Tag Archives: spoken word

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

Write Around the Murray Festival – a review

site-logoWe’re very spoilt for choice in Melbourne when it comes to writing festivals. So much so that they tend to become white noise. From the Melbourne Writers Festival, Emerging Writers Festival, many council/library run festivals to The Clunes Book weekend and Bendigo Writers Festival, just to name a few. But here’s one I suggest that you put on the calendar of events for next year and make a weekend of it.

The Write Around the Murray Festival (Albury NSW) celebrated ten years last week and I only heard of it last year, when I went with my writing group for the weekend. This is a five-day festival that has lots of great content with a great location. Most of the bigger events are held at the LibraryMuseum, right in the centre of town. This venue is fantastic, with the library, bookshop and even a pop-up café.

Unfortunately, I had events to attend in Melbourne, so it was Saturday night by the time I arrived, just in time to meet my fellow panellists for our Publish Me! segment the next day. We discussed the submitted stories over wine (tough job, I know), then headed over to the LibraryMuseum for pre-dinner drinks before the Stereo Stories event.

Stereo Stories @ Write Around the Murray festival
Stereo Stories @ Write Around the Murray festival

Stereo Stories is a great night of song memoirs featuring guest authors with what I would call musical interludes to fit the story. The songs resonated with me because they were from artists such as Paul Kelly. The featured authors were Debra Oswald, Jane Harrison, Anson Cameron and Phillip Murray, all accompanied by the Stereo Stories band. Apparently this group performs at lots of festivals and events, so if you see them out there, try to get tickets. Great food went with this event, so I was well fed with nourishing food and creative talent by the time I fell into bed.

The Publish Me! panel was well attended for a Sunday morning session. I’m guessing quite a few in the audience were writers who had submitted a page for discussion. The panel consisted of Fleur Ferris, Sue Gillett, Jen McDonald and myself, with the task of assessing whether a page of writing had the goods to hook and reel in a publisher. From the nine submissions that we chose, there was great discussion about pace, point of view, showing not telling and intrigue – all elements that we think hook a reader in.

After the session, we were swamped with some of the submission authors wanting to talk more about their pieces. I hope that many of them have gone away with valuable insights to their work that is useful going forward.

I feel as though I really only had a taste of the festival this year, compared to last year, but it was enough to get some creative juices flowing and to get a real buzz from the festival goers. And, I learned a bit of trivia at Stereo Stories: Enid Blyton’s nephew, Carey Blyton, wrote the theme song to Bananas in Pyjamas in 1967!

Blaise the book chick