Lessons of recording audiobooks

Greetings, readers! I have reached the 200-page mark in the writing of Book 4, which will cover Arthur’s childhood until he pulls the sword from the stone, and I’m also in the process of re-recording my audiobooks, which I’m going to talk a little bit about in this post. Nowadays, people listen to audiobooks much more often than they actually read books, so they are completely key to reaching a larger audience who might enjoy my work. They also allow me to have my podcast of the books (currently on hold) and… as an independent author, I make a lot more money on the sale of an audiobook than I do from selling an ebook or paperback, so if you look at it as funding that supports my continued work on this project… audiobooks are what we need right now!

Previously I had recorded an audiobook of Our Man on Earth, which was definitely my first attempt at reading an audiobook, and it shows in reviews like “Absolutely terrible! Author should NEVER narrate!” and “I definitely recommend that Telek NOT read the next one.” And I must say… it WAS pretty terrible. I really was just reading through without a great deal of inflection and, perhaps even worse, as FAST as possible. I then—seeing as I like to waste a great deal of time and effort on fruitless pursuits (wish I was kidding)—did a complete recording of The Sons of Constance, which was then rejected by Audible for not having the right audio settings. Does it seem like I should have checked that BEFORE I recorded the entire book? Well, yes… but now see my comment above about wasting time and effort.

But it wasn’t completely wasted, because I was learning about reading audiobooks, and I am confident that I will do a MUCH better job this time. This came over several revelations, the first being that I’m not just reading, I really have to TELL the story like I would around a campfire. Key to this is simply slowing down and giving listeners time to process what they’re hearing, and also for me to have time to give the narrator’s voice the proper rises, inflections, pauses… and to shape the meaning of the story through my actual delivery of it. I am happy to read the novels myself and be able to express my personal voice as it comes through in the writing (especially some of the ironies or jokes), but it was quite clear that I had to take my delivery to the next level, and I am hopeful that I have done that on this round.

The other thing is that in the meantime, I have completely revised Our Man on Earth in order to flesh out the character of Meylinde and to bring the tone more in line with the rest of the series, and… the currently-available audiobook is a recording of the first version. And the first version, honestly… I would be surprised if anyone wanted to stay with the series after reading that. It’s NOT great. The writing is very stiff and Meylinde is barely the warm and wonderful person she is now. So I am actually growing a bit embarrassed that people might be hearing that version of the story, when I know that one that is so much better exists.

So I decided to finally figure out how to adjust the sound in order to get the recording levels right and make it sound good, and I am starting to work through recording the novels, beginning with the first one, with the aim of having all three novels available as audiobooks before the fourth book is out. And once the first audiobook is done… we can start to once more think about the podcast.

The podcast is also a bit of an embarrassment, since it cut off right in the middle of Book 2 (just as I was telling listeners “it’s about to get really fun!”). Basically, I got a job (good thing) but it meant that the time I had available dropped precipitously, and my priority has to be on actually writing the books. Also, I just didn’t have the sense that anyone was listening. I NEVER got a comment, and very few likes, and the number of listeners remained very low. Once it was over, I heard from someone who “Loved the podcast!” and I thought… “Boy, I wish you would have told me that while I was actually doing it!” So, just a reminder that those reviews, comments, likes and other indications that you leave for authors or artists ARE very important, and have a very real effect on whether those series’ continue. Feeling like no one was listening and no one cared, I just dropped the podcast without a thought.

Now… a poll question! The new podcast will include chapters of the audiobook in a serialized form, and the point of it is to bring more people to my series and—I’ll just be open about it—to sell more books and audiobooks. At the beginning and end of every episode, I say “If you want the entire book right now, and don’t want to wait months for it to be complete, you can go buy the audiobook…” But then… what happens when you reach the end of the first book and go into the second? Here’s where I ask you for your thoughts, what solution would hit the sweet spot of both pleasing listeners AND helping me sell books (which has a direct effect on the continuation of this series). Ideas are:

a) Include the entire audiobook, up to the end, and when book 2 starts, just keep the whole first book up for free.
b) Include the entire audiobook, up to the end, and when book 2 starts, remove the last half of Book 1, but include a synopsis, and refer people that the complete audiobook is available.
c) Include the entire audiobook, up to the end, and when book 2 starts, take down book 1 and replace it with a synopsis.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

In any case, look for a new edition of the first audiobook and soon after that, new (and pretty good, I must say) audiobooks of Books 2 and 3, and don’t forget to leave likes and comments for your favorite artists and authors so they are encouraged to keep on!

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