I heard Don Katz, the CEO of Audible.com speak at the London Book Fair back in April. He explained the huge growth in audiobook consumption and said that there are simply not enough audiobooks to satisfy the demand.
But how do you actually get your book into audio format? Author and guest blogger Brendan Foley explains his journey and I’ve added a couple more options at the bottom of the article as this is a topic I am fascinated with and will soon be exploring further.
An audio book by accident
My latest exploration into publishing comes in the form of audio. It all happened from a chance encounter with a good friend who confessed that he hadn’t read my book (an all too familiar situation for an author!). When I pressed him he had a great excuse; “it’s my eyes you see, I find reading tiring, but I have to say that instead, I now listen to audio books. Have you ever considered doing one?”
In truth I hadn’t and until recently I didn’t listen to audio books either. WOW I didn’t realize what I was missing! With my hectic schedule I suddenly found that while driving or doing the washing up I could listen to an audio book. I feel like I’ve cheated time and stolen a few minutes each time I do. If you are not listening to audiobooks I urge you to give them a try.
After trawling my contacts, a friend suggested that I contact a London based audio book company Creative Content run by two wonderful ladies Lorelei and Ali, to see if they had an interest in publishing. As it happened they did.
My first job was to travel to London and do a reading audition. It’s remarkable when you put on the cans (headset) and start to read your own words aloud. You suddenly realize the mammoth task that lies ahead of you.
For a start, how you read in your head and reading aloud have totally different punctuation and timing. You also become aware of how localized your speech is. As an Irish man I gave the UK director and sound man a few giggles when pronouncing “ t ree hundr ead and t ir t y t ree!”. However I got through the audition and got the part to play myself.
Tough but rewarding
A few weeks later I recorded ‘The 5 States of Success’ over two days. It was a mammoth task and one that completely took me by surprise in terms of how much energy, concentration and accuracy was required. I won’t lie to you, like many things in the world of the writer, it was incredibly hard but also incredibly rewarding. Like the feeling you get when you’ve climbed a mountain or labored for some success.
My top 10 tips for audio book success
So what did I learn? If you are going to create an audio book here are 10 things to consider;
- To read or not to read? For a non-fiction piece it is best if the author reads to add authenticity while a fiction piece often is better read by an actor who can convey the different types of characters that you might have.
- Scripting. You will need to rework your book as a marked up script where you add natural pauses and emphasize certain words. You may also have to rework clunky or long sentences.
- Practice, Practice, Practice. You cannot practice your script enough if you are going to read your own work. Using Garage Band or audio software record yourself and then critique and rework pieces if required.
- With a publisher? I was lucky and got a publisher but then I also wanted to get their scripting, directing, recording and post-production skills. Unlike traditional print houses audio publishers understand digital, therefore I believe are more open to record an indie book that is doing well.
- The indie route? With modern software it’s easy to record your audio book so going it alone is an option. However good post-production is needed and you’ll need a content aggregator to upload it to iTunes and Audible, etc.
- Have fun! Audio allows you to express your fun side either with your own voice over or through an actor. You also get the richness of emotion conveyed in a way that is hard to do in print.
- Beyond CD’s. CD’s got scratched and were clunky to warehouse and because of cost most books were abridged. With modern MP3 files all these challenges are overcome and whether you record yourself or professionally it’s easy to sell and distribute audio books.
- Scope. The audio book market now includes not just iTunes and Amazon, but companies like Overdrive that service the library market and colleges. You can get your book featured as part of in-flight entertainment on long haul flights. You can get your book preloaded on MP3 players and so on.
- Accessibility. For vision impaired people, those with low reading skills, people without English as their first language, commercial travelers and sales people and many, many more suddenly can access your work. As well as all those who simply prefer the audio format.
- A hardcore market. Just like ebooks in the beginning had a hardcore following there is a huge dedicated audio book market that is really only receiving top selling titles. I believe it’s only matter of time before there is a large indie audio following. Stake your claim quick!
I hope that you have found this useful and thought provoking. I hope that you will be encouraged to leverage the great work you may already have written into a new medium. As always live and write with meaning!
… and now some extra material from Joanna.
Introducing ACX – Audiobook Creation Exchange
Audible has recently set up ACX which is a marketplace for authors, narrators and audio producers. with the intent to have more audio created and published. If you own the rights to your work, you can submit it here or make some deals to get it produced.
Another fantastic resource for audiobooks is Podiobooks. where you can get serialized audiobooks in a podcast format. You can also record and submit your own books here, another means of marketing. Check out the For Authors page if you want to submit.
Podcasting Fiction to New York Times Bestseller
I know a number of fiction authors who have turned their podcasting success into traditional book deals. I’ve also interviewed quite a few of them. Here’s some further interviews and articles if you’re keen to find out more.
What do you think about audiobooks? Have you released any? Sold your audio-rights? Plan to self-publish on audio?
Please do leave a comment below.
About the Author
‘Having seen Brendan Foley speak, it came as no surprise to learn that his 5 States of Success is well-written, and with some great insights into the kind of values, attributes and mindset required for success and happiness.’ – Alastair Campbell, Writer, Strategist and former advisor to Prime Minister Tony Blair.