The A to SFR of Audiobooks (Part 2)
Welcome to Part 2 of our article on science fiction romance audiobooks!
Last issue we talked about audiobook narrators and authors’ favorite scenes. We continue the conversation this issue by asking authors S. E. Smith, Elizabeth A. Bailey and Pauline Baird Jones which was their best selling audiobook title at the moment.
S. E. Smith, New York Times and USA Today Best Seller: That’s a tough one. I would say at the moment it is a toss up between my Alliance series and my Dragon Lords of Valdier. Both are doing very well. I think it is because of the way David (the narrator) was able to bring both series to life and give the listeners a vested interest in the characters.
Deborah A. Bailey: Of my fiction titles, Hathor Legacy: Outcast is the best selling so far, though my other fiction books are not far behind. My novels have sold faster, probably due in part to the promos I did on Audiobook Blast. But Kristin (the narrator) has also been promoting as well, and that certainly helps.
Pauline B. Jones: Girl Gone Nova. Brad Langer was a lucky find (a friend arranged the connection) and I was also lucky that the book had a stipend from ACX, so it was worth it for him to do it.
Veronica: Wreck of the Nebula Dream is probably my best selling audiobook. Who can resist a “Titanic in space” kinda plot?
Just as with books in a series, sometimes knowing where to start can be a problem. Here are the authors’ recommendations:
S. E. Smith: I would recommend either Abducting Abby: Dragon Lords of Valdier Book 1 or Hunter’s Claim: The Alliance Book 1. Both are excellent reads and great world building. I’ll soon have Tink’s Neverland: Cosmos’ Gateway Book 1 and Voyage of the Defiance: Breaking Free Series by Suzanne Elise Freeman available as well. I have both David and Suzanne narrating for me. What is great is the narrators are just as close a group as the authors are.
Deborah: Actually, though Hathor Legacy: Burn is the 2nd book (and the longest so far at over 11 hours) I’d suggest that one. Kristen did terrific work and when I heard it I felt like I was listening to someone else’s book. I know that sounds funny, but what I mean is that I was able to enjoy it as a listener.
There are details in this book that answer some questions raised in Outcast, so I think the reader will get the full picture of what the series is about (and also get a feel for Kristen’s range as a voice artist). Book three, Hathor Legacy: Revelations is in progress, and I’m hoping to have the audio version out sometime next year.
Pauline: Hmmm, I would say, either Out of Time or The Last Enemy. Why not my best selling audio book? Because Girl Gone Nova is book two in my Project Enterprise series. Out of Time is, IMHO, a fun story. You don’t have to have read or listened to any of my other books to enjoy it. And The Last Enemy is first book in a series (and it’s free on Amazon, so you can get the audio for 1.99). The narrator has gotten high marks from listeners. He did a great job.
Veronica: Mine can be listened to in any order – they’re standalone titles!
And to conclude our two part series on SFR audiobooks, the authors share a few tips for anyone wanting to dive into creating audio versions of their titles. A behind the scenes glimpse!
S. E. Smith: As with any medium, offering customers a variety of media formats is important. I chose to work with Blackstone Media to distribute my audiobooks in CD formats so that they could be available to individual readers who preferred audio CDs, as well as in libraries, bookstores, and larger chain stores such as Costco, Sams, Target, and more. In addition, the audiobooks are available through Blackstones subscription site: Downpour.com, Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.
I would highly recommend developing a good relationship with your narrator. They need to know your likes, dislikes, how the characters sound in your head, and if you need to change a sentence to work better in the audio format. Sometimes what sounds good in writing doesn’t necessarily sound good in audio. That is one reason I now use the Speak function to read my manuscripts as I write. Also, look at what fits your business structure in the long term. I have audiobooks with just ACX which supplies to Audible and iTunes and with Blackstone. There are a lot of things to consider. Audiobook production is not cheap, it is a large investment and you want make it a rewarding experience for yourself as well as the reader.
Deborah: First of all, if you think you’ll be creating an audio version of your book, get the audio cover done when you have your book cover done. I created two of my covers myself because the original designer was unavailable. Decide how much money you want to spend on production. I pay up front for production (instead of splitting the royalties) and that works for me. I’d also suggest picking narrators who will perform as opposed to just reading. Of course, the narration should fit the content. But if a narrator reads with no inflection, it’ll become hard to keep a listener’s attention over several hours.
Not only are audiobooks perfect for listening on the go, but they provide another way to experience a story. If I hadn’t enjoyed listening to them, I wouldn’t have given the audio format a try for my own books. I’m very glad I did.
Pauline: I hear some authors jumping in who have never listened to an audio book. I wasn’t a big audio listener, but I had listened to audio books and knew what I liked. At least listen to some samples of audio books by authors you like, or who write similar books to yours. Check out some of the forums where audio listeners hang out. Their comments are eye opening. Listeners have strong opinions about narrators. Really strong. But in the end, you have to find the narrator that clicks with you, with your book/s.
Until I started my own adventures in getting my books into audio, I’d been a pretty casual audio book listener. Mostly confining that listening to road trips with my kids. Now I use audio books to let me “read” at times when holding a book isn’t possible. And with WhisperSynch, I can make a smooth transition from listening to reading. It’s pretty darn cool. I’m not sure I should admit this, but sometimes when I can’t sleep, I’ll pull up one of my books and listen to it. It’s kind of like a visit with old friends. And, as I mentioned above, it’s given me a new appreciate for the power of word choice.
Veronica: I’ll finish with a few thoughts in general and then talk a bit about marketing audiobooks.
First, before you begin, make sure you have the rights to creating an audiobook. This would be addressed in your contract if you’re traditionally published. For us indies, that’s never a problem. I had two fantasy audiobooks done by Carina Press and Audible and I had no involvement in the process whatsoever. I missed out on all the fun!
There really aren’t any well established venues that I’m aware of for promoting SFR audiobooks specifically. There are review sites for audiobooks in general but my experience has been they often have no idea what to do with SFR. I did run a few ads in Audiofile magazine at one time but probably my best avenue has been doing giveaways on Facebook. Audible is very generous with free download codes for promoting your audiobooks. I saw that Audible itself is running a very slick TV commercial campaign and one of the images is a woman listening to a science fiction novel from her beach chair.
For the author, investing in audiobooks is a long term strategy to ensure that you’re not missing out on sharing your stories with the fans who really prefer to listen to SFR. It’s also a LOT of fun to listen to talented actors bringing your characters to life! I’ve enjoyed every moment of my collaboration with Michael Riffle, the actor who narrates my books. His insights into the characters have been fascinating and helped spur my creative thinking on future books, especially sequels.
So I wish you happy listening!
For more information on S. E. Smith and her books, you can visit her website at http://sesmithfl.com/
For more information on Pauline B Jones and her books, you can visit her website at www.paulinebjones.com
For more information about Deborah A. Bailey, you can visit her website at http://dbaileycoach.com/brightbooks/