3 Authors and 7 Questions
Noah Michael Levine, performer, asked romance authors Renea Mason, Karen Amanda Hooper and Lilly Atlas, all of whom he's had the pleasure of working with, seven questions about audiobooks. Here’s what they had to say:
Noah: How do audiobooks fit into your overall plan as an author?
Renea Mason: Audiobooks have been a major staple in my author platform. Being a huge fan of audiobooks, long before their recent rise to popularity, made audiobooks and the quality production of those audiobooks a focus for success for me.
Karen Amanda Hooper: Ideally, all my novels will be available as audiobooks. However, being an indie author means budgeting becomes a factor, so I’ve had to produce them slower than I’d like. Four of seven are currently available with the fifth in production, but I’d love to bring all of them to life as soon as possible.
Lilly Atlas: For my first book, if I’m being completely honest, making the audiobook was kind of an experiment. I had no idea what to expect as far as the producing an audiobook, marketing, or selling. The entire process of producing Striker was a blast and I was pleasantly surprised by the interest in the audiobook. Now, it’s just a given for each book; eBook, print, and audio for all!
NML: Has producing audiobooks changed the way you write, knowing that your words will be read AND heard/performed?
RM: Other than perhaps eliminating words I use too often, I was happy to find out my writing style translated well to audio, so I don’t write with audio in mind.
KAH: Yes. Grasping at Eternity was my first audiobook and it was an eye-opening (and ear-opening) experience. While listening to you (Noah), and Erin deWard perform it for the first time, I’d become all engrossed in the story and emotions but then be interrupted by a poorly placed dialogue tag. I kept wanting to rewrite lines in the books so they would sound better in audiobook form, but that would have been a lot of extra work for everyone involved so I had to chalk it up as a lesson learned.
LA: In some ways it has, especially if I’m writing someone with a distinct accent. I find myself hearing Erin and Noah’s voices in my head and imagining what they will do with the characters. I’m also more inclined to read aloud as I’m editing to make sure I like the way it flows as it’s spoken as well as being read. Although it sure doesn’t sound the same in my voice as it does in Erin’s and Noah’s.
NML: What are some of the challenging aspects of producing your work for audio?
RM: Cost and coordinating deadlines and launches. I think cost is pretty self-explanatory. Unfortunately, ACX doesn’t allow for you to release the work on a specific date. You can get within a week or two, but it makes planning difficult. Otherwise, my narrators have made the production process pretty smooth.
KAH: My multiple first-person point-of-views with a large cast of characters. I needed a male and female to perform together, while making many characters sound unique and distinguishable from each other. Versatile duet narrator teams were very difficult to find. Thankfully, you and Erin were the perfect fit for my beloved Kindrily characters and exceeded my expectations.
LA: For me, time is the biggest challenge. I process it better if I can listen in a quiet environment where I’m not trying to multitask, and that’s hard to come by in my world.
Also, and this is going to sound ridiculous, I have the hardest time listening to my own sex scenes. I can read them, write them, and listen all day as long if it’s written by another author, but for some reason, I want to die every time I’m listening to my own. It’s crazy!
NML: If you had one (or more) piece(s) of advice for those who are new to this format, what would it/they be?
RM: Listen to audiobooks before you get started. Know the different styles and what styles best fit your work before starting the audition process.
KAH: Keep an open mind. As authors, we create vivid and detailed characters long before the audiobook stage, so we “hear” them with a particular voice, tone, accent, etc. Authors may never be able to match exactly what they imagined, but they could end up with something just as good or better. Respectfully work with narrators and remain open to their suggestions.
LA: My advice would be to go the duet narration route when choosing narrators. I think it elevates the audiobook to another level and really feels like you’re listening to a movie or play rather than someone reading a book. In my experience, it’s also a favorite of readers.
NML: In what ways is it different to market audiobooks that print/e-books?
RM: Well, audiobook listeners are a subsection of readers, so your marketing needs to be more targeted. It also may take more personal engagement to get non-audiobook listeners to give them a try. Facebook groups focused on audiobooks are good places to start help build your audiobook community.
KAH: As soon as I become good at marketing audiobooks I will let you know. Ha.
LA: The biggest thing that I’ve discovered about audio fans is that they are looking for more than just a well written and captivating story; they want an experience. Listeners not only have their favorite genres and authors, but their favorite narrators as well. So as an author I’ve learned to market for the experience. Romance listeners want a male narrator who will make them swoon (or blush) and female they can relate to.
Lack of control over pricing is another factor that differentiates eBook marketing from audiobook marketing. I can’t choose the initial pricing or change pricing for sales and to try and catch the eye of a larger audience. It’s all up to the powers that be at Audible and Amazon. That rules out services like Bookbub and the many similar sale promotion sites.
NML: Is there an audiobook, other than one of your own, that you’ve listened to and love? If so, what did you love about it?
RM: Lots of them. The series that made me fall in love with the style I eventually chose for my own books was Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series – the later books in the series. It was the duet style of narration that I fell in love with.
KAH: Vicious by V.E. Schwab. I love Schwab’s books and the audiobook of this one brought the dark emotions and creepy feelings to a whole new level while listening. (I’m not just saying that because it was narrated by the fabulous Noah Michael Levine.)
LA: I have to admit it’s been quite some time since I’ve listened to an audiobook for something other than business purposes. With three littles at home, it’s impossible to listen without being interrupted at every turn. I used to listen on long car trips, so if I had to guess, I’d say the last thing I listened to was something by Nora Roberts. And what I loved most about it was being able to read while performing another task at the same time.
NML: What’s next for you (print/e-book or audiobook)?
RM: I’m currently working on Shard of Fallen Stars – the final book in the Symphony of Light Series and a co-writing project due out in 2020. More to come on that. And I’m currently working through the idea for my next solo contemporary work. As always, the plan is for them to be made into audio.
KAH: I have one audiobook currently in production, but again, it’s a duet narrating team so it’s a slow process since they have to schedule studio time together. In the meantime, I’m working on writing two new books that will eventually be released in ebook and print.
LA: I’ve recently released the first book in a newMC series, Hell’s Handlers MC and book one is Zach. Noah and Erin are, right now, in the process of turning it into audio magic!
If you're an author with books in audio and would like to answer seven questions, let us know!
If you’d like to connecting with any and all of these authors …
Karen Amanda Hooper: