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Dear Extra Squeeze Team, I am interested in audio books, but I do not know how to get started in that arena…what are your tips?

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

The most important thing is to evaluate and prepare to articulate what you want. Listen to audio books in the genre of your work. Find the best ones that resonate with you. Note who the voice talent is and what you like about their performances. Then, step back and listen to the best audio books in other genres. Sometimes there is a huge difference between what is good in one genre and what is good in another genre. Noticing what you like and don’t like becomes more apparent through comparisons. Researching what you like and why will strengthen your vision for the end product. If you know what you really want and can express it, you will be able to find the talent you want in the audio arena.

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

Not sure how much help I can offer as I know nothing about distributing audio books, but I can say that the place to begin is with the voice talent. I used to produce radio spots and one had to keep a book of voice talent and jump through audition hoops to find the voice that best fit the ad’s product and audience. It’s so much easier today.

 

There are hundreds of really fine voice actors on the internet and most of them have the equipment needed at their fingertips. The actor’s websites have links to examples of their work so all you have to do is listen and consider if that voice has the right intonation, quality, clarity and personality to be a good narrator for your particular story. That’s a pretty subjective decision, so no tips on that.

 

I do suggest, however, that you test enough of the actor’s handling of dialog to know if it will work. Do you like the way she handles a man’s voice? How does he handle female voices? Children? Old people? Surprise, Anger? Most actors, once contacted, will audition a passage from your work. Then be aware of how the actor handles the issue of rights.

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

I’m the wrong person to ask about audio books. I am not an ‘audio’ reader and I proved it when a producer bought my series. I was asked to choose a narrator, and I did not choose well. I will eagerly read my colleagues suggestions and we’ll learn together.

H. O. Charles | A Slice of Orange

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array


I’ve yet to record mine, despite years of working on radio programs and in audio production! From a production perspective, you need a room with dampened sound (soft furnishings to absorb echo–think of a studio with egg cartons and foam on the walls). You need a good microphone and a lot of disk space. There’s probably a way of recording using a mobile phone, these days (I’m a bit out of date!), as their microphones are improving all the time.

 

Avoid mic pops – this is where your Ps and Bs thump the mic as you spit at it. Make your editing easier by enunciating clearly and repeating a whole line when you make a mistake. Keep your background noise (kicking the desk, pets, traffic…) to the absolute minimum. For editing, Adobe Audition has long been the best tool, but it requires some getting-used-to for those just learning. Audacity is free and much simpler for the newbie.

 

Practice your acting skills. There’s nothing more boring than a reader going through an entire novel in monotone. Listeners latch onto variation in pitch and tone, and emotion. You may feel ridiculous doing it, but it’ll sound much better in the final edit.

The Extra Squeeze | A Slice of Orange

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

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About The Extra Squeeze
Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing. Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

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    Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing. Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.
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  • I can speak to this topic having produced and narrated my own work, and now producing audiobooks for my fellow authors. Granted I’m still learning, but I love listening and producing audiobooks!

    Robin’s suggestions are spot on. Having an ear for audio not only in your genre but also in others will help you find a better match with your narrator.

    Really do your homework. ACX offers a great blog with insights from authors, narrators and producers. Findaway and Author’s Republic allows you to distribute wide, which I can tell you from experience as the author + narrator can make you some nice profit. There are also smaller but very effective independent production companies such as Pink Flamingo, Audiobooks Unleashed and others.

    This is a huge opportunity and a big world so I urge you to take your time, don’t rush in and expect to fall into a gold mine.

    From my experience here are my top three tips:

    If you have a series, have more than the first title published. Unless you’re an incredibly fast author, if you have the first three titles ready to go, you can build on that momentum and see a better return on your investment.

    Have a realistic budget in mind. Most seasoned narrators will not audition for royalty share productions, and so you may find that you’re working with a new narrator. Royalty share plus projects may get you someone who is more seasoned and has a team in place to expedite the process, hence why they will request a per finished hour rate in addition to the royalty share. With both deals, you’ll be sharing half of your royalties for 7 years.

    Also, have a promotion plan in place before you post that audition. Karen Commins has a wealth of information at her website, NarratorsRoadMap.com. If you can work with your narrator to promote the audiobook even while it is in production – narrators are becoming much more savvy on social media and with fan newsletters – that you can work together to get some buzz started on your title.

    And one more tip, check out the app Discord. There is a narrator’s channel where you can watch and interact with narrators as they record in their booths. I’ve learned so much as a narrator and author just spending a few hours with them.

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