Tag Archives: short story

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

The Business of Writing

The creative output of writing is very satisfying. It might be fraught with challenges but once completed, the writing project has substance to it that can then be shared with the world. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a poem, novel, memoir or self-help book, there will be a place for it to live.

What many don’t realise is that this is just the start of the book journey. Once the thing is written, it’s time for the writer to take off the creative coat and put on the business coat. There’s no way to avoid it no matter which way you publish. Even if you’re lucky enough to land a traditional publishing deal, you will still have to be involved in the promotion and marketing of the book.

The Art of Self-promotion – and how to teach it to your authors with Karen Andrews, Angela Meyer & Blaise van Hecke (photo by Les Zigomanis).

Last week I attended the Independent Publishing Conference at the Wheeler Centre and immersed myself in all things books and publishing. It doesn’t matter how many years I’ve been doing this, there’s always something new to learn and the industry is changing constantly due to changes in technology. I was also part of a panel called ‘The art of self-promotion – and how to teach it to your authors.’ I don’t pretend to know everything about promotion but I know more than some. I also learned a lot from the many other sessions throughout the two days.

Here are my top three take-aways:

  1. Metadata is king – make sure that your book has as much data attached to it as possible. This starts with your ISBN registration and can be added to through TitlePage (you need to be a member of the Australian Publishers Association) and the data required if you are using print on demand. Ensure that you add as much information as possible including a cover image, author bio and reviews if you have any.

Why is data important? It helps with discoverability online as well as by bookstores and libraries if a customer asks about your book.

  1. Audio books are popular – thanks to platforms like Audible they are becoming more accessible and consumers love them. This has created another income stream for the book. Many traditional publishers are starting to include them in the contract of a book along with the print book and ebook. Companies such as Bolinda create audiobooks but at this stage they are not cheap to produce. This won’t stay like this for long as people realise that this is a gap in the market and solutions are created.
  2. Marketing is tricky – this remains the hardest part of the book journey (just like marketing any business is hard) but thanks to social media, there are many new opportunities out there. There is a definite gap in the market here, which is a great opportunity for people to fill. The best way to get your book out there is by word of mouth and book reviews are vital for this. Check out bookbloggersaustralia.com.au for opportunities to have your book reviewed, and check out Goodreads to set up your own author page and ask people to review your book.

There were of course many more great things that I learned at the conference but these three things are really important to have in place for the success of a book. I highly recommend you attend the conference next year to learn more.

As a writer, you may not like the business of writing. But you know what? If you don’t get down to working on it, your book will not get into the hands of your readers and it may as well sit in a box in obscurity.

Blaise the bookchick