Ten down, how many to go?

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Thursday of this week I completed the narration of the tenth audiobook I have narrated and produced through Audiobook Creation Exchange (“ACX”).

That is an average of about one  novel per month for the last ten months.

When I began the process I set a goal to complete ten books the first year and reassess the adventure at that point.  I’m a little head of schedule, but wanted to share some of my thoughts at this juncture.

The main thing I have come to understand is that authors do themselves a service by making their books available in as many formats and sales venues as possible.

Because of the developments in digital publishing the world is wide open to writers.  Through KDP and Nook Press they can upload eBooks.  Through Create Space they have an inexpensive way to produce print books.  Through ACX they have a no up front costs way to obtain audiobook versions of their work and have then distributed to Amazon, Audible, and iTunes.

I am still amazed, however, at how few authors have yet to tap into the audiobook market. This is especially puzzling to me in the case of authors who have already enjoyed at least moderate sales of their eBooks.

I say this because ACX has a whole raft of narrator/producers who are looking to produce books on a shares basis and these voice over artists will jump at the chance to audition for a book with a decent track record of sales on Amazon. And I don’t mean the eBook version has to be sitting at number one on a category bestseller list.

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I’ve also learned that it takes two to tango in the world of audiobook promotion.

At least two.

By this I mean that if a narrator produces a book on shares, he has entered a partnership with the author and each of them must put their shoulders to the plow and do what they can on all fronts to market the audiobook.

That marketing is no different than the rest of book promotion.  It requires steady work day after day.  Both partners must explore marketing possibilities and make an investment of their time and money to create discoverability for the book.

A third realization is that, as with any task worth pursuing, practice creates greater skill and more efficient techniques.

Those ten books probably represent about a thousand hours in an isolation booth, what I call “the catacombs.”

Today I can produce an audiobook quicker than I could ten months ago, but quicker is only a relative term.  To do one right still requires enormous attention to detail and a whole lot of sitting on a stool and grinding it out.  Not everyone is cut out for that, and most authors do not find the prospect of giving it a try appealing.

I have also found that the process of narration is one step removed from that of writing, but is closely related to it, maybe a first cousin.

The narrator assumes the point of view of the author and tries to get in her head as well as in the heads of the characters. As the narrator goes along and becomes more familiar with the story he sees more layers and picks up things a casual reader might miss.  This is part of the fun and challenge of narration, making those subliminal nuances audible.

I find this happens best when I have the chance to work on a series. The characters become friends of mine, just as they have become friends of the author before me.

Finally, I would renew the call to action I have written about a number of times on VG.  I suggest authors go to ACX and study the very helpful materials on the site which explain how an author can get into the game of narrating her own work. Writers may find it is something they can do to help them reach a larger audience.

Now it’s back to the catacombs.

I have a contract on another book, and the deadline clock is ticking.

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  • Caleb Pirtle

    Stephen, most people learn to read, and then they write. You wrote novels, and then you began to read them. Life becomes curiouser and curiouser as time goes by.

    • And now as I write novels I find myself sounding out the words to see how they will work in a narration. You’re right. Things get curiouser and curiouser.

  • I like all the reasons at Audible.com for narrating your own work, but the part that was funny was the exhortation to check how words are pronounced. I would think you would know how to pronounce the words you choose for your novel – but I guess you can’t assume anything!

    It’s a whole new world – and I always did want to act (have only done a small number of actual theater productions). Everything I got from my acting classes would be useful here.

    • Alicia,
      Yes, narrating is certainly akin to acting, although the thin line is to maintain the emphasis on the story without moving it to the performance. On the pronunciation end, I think the main thing ACX is stressing is that the narrator be consistent in his pronunciation of the same words throughout the word. That’s more of a problem in a work to which you are a stranger and for words that lend themselves to more than one pronunciation. I imagine a narrator might scratch his head if he came across Nacogdoches and Natchitoches.

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