Tag Archives: stories

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

August Falling – Book Review

August Falling by Les Zig

It’s a great privilege to see the development of a story. I first read this book when it was called ‘House of Cards’, which seemed a very apt title when I read it but I’m guessing was changed due to the US television series of the same name. Titles can be so hard to get right, and you really need to look at what else is in the market so that people don’t have preconceived ideas about your book, or that you don’t get mixed up in someone else’s promotion. I will admit that I didn’t love the new title at first, but it has grown on me and the original title is a cliched phrase.

I love the simplicity of the cover and while the colour isn’t what I would have chosen, again it has grown on me. It lends itself well to the great visual promotions that I have started to see on Instagram from the publisher, Pantera Press.

So the cover and the title get my tick of approval but why am I mentioning them at all? The first impressions of a book are very important and can be the difference in getting it into a reader’s hand. Because I have seen this story in development, I love observing how everything has come together into a tight package. I can see that the author, Les Zig, and the production team behind him, have worked hard to bring it all together in a considered and strategic way.

What about the story? In essence, the story itself hasn’t changed dramatically from the first draft that I read because Les knows structure. He knows what his story is about and where to take it. This is always very evident in early drafts and I suspect that he wouldn’t have people read it until he thought it was ready for feedback. The difference between the draft and final product is a story with layers that is tight, easy to read and character driven. Everything that the characters say and do have a purpose that drives the story forward.

August Falling is about a man finding his way in the world after a disastrous relationship. Nothing new there and it would be easy for the author to throw him into another relationship that ends in true love. What we get is not a love story but the journey of August who has never really trusted himself or the world he lives in and this has been amplified by his last relationship. Every time August apologises, you feel like banging him on the head. He’s socially awkward and not confident about where he fits in his life, so when he sees an attractive woman in a café he never believes that she might give him a second glance.

Enter gorgeous Julie and you expect that this will lead to a love story and you’ll be annoyed with the author for telling you otherwise. From the moment they hook up, you’re barracking for them to be together and live happily ever after (that’s the romantic in me), while quietly berating August for being so awkward and to get his shit together.

Enter ‘the secret’. Okay this is a classic, keep-the-lovers-apart technique in storytelling because we all know, once they really get together, the story is over. The thing is ‘the secret’ might be a deal breaker and that this is not a classic love story. This is where August really needs to get his shit together and decide who he is and what he stands for. He needs to learn to trust. Can he do it? You need to read the book to find out.

August Falling is the perfect book for discussion. I can see readers talking about it in book groups because there are talking points for all the characters and not only the August and Julie relationship but the relationships between minor characters as well.

If you’re in Melbourne, why not go along to the book launch this Sunday at 2pm, Buck Milligans, 217 High Street, Northcote.

Blaise the book chick