Tag Archives: audiobooks

Audio from the Authors: Coming This Summer

I’ve asked some of my paying clients to relate their experiences in producing their tales as an audiobook. The first installment, if you missed it, is here. I hope this small series will encourage fellow authors to engage with a crucial market niche and win new customers. Listeners too may enjoy hearing about how the tale-tellers made their way to and through audio. As I bring one of their stories to your ears, here perhaps are more for your eyes.

Part the Second: Coming Projects

This post features two well experienced writers who have rashly signed contracts to employ me over the summer of 2021. I asked certain things in common to all my authors to help set their context. Following that, some questions about their unique journey and opinions.

Casi McLean, A Switch in Time: The President is Missing

When I saw this title in the Audible audition list I was drawn to it, but unsure. I read the author’s comments to my lovely wife (see below) and she practically insisted I try out. So glad I listened to her– good habits are the gift that keeps on giving.

When I secured this project I realized I was on a three month roll. Turns out, so is Casi.

Is the current title your first book? No.
How many titles have you published to date?

I have seventeen published and two collections. I’m currently working on three books and have one scheduled to release June 1st. All my books are available in eBook versions, and all are available in print except my short stories––they are available in a print collection. Most of my books are available or in production on Audible.

 Do you have a “Home” genre, or have you “played the field” in your writing?

I guess you could say I play the field, however my genres weave more of a web of interrelated intrigue––Mystery, Thrillers, Romantic Suspense, Time Slips and stories with a Supernatural Twist or a Ghostly Encounter… and always with a sprinkle of magic!

How many audiobooks have you issued before this collaboration?

Six and three in production, including my short story collection, which includes five stories.

Did you listen to audiobooks before you started writing? 

Definitely. I’m a very visual person and I love how audiobooks come alive on the  canvas of my mind. I actually listen more now that I’m a writer because my eyes get so tired from reading my own stories every day and staring at a computer, so I listen to stories to relax.

 

The audiobook will always require collaboration with the narrator, but your upcoming tale, A Switch in Time, found you collaborating over the authorship. Can you tell us a little about that creative process?

My mother, Eleanor LaRue, initially wrote a manuscript entitled “A Matter of Principle” in 1960, but she never had it published…she left the manuscript to me when she passed away in 1995 **BEFORE** I began writing. I found the story when I moved a few years ago and felt compelled to bring her story to life. Over the last two years, I updated, edited, tweaked, and added a time travel element for a contemporary spin, and I’m so thrilled to be able to bring her story to life.

When it came time to bring out the audiobook, you had more choices of business model than authors do with the e-book and paperback. How did you approach the alternatives (Royalty Share, RS Plus and Per Finished Hour), can you tell us a bit about your reasoning there?

That was a hard choice. Obviously, a Royalty Share costs nothing out pocket… and a Royalty Share Plus costs less up front than completely paying for the production myself. Up front, they both look like great deals.

But both limit my income in the long run, so monetarily, the decision to pay up front pinched my purse, but ultimately made more sense. More importantly, Royalty Shares limit my personal control over my work. If I share the cost, I give up some of my personal rights to my work.

My first two books were released through a publisher, so I had little input as to who would narrate my stories, and I have no choice but to share my profits with the publisher and the voice actor. I can never have full rights or profits for all my work on those two books, and I don’t like having no control over what I created. So, bottom line, I decided to self-publish all my books and pay up front for my voice productions if I possibly can.

Katharina Gerlach, Harbingers of Hope

Full disclosure- Cat is my publisher and a dear friend. She has been supportive of all my efforts since I started to think about self-publishing, and this most recent project is on a– pardon me– epic scale, and will keep me from idleness through most of the summer.

In a few words, she’s hiring me to record some of my own books.

I told you, a friend indeed.

Is the current title your first book? No (WLH Note: Oh HELL no!)
How many titles have you published to date? (WLH Note: Incoming…)

I am publishing my own books in two languages (without counting bundles): 14 novels, 13 novellas, 5 short story collections (English only), and 10 single/double short stories (mostly in both languages), 1 non-fiction (in English), the occasional anthology in English or German (10 books), and your books (8 titles). So that’s a total of 86 books (counting each language edition as one book) in paper and eBook format. Single short stories are eBook only. (WLH Note: What did I tell you!)

 Do you have a “Home” genre, or have you “played the field” in your writing?

My main genre is YA Fantasy but I’ve also dabbled in historical fiction and some soft Sci-Fi.

How many audiobooks have you issued before this collaboration?

One (it is a high cost endeavor).

Did you listen to audiobooks before you started writing? 

I’ve tried again and again to listen to audiobooks, but I fall asleep after just a short while regardless how exciting the story. I’m blaming that on being constantly overworked because as a child, I loved audiobooks and audio dramas.

As my publisher you have made all the important formatting decisions around how my tales publish. Judgement’s Tale and The Eye of Kog, already out in paper and e-book form, will now be combined into a single enormous opus with a new title and cover. As part of that, we’re doing an audiobook version. What is your schedule for the upcoming launch, including the various formats, and is that in line with other authors you have seen?

I’m trying to get the eBook and print book out at the same time because sales data suggest that if one lags behind by a significant time gap, it will not regain the sales it could have gotten right from the start. Also, the (in this case much, much) higher price point of the print showing up beside the lower eBook price often suggests to potential buyers that they’re getting a bargain.

For this book I’m aiming for a print/eBook-release roughly 2-3 months before the audiobook, so we can try to get at least some reviews up before the audio comes out. It’s pretty much in line with what’s been suggested by other authors.

You have rebranded other books, sometimes for language, or a new cover, or for the audiobook coming out. What’s your philosophy about relaunching titles in this way, and have you found that helps?

Relaunching titles has always been a way to renew interest. The big publishers do it, other Indies do it. When the Indie-world started in 2008/09, it was perfectly sufficient to slap a hand-drawn cover on your book and people would still look at the look-inside-feature to give it a chance. That has long changed. A great cover and gripping cover copy are just as, if not more important, than a great story. Releasing the Shards of Light series with the new (and much more genre appropriate) covers has increased the sales significantly.

When I took your books up, I was pretty certain that you’d get a handful of very dedicated fans but that I would have to wait for a very long time to get back my investment (at that point mostly time, and a little money for editing). When I changed the covers, I was surprised on how much better the sales were. We’re not yet in the green, but we’re getting closer with every month. I’m much more optimistic these days. Who knows, maybe the audiobook will generate new interest in your other books as well and bring new readers to the Shards of Light series. I certainly wouldn’t mind.

Many thanks, ladies, for sharing some valuable insights here. If you want to follow up with them, here are some links.

Casi McLean, author of A Switch in Time: The President is Missing…

Katharina Gerlach, producer of Will Hahn’s Harbingers of Hope (working title for previous novels Judgement’s Tale and The Eye of Kog)

Audio from the Authors: Just Then and Right Now

This is the first post in which talented authors share some experiences in producing their tales as an audiobook. I’ve been privileged to work with  fabulous folks from all corners, and I hope this small series will encourage fellow authors to engage with a crucial market niche and win new customers. Listeners too may enjoy hearing about how the tale-tellers made their way to and through audio. As I bring one of their stories to your ears, here perhaps are more for your eyes.

Part the First: How It’s Going

This post features two writers who either hired or have me at present (May ’21) on their latest project. I asked certain things in common to all my authors to help set their context. Following that, some questions about their unique journey and opinions.

Dave Ashmore, Taking Care of Business

Dave brought Detective Mike Ash into my life, together with some terrific detail-oriented crime stories featuring a lot of focus on procedures and the city of Tampa Florida. Taking Care of Business is the third in the series.

 

Is the current title your first book? No
How many titles have you published to date?

Three. All of them are paper, e-books and audiobooks. While I did not write my first book, Unfinished Business as an audiobook, my next two titles, Business as Usual and Taking Care of Business, were written to be narrated, especially by Will Hahn. I happen to believe in audiobooks; I think they have a great future.

 Do you have a “Home” genre, or have you “played the field” in your writing?

So far, I have stuck with my “Home” genre, crime fiction with themes of murder mystery and vigilante justice. I will not rule out branching out in the future, but right now I’m having a lot of fun with Mike Ash and the ‘Heroes and Villains’ in Tampa.

How many audiobooks have you issued before this collaboration?

Two.

Did you listen to audiobooks before you started writing? 

Interesting question. I had not listened to a contemporary audiobook when I wrote and self-published Unfinished Business on Amazon. When the idea of turning my first novel into an audiobook presented itself, I was intrigued.

As a boy, before television was a staple in every home, there were two major networks, offering a daily fare of radio dramas. They were very similar to audiobooks with the exception that instead of having a single narrator, the old radio dramas had a “cast” of characters sitting around a table on stools behind boom mikes, and bring a different world (as Will describes in his video) into the living room.

Ten years later, as a young radio-tv production major, my professor assigned a group I was in to do a radio drama based on a scene from Edgar Allen Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher. Then late one night, I heard the KRLD Radio Theatre of the air. Wow! I, of course knew intellectually, that this had been taped earlier in a studio with actors sitting on stools, reading from a script. The sound effects were on cartridge tapes in the control room, but not much else was different. The effect was the same. The effect of these voices reading a script over the radio was transformative.

And today, I find listening to my words being read in an audiobook exhilarating. The old magic of a story being brought to life by a voice is still there for me.

We’ve worked together on Audible/ACX as well as Findaway Voices. How do you find both these platforms? Do you have a preference?

I definitely prefer Findaway Voices. I would recommend them for neophyte as well as experienced authors. All the ‘metadata’ questions up front are a little intimidating initially, but once the project gets underway, it’s smooth sailing, especially with a high-quality professional narrator.

Let me add some advice to authors: choose your narrator carefully. S/he has to be someone with whom you can work closely. This especially includes someone who “gets” you and your work.

Have you found that hearing the audiobook read by someone else has altered your views about Out of Business, the next title in the series? Any pleasant (or un-) surprises?

With a background in radio production, I tend toward writing for a good ‘sound.’ And no worries: if a story ‘sounds’ good, it will ‘read’ even better. Definitely as I write Out of Business now, I do so with an ‘ear’ as to how it will sound with William Hahn narrating. And having a narrator with whom you can work well, who “gets” you and your work, to me is a make-or-break issue in producing audiobooks.

I personally believe in the future of audiobooks. The power of a human voice bringing a written narrative to life is just as much alive today in audiobooks as it was in radio dramas long ago.

 

Steve Margolis, Future Fortune

I met Steve by auditioning on ACX (Audible), where cattle have been called for over a decade now. I loved the time-travel genre and could tell just from the sample that this would have humor and mystery in it. One thing Steve does really well, I think, is convey the kind of normal conversation that you can really believe people would have– it might be about trivia, but it’s never unimportant or slow.

Is the current title your first book? No

 

How many titles have you published to date?

Future Fortune is actually my second book. I originally released it a few years back, and when I decided to make it into a series, I rewrote it, changing the point of view. I also wrote a non-fiction book in 2015 called The Toaster Oven Mocks Me, that is still doing nicely- no bricks through my window for at least a year now.

 Do you have a “Home” genre, or have you “played the field” in your writing?

I probably should have a genre; I’m all over the place. I write what I like. Both my books are humorous, so I guess that’s my genre.

How many audiobooks have you issued before this collaboration?

After Future Fortune is recorded, both my books will have audio versions available. I’m thinking of moving them from the “book” section of Amazon to the sleep-aid section.

Did you listen to audiobooks before you started writing?

Oddly, I don’t listen to audiobooks, and I’m not a fan of eBooks either, which is funny because I’m a computer programmer and spend my entire day knee-deep in technology. I’m a paperback guy. But I know my readers are varied, so I try to cover all my bases with multiple formats.

The audition process on Audible is still fairly fresh in your mind. How did you proceed, was it more time than you expected, or do you have any tips for other authors about the audition sample, things like that?

It was actually a lot of fun. I created a script, opened it for auditions, and narrators started submitting recordings. I listened to about 130 auditions, and narrowed it down to five. While I was deciding which of the final five I liked, the submissions continued to pour in. However, when I heard your reading, I moved you to the number one spot.

My tip: listen to everything!

Future Fortune has a lot of humor in it, multiple characters who are funny. Have you heard delivery that was not what you expected? What other kinds of issues have come up that require revision, and how does that work?

I like humor, so giving all my characters a sense of humor is a must. In my head, I know how I want the characters to sound. I also know how I want the various situations described.

You nailed the majority of character voices and situations. In fact, your reading sometimes took a good scene and made it a great scene.

I don’t know how other authors handle the audiobook approval process, but I’m listening to the chapters as you record them, and letting you know if I hear a mispronunciation.

Otherwise, I trust your ear.

Thanks to both Dave and Steve for their candor. Here are the links again for your delectation.

Dave Ashmore, author of Taking Care of Business

Steve Margolis, author of Future Fortune