Friday, August 16, 2019

Sticking Your Bookshelf In Your Ears



Back in the 80s, I was stationed in Germany, and for about a year, I found myself having to travel to the United States every few weeks for meetings and conferences. Depending on the time of year, the flight could be up to 14 hours each way. At that time, the inflight entertainment system meant everybody being forced to watch the same two movies displayed on a big screen in the center of the cabin.  This quickly evolved into having the choice of about five movies on an individual seat display.  There was no control over when the movie started and no way to pause them. After two or three flights, I had seen everything they were showing. I could watch DVDs on my computer, but the batteries only lasted about two hours.

Fortune had it that I got an email from a company called Audible. The service was basically books-on-tape but using computer files that could be downloaded and listened to on devices like an iPod. At the time I had no iPod and was about to delete the message when I noticed that if I signed up for a year of service, they would send me a free player. I signed an agreement to buy two books or so monthly for the next year and waited on my player to arrive. The next time I flew, I had four audiobooks loaded on my player, which gave me about 30 hours of entertainment. I not only had entertainment in flight but something to listen to as I drove through DC traffic to and from meetings.

I didn't realize it until just recently, but I listen to almost 100 books during that period.  I might've read the same amount, but it is doubtful because it is hard to read while driving in DC traffic – – except during the many standstills. As a result of listening to those books, I also discovered several authors I had never heard of before, like David Sedaris and Richard Belzer, among others. To me, audiobooks were great for filling a spot of time that might otherwise be left vacant while providing entertainment and the chance to indulge my imagination. 

I eventually got an iPod, the only piece of Apple equipment I own, and I still enjoy audiobooks from a variety of sources. I also enjoy having a book to take with me when I‘m faced with the prospect of a long drive.

When I first became an author, I wondered how I could get my book turned into audiobook format. I have a background in vocal narration both from the theater and radio, so I could do it myself, but I did not have a recording studio to do it properly. When I published my fourth book, I noticed two of the book publishers I was using offered audiobook creation services. They would pair the author with various producers to create the audiobook version of the manuscript.

Where do I sign up?

Later this week, I will be delivered my first completed audiobook. It was also the beginning of the Evan Davis series, Three Paperclips and a Grey Scarf.  The book is being read by vocal artist William P. Ryan, who has done a variety of other books in the thriller genre. His voice is very much up to the task, and I just completed the final review and approval.

The next audiobook should be out by October. From Within the Firebird's Nest will be narrated by a voice artist who formally worked for the Library of Congress doing their version of books-on-tape, Joe Biedrzycki.  He is very talented and will do a spectacular job bringing the book to life.

Blood Upon the Sands is being read by Chris Abell, who has done a lot of radio and TV voiceover work. He is an Audible Approved Producer meaning he is a master of the audiobook craft. It was kismet that we ran into one another. In the end, it worked out he had some time available matching my desire to release the audiobook in late August.  In the past few days, Chris has been sending me chapters so I can start reviewing his work.  They are dynamite. Really looking forward to hearing the rest of the book.

As each of these become available (Amazon, iTunes & Audible), I will post a notice here letting you know where you can find them. If you've never tried an audiobook before, I highly recommend them. I'm not sure about the other two, but Audible does offer a trial program that lets you get your choice of several audiobooks to find out what their service is all about.



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