By Maggie James
Audio - the fastest growing segment of the book publishing industry
I'm delighted to say that by the end of 2016 all my current fiction titles, along with Write Your Novel! From Getting Started to First Draft, should be available in audiobook format. I'm very excited about this! The future of audiobooks appears promising, and I'm pleased to be a part of it. Amazon's sales from this sector last year was $1.5 billion, making it the fastest growing segment of the book publishing industry.
Such a phenomenon isn't surprising in our time-poor society. Many of us lead hectic lives and it can be hard for book-lovers to find time to indulge their passion. Enter the audiobook. Unlike electronic or printed versions, people don't need their hands to read, which opens up a whole range of possibilities. You can listen to audiobooks whilst exercising, walking the dog, on the subway, doing housework, travelling, etc., making them ultra convenient.
Audiobooks also suit those who can't, or prefer not to, read. For people with sight problems or dyslexia, the benefit is obvious. Others spend all day using a computer, and the last thing they want to do in their spare time is to use their eyes even more. Some people prefer to listen rather than to read; their brains are more geared towards auditory input.
Me? I don't buy audiobooks at present, although that may change. I read incredibly fast and I can also be impatient, meaning that audio is too slow for me. I don't do well with courses that are video- or MP3- based for the same reason. However, I'm considering trying audiobooks when I go travelling. Often I spend hour after hour on buses and trains and it would be good to listen to audiobooks, given that I'm not into music.
The process so far - why the Queen won't be narrating my books
So how far have I got in getting my books into audio format? Answer: I'm still at the beginning. I considered narrating them myself, but as I lack experience and a recording studio, that idea quickly got the boot. Instead, I've chosen to release my titles via ACX, an Amazon company. My experience using Amazon for my Kindle books has been very positive, meaning that for audio format ACX was my first port of call. They sell via Audible, the dominant sales platform for audiobooks, as well as Amazon and iTunes. That's pretty much the whole market sewn up!
First I had to join ACX and create a project for each book, as well as upload excerpts for all of them. This allows potential narrators to sample the book and then submit an audition. I started getting responses straight away, and soon realised there was more to this than I'd envisaged. I'd previously thought that because ACX narrators did this for a living they'd all have good, and therefore suitable, voices, so it didn't matter which one I chose. Wrong!
As I listened to samples left by the narrators, I developed a sense of what type of voice would fit my books. As I'm from the UK and all my fiction titles are set locally, it made sense to pick a British narrator. Many, though, had cut-glass 'received pronunciation' tones, as typified by our Queen, which isn't what I had in mind. (I suspect Her Majesty would be shocked by my books!) Instead, I was looking, or rather listening, for something more neutral.
Reading styles varied enormously. One man had a slow, ponderous delivery; before long, I wanted to fall asleep! Another narrator sounded bored with what she was reading - not good! I listened to many samples before I found a voice I liked; when I checked this woman's profile I was even more impressed. I'd been worried because some of my books, such as The Second Captive, contain chapters from both male and female viewpoints, but she's experienced in narrating both sexes. Oddly enough, she's American, but her English accent is spot on; I didn't realise she's from the USA until I checked her profile. I contacted her, gave her the links to my samples, and received this response:
'OMG! I love your title descriptions. Your books sound like ones I would pick to read on my own time. And thank you so much for the compliment on my British accent! Can't think of higher praise coming from a native Brit. I'd absolutely love to work together.' Wow! I was delighted.
For my non-fiction book, Write Your Novel! From Getting Started to First Draft, I've found a British guy with a wonderful voice that I think's a perfect fit. He's accepted my offer, so things are under way. There's a chance he may also record Blackwater Lake, a story told wholly from a male viewpoint. We'll see!
So far, I've agreed terms and production schedules for Write Your Novel! and Sister, Psychopath, with completion dates of March 31 and April 30 respectively. My other fiction titles will follow as and when my American narrator can fit them into her schedule. As an ACX-accredited producer, she's deservedly popular, and therefore booked well ahead. I'm optimistic, however, that they'll be released in audio format before long. I'll keep you posted!
Do you listen to audiobooks?
I'm curious as to how many of you listen to audiobooks. Do you use them whilst excercising, travelling, etc., or simply listen? What's your preference - written or audiobooks? Leave a comment and let me know!
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