Personally, I’m not a fan, however I can see the benefits for people who, for a wide variety of reasons are unable to read a paperback, a hardback edition or a Kindle e-book.
We’ve Thomas Edison to thank for inventing the phonograph in 1877 and making recording the spoken word possible. His vision was for this to be an invention that would “speak to blind people without effort on their part.” The first recorded instance of the spoken word is Edison’s own recital of Mary Had A Little Lamb. I’m glad to report that things have matured somewhat since then!
There have been many formats of audiobooks over time. Having initially been sold in cylinders in the early 1900’s (each cylinder only held 4 minutes of spoken words so books were an impossibility), audiobooks moved onto vinyl where the listening time was increased to around 20 minutes per side. By 1970’s cassette tapes became the format of choice and due to the significant increase in capacity, talking books were now feasible. The commercial audiobook market was born!
The audiobook industry grew rapidly through the 1980’s and 1990’s. Advances in technology and in compressed audio formatting in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s saw further growth in the industry as audiobooks moved into digital format.
Audiobooks have come a long way since Edison’s first recording!
Audiobooks are primarily aimed at the vision impaired but are also popular with many other “readers”. They play an important part in education, particularly with dyslexic students and those with other learning difficulties.
The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), a UK charity, offers a Talking Books library service and currently has over 18000 titles available.
So how does an author get their book into audiobook format?
That’s been a question that I’ve been pondering for a while after receiving a few enquiries about releasing my book babies in this format.
As those of you who follow my ramblings will know, I have self-published both my “babies” through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and Create Space options.
Did Amazon offer an audiobook service? Yes, they do! ACX.com
So I registered my book babies as available projects and started the search for a narrator who is prepared to work with me on a Royalty Share basis.
I selected sections from each book to be used for audition purposes. (Not as easy a task as it sounds, trust me!)
This is feeling more like a theatrical production than a book!
There are over 40 000 audiobook samples from potential narrators available on ACX to listen to. Fortunately it is possible to narrow down your search based on genre, gender of narrator, accent, vocal style etc.
I narrowed the search down to about 250 samples and began to trawl through them. This is where I hit stumbling block number one.
I hate being read to! I’m really struggling to select potential narrators to contact to invite them to audition. I’m sure they are fantastic narrators but most of them so far are making me cringe.
Stumbling block number two is cost. There are very few narrators that I’ve identified who are prepared to work on such lengthy tales on a Royalty Share basis. Most are seeking a fee of a minimum of $100 per finished hour. For both books that would amount to roughly $3000. WAY beyond my purse!
So, here’s my plea – are you or do any of you know any fledgling narrators trying to establish a portfolio presence who would be prepared to invest the time on a Royalty Share basis? Do any of you know of other avenues to convert my book babies into audiobooks with minimal financial outlay?
There’s a whole new group of readers ..ok, listeners… out there and I’d love to introduce them to Jake and Lori and all things Silver Lake.
(images sourced via Google – credits to the owners)