continues to pick up speed, I wouldn't be surprised to see audiobooks continue to ride that same wave.

On marketing:

I signed a three-book deal with Recorded Books that included generous advance on each book, bonus for sales over a certain number of copies per book, royalties for hard goods (CDs) and digital downloads, plus per-download rental royalty on library copies, choice of narrator, and approval of cover art and copy.

In addition to the attractiveness of the terms of the offer, there were several other compelling reasons to sign with Recorded Books: they offered the best terms with Audible, and have dominant access to the library market (50% share), which is where my agent judged my books would do best. They distribute directly into the entire English-speaking market, through ownership of large audiobook publishers in the UK and Australia. And they offered the possibility of licensing direct-to-audio books from me in the future.

My three books were released over a period of seven months beginning in mid-2016. With very little active promotion from me (“do better” is my plan for next year), the first book completed its debut year with sales of over 1,100 units, a number my agent termed “happy-making,” though with much room for “we can do better.”

Read She Writes member Ellen Notbohm’s full post, "My Audiobook Trifecta."

Want more?

Make sure to also check Maria Murnane’s 14 steps to making an audiobook.

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