Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Making Me Audible by Andrea Downing

 When the Wild Rose Press announced in late May that they were using ACX Audio to get books on Audible, now owned by Amazon, I almost deleted the message.  The sticking point is the necessary seven year extension to existing contracts, a long time to give up the rights to your book.  But then I had a think….  I was not going to do very much with three of my books; they are not in a series nor the possible start of one.  I am very well aware that the royalties from Audible will be negligible, but in terms of exposure, Audible, with greatly increasing sales, might prove a huge benefit.  I thought I’d give it a try on one book, knowing a huge number of authors were also vying to get in on the act.  I chose Dearest Darling, an historical western-mail order bride novella of around ninety pages, which has won a number of awards. So, off I went, downloaded the contract extension, sent it off, and received back, in due course, the spec sheet.
     The spec sheet asks for things like accent needed, type of voice you’re looking for (they had already inserted “engaging”), phonetic spelling of unusual or foreign words and names, plus the audition excerpt of around 400 words.   I got this back to TWRP on June 23rd and by July 14th heard that Dearest Darling was out for audition.  You could have knocked me over with a feather when the very next day I was notified someone had auditioned.
We’re warned not to expect the narrator’s voice to sound anything like the voices we heard in our heads when writing the book.   No one will read your work exactly the way you want it read. So I listened to the audition with that in mind, had three friends also listen to it—including one who regularly listens to Audible books—and we were all pretty much agreed.  He had a nice, engaging voice but the expression just wasn’t there.  I wrote back to say what I felt were the problems—not enough differentiation between the H/H and not enough expression.  I have a drama background so I was particularly critical about breath stops as well, where punctuation should have you pause.  My narrator re-auditioned and it was vastly better.  I accepted.
I just recently received back his first fifteen minutes.  They were greatly improved over either of the auditions, although the *** pause was not obvious and I’ve asked for a longer stop there.  Had I not written the book, I would have been lost because in the first chapter the scene switches at those stars from NYC and the heroine to Wyoming and the hero.  That message has been passed on to my reader and I’m now awaiting the full script with much anticipation.  I’ve been told I’ll then have to listen to the full read for any corrections and have to mark them on a sheet to send back.  And I’ve now sent contract extensions to the two other books I’d like on Audible.
I can’t wait to hear him read my love scenes!
If you still prefer reading a book yourself, Dearest Darling is available for all eReaders at  https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/3310-dearest-darling.html?search_query=dearest+darling&results=1    It’s garnered the Golden Quill Award for Best Novella; Favorite Hero at the Maple Leaf Awards along with Honorable Mention as Favorite Heroine, Favorite Short Story and Favorite Novel; placed Third in Historical Short at the International Digital Awards; and Runner-Up for Best Short or Novella at the Chanticleer Awards.


26 comments:

Leah St. James said...

Very exciting, Andi! Congratulations! That's fantastic that you have that amount of input into the process. Here's hoping you get tons of listeners and more readers!

Andrea Downing said...

Thanks Leah. It is rather exciting, such a whole new way to present your books to people.

Tena Stetler said...

Hi Andi,

Exciting times at TWRP. I too have three books in audible. Surreal when you here your words are read by someone else. So much fun. I've been very pleased with the narrators that have done two of my books. Best of luck!

Kimberly Keyes Romance said...

How exciting! I can't imagine how it would feel to hear someone reading your book aloud.
I hope the finished product surpasses all of your wildest dreams :-)

Andrea Downing said...

Tena, I'm waiting for my other two to go out; haven't got the spec sheets back yet so there must now be a long queue. One of them at least is very different to Dearest Darling so I should think the comparisons will be interesting.

Kimberly, yes, let's hope it surpasses my hopes for it. So far so good.

Veronica Blake, Author said...

I was really excited at the idea of having a book in audible. My first book with TWRP was released in June and it would be the first of my 12 books (11 with a different publisher) to be in audible. I received an audition almost immediately and was so disappointed. I was expecting that he wouldn't sound like I imagined, but the narrator was really bad in my opinion. I also asked friends who listened to audible books to listen to the audition, and they thought he was bad, too. I decided not to go with him, and even my editor thought I had made the right decision. Now, I worry constantly that I'll never get another audition. I'm so happy to hear that your audible experience has had a great outcome. Best of luck!

Linda Tillis said...

Andrea, thank you SO much for this blog! Lisa notified me one day that my book was "up" and I got the first audition 14 hours later. But, like you, I was not happy with it. I've never listened to an audio book, so I went to Amazon and sampled several. I knew then that this particular narrator was not a good choice, and while I felt bad about rejecting him, I'm glad that I did. Again, thank you.

Amanda Uhl said...

I've been working on narrating my own book. (I have a theatre background.) The taping is done and approved but I am in editing mode. It was much harder than I thought but also a lot of fun. I can't wait to see what everyone thinks when the book comes out.

Sorchia DuBois said...

Thanks so much for your post--I've been sitting on the fence about Audible. I came to the same conclusion about the contract length and the gained exposure that you did. The problem is with the narrator. I'd love to narrate my own, but time--time--time. Never enough! Failing that, I really have doubts about finding a narrator I'll be happy with. You give me hope so I'll fill out the info and get the ball rolling and try to work with the Force instead of against it :) Let's revisit this subject in a year or so and see how we feel then!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Sounds exciting and fun! Congrats on being chosen. I have a new series coming out with TWRP and would love to get those books on audible.

C.B. Clark said...

Congratulations on the upcoming audible book. How exciting. Nice to hear how the process works.

Brenda Whiteside said...

So exciting. I too hesitated on the contract length, but like you, didn't plan on doing anything on my own anyway. I submitted the first book in my series that is an Encore book and a stand alone book. I'd gotten an audition for the series book months ago and turned him down never to get another. When TWRP set it up more organized I submitted again. I got the same audition. Turned him down again. I am concerned I won't ever get takers. So I went into the site and listened to a bunch of samples. I picked out 4 women for one book and 3 for the other. I'm hoping one of them will take my request. I wait! Keep us updated on how it goes for you!

Andrea Downing said...

Veronica, I'm so sorry to hear of your experience. I know Lisa there hat TWRP had told me this guy was really good compared to others she had heard, and that she had heard a lot of really bad ones. Hope you get another go.

Linda, it really is difficult to get the narrator 'right' I think because we all have such preconceived notions about what he/she should sound like. Hope you get another go, too.

Amanda-interesting. I, too, have a drama background and people have told me to do it myself but I can't be bothered to start forking out for all the equipment, not only the mic but sound stuff. Hope yours is exactly what you want.

Sorchia, my feel is it's always worth a try--you can always say 'no' to the narrator.

Margo, give it a try, especially right at the beginning of a contract because then you're only giving them 2 extra years rather than extending after they've already had the book for several.

C.B. Glad you liked reading about my experience.

Brenda, thanks so much for that input. I didn't know one could go to the site and send a request. What a great idea!

Diane Burton said...

Andi, thanks for sharing your experience. Love hearing good things. Best wishes.

Patti Sherry-Crews said...

It's another way to get your work out there! Exciting! Your remark: "We’re warned not to expect the narrator’s voice to sound anything like the voices we heard in our heads when writing the book. No one will read your work exactly the way you want it read." Now, imagine you're lucky enough to have your book made into a movie. Who did you have in your head? I think that must be hard for authors sometimes to see the screen version of their book for a variety of reasons. Congrats!

Andrea Downing said...

Diane, I did think it might be of interest considering Audible books are such a growing market.

Patti, I don't know if I'm weird but I never actually envisage any specific actors as my characters, though I do see perfectly clearly what they look like in my head. Even if Dearest Darling had sold for a movie or tv, I wouldn't have a clue who should play the roles! Am I alone in this?

Jannine Gallant said...

Congrats, Andi! I'm glad this is working out for you. I've never listened to an audible book, and when I try to read my own books out-loud, I cringe. I have a feeling I'd be hypercritical of any audition. Maybe someday...

Andrea Downing said...

Jannine, I think that's why they say to look for an 'engaging' voice--the voice apparently matters most of all, even more than the way he reads it. I don't listen to audible books either, but apparently it's a growing market and I know a number of people who listen to/from work.

Christine DePetrillo said...

I have two of my TWRP books that are going to be made into audio books. I had been toying around with the notion of making some of my books into audios, and then TWRP extended the offer. Seemed like the perfect time for a test run. I received a male audition for one book and a female who wanted to do both books. I went with the female. The male sounded too Broadway for my writing style which is very casual. I'm going to keep a close watch on what audio books do for sales, if anything. Good luck to you!

Andrea Downing said...

Christine, by 'Broadway' I imagine you meant he read very dramatically? That can certainly be a bit overdone for reading a book. As for sales, I'll be interested to see that as well though as discussed here, I feel it's mostly name exposure rather than sales we get from the exercise.

Maureen said...

Thanks for sharing this! I've been on the fence about submitting for audible for a few reasons. Hearing other people's experiences has made me reconsider. Good luck!

Andrea Downing said...

Maureen, my take on it was and still is, if you're not worried about the extended contract, it's worth a go. Seven years is a long time and you never know what is down the line, but if they're books you believe you're not continuing with, using the characters elsewhere, then I'd go for it.

Kathryn Knight said...

I'm addicted to listening to books via Audible these days, so I decided to go for it, starting out with just one of my novels to see how the process goes. A (time-consuming) hint for anyone with their audition up...you can listen to other samples and reach out to narrators you like who are willing to do Royalty Share...that's how I found my narrator and she's great - she has a ton of audiobooks under her belt already and an acting background, which I think is important. With her high demand, I have to wait a bit, but I can be patient in order to get it right! Looking forward to the finished product in Dec.

Andrea Downing said...

Interesting, Kathryn. I just got the full book back read by my guy and so far so good. Might see if he's interested in doing the others.

Alicia Dean said...

I worked with a narrator on Without Mercy, not through TWRP, but directly through audible. I loved my narrator, but we did have a few glitches to work out. Hope you're happy with the final product!

Andrea Downing said...

Alicia, so far so good. I can't wait to hear the whole book