An audio book can be defined in several ways. These definitions commonly revolve around the idea that a book is recorded and made available to readers in audio forms such as mp3 files, compact discs and many other digital formats available out there.
For the sake of this write up, I will define audio books as a digital recording of a printed paper book or an eBook for that matter...in other words; an audio recorded version of a novel.
Not to be confused by audio podcasts which are standard audio recordings usually done in episodes that average general commuting time, say 20 - 30 minutes, posted on social networks or platforms where the subscribers can easily download the episodes according to their preference for free.....However the time frame of podcasts are greatly determined by the podcaster.
Some podcasters choose to turn a book in podcasts and release only a chapter of the book per week or according to their own desired intervals....that is still fine, in this era of creativity and advance technology, there is a thin line between right and wrong. However, my focus here is on an audio book;- "the all at once kind of book recording that goes out to the market as one complete piece for sale."
Audio books can be a great way for authors to capture a wider readership by reaching out to the non - readers, those struggling with slow reading problem, the blind and the general busy population who have no time to sit and entirely focus on reading a book but can listen while running other errands.
HOW THEN CAN YOU CREATE AN OUTSTANDING AUDIO BOOK!?
There are several parameters to put into consideration in the process of preparing to create an audio book. My interest is in choosing a narrator. The voice behind the audio will greatly influence the response of the listeners. Goofy sounding cast voices automatically put off the listeners. Considering the length of an entire book, the voices should sound natural but still captivating to give the listeners a desire to listen more and more. Otherwise, the audio file will be put aside after a few minutes of listening which is sad because authors put in so much time and commitment to produce these audio book.
Based on different authors' experiences in creating an audio book, I will share some of the considerations to factor in while choosing a narrator for your next audio book.
For Hers to Command, Patricia and I decided that she would do the voice over because she had classic training in drama. One thing that I should point out is voice over narrators are ACTORS. Formal training may not be needed, but it sure helps to create a superior product.
Since Patricia has a lovely voice, and as she is the author, there is no second hand interpretation of the work. She knows the characters names and knows the subtle inflections she wanted to convey. So it was a natural thing for her to do her own audio. While she could only narrate for an hour before the quality of her voice became...compromised, it was well worth it.
Was it cheaper to have her do the narration? No. We had a professional sound editor work with her during the process and it was worth the cost. Here is a sample of the final outcome:
But for Lovely, we needed a narrator. We wanted a soothing voice, with sophistication and someone who at least got the names and phrases correct.
You might think this an easy thing, but there were narrators that did not get the main character's name correct. In that case, I didn't bother to correct them. I felt that if they could pronounce "Christiana" with the "a" at the end, then their attention to detail was not up to par with what we were willing to pay. And because we went with the paid option for ACX we got the best talent for our money.
There were so many to choose from, but we had an idea of what voice the book needed. We also considered a voice for the series as a whole. That's how we chose Samantha. She is amazing. Please be aware that the sample below is NSFW. Right off the bat, she and a coveted few other narrators, pronounced Christiana as it was meant to be - Chris-tie-ah-n-ah. Not Christine. Not Christian. Samantha has worked with other BDSM authors as well and is familiar with the genre. That also was a plus for Samantha. We felt confident she would give justice to the terminology and the characters.
One thing I should point out was her gratefulness as to our "get it done right, not fast" approach. So many rush into this thinking they are going to hit the gold mine for audiobooks and it's a race. I think serious authors are going into this medium. It might worth getting trained as a narrator.
The best advice I can give you is, don't go for a low budget. Put the money in for the best talent or equipment. Much like editing and covers. Go for broke. Because the more you try to save money, the more unhappy you'll be in the end.
Remember, this article is not comprehensive and is based on different authors previous personal experiences.
Do you have a previous experience in choosing a narrator for your audio book?
Share your journey in the comments below.
Who knows? You may just inspire an author to turn their next eBook into an audio book.
My efforts are to make this a learning blog where writers can see the flip side of publishing. If you have comments that will improve your experience or have a certain topic you'd like discussed, please contact me through email - HERE.
~ Sincerley, Your Editor
Troll River Publications
Books on Kindle