By Sarah Williams
Audiobooks are the fastest growing sector in the industry––and what’s not to love when listening is so simple? You can purchase content at the touch of a button and be listening to a new book within minutes.
Many people lack the patience or means to find space in their busy schedules to read. Compared to print and eBooks, audiobooks allow listeners to multitask. You can listen in the car or on public transport, in the shower, or if you’re like me, while doing the weekly grocery shop!
As an indie author I have been successfully selling my print and eBooks for over two years, but I knew I was missing a big audience by not having audiobook editions. After all, I listen to several audiobooks a month. So I decided to make 2019 the year I produced one.
How to choose a narrator
Choosing the right narrator is essential as they will give your book a voice. Audio is intimate and will give the listener an emotional tie to the story. It creates a deeper level of understanding too as the listeners can create images through the story, and also from the voice they are hearing. The voice of a narrator lends a personality to the text so it’s important to get the fit right.
Many authors successfully narrate their own books, especially non-fiction. Kudos to them but it is not something I could do, especially with my funky blended accent of New Zealand/Australian/American English.
Businesses like ACX and Findaway Voices can assist in finding you a narrator if you give them enough information and have the patience to wait. Or you can source your own.
Fate had it that I met my narrator at a local charity event for my kid’s school. As a famous Australian actor, Myles Pollard was there to draw a crowd. And draw one he did! Award nominated for his role as Nick Ryan on McLeods Daughter– a romantic drama set in Outback Australia, he is the perfect fit for my novel The Brothers of Brigadier Station,which is also a romantic drama set in Outback Australia. Bonus, he comes with over 16k Instagram followers and raving fans.
No harm in asking, so when it was my turn for a photo I blurted out that I was an author and would he be interested in narrating? His response was enthusiastic. He’d actually been thinking about it a lot recently and looking for the right project!
Neither Myles or I had recorded an audiobook before and without the backing of a traditional publishing house, I was in charge of directing and project managing. I flew to Perth, where Myles lives, and we spent a few days in a recording studio with a producer. After that it took a couple of weeks to edit and mix the files before uploading them to audiobook retailers. I’m pretty tech-savvy and already produce a weekly podcast so I happily managed this part of the process. Otherwise my producer would have been able to do it, although that would have obviously cost more.
Myles has a really lovely voice––he could read the phone book and I would still enjoy it. But he also breathed life into these characters and gave them all unique characteristics and qualities.The best audiobook narrators don’t just read a novel––they perform it. They inject life into a book, adding pace, emotion and tension with their voice alone. They have to do that while mastering all character accents, tricky location names and often foreign languages.
“It’s fun to perform.” Myles explains. “The writing is really concise. It’s well-crafted. It’s so entertaining, and I can connect well with it too. The characters and the world aren’t foreign to me.”
Writing for the ear is different to writing for print and ebooks. Before sending my script to the narrator, I found it helpful to read it aloud and perform it while also checking for things like pacing and repetition.
Expect retakes––even established actors often get to the end and then go back to re-record the first couple of chapters because they were still finding their rhythm the first time. You also need to make sure the narration matches the text word for word. So getting proof listeners is a good idea.
It was worth all the hard work though. The audiobook is currently a bestseller in the US and Australia, and Myles has agreed to record the next two books in the Brigadier Station series later in the year. We have also been invited to teach workshops together and attend book signings. One audiobook has raised my profile and dramatically increased my book sales.
Photo © Sarah Williams 2019