Recently I was asked why my debut trilogy was picked up for audiobook publication so quickly. The standard answers apply of course: Luck, advertising, making a good impression on first contact.
However, there are several subtle things that an author can do in the manuscript phase which can help to make their audiobook dreams a reality:
- Keep cadence in mind: Fostering attractive audible features within your novel is key. For example, interspersing and weaving together long sentences with short, sharp ones. Don’t be afraid of using a ‘filler’ word or two if it establishes a beautiful meter within your paragraphs. The mind finds unconscious beauty in the occasional iambic or trochaic sentence, even if the reader or listener isn’t consciously parsing it. You might be a poet, and not even know it.
- Use readable names: I don’t care if you’re writing about elves or aliens, a voice actor is not going to deal well with frequent use of the name Leptov’urioustontoviaz. Names don’t have to be English, or any particular language… but they must be (somewhat) easily pronounced if you want to have a decent audiobook.
- Create a pronunciation guide: You’ll be asked to do it sooner or later, so make it sooner. All you need is a microphone and whatever voice recorder comes with your operating system (Voice Recorder in Windows for example). Go through your manuscript for any odd proper names or words that might have multiple pronunciations. Record those words and upload them to your website or Dropbox. I’ve made an example here: http://billricardi.com/sounds/
- Incorporate onomatopoeia: When you write descriptively using all five senses, pay particular attention to sound. If you have the opportunity to use onomatopoeia, don’t be shy. It’s a device that readers and listeners relate to, even those who have picked up English as a second language.
Once you have a polished ‘final’ draft with all of the above tips in mind, you do your normal beta marketing, and/or querying, and/or pitching depending on your intended publishing method. But you can also pursue one of three main ways to get an audiobook made:
DIY – Particularly suitable for self publishers who aren’t interested in working with a major audiobook publisher. This process involves either recording everything yourself or personally hiring every professional that you need (one or more voice actors, cover artists, editors, etc.). You then release the audiobook on your own website and any venues that will approve the final result. High investment, high potential reward.
Collaborative – You apply to, and partner with, an audiobook creation company (such as ACX). They will allow you to interview and approve a voice actor, and approve the cover art. You can either pay for the service of the voice actor or split the proceeds if they’re willing. Lower investment, lower effort, lower reward.
Invitation – There’s no application or submission process for an invitation style audiobook company (such as Podium). Instead these audiobook publishers come to you. They are exclusive, but once your IP is licensed, they take full control of the process. You generally accept a percentage-only contract, as they absorb all of the risks and costs. No investment, low probability of being scouted, but high potential reward.
This is where your research and time investment comes into play, and in the case of getting accepted at an invitation-only firm, your contacts and reputation. Once you have an audiobook actively in the creation process, there are a few other things that you can do in order to make the effort a success.
It would not be out of the question to create an exclusive short story that could be used as teaser and preview content. This is a common tactic for all three audiobook creation processes. You want to be able to offer something special to websites and media outlets that track and review audiobooks. Talk to your audiobook publication company or your hired voice actor about how to make something like this a reality.
Synching sale dates or release dates of digital or physical products is a tactic worth considering. This would allow you to combine and enhance your advertising efforts, which in turn will improve the sales of future releases in the series.
If you’re working with a professional audiobook publishing house, you need to be willing to hand over copies of any media that you have exclusive rights to use. For example, at their request, you should be able to provide raw cover art, maps, and other files for their graphic artists to play with. If they ask you to write or record small snippets for something like a short biography, do so. If they want to set up a Twitter event or a Livestream of some sort, be there. In short: Participate in the creative and advertising process when they ask you to, and stay out of their way when you aren’t needed.
If you’ve kept all of the above in mind, the same instincts that will make you a traditionally published or self-published author can also make you a successful audiobook author. Just do your thing. Create quality prose. And with lots of effort and a little bit of luck, we’ll all be listening to your next Audible release.
(c) Bill Ricardi
About Another Stupid Spell:
Another Stupid Spell is a first person high fantasy novel, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in 60 years. The tone and vocabulary of the story shifts as our narrator, Sorch the orc, finds ways to enhance his intelligence. You get to grow as Sorch grows, learn as he learns, and share his most intimate thoughts.
Sorch is an orc mage in a world where orcs are cursed with stupidity every time they cast a spell. The only spell he can safely cast is Enhance Intelligence, which boosts his IQ for a fraction of a second before the curse drains it all away again.
Normally casting such a spell would be pointless, but Sorch’s tribe has found a way to benefit. Magic that is cast near a mysterious artefact called the ‘Voodoo Engine’ causes invisible hands to appear, and these hands get work done for his tribe. Sorch is a slave to the Voodoo Engine, casting a single spell over and over again to avoid being beaten by the chief’s warrior caste.
While foraging for food on one fateful night, our hero happens upon two human mages who are in big trouble. He saves their lives, and in return they give him an amulet that will make his life easier. Unbeknownst to the humans, their gift grants Sorch the power to break the cycle of intelligence drain and physical abuse. With the help of his friend and mentor, Shaman, Sorch becomes a real mage.
Sorch leaves his swamp and embarks on a series of incredibly exciting and dangerous adventures. During his travels he encounters horrible injury, magical treasures, love, snow, university admissions tests, a plot against the Kingdom, and then of course he saves the world. Or does he?
Be prepared to rethink everything you know about thinking. If your own intelligence was the fuel that your magic ran on, how brightly would you dare to burn?
Order your copies of Bill’s trilogy here.