Hear Hear! Your Audiobook

When writing, few authors think about their work being turned into an audiobook, so this type of deal can be a wonderful surprise when it happens! With traditional publishing, the publisher will either create the audio in-house with their own recording division or license the audio to a company that specializes in audio production. Here are a few assumptions to avoid when considering the potential for your work to be turned into an audiobook:

  • I’ll get to read my book for the recording! Not likely, unless you bring special qualifications to the table. Most publishers hire professional readers for this job. The publishers are doing most authors a favor to do so. For instance, some people tell me, “I can hear a Southern accent on certain words you say.” I reply, “Whut ack-sey-unt?” I doubt many audiobook consumers would be convinced someone such as, say, King David’s wife, Bathsheba, spoke with the slightest bit of a Southern accent.
  • I’ll be able to choose the reader! This is seldom true. An author can certainly make recommendations, but they may or may not materialize. And publishers have access to a large roster of professional voice talent who can deliver a fine audiobook, so they are in the best position to find a great reader for your book.
  • The publisher is spending tens of thousands of dollars on the reader! Probably not. Generally speaking (haha) fees are in the four figures.
  • All professional speakers know proper pronunciations. Although publishers tend to hire skilled readers, don’t assume that professional readers will pronounce even common Bible names properly. For instance, what if, for some reason, the person reading your audiobook on Ruth pronounced the name with a short u (Rugh-th instead of Rooth) so her name sounds like a dog barking. (“Rugh-th! Rugh-th!” called Naomi.) You won’t want to listen to the recording. And neither will anyone else.

What to do?

Realize that few authors have control over their audiobook production with traditional publishing. Even their publishers may have limited clout if they licensed audiobook rights to an outside party.  But there are some helpful ways you can be a sweet and cooperative author:

  • Create a pronunciation guide. In fact, if you’re writing a book with even one or two not-obvious words, you can create a pronunciation guide to include in the print and Kindle versions. If those readers, who, in their minds, think your heroine’s name is pronounced Marsha rather than Mar-cee-a, no one cares. But a guide can do much preemptive good for the conscientious author and audiobook reader.
  • Be openminded. While writing your book set in Australia, you may have been thinking in a broad Australian accent. However, despite the love many have for Outback Steak House, a different Australian accent might be more appropriate for your book. To wit, see this interview between two famous Australians: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6olO2w8jPuk.

If you’re blessed with an audiobook contract, congratulations! May there be many listeners in your future!

Your turn:

Are your books available in audio?

Do you listen to audiobooks? What is your favorite one and why?

What tips can you offer a writer with an audiobook contract?





20 Responses to Hear Hear! Your Audiobook

  1. Avatar
    Damon J. Gray January 17, 2019 at 6:05 am #

    An interesting read, Tamela. I listen to audio books every day as I motor to and from work, and around town. I have a stack of them in the wings waiting for their turn on stage.

    It’s funny, because I sometimes think about quirky pronunciations or reading voices at the beginning of a new book, but after a couple of chapters, those go away.

    That said, I will not budge on my opinion that the voice of Aslan should have been James Earl Jones.

  2. Avatar
    Crystal Caudill January 17, 2019 at 6:08 am #

    I’m generally a silent stalker for this blog, but I had to share the narrator for Laura Frantz’s A Boubd Heart took the book to a whole different level. AMAZING! Sometimes great books can become even better by becoming an audio.

    Should I ever be in the position to have one of my books as an audio, I will completely trust the producers and publishers in their choices. For one they have way more experience and know lots of great talents. I can’t get Siri or Alexa to understand me half the time, so I know I’d never be a good candidate. I love the pronunciation guide idea though! Have. A great day, and if you haven’t, listen to the audio for Laura’s book.

    • Avatar
      Tisha Martin January 17, 2019 at 8:26 am #

      Was talking with an author yesterday about Laura’s books. I need to read them!! Better yet, maybe I’ll buy her audio book for A Bound Heart instead. Thanks for the recommendation!

  3. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser January 17, 2019 at 6:24 am #

    To write a sonnet on audiobooks
    seems madness of a sort
    reserved for he who schemes and cooks
    his words, and you may rightly snort.
    But Bathsheba as a Southern belle
    does give pause for thought,
    and came King David’s startled yell
    when she used “ought’n” for “ought”?
    I’ve only heard one book aloud;
    few listening hours did I log
    but this was worth it and I’m proud
    to’ve heard Ziglar’s talking dog.
    At end of this rhyme’s meter and scheme,
    was it inspiration, or a fever dream?

  4. Avatar
    sherri stewart January 17, 2019 at 6:45 am #

    I’m a copy editor so I read with my eyes all day long, so I indulge in Audible for my book club selection and my favorite authors. I do find that I daydream and have to start over from time to time.

  5. Avatar
    Sarah Hamaker January 17, 2019 at 8:03 am #

    Audio books rock! They saved my sanity when my kids were little, as I listened to audio books while cooking and cleaning all the time. Still do.

    Favorites include The Lost Painting read by Campbell Scott and Unbroken (can’t remember the reader, but he was fantastic). Especially love listening to British mystery series…can’t go wrong hearing a British accent reading to you!

  6. Avatar
    Sami A. Abrams January 17, 2019 at 8:07 am #

    I love audio books especially if I have a long drive or during the summer when I go on long walks. However, I will say, the reader makes or breaks the book. I love one particular series and decided to buy it on audio, but when I heard the reader, I couldn’t listen to it. 🙁

  7. Avatar
    Tisha Martin January 17, 2019 at 8:25 am #

    I really like the idea of creating a pronunciation guide for the future potential audio book reader! If writers produced a pronunciation guide AND a style guide to the editor, then that’s certainly in everyone’s favor.

    I have only started listening to podcasts let alone audio books. However, I may taste some audio books that just came out and see how it goes. 🙂

  8. Avatar
    Tamela Hancock Murray January 17, 2019 at 9:04 am #

    I love all these responses and recommendations! Thank you all so much for stopping by to comment. I really appreciate all of you. An echo chamber blog is no fun!

    Happy listening!

  9. Avatar
    Kimberly Rose Johnson January 17, 2019 at 9:24 am #

    Since I’m on my computer all day it’s difficult to read at night due to my tired eyes. I’ve grown to love and appreciate audio books.

    I have seven of my published books in audio. Three are traditionally published and the other four I had made into audio. I echo what you said about pronunciation. I was able to google a word (city name) that really tripped up my narrator and send her the link of someone saying it correctly, so she could learn to say it correctly then fix it. 🙂

  10. Avatar
    HEATHER FITZGERALD January 17, 2019 at 9:59 am #

    I listen to audiobooks and multitask every day! My favorite app is Libby which lets me check three at time via my local library, all from my phone. I’ve listened to a lot of books I would not normally have tried all because I couldn’t get a hold of one I really wanted. It’s been a great way to discover new authors and even genres!

    My first book was made into an audiobook. As a fantasy story with a lot of characters like leprechauns, dwarves, Nephilum, etc, as well as an Irish aunt, it was asking a lot of a narrator. My publisher allowed me to be involved in the selection process and we found a decent, but not great, one. My publishing house is small so what we could afford via Audible was on the low end. The young woman was a perfect voice for my sixteen year old MC but she struggled with the Irish accent in particular. Still, the process was super fun and I learned a lot. I also got to be friends with the young lady who happened to live in the same state as me 🙂

  11. Avatar
    Loretta Eidson January 17, 2019 at 12:19 pm #

    Gary Chapman’s book Love is a Verb in which I have a short story, is an audiobook. I received the audio version as a Christmas gift about four years ago. Needless to say, I was thrilled. It never entered my mind that this book, much less, my story would be audio. I’ll be happy to leave my audiobook in the hands of publishers when the opportunity arises.

  12. Avatar
    Rodney Harrier January 17, 2019 at 12:41 pm #

    Thanks for making this option available

  13. Avatar
    Kay DiBianca January 17, 2019 at 1:29 pm #

    I love audio books. I listen to them and podcasts when I am outside running. My favorite was “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom. I’ve listened to it several times.
    I also loved the runners’ books like “Once A Runner” by John L. Parker, and the sequel “Again to Carthage.”
    The inspiration for my own mystery novel started while listening to the Rabbi Small books by Harry Kemelman.

  14. Avatar
    Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D January 17, 2019 at 2:16 pm #

    Tamela, I so enjoyed your blog posting, as usual. Thanks for the information about audio books. I had heard rumors that professionals were hired for the gig.

    I don’t listen to audio books because my new car doesn’t have a CD player. I also only have a four-minute commute to Liberty University.

  15. Avatar
    Brennan S. McPherson January 17, 2019 at 3:10 pm #

    My books are available in audiobook, and being indy and having a background as a professional studio musician, I had the knowledge base and capability to perform them myself. Here’s the four I’ve done so far (two for other authors): https://christianaudio.com/catalogsearch/advanced/result/?order=sales_popularity&publisher%5B%5D=946

    Can’t overstress how important a pronunciation guide is. Doing historical or biblical fiction is difficult. For the audiobook I did for Mesu Andrews, we worked extremely hard together to decide the correct pronunciation of the old names. But it’s difficult because there is no standard “right way” to pronounce most of those old names, and we still had one irritated reader say I pronounced things “wrong.” I didn’t, we just made educated choices between three or four potentials.

    You may not expect Bathsheba to speak with a southern accent, but who in the world decided every biblical character spoke with a British accent? She spoke Hebrew, not British English. And yet, that’s what the market expects, and if you don’t deliver it, some will get annoyed.

    Great post, per usual, Tamela!

  16. Avatar
    Donna Geesey January 17, 2019 at 7:21 pm #

    Heres my favorite personal audiobook experience. I read the print versions of two of my favorite author’s books. Both were well written, but I loved one and had a mediocre response to the other. Then I listened to the audiobook for each and was shocked at my response. The one I had loved the print version, I really didn’t like the audiobook. When I read the print version, I had such a strong sense of the character in my head, but the audiobook narrator totally took another track. But the book that I had not really liked, the narrator made the characters come alive to such a degree that it’s my favorite audiobook of all time!

  17. Avatar
    Nick Kording January 17, 2019 at 10:32 pm #

    I love audiobooks… used to listen to books on cds when I worked in LA as the commute allowed me to listen to 2-3 books a week. Now I only do if I am traveling. Recently listened to a book voiced by the author, but I was thinking he was probably the exception… good to know.

  18. Avatar
    Nicola January 20, 2019 at 5:15 pm #

    I began the adventure of audiobook narrator this November. I set up my own home studio and put up auditions on ACX and have been hired twice already! I love creating voices for all the characters and have enjoyed collaborating with the authors.
    Authors can also consider narrators as marketing partners. Together we cover double the internet surface area, which always compounds to treble and quadruple given enough time.

  19. Avatar
    Linda Riggs Mayfield January 23, 2019 at 1:45 pm #

    Well, Tamela, you’ve done it again–introduced me to something I haven’t tried and with the help of your other readers, convinced me that I must! I love music, but appreciate silence so much I have forgotten how to use the wonderful little speakers my daughter gave me a few Christmases ago to carry around the house and garden as I work. Now I have a new motivation for refresher instruction! 😉

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