Tag Archives: open mic

The rise of ‘Talking Books’ – do audio books fit your publishing project?

Recording your audiobook will give you another platform from which to offer your book.

If you’re a reader, do you listen to audio books? Or if you’ve published a book, have you converted it to an audio book? It’s worth exploring this as an option for your story so that you can access another platform that allow readers to be exposed to your work.

When I was a child I loved tuning into the radio to listen to serialised stories, especially if the reader had a compelling voice. There’s something special about being read to. I know that people love live readings because of the regular numbers who attend our open mic nights and from library events that I used to organise where a performer would tell stories to a live audience. It feels luxurious to be read to and for some it may remind them of being a child when a parent or grandparent read to them.

While I do like audio books, my preference is to read the printed version but there are many instances where having the audio is useful, like travelling. This is the same for podcasting, which is growing in popularity.

Audio books have been around since the 1930s, they were called ‘Talking Books’ back then and were primarily thought of as a good resource for people who were visually impaired. Mostly these ‘books’ were short nursery rhymes or poems. Whole books didn’t really make it to the mass market until the 80s when it became easier to produce them and they were more commercially viable, but they were still quite expensive for the consumer.

Thanks to digital technology, the cost to produce an audio book has reduced, therefore the cost to consumer has reduced dramatically, to the point where there are apps like audio.com where you can subscribe and get books at varying prices, sometimes free, much like eBooks.

If you’re publishing books, most likely you have created a print book and/or an eBook. While eBooks are not as popular as people think (remember the cries of ‘the book is dead!’ about eight years ago?) it still gives readers a choice. Adding an audio book to the mix spreads the readership further, as well as exposing your name and product to a wider audience.

Many people ask us about creating audio books and to date it has been an expensive option. Now it seems that technology is catching up, so we are looking at ways to produce them.

Enter Studio Four4ty. On a recommendation, I organised to record my own memoir into an audio book through this local studio. Last week was our first session of four hours. It was fun going into the little recording booth and donning the headphones, but I have to say it was also a little daunting. Speaking isn’t my forte and any new experience can be anxiety ridden but I did it anyway. I wanted to experience it for myself and I was curious to see how my stories would come out with my own voice.

The person reading the story should fit the written content. Many people hire professional actors who are used to voice work, but I often think that the actual writer is good if their voice suits the story. If the story has a protagonist (but written by a female) who was a 25-year-old man, it would suit to have a male voice.

I’m yet to hear the full book as a completed audio book but so far, the experience has been positive. I have another recording session to complete and then the sound engineer, Jarred, will edit it (there were plenty of fluffed sentences) and put it together into one file.

If you’re looking at ways to get your work into readers hands, it’s worth thinking of as many ways to do this. Don’t be narrow minded and just think ‘print’.  I’ll report back in a few months to see how my audiobook is received and I’d love to hear opinions about the different ways you like to consume stories.

Blaise the book chick

Writing memoir is a tricky business – work in progress

Blaise 1977. Photo by Lin Van Hek

Writing memoir is a tricky business. What POV do you write in, what style, how much detail? I’ve decided to write from my childhood self. The hard thing about that is to try to not bring in too much of my adult understanding into the story. It’s impossible, really, and it takes a lot of reworking to make it work. Here’s some work in progress:

Markie brought mail from town. Mama is sad after reading a letter because her granny died. I can’t really remember Granny Whitehead very well – only a little old lady with white hair. I know that’s not why she’s called Whitehead. That’s her actual last name.

Mama walks down to the river to be by herself and have a good cry. That’s the best thing to do when you’re sad. Now that Granny Whitehead is gone, I guess there won’t be two dollars a week in Mama’s bank account. But I don’t think that’s why Mama’s sad. She’s sad because she loved her granny and her granny looked after her when her own mama was too busy. Granny Whitehead made Mama feel special when her own mama was mean to her.

Today seems to be the day for people to be dying because on the radio we heard that Elvis died. He died sitting on the dunny doing a poo.

Will Elvis be in the blood and bone now? Couzie asks. We try not to laugh when he says things like this but it’s hard because he’s always saying something funny and then we get into trouble for showing off. It’s good to see Mama laugh after crying about her granny. When she laughs her eyes crinkle up like mine.

Actually Granny Whitehead didn’t die the same day as Elvis. It took a while for the letter to come from Melbourne to the Cobargo post office, which means that she probably died a few weeks ago. Mama’s sad about that too. She didn’t get to say goodbye and she was being happy in the bush not even realising that her granny was gone.

To make us feel better, Markie makes strawberry junket, my favourite. It takes a long time to set but the kookaburras have just started laughing. They’re laughing so hard that they will probably fall out of the trees. When they laugh like this we know that it’s only about ten minutes until it gets dark and then we’ll have dinner and the strawberry junket will be ready.

Mama doesn’t seem so sad any more, now that she had a good cry. I want to ask her if Granny Whitehead is going to be in the blood and bone like Elvis but I don’t know if she’ll like the question. Only Couzie knows how to ask these things. Maybe because he doesn’t think too long about them before he asks.

***

I’m planning on publishing my memoir, The Road to Tralfamadore is Bathed in River Water, next year.  I have a lot of work still to do …

Blaise