It’s Wednesday, so time for another guest post! Today we welcome author Kelly S Marsden to the blog, where she discusses audiobooks and why you might want to consider publishing them. Enjoy!
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All About Audio
Thank you so much to Ari for having me on her blog.
Today I’m going to share my foray into the world of audiobooks, and why you shouldn’t be afraid to grab the opportunity with both hands.
For those of you that are unfamiliar, I am the British Fantasy author K.S. Marsden. I have 8 published books, including the Witch-Hunter trilogy, which are currently getting turned into audiobooks.
Why choose to publish audiobooks?
Audiobook popularity has been increasing over the last few years. 1 in 10 people now listen to audiobooks, according to Publishers’ Association.
In the UK alone in 2016, 5.5 million people listened to audiobooks; and in 2017 the US spent $2.5 million on this form of story-telling.
This might not be huge compared to the established ebook and paperback market, but it is still a fairly sizeable audience, all well worth pursuing. This audience is only going to grow, so now is the time to embrace audio, and establish yourself while it’s still early.
One of the reasons behind this growth involves the evolution of technology. There are so many ways to listen to audiobooks now, with smart phones, tablets, various mp3 players and radios.
Even better, they all interconnect, so you never lose your place. Amazon also do the Whispersync feature where, if someone has bought the book, they get the audiobook at a discounted price, and it tracks where you are in the story and picks it up there, whether it’s reading your Kindle, or listening to the audio!
Audiobooks appeal to a new audience. To people that are too busy to pick up a book, but want to listen as they drive to work, or when they do the housework (my friend says she prefers audio because she constantly needs two hands for her toddler).
They also appeal to those that enjoy stories, but struggle with reading because of poor sight, dyslexia; or just prefer audial stimulation rather than visual.
Will your books suit audio?
Most genres work really well in audio, and have a big following. So, whether your book is High Fantasy, or a Historical Biography; it is still highly likely to make a good audiobook.
There are some genres that obviously wouldn’t work as well – those that require pictures. For example, children’s picture books, and non-fiction guides. Again, this isn’t a solid rule – it could work if you planned to have an “audio accompaniment” that’d designed to go alongside use of the book, so you can follow instructions, etc.
Playing a bigger part than genre, is your work’s individual style and writing technique. What I would recommend, is reading your work aloud and recording a test copy. Does it read well? Does it have that story-telling quality? If not, it might be something to consider when writing future projects.
What is your audiobook going to be like?
Audiobooks are as unique to the author, as the written copy.
This is your story, and you have full creative license to make it anyway you like.
Before deciding anything, I would recommend listening to other audiobooks and working out what you do and do not like; and what might work for your story.
There are a lot of options – you can have a single narrator; two narrators (popular in romance to represent the two romantic leads); or a whole cast. I recently listened to one that had seven narrators!
Once you have an idea of how many narrators you are going to have, you’ll need to decide whether they are male or female; young or old; what accent and style of voice? Then you’ll have to consider how you want your book read – gently, passionately, with humour?
… This all might sound like a lot, but don’t let it daunt you. If you are being completely honest with yourself, you already know how it sounds, because you’ve had this story in your head for months, or even years.
Creating an audiobook
Much like with ebooks and paperbacks, there are several options for hosting your audiobook. These include Downpour (Blackstone Audio – one of the longest-running companies); Audiobooks.com; Rakuten Overdrive (part of Kobo’s family); and Smashwords have recently teamed up with Findaway Voice to offer a new audiobook service.
And then of course, we have ACX, owned by Amazon (who also own Audible), as the big hitter.
All of the companies have their pros and cons. When I was deciding who to go with, I picked ACX, as I felt it was my best intro into the audio pool; just as KDP is a good, straightforward system for new writers.
ACX worked great for me. It takes you step-by-step through the process, and offers lots of advice.
You have to set up a profile for your book, and then you have the option of browsing possible narrators and their sample audio clips, or sit back and wait for auditions to come in (or a mix of both).
It was fun browsing the narrators, and in turn, listening to their takes on my work. There were plenty of very good auditions, and one in particular that was perfect.
ACX gives you two options for paying your narrator.
First – outright payment once the job is done; you pay a Per Finished Hour rate (so no matter how many hours it takes to record, if your finished book is 5 hours long, you pay for 5 hours) agreed before the work commences.
Second – the narrator is paid nothing now, but gets 50% of royalties for 7 years; this is handy if you’d struggle with a big payment up front (not all narrators will do a royalty share, so this is something to negotiate).
What to do next?
Once your audiobook is live, you need to contact ACX, as they will give you 25 codes for free audiobook downloads. You can give these away to reviewers, bloggers, followers, or hold giveaways etc.
Marketing an audiobook is very similar to any other format. There are bloggers that specialise in audio.
There are websites that are designed solely for audiobook reviews. I would recommend checking out Audiobook Boom, and Audio Book Reviewer.
Your audiobook host will arrange distribution to the retailers (ACX distribute to Amazon, Audible and iTunes), so you can sit back and relax.
The end is near
So… breaking into audiobooks doesn’t have to be daunting.
You’ve already done the hard work, and written the book. Personally, I found it very little work on my part to get my books turned into audio; and there is an undeniable thrill when you hear your stories brought to life by a talented narrator.
I would recommend having a go, and setting it up. You don’t have to commit to anything now, but you might find your next project.
Kelly S. Marsden grew up in Yorkshire, and there were two constants in her life – books and horses.
Graduating with an equine degree from Aberystwyth University, she has spent most of her life since trying to experience everything the horse world has to offer.
She is currently settled into a Nutritionist role for a horse feed company in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.
She writes Fantasy stories part-time. Her first book, The Shadow Rises (Witch-Hunter #1), was published in January 2013, and she now has several successful series under her belt.
The Shadow Rises (Witch-Hunter #1)
Witches are real, and to be blunt, they’re all black-hearted, and evil. These are not wiccans; witches are a different breed that use magic with devastating effect.
Charged with stopping the witches, taking whatever measures necessary, there are witch-hunters, all reporting to the Malleus Maleficarum Council (MMC). For hundreds of years witches have been persecuted and when the powerful Shadow Witch rises again, they have their opportunity for revenge.
The best the MMC has to offer, the talented seventh-generation witch-hunting Hunter Astley has his own part to play. In his own way.
Buy this Book
Connect with Kelly
Big thanks to Kelly for being a guest poster and for sharing her thoughts and advice on producing audiobooks.
Please take the time to check out her links and if you have any questions for Kelly, please leave them in the comment section below.