Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Behind the Scenes of Audiobook Production

with guest Nancy Kimball.

I’m honored to be here in Seekerville today, sharing a glimpse behind the curtain at how my debut novel Chasing the Lion was brought to life on audiobook. The process was an amazing experience, even with its rather steep learning curve, and one I hope every author has the opportunity to experience at least once. Hearing your hero’s voice aloud for the first time is as surreal as holding your very first finished book in your hands. As the audiobook industry continues to grow, helped along as publishing was by the digital conversion, I believe more and more authors will have this opportunity. To minimize that learning curve for others, and because it’s just sooooooo cool, let’s walk through how Lion went from finished novel to finished audiobook. And of course give away some audiobooks too!


 


Step. 1 Welcome to ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange)

Listing my novel on ACX was very easy. The interface is simple to navigate, and all that is required is you are the rights holder and the title is available for sale at Amazon.  I selected the type of production deal I wanted, male or female narrator, voice style, and uploaded the audition script I selected. Then I awaited auditions. That’s how ACX works. Rights holders list their projects, narrators and producers search through them, looking for those they want to audition for.


Author/Publisher Tip: Choose the scene most critical to you the narrator get absolutely right. One with high emotion, dialogue from one or more characters, and has both a male and female voice represented, is even better.


Step 2. Auditions


Avid audiobook listeners know the narrator makes or breaks the audiobook. A poor fit in style and/or a poor performance will hurt even the most compelling of novels, so keep this in mind as you evaluate auditions. The first time I heard Joseph Narducci’s reading, I was rendered speechless and in awe. Joseph didn’t just completely capture the emotion of the scene, but I also sensed he just “was” my hero. I was completely BLOWN AWAY!


Author/Publisher Tip: Keep in mind that not only does the narrator need to deliver your scene and characters well, but you will likely be working closely with this individual over an extended period of time so choose someone you can also have good rapport with.


 

 Step 3. Production

Once terms are accepted and delivery deadline set through ACX, production can begin. To give you an idea of how long this part takes, ACX requires a minimum of 60 days for the narrator to produce the work. The full manuscript is delivered to the narrator, who then records the first fifteen minutes for approval. Once that step is done, the narrator will notify you when the rest of the book is complete, or when each new chapter is posted.


My narrator worked closely with me on each chapter as he recorded them, clarifying pronunciation, making certain I was happy with each new voice that was being added, auditioning options for a character’s voice or accent where needed. Joseph welcomed direction, but rarely needed it as his own interpretations were consistently in line with my vision. There were a few lines and scenes here and there I requested changes to, and one chapter we chose to completely rerecord because I hadn’t adequately articulated the first time what I wanted. These “chisels” as he called them, required patience and good communication, but yielded an even stronger final product. I was continually amazed at how Joseph brought out layers in my story and further depth to my characters than even I knew was there.


So I’m not creating an unrealistic expectation of other narrators, it’s worth noting this level of collaboration Joseph prefers is very normal for him, but well above industry standard. A quality narrator can take the text and independently produce a fine audiobook that is uploaded all at once (still in individual chapter files.)


Author/Publisher Tip: For performance feedback or direction, utilizing the comment feature in MS Word, highlighting the relevant text and commenting in the margin, similar to when critiquing/editing, is very efficient. You can save time for your narrator by also noting at what minute and second mark (time stamp) that portion of text is in the recording.


BONUS Author/Publisher Tip: Be open to the idea that when the narrator’s interpretation of a bit of dialogue or scene differs from yours, his or her version may be best for the audiobook. Your narrator is a cold reader with fresh perspective, as listeners will be, so after the shock of the difference, listen again and consider why it may have been interpreted that way before requesting a change.


 



Step 4. Finishing Touches and Release


Audiobook cover images have different size and layout requirements than ebook and print covers. I brought back my talented cover designer Alexandre Rito to design the audiobook cover for Chasing the Lion. We kept it close to the original, but included Joseph’s name and credit line. Narrators don’t expect this, but I think it very fitting to do so if the author is able.


I set aside a weekend to do one full top to bottom listen of all chapters, caught only three things to chisel, and enjoyed my audiobook start to finish for the first time. Once again, it was like watching the movie with my eyes closed. After Joseph did a final audio balance and polish, we each clicked “approved” on our respective sides of ACX and celebrated.


From that point, ACX does its own quality control and upload to the distribution channels as well as assigns all pricing. This can take several weeks so beware of committing to a specific release date on social media and publicity material. Once you get the email the book is posted for sale on Audible, let the social media and newsletter blast commence. And be VERY proud.
 



I couldn’t write an article like this without asking Joseph to be a part of it. He graciously agreed to an interview, because he’s awesome like that.


What do you find most rewarding about producing audiobooks?


As a performer, I love the process of immersing myself in the story, crafting the characters’ voices, and discovering the layers of the story through the performance as if I was in it myself. The performance plays out in my mind like a movie. It’s easy to get swept up into the work and I love it. Above all, bringing the story to life, job #1 for an audiobook narrator, is a joy for me.


What is the most challenging part of the process?


The production aspect. An incredible amount of patience is required with editing, levels, studio software, and so forth. These are the common challenges for anyone in audio production. Not to mention uncontrollable factors like outside sounds infiltrating my home studio. Barking dogs, helicopters, planes, church bells, and if my stomach growls during a session, LOL. My mic hears all things and so many times I have to recut. But as I continue to upgrade my gear and find new ways to overcome those things, the producer side continues to grow more efficient. I love the narrating side so much, they balance each other well.




What is one thing about producing an audiobook it might surprise listeners to learn?


That’s a great question. I suppose listeners might be surprised by how much time it can take to make an audiobook. I can read a chapter of a book in no time, but to craft that chapter into an audio form can take several hours from performing to producing.


***Nancy breaking in to say this is very true, and not just for Joseph. Author and narrator Becky Doughty of BraveHeart Audiobooks shared this on her blog recently. ACX estimates it requires an average of six hours to produce one finished hour of narration.


Do you have a favorite scene or character from Chasing the Lion’s audiobook?


Wow… that is a tough one. Lion took me totally by surprise. In fact in several chapters I found myself profoundly moved. This emotion at times blended with the performance in ways I couldn’t have planned. I mean, the story resonates with anyone who faces the lions in their own life. So choosing a favorite scene is tough! Without adding any spoilers, my favorite character is Jonathan. His mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual journey was just hardcore powerful. The range of his encounters, both positive and negative, coupled with his transformation was very satisfying for me both as a narrator and a person. I believed his story, and the hope found within it.



I hope you enjoyed this inside look at audio production. Are you an audiobook fan? What do you like about audiobooks? Any pet peeves you care to share? 

 

Joseph Narducci’s passion for excellence and attention to detail are evidenced in his twenty years’ experience in professional acting, voice-over and production. He is most well-known for his work with Turning Point with David Jeremiah (2005 to present), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) and To Save a Life (2009.) He enjoys reading, martial arts, and some strange fascination with garden gnomes from his home in San Diego, California.










  Author, avid reader, and shameless hero addict, Nancy Kimball loves books, Ancient Rome, and all things gladiator. She is a two time American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Contest Finalist, and former president of her local ACFW chapter, Writers on the Storm. She makes her home in Houston, Texas with one very spoiled pitbull mix named Eric T. and still doesn’t understand the point of white crayons. Visit her official website, nancykimball.com, to learn more about Chasing the Lion and hear an excerpt from the audiobook






 Leave a comment and let us know if you want your name in the lion's dish for a free download of Nancy Kimball's audiobook of Chasing the Lion. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition!



Chasing the Lion

From the blood-soaked sand of the Roman arena, a divine destiny will rise. 

For as long as Jonathan Tarquinius can remember, everyone has wanted something from him. His half brother wants him dead. His master’s wife wants his innocence. The gladiator dealers want him to fight—and die—for their greed. Rome’s most famous prostitute wants his love. And the gentle slave girl who tends the wounds on his body and the hidden ones on his soul longs for him to return to his faith.

What Jonathan wants is simple. Freedom. But God wants something from Jonathan too—something more than anyone would ever imagine. The young warrior’s journey will push him to the limits of human endurance and teach him that true freedom is found within. The greatest battle Jonathan must ever fight will not come in the arena, but deep within himself as he is forced to choose between vengeance and mercy—with the fate of an empire and the life of the woman he loves hanging in the balance.

72 comments:

Natalie Monk said...

Hi, Nancy! Hi, Joseph! Awesome interview! So great to see you both here!

I'm savoring CTL's audiobook one chapter at a time. LOVE it. I haven't enjoyed an audiobook this much since I listened to Rob Inglis' narration of The Hobbit. And that one was fantastic.

I look forward to more projects from both of you! :)

Joan Deneve said...

Hi Nancy and Joseph, Loved the interview, but what I really loved was listening as the entire book came to life. Chasing the Lion was meant to be read (and enjoyed)out loud. Nancy, you wrote gutwrenching scenes that were difficult to read and impossible to put down or forget. Not just anybody could take this epic story and do it justice, and I think the only person who could was Joseph. I'm so glad God used you both to bring this story to audiobook. You both have a commitment to excellence. Thank you for paving the way and offering such great advice. By the way, I played some of it in my car, and all four of my granddaughters were leaning forward, literally hanging on the edge of their seats, totally immersed in the story. Classic sign of great writing. Well done, you two. Well done. Joan Deneve

Raquel Byrnes said...

Oh my gosh...this was really cool to come across. I had no idea this even existed for authors. Thanks for the walk through. :)
Edge of Your Seat Stories

Nancy Kimball said...

Natalie Monk! Great to see you here! It should NOT surprise me at all that the winner of the Chasing the Lion Fan Fiction Challenge would be the first to comment.

I am so glad to hear you are enjoying our audiobook, and so grateful for the high praise. I knew as Joseph and I collaborated together to make the audiobook, it was something special in both performance and, well, epic-ness. But of course I would think that right? So to now hear over and over it is resonating with listeners in the same way, especially those who had already read the novel previously, is very rewarding.

I am working very hard on the next book in the series, Charging the Darkness and can honestly tell you if Joseph isn't able to narrate and produce it, we won't have an audiobook for it. He IS Jonathan's voice just as much as Checotah (our cover model) is his face.

Thank you so much and continued good wishes for you and your writing.

Nancy Kimball said...

Joannie. Thank you for that. I agree Joseph was hand-picked by God to bring Chasing the Lion to life in audio.

As you are my closest friend and critique partner, there with me through thick and thin every step of the way, your fingerprints are all over my work just as much as the Lord's, and Joseph's with our audiobook. The Lion audiobook is without question the part of my author career I am most proud of to this point, precisely because it wouldn't exist without the favor, guidance, and blessing of the Lord. Much like its author.

Nancy Kimball said...

Raquel, thank you. Believe me, that doesn't surprise me but is the main reason I was so glad the Seekers gave me the opportunity to share here today.

Not enough authors know this is a viable option that was once reserved for only the most recognized best-seller titles. It can be very lucrative as it carries some of the largest per unit royalties I collect across all formats of my work (paperback, ebook, and audiobook.)

Beyond that, I grew up on stories. Most of us did. With a loved one reading to us before bed, sitting cross-legged on the classroom or library floor in elementary school as we were read to. Then we grew up and became consumed with the responsibilities of adulthood and along the way lose that love of audible storytelling. At least unless we're then on the other side of that magic reading aloud or storytelling to the next generation. But it isn't the same on that side of the magic. It's not the same as listening with that eager anticipation for what's going to happen next, with an almost child-like enthrallment as Joan described in an earlier comment.

I didn't really realize I'd completely lost it myself until having my own audiobook made woke that back up. That simple yet profound pleasure of being told a story. Not on a movie screen, or on the page as I'd grown almost exclusive with, but in my ears.
I've consumed several audiobooks since then and confirmed it wasn't just my own work that resurrected that love for the spoken story. Spoken story is powerful and more dynamic in a way that written word cannot be. Which is why more than ever I believe we need both.

I am grateful to narrators like Joseph who are ensuring the skill of storytelling in its original form not only survives, but continues to grow and thrive as well for the listeners. ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) and the APA (Audiobook Publishers Association) are also doing their part and I am so thankful.

I hope to see your Noble Island, Shades of Hope, or steampunk YA work on Audible in the future, Raquel, and wish you continued success in your work. =)

Marianne Barkman said...

I believe that audiobook are something I have to get used to, but once I do, I'm sure I'll love them! Thanks for a great post,Nancy. I really want to listen to your novel!

Nancy Kimball said...

Marianne, I know exactly what you are saying. I had to get used to them too.

In an earlier comment to Raquel that was practically a second blog post, I touched on that. I was so out of practice with hearing a story. I'd sampled an audiobook here and there the last ten years but didn't care for them. I know why that was now, and would encourage any of you who have tried and passed on them to try again.

Audiobooks to me are like wines. There are good ones, bad ones, exceptional ones, and all different styles and tastes, much like fiction. I wasn't a wine drinker until this year when my brother poured me a glass of Candoni Moscato White and said I needed to try it. "No thanks, I don't care for wine." He handed me the glass and to oblige him, I sipped it. And now there is always at least one full bottle of Candoni Moscato White in my fridge here at home. It turns out I AM a wine drinker, LOL, I simply hadn't found the right one yet. And now that I have I may try others. I'd simply given up too quickly.

Audiobooks are similar. First you have to reorient yourself to enjoying story in this form and it takes about five to ten minutes of a good audiobook to turn your story listener switch back on. But then, and this is unique to audiobooks I find, you have to give it an additional five to ten minutes to orient yourself to the narrator. A stranger cannot tell you a story. It is why the first few times I tried them I didn't particularly enjoy them. And because one was a poor performance/reading which I would have known if I had bothered to look at the reviews on Audible. Trust me (and the early reviews beginning to come in at Audible) you would not have this issue with our audiobook. Joseph's rendering of my novel is exceptional. So much it overcame one listener's preference for female narration. Good luck in the drawing and thank you for your kind words, Marianne.

Cindy W. said...

I love listening to audio books when we take long trips. There doesn't seem to be enough time otherwise. But I would love to listen to Chasing the Lion thank you for the chance to win a copy.

Blessings,
Cindy W.

Nancy Kimball said...

Well it is nearly 4 a.m. for me which means Ruthy should be waking up soon. Maybe she will bring us something from YankeeBelle cafe. Someone else got the good virtual breakfast this morning so all I've got for the Seekervillagers is cold pizza and MUG root beer. I don't care what anyone says, cold pizza is a perfectly acceptable breakfast food. Enlightened even.

Praying great things for those around flagpoles this morning, and our author friends in St. Louis. Rooting long and loud for Melissa's Love by the Letter and Tina's Mending the Doctor's Heart for Carol Awards. I'm cheering disturbing the peace kind of loud for a particular YA Genesis finalist, Sara Ella, who I mentor. Giving back was something I learned the importance of and still see modeled years later, here in Seekerville. Thank you, Seekers.

Nancy Kimball said...

Cindy W. thank you! They'll put your name in the lion dish.
I'm pretty sure it is heavy gauge stainless steel and probably shaped like a gladiator. At least it would be if I made it.

I noticed the men in your profile picture and can tell you that Chasing the Lion resonates extremely well with male readers and listeners. My own narrator's interview is Exhibit A but a listener on FB told me that her husband got caught up in the story the first night and made her wait for him to get home from work everyday so they could listen together. Made me smile. =)

Janet Dean said...

Nancy and Joseph, thanks for a fascinating post! You make the process sound simple. And your book sounds like a great story! Congratulations!!

I've listened to only two books, Tis and Jan Karon's first series. I loved the experience! I find audio books convenient and exciting.

Janet

Tina Radcliffe said...

NANCY! Welcome back to Seekerville. I am a huge audiobook fan.

But tell us a bit about that cover!

Tina Radcliffe said...

A welcome hello to Joseph. We're big on Joseph's in my family. We have four of them.

From big Joe to little Joey.

I'm serving Dunkin' Donuts this am along with lots and lots of coffe.

Tina Radcliffe said...

And I'm with Nancy. Cold pizza is my favorite breakfast food.

Tina Radcliffe said...

And I'm with Nancy. Cold pizza is my favorite breakfast food.

Tina Radcliffe said...

So Joseph narrates the female voices too?

I always thought I would have a hard time with one narrator doing both roles but you know a good narrator makes you forget and fall into the story.

Jackie said...

Hi Nancy,

It's great to see you and Joseph here in Seekerville. Thanks for walking us through the process.

Have a great day!

kaybee said...

Yeah, GO TINA. I have and have read "Mending the Doctor's Heart." Good luck.

Joan Deneve said...

Am I allowed two comments? I had to add that Joseph is like Mel Blanc (you know: the man with the thousand voices who did most of the voices for the Bugs Bunny cartoons. My favorite was Foghorn Leghorn) Sorry, I digress. Anyway, Joseph nailed. NAILED. every voice with the perfect intonation and personality of the character. That was one of my favorite parts: listening to the way he pulled off each character. And Nancy, you're so right. He is the voice of Jonathan.

DiAnn said...

This information is incredible. Thank you so much!

Mary Hicks said...

Thank you, Nancy! I enjoyed reading the process that's Involved in putting out an audio.

I love listening while I drive and I get so into the story that I see each character through the one voice...love it!

Nancy Kimball said...

Janet, thank you. We're very proud of Chasing the Lion and especially the audiobook. That format can be very convenient, especially on long trips, and with a quality narrator and strong writing it really does become like watching the movie with your eyes closed.

Teenster, thank YOU for having me back! I've become a huge audiobook fan now too. The cover for Lion was done by Alexandre Rito of designbookcover.pt and part of the reason I think Lion has been so successful in its first five months of release. We did our own photo shoot for the images of Jonathan, and sent them to my designer with the book description and my request for a warm color palate. I wanted a design that would immediately reflect genre and tone as well as be emotionally evocative.

Alexandre delivered on all counts, and our cover won Joel Friedlander "The Book Designer's" monthly e-book award for April of this year, finishing ahead of designs by Kirk DuPonce and Derek Murphy. When it was time to create a new cover that fit the dimensions for ACX, we modified the original design. An audiobook cover is a perfect square, 2400 x 2400 pixels if I recall, and you are not allowed to simply stretch and crop. Some audiobook covers incorporate the logo of their producer, such as Brilliance Audio, BraveHeartAudio, etc. or have templates that interchange with the paperback/ebook cover of the book, which can also work well. I wanted to maintain the look of my strong cover with no additions beyond adding Joseph's credit line, and was very pleased with how it turned out.

Four Joseph's in your family? That's awesome! I have four Roberts in mine. And thank you for backing me up on the cold pizza. Though Dunkin Donuts, you can never go wrong there. Ever.

Joseph narrated every character voice in Chasing the Lion from the hero, to the villians, the few children in it and the ladies. There are... gosh, he would probably know this in a second because he's that meticulous, but I'm certain there are at least twenty voices in Lion, maybe closer to thirty. And every single one of them is distinct. If I didn't need a print version, I could write the next one without dialogue tags or speaker attributions. Joseph can throw his voice all over the place and has an astounding range. One of the many reasons he was perfect for a book like mine, that has a diverse cast and very emotionally demanding dialogue. One of our reviews said that Joseph "fades to the background as the narrator and pushes the story forward" and it was one of my favorite things to come across in reviews because that is 100% accurate. One of the most incredible things for me was hearing Joseph literally "age" my hero, who begins the novel as a twelve-year old, then give him a young adult voice in those chapters, and finally his adult voice. There's no way to articulate how stunning that is except to hear it, which I hope everyone will!

DebH said...

boy, I hope Joseph makes it to Seekerville today so he can at least see/hear the appreciation for his voice Craft. As an animator, finding voices for one's drawings is an adventure and, when you can find THAT voice - it is such a gift.

I haven't tried any audio books ummmm... ever. Your post gives me the itch to try it out. It might hook my little guy on books too.
Pleas put my name in the lion dish for the draw.

I so enjoyed reading about the whole audio production experience for book. THANKS for sharing and opening up another window to peek into the world of pubbed authors.

Nancy Kimball said...

Jackie! Thank you! I have a special place in my heart for the authors I met in Scribes who helped me begin to turn this story into what it is today. I always looked forward to your thoughts on it, and wish you so much success with your own work.

Kaybee, I'm cheering for Tina too!

Joan, LOL, I'm pretty sure you are. Yes, he did. From the most passing minor character to our big players. One character in particular, Torren Gallego, Joseph actually had me walk him through the character's backstory and GMC (goal, motive, conflict) as he was working to craft a voice for that character. As for Jonathan, well, the first time I heard that audition I knew we'd found his voice. As surreal as seeing our cover model in full costume and makeup for the first time.

DiAnn, happy to share. Audiobooks are still gaining ground with traditional readers, though they have been a staple for many non-readers. APA (Audiobook Publishers Association) was formed in 1987, which really surprised me when I learned that.

Mary Hicks, you're quite welcome! And I do too now. My own narrator converted me but now I enjoy quite a few and overall consume more story, both print and audio.

Jane said...

A fascinating look at the behind-the-scenes process. Thank you for sharing.

Jane said...

A fascinating look at the behind-the-scenes process. Thank you for sharing.

Nancy Kimball said...

DebH, ME TOO! Joseph's on the west coast and is two hours behind me but he may drop in today if he's able. I completely agree the perfect voice fit is a gift. This one for me came straight from the Lord as it was evident to both me and Joseph God's hand had been instrumental in connecting my story to his voice.

You need to try audiobooks. Start with mine and I'm going to help you do that in my next comment. =)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Joan, welcome to Seekerville. You are allowed as many comments as you like. As many donuts as you like as well.

Nancy Kimball said...

Here is the audible excerpt of Chasing the Lion on youtube.

Audiobook Narrator Joseph Narducci CHASING THE LION

And, here is the first ten minutes of the book that will let you hear young Jonathan's voice, his mother, Deborah, and some punk bullies that I really dislike. If you'll listen for the full clip, you'll start to understand what I mean about learning the narrator's voice so that it then becomes just story. I find I have to do this with every audiobook I begin, especially if it is a new to me narrator.

Chapter One Excerpt

Nancy Kimball said...

You're welcome Jane!

Tina, thank you for making Joan, and Joseph and I, feel so welcome. I need to head into my other office now but will be back as soon as I can. I will be watching the ACFW Awards Gala on the live feeds and you will probably be able to hear me all the way from Texas if Mending the Doctor's Heart wins a Carol Award. Congratulations again!

Debby Giusti said...

Audio is a new world for me. Thanks, Nancy, for sharing what you've learned!!! Great info!

Congrats on your success!

Waving goodbye...leaving for the airport! I'll meet Patti Jo, of peach pie fame, there, and we'll fly together to St Louis!

Looking forward to learning so much this weekend. I'll share. Promise!

Hugs to all.

Lyndee H said...

Wow, Nancy, Soup to nuts on audio books. I had no idea...Thanks for the detailed post!

ACFW crew- my prayers for safe travels today!

Angi said...

Miss Nancy! How cool to see you here, my friend! Just let me say, for those who haven't had the "Chasing the Lion" audio experience yet, it is totally amazing. Nancy had already blown me away with Lion as it was, but the audio version really brings the story to life. Joseph Narducci is a fantastic narrator (Hello to Joseph)! Nancy made it fun by sharing snippits of the audio book with us at various times throughout the recording process, making it really hard to wait, but it was SO worth it! No need to enter me in the drawing. I'm just here to support my friend, Nancy! :)

Myra Johnson said...


Fascinating, Nancy & Joseph! Thanks for sharing the audiobook process with us! It sounds like you found the perfect match of author, story, and narrator--congratulations!

Julie Lessman said...

NANCY!!!! What a FASCINATING glimpse into the audio world, my friend, a definite printer-offer!! And, Joseph??? HUBBA, HUBBA!!

I don't plan to do audio anytime soon, but I could be convinced to do so if you think the sales warrant going through this lengthy process.

My last O'Connor book, A Love Surrendered, was is in audiobook, but I listened to the first page and SO hated the narrator's voice that I couldn't listen anymore. But then I'm not an audio book person, either. :|

I am SOOO thrilled for the success of your debut book -- can't wait to read it, my friend!

Hugs,
Julie

Connie Queen said...

I'm so overwhelmed at what goes into an audio book it puts butterflies in my stomach.

Amazing!

I've only listened to a few audio books, mainly, Hank the Cowdog. I would love to have them in the car with me when I take trips but I never think of it.

Thank so much for this information Nancy. The book sounds terrific.

Clari Dees said...

Yay! So happy to see Nancy, Jonathan, and Joseph here today! :-) I love audiobooks and getting little glimpses into the process and watching Jonathan's story come alive was/is so much fun! (Thank you, Nancy! ;-)

I grew up being read to by my parents--long books that took many nights to read. We loved listening and anticipating what was coming next. When we'd travel, we'd listen to audiobooks. So I learned to love not only reading, but being read to, and in turn, reading aloud. It's amazing how a story you know comes to life a different way when you listen to it.

I am really enjoying the fact that the digital world is making more books/genres available in audio format. I've been "listening" to books all summer and having a blast. I'm a bit more forgiving when it comes to narrators because I've heard so many. If the story's good, I can adjust to the narrator's... quirks, if you will. But when you have a great story and a great narrator come together (like Joseph and CTL), it's absolutely a joy to listen to. So much so that it's hard to shut it off when the drive to or from work is done. :-) (I get a lot of extra chores done because I don't want to turn of my player...just one more chapter...)

Congratulations, Nancy and Joseph, on a job well done!
(Don't put me in the drawing, I already have my copy.) :-)

I've got one more day of work--which I need to be heading out the door for--before zipping up my suitcase and heading south. I have a feeling I will be much distracted today as I anticipate the rest of the week and ACFW. :D

Jennifer Smith said...

How cool! Thanks for sharing, Nancy and Joseph. Looks like a great book, too, and I'd love to be in the drawing for a download of the audiobook. :)

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Nancy, Great post on audible cx. They are wonderful to work with. I love having my books in audio version. The process turned me on to listening to them also.

My narrator was wonderful. I interviewed her in my post on The World of Audio CX

Thanks for joining us today and bringing your narrator also.

Nancy Kimball said...

Debby! Thank you so much. I'm still learning so much about it myself. There are a lot of parallels with fiction craft and publishing, like the editing process, controlling pacing, and packaging/marketing to find the right audience.

Waving to you and all my author friends descending on St. Louis! I'm also looking forward to the pictures and learning that will be shared out of ACFW National Conference this year. *HUGS*

Lyndee H, you're so welcome and thank you for that praise. I worked very hard on it, together with several members of my Lion team, and am so pleased with how it finished. Praying with you for safe travels for all our author friends.

Angi, you always turn up wherever I am in the writing world, lady. So glad you enjoyed the teasers and being involved in the process. I share a lot of development with my readers on my FB author page and newsletter, because I write first for the Lord but second for YOU GUYS!

Myra! My former S.I.R.E. alumni author friend! That was the end result but it involved a lot of prayer before hand. Joseph shared with me at the end of our project how intentionally he had prayed to be led to the right audiobook project, his first with ACX though not his first to narrate. Meanwhile I was praying for the Lord's perfect will, even if that meant no audiobok. So when we came to work together and were both so blessed not just by the process, but even more so now from listener responses to our finished work, it has been so crazy awesome cool. I'm kind of embarrassed I can't articulate that better than "crazy awesome cool" among such a group of esteemed and talented authors, but I can't. When I start fangirling out, about half of my vocabulary disappears, LOL.

Wilani Wahl said...

Nancy, Thank you for sharing the stages of having a book made into audio.

Please include me in the drawing for a copy of your audio book.

Have a great day.

Nancy Kimball said...

Julie Lessman. I wrote a printer-offer for Julie Lessman. I am stunned, hehe, and deeply honored. I'm also swallowing my laughter that Joseph earned a "HUBBA, HUBBA." My listeners have described his voice as (and yes, I'm quoting) "satin-wrapped steel" and "chocolate for your ears" so being handsome to boot was icing on a 35 layer cake of talent, professionalism, and dedication. I think I have the world's greatest narrator, and know author buddies who feel the same about theirs. Amy Harmon with Rob Shapiro, Susan Kaye Quinn with Max Miller, and Heather Day Gilbert with Becky Doughty of BraveHeart Audio.

RE: Sales and ROI on time to produce. For you with such an established readership (and a well-earned one!) you may find more crossover that pulls your readers to your audiobooks. I do not hear often that audiobook listeners hear a good audiobook and then explore that authors printed backlist, but it may be because we have no way to track this. As a self-published Indie author, I can tell you that even with ACX controlling pricing, I see an average per unit royalty on my audiobook that is almost 50% of my ebook royalty. It is VERY GOOD. A lot of that is the story but a lot of it is Joseph's performance that as you can see gives the audiobook extremely deep word of mouth.

With the popularity of your novels, I would expect you would end up a "Whispersync" title rather quickly. For those unfamiliar with that, it is when you have the ebook on your Kindle and can purchase the audiobook at a reduced price, typically .99 to 5.99. I have a love/hate relationship with Whispersync because it is also a drastically reduced royalty for the author/publisher and narrator, but it also gets those who may not have tried audiobooks before an opportunity to do so.

I'm sorry to hear that about A Love Surrendered but hear that from several author friends who because of their contracts with their traditional publishers, do not have a say in the selection of their narrator. Please don't give up on audiobooks. As an author or listener. I'd bet you a big box of Godiva chocolate Joseph could turn you into one.

Nancy Kimball said...

Connie, it is a tremendous amount of time and work. I am comfortable saying almost as much as taking a story premise to printed novel. But so very worth it when you strike that perfect balance of great story, great performance, and both resonate in the listener memory. You are welcome and I appreciate that. Of course I think it's fantastic but with Amazon reviews holding at 4.9 stars, plenty of others are too. Chasing the Lion continues to amaze me as it completely busts through genre preference for readers, and now narrator preference (male/female) for audiobook listeners. Thank you for sharing and good luck in the drawing!

Nancy Kimball said...

Clari! You are so welcome. It is absolutely amazing when a story you know comes to life in a different way when you hear it. Even more so when it's YOUR OWN STORY. Joseph brought out so many layers to my characters I didn't know were there, and yet, were perfectly consistent with my vision of them when it happened.

I too am so pleased digital is making audiobooks more affordable and accessible. I'm hoping to grow into being more forgiving of a less than stellar narrator. Because I'm not yet. I blame Joseph for this, LOL. Prayers for a safe, fulfilling, rewarding, and productive time for you and my author buddies in St. Louis. =)

Mary Connealy said...

Hi Nancy and Joseph.
So, my daughter has asked if she can read my books for audio books.

My response it, "I don't know how it works, I just get the finished product in the mail."

So how does one go about becoming an audio book reader?

I'd pass it on to her.

Nancy Kimball said...

Jennifer Smith, Thank you very much for that and good look in the drawing.

Sandra, Thank you. My only issue with ACX is the rather information anemic royalty statements. I've addressed this directly with them and encouraged other royalty recipients to do so as well in the hopes that will improve in time. I am thrilled to be back in Seekerville again, especially with my narrator who is as much a part of the Chasing the Lion team now as I am.

Nancy Kimball said...

Wilani Wahl, you're welcome and you got it! Thank you for stopping in.

Mary, Joseph would be able to give you a much better answer to that than I could. If he drops in today he may, but I'll tell you what I know. There are narrators, and then narrators who are also their own producers, like Joseph is. So depending on which path your daughter is interested will make a difference there. Here's a link at ACX with some general info in it.

Narrators

Amy C said...

What a fun and intetesting post! Please please please put my name in for the audiobook version of your book.
Thank you!

Joy W. Doering said...

Lots of awesome in this post! One of my "for always" memories of my trip to Houston will be falling asleep - and often waking up- to the sound of Joseph's "satin-wrapped steel" voice, as Nancy worked so hard to get everything hammered out for her listeners. Although, I think the work actually had more to do with getting her to -quit- listening and come join me for the day. :) Love you, chica! So proud to see you (& Joseph!) here.

Nancy Kimball said...

Amy C, Thank you and good luck in the drawing!

Joy, love you too chica and so grateful to have you as part of the Lion team. But for the record... LOL you know:
1. I do my very best work at night when normal people are sleeping.
2. Joseph is two time zones behind me so my 1 a.m. is his 11:00 p.m.
3. I completely left "work" (though you really can't call writing/audiobook making work when it's that awesome) at home when we hit the zoo, Galveston Island and the Elissa, and made our epic one day trip to San Antonio.
4. Still blown away you flew down for the release party for my debut and was SO grateful to get to spend time with you. Always am! Even online. :)

Sherida Stewart said...

Nancy, this was fascinating information! I'd never thought about all the details to consider in producing an audio book. You are so fortunate to find just the right voice for Chasing the Lion...and someone so dedicated to producing such a quality product. Congratulations on your book and audiobook!

Marion Ueckermann said...

Nancy, what a fascinating and interesting post. A great interview with Joseph, too. I totally agree with Julie Lessmann's comment on Joseph and hope he doesn't mind that his photo has gone into my characters file.

I loved reading Chasing the Lion, and I will definitely make sure that soon I get to hear it, too :)

I'm so super proud of you, my friend.

Nancy Kimball said...

Sherida, thank you so much. There are so many details and things to consider but that doesn't make the process overwhelming. It is a lot of steps and moving parts, but Joseph and I worked at our own pace and maintained standard and timely communication. Also I will remind others he prefers a very close collaboration style but this is not true of every narrator. There are some fine audiobooks that are made with very little author/publisher involvement beyond the terms of the deal and approval points.

Something I have incorporated into the next book in the series is being much more selective about describing a characters voice (deep, gravely, etc.) so I don't lock Joseph into it. Though I'd done it with several characters in Lion, Joseph had no trouble delivering the required pitch, style, etc. But where I had left this wide open with other characters, his interpretation of them was typically better than I could have envisioned on my own. Thank you so much for your kind words and best wishes!

Nancy Kimball said...

Marion, thank you. I have to commend Joseph on another occurrence of being an exceptional production partner. Because of a calendar mix up on my part, I sent him both the request for the interview, and the questions, in the same email with the additional request I needed them back in twelve hours or less. Not only did he not flinch at this, but delivered them with his typical standard of quality and ahead of schedule. Just like with our audiobook.

I'm pretty sure he wouldn't mind. In fact I'm sure he'd be honored and humbled at the same time from what I know of him, though I'd never presume to speak for him. I can speak for me though and say as long as you don't make him a villain, we're good. It really messed me up in the head to hear him read the nastiest, cruelest, most evil of my villains so very believably. You look at Joseph's picture with the genuine and contagious smile and then reconcile it to the fact he can deliver Caius as well as he does Jonathan. It's incredibly impressive, though once you're listening Joseph truly disappears but when I stop and think about it, it just doesn't work. I just can't wrap my head around it. That *I* could write such an evil character? Yeah I have no trouble making sense of that, LOL =)

Super proud of you and Helsinki Sunrise as well. There's a book that needs to be an audiobook. Hopefully Pelican agrees! I'll look forward to seeing Joseph's likeness turn up in one of your characters. I've already told him there is a character in my sequel that he has very heavily influenced and I can't wait to hear what voice he gives Rathan. But I have to finish the manuscript first!

Lisa Godfrees said...

The audiobook is amazing. Joseph's narration adds such a rich layer to the story. A well read audiobook enhances any story, but with a novel as compelling as Lion, it creates a masterpiece. I'm so glad you had it made into an audiobook. Kudos to both of you! :)

Becke said...

Nancy/Joseph

All I can say is wow! I was intrigued by this process and love to listen to books on tape while driving.

Thank you for sharing this experience and the best of success on this audio release.
b

Sally said...

Nancy, what an amazing blog post! Loved it, learned a lot.

I want to wait a bit before I do audio books because I don't want to have to do the royalty split. Buuuut I just met someone recently who says she doesn't read books; she listens to them. Which surprised me. I just don't do audiobooks at all because it doesn't work with where my family is at. But knowing that some people do all their reading through their ears... I might have to rethink that.

Nancy Kimball said...

Lisa, thank you so much for that. I know how well versed in audiobooks you are so that high praise means so much.

Becke, thank you so much for that and may I just say what a lovely profile picture you have. Best wishes and thank you again.

Joseph Narducci said...

Hello everyone! Joseph Narducci here. Just wanted to say thank you all for the incredible feedback about the narration for Chasing the Lion. I’m truly humbled by your comments and equally honored to be involved. When you have a talented writer like Nancy who knows how to connect from the page to the heart, the performance sort of falls into place. I was moved myself every step of the way. I wish I could have joined in the conversations earlier and responded to such great discussions! I would now but my post would be a novel! So for for the time being, I wanted to chime in and express my gratitude and excitement to be here. God be praised above all!

Nancy Kimball said...

Sally, your debut novel KEPT is a novel that would translate really well to audiobook, when you're ready to take that step and in the deal structure you know is best for you.

It was my great privilege to endorse KEPT along with MaryLu Tyndall, Laura Frantz, Ane Mulligan and Heather Day Gilbert. When you're ready to list it, and there is no such thing as "too late" or "too soon" in my opinion, I will be more than happy to assist any way I can. Best to you and thank you for stopping by. I know (and every author here as well) how hectic life is around a new release. *hugs*

But yes, I am discovering more people who only listen to audiobooks. What I am trying to learn now is how to market, engage, and reach that audience with my work. Lion is already doing very well but realistically a huge part of that is Joseph's performance, strength of cover, and carrying in listeners from my established readership. Marketing audiobooks is more difficult than books, but you know how much I love a challenge. You almost have to if you are going to be an Indie author. ;-)

Sally said...

Thank you, Nancy. :)

Here's a question for everyone. What's the best way to listen to audiobooks? Smartphone? MP3? I'm hearing more people say they just use their phone--that it downloads right away and is ready to go. Is that correct? I'm still living in dumb phone land.

Nancy Kimball said...

Sally, LOL, I'm not sure I'm the most qualified to answer that as I still have my "dumb phone" too. Laughing because that's what I call it also. I listen on my Kindle FIRE HD that have their own earbuds always in my purse. That way I can listen or read in private. My brother puts his to his phone and then the bluetooth in his car. Which I would never know how to do even if my car could do that. Someone I know just plays it from their desktop and ipad, so I think it's just whatever technology fits with the pace of your life. Maybe someone much more tech savvy than me might have other ideas.

Tanya Agler said...

Hi Nancy and Joseph.

Thanks for the information on audiobooks. I am just now starting to listen to them again after having checked out a mystery book on CD from my local library. I used to listen to them more after college when I was driving around the state going on job interviews, but I'm enjoying this audiobook. Just as I enjoyed reading about the business side of production and the narrator's view of production. Thanks.

Missy Tippens said...

Nancy, this is SO interesting!! I'm glad you shared the process. I had no idea how much went into it.

And Joseph, thank you so much for being with us as well! I look forward to hearing your work.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Nancy, I know what you mean about thinking of Joseph as part of the team. It is exciting to work so close with someone especially when they bring your work to life in audio. I really enjoyed the process.

And yes about the royalty statements. I know they offer the audios for $1.99 to those who have bought the print book. But how that translates into my royalty is a mystery. I'm sure you could call and ask them. They are pretty cooperative on the phone.

Missy Tippens said...

Nancy, I was with Tina and wondered about all the different voices. It's amazing that Joseph can do it all so well!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Joseph, How great to hear from you also. What an exciting job you have. I am always in awe of hearing a great narration. And I appreciate all the work you need to do. People think you are just reading aloud, but it is more like acting and getting into the heads of the characters. Also there is a lot of technical considerations like sound clarity, etc.

Thanks again for joining us here in Seekerville.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Wow, Joseph stopped by. NICE ITALIAN BOY!!!!

Nancy Kimball said...

Tanya, you're very welcome. Thank you for your kind words and best wishes.

Missy, there is so much time, skill, and meticulous crafting behind the finished audiobook much like in our fiction. You will really enjoy Joseph's narration. I'm convinced he could read the driest of technical manuals and still have his listeners captivated.

Sandra,Joseph is now as integral a part of my publishing team as my crit partners, photographer and graphic designer, and creative consultant. What's more is he welcomed this, and has such a deep understanding of these series characters and their relationship dynamics that I have reached out to him recently for his perspective on a particular scene in book 2 and how the hero responds to the antagonist. His thoughts on this were incredibly helpful and the rest of the Lion Team values him as much as I do. Which is A LOT!

Now, about ACX, they are very cooperative by phone and email and have exemplified some fine customer service the past six months. As long as you don't get them "off the script." I felt I had a perfectly reasonable expectation to see a unit breakdown for the royalty period, which sales channel generated it, and the retail price of the unit prior to the application of the allocation factor. As many times as they assured me my information was accurate, is as many times as I politely said, "Great. Then please show me how it was calculated." After a few weeks of them continually referring me to the terms in the disclosure, with its very broad language I had thought would be addressed when I received my actual royalty statement, and sending me two emails from higher ups that were expressed as confidential information (I mean honestly, since when does the formula to calculate a royalty payment warrant being confidential? The OPPOSITE should be true, as well as the numbers that support it.)

ACX and I are in a draw at present that I withdrew from once they finally said they were not going to provide that information beyond what is given in the "royalty statement." (Term used loosely.) My title is not in the whispersync program and I find no record or means to discount our audiobook with the "coupons, promotions, and discounts" they continually reference that account for about 50% of our full retail price on ALC (a la carte) units.

But I'll tell you beyond their unwillingness to be forward with that information what my bigger issue it. Indie author-hood has spoiled me in the extreme to have real time access to my sales data, customizable by the date range I set and other parameters with the click of a button. So until ACX brings their "royalty statements" to be on par with the industry standards of KDP, Createspace, and others, I will continually voice that they are not so. Even though I still love getting that direct deposit monthly and seeing that units sold grow, and of course that they made my audiobook possible every bit as much as Joseph did.

Nancy Kimball said...

Sandra, Joseph definitely flexes his acting chops in our audiobook. There is one scene in particular that the first time I heard it, I had tears rolling down my face as I listened. I knew I had to share it with my readers right then and did. One of them messaged me back in minutes saying she was crying and in tears and that we needed to hurry up and finish the whole book. That particular five minutes was a very powerful moment in which my hero is confessing a dark, painful part of his past that was responsible for something terrible that happened to her because of him. In that scene my hero is emotionally gutted and transparent, in terror that the truth would drive her from him yet needing her like he needs air to breathe. Joseph, quite simply, rips your heart out in that scene. You hear everything. EVERYTHING. The undertone of shame and fear, the emotion clogging his throat and breathlessness of the tears bleeding into his voice. It's so tragically beautiful it's still really hard to listen to it because I so desperately want to hug my hero in that moment and tell him everything is going to be okay (even though it isn't.)

And then... in a complete 180, I recently listened to some of Joseph's other voice work that he does on a children's ministry program. It's almost comedic, these four forest animals exploring why being friends with those that are different can be good, and the voices and manners of them are so very different from Lion and its characters it just reminds me I really do have one of the best narrators ever.

It has been a blast to get to see the outpouring of praise for Joseph and his work here today, from the Lion fans and those new to his work. Thank you and the Seekers for having us. =)

Nancy Kimball said...

Tina, I know he finally made it! He wanted SO much to be able to spend more time here with us today but his schedule just wouldn't accommodate it. One thing I learned about him over the course of working together is whatever he's working on has his full attention and focus. This made working with him so very easy because I always knew that the quick email to double check the pronunciation of a wine that hasn't existed for two thousand years was as important to him as alerting me to a sometimes hours only delay in the next recording being delivered to me. But I am grateful he got to check in with us, and assure you guys he read and valued every single comment and question. He thrives on feedback as much as great authors do. Thank you again SO much for having us in Seekerville. =)