Wednesday, November 12, 2014

FROM PAGE TO PERFORMANCE: The Making of an Audiobook

by Guest Blogger Joanne Bischof.

Hi everyone! Joanne Bischof here, and it’s my joy to give you a bit of a peek into the process of a print book being turned into an audiobook production. For my upcoming novella, This Quiet Sky, I’ve had the privilege of teaming up with narrator Gail Shalan and today, she’s giving us a peek behind the scenes...    

 J: Welcome Gail and thank you for giving us a look into your production process! When you’re considering a project, what factors are important to you in deciding?

G: I look at a few components when deciding on a project:

  1.What is the pay scale and length of the project? I’m a freelance actor as well, and really came about narration as a delightful engagement of my various skills and talents in financial support of my acting career. I tend to work on paid-per-finished-hour rates only, unless a book has exceptional sales and marketing prospects and/or the author has a strong following, in which case I might consider a royalty-share contract or work out a small stipend between the Right’s Holder and myself.

2. Who is the Right’s Holder and what kind of artistic relationship might I develop through producing their book? I prefer to work with an author who likes to collaborate, start a conversation, give good feedback, and one who has enthusiasm for the audio book medium and shows a drive to market not only their book in general, but specifically the audio book version.

3. What is my impression of the manuscript itself? When self-publishing is attainable to virtually anyone, the quality of work can vary strongly (as can the quality of work on the narrator front in an open forum like ACX…. It does work both ways!), so I look into the manuscript with a critical eye. I always read the full manuscript before accepting a contract to make sure that there are no drastic, potentially offensive, turns or surprises. Sometimes a sample text is not always representative of the full body of work. I am mindful of my audience and my own sensibility as an artist. While they are not my words, I do speak them and put my name on the project. For me, there is nothing more offensive than poor editing or a lack thereof.

4. How much do I already have on my plate? Can I feasibly turn this project around in the desired time requested by the Rights Holder at the tiptop level of performance and production value. This is a judgment call I am learning to make with each new project.

J: Wow… so many factors to consider. Now that I’ve listened to the work you do, and with all of our back-and-forth emails, I see now what an extensive undertaking each project and performance really is. Once you have a project on the table, what kind of prep work do you do before recording even begins?

 G: When I am offered a contract, I will read the manuscript head to toe. Here I start to make notes on characters, relationships, places, time period, dialects, pronunciation, etc. Then I will do research; brush up on specific dialects, create an image board of inspiration, listen to similar audio books or films in genre and mood. I’ll touch base with the author to get their notes and ideas. Then I begin highlighting each character’s dialogue in a color-coordinated system, consistent throughout the manuscript. I also make more detailed note of any clues in the text as to pitch, cadence, contrast and dialect for each character. I might make vocal samples of characters too, so I can keep track and make sure each one is distinct from the rest. I try to create a rough production timeline for myself as well. Then I dive into recording the first fifteen-minute sample for the author to listen to.  

J: I’ve been so blessed by Gail’s attention to detail with characters and her openness to my input and even inviting me to send examples, particularly for the hero of the story, Tucker. After we chatted about his different personality traits, Gail was able to hone in on just the kind of sound Tucker might have had which was really fun. Speaking of performances … in what ways does narrating a book differ from acting on stage?

G: In many ways it is a very different form of work, although it employs many of the skills I developed via my classical acting training. The primary similarity is that I am story telling in both situations. The primary difference is that theatre is always a collaborative, social art form and narration can be rather solitary. Even when an author is very involved in the process, communication is still all by email or phone at best; it’s usually just me and all the voices in my head in the studio. It’s just a much more distant connection to your collaborators and audience than theatre is, and even more than film as well. Don’t get me wrong: even though I’m an actor because I’m a social artist, I’ve always loved reading aloud with many funny voices, especially when someone will listen. As an awkward tween, I spent many a day staring up at the ceiling of my bedroom listening to Jim Dale read the Harry Potter series, or Laura Hamilton read Judy Blume, or any fantastical fantasy I could find on audio cassette tape (!!!) at the library that week, wishing I could grow up to do exactly what those people did. So really, I’m living the dream!

J: What a fun memory! That sounds like how my kids are now with their favorite audiobooks. And what a great testimony to growing up and doing something that you love. Now with your own recordings, can you share a little about your studio space?

G: Sure! I have a home studio in a corner of my little apartment in Somerville, MA. I designed and built it myself, and tweak it with every project as I learn more about the technical aspects of recording. Although I’ve done several books, I’ve only been at this for a little over a year, and I’ve moved three times, so every space has very different acoustics and white noise that I must take into account. But basically I have a corner of a room that is in the middle of the house without windows (away from traffic) that I’ve covered with sound absorbing foam. I speak into a portable box also padded with this foam and elevated at the level of my face when I’m sitting on a back free stool. Then I’ve hung a thick canvas to block out any extra noise. Inside the box is my microphone that attaches by USB cable to my Macbook strategically placed outside of my studio to minimize computer fan noise. I use a free recording and editing software called audacity and edit most of my work myself via that program.

 J: Now I’m terribly curious: When working on a project, what are three of your must-haves?
  1. A tall glass of water.
  2. A mug of Throat Coat tea.
  3. A proper night’s sleep.
J: Does each project come together in pretty much the same way, or were there any challenges or unique factors that arose for This Quiet Sky?

 G: We are in the beginning of production with This Quiet Sky, but so far it’s been one of my best experiences yet. The author, Joanne Bischof, is so supportive and communicative. She responds almost immediately if I have a question or when I upload a chapter, with detailed positive and critical feedback. This is a very smooth process, thus far. Every collaborator is slightly different, as is the material we are working with, but This Quiet Sky has been a dream since Joanne contacted me about auditioning for her book. This is my first project where I’ve recorded a book before it’s release in print, so I’m really excited to see how listeners/readers receive the book. 

J: Why thanks! It’s been a fantastic experience for this author! And now out of curiosity, do you have any funny quirks that appear as you work? 

G: Sometimes when I work with dialects, they will pop up in my every day. I just wrapped a workshop of a play with a Midwestern accent and I’m now onto this subtle Southern collection for This Quiet Sky, so while I’ve lived most of my life in New England, friends and family are getting a lilt-y drawl every now and again. My daily vocabulary and syntax can sometimes also reflect the manuscript I spend all day reading and listening to. Again, it’s a very solitary process. And, a lot more knitting and laundry folding get done in my house during the editing process; mindless, noiseless activities that can be put down quickly to make a cut while I listen.

J: So fun! Gail… thank you for joining all of us and for answering my questions today. It’s been a pleasure! I am so blessed to have you narrating This Quiet Sky and I’m so excited for readers and listeners to be able to enjoy your performance. And a very special thank you to Seekerville for being our host!


A question for you readers: What do you think about the process behind an audiobook? Do you have any book-on-tape memories from your own childhood?  Leave a comment and be entered for your choice of a paperback or audiobook copy of This Quiet Sky.

For more on This Quiet Sky you can visit
Joanne's Website
or find it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Audibook - coming this December to Amazon/Audible!


There is nothing extraordinary about 
Tucker O’Shay’s dreams. 

Go to college. Become president. 
Fall in love. 

And pretend like he has 
enough time to get it all done. 

Sixteen-year-old Sarah Miller doesn’t expect anything out of the ordinary when she begins her first day at the one-room-school house in her new hometown of Rocky Knob. But when she meets seventeen-year-old Tucker O’Shay—the boy with the fatal illness who volunteers to tutor her in algebra—she finds herself swept up in a friendship that changes the way she sees the world and a love that changes her life. 

Christy Award-finalist, Joanne Bischof, has a deep passion for Appalachian culture and writing stories that shine light on God's grace and goodness. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her husband and their three children. You can visit her website at


Mary Preston said...

My children had audio books, but I never did. The audio books always came with a tree book to follow along.

Great post thank you.

Cindy W. said...

I had some audio books that we usually listened to when on a long trip. One that comes to mind is The Painted House by John Grisham. When my husband and I were traveling across country from California to Indiana we traveled in separate cars, following each other. We each had a copy of the audiobook and listened along the way so that when we made stops we could discuss it. We were heading back to Indiana to get married. My mom rode with me and it was really hard for me to concentrate while driving. As a passenger it was much easier.

I would love to be in your drawing for a print copy.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Interesting stuff! Ladies, thank you for coming to Seekerville today!

Joanne, what a great concept for a story line. Lovely. And thanks so much for making a soundbite available for us. I've wondered what the finished products would sound like, and if the outcome of increased sales would be worth the investment.

Joanne, can you speak to that, please? Do the number-crunching for us or is it too soon to tell?

Ruth Logan Herne said...


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Cindy W., what an interesting idea! To have a convoy listening separately but together. Love it!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome, Joanne and Gail.

We've had several audio posts of late and I learn something new each time. VERY fascinating.

Once the audiobook is completed can you share your marketing plan?

Tina Radcliffe said...

Good question, Ruthy. Is this a labor of love or really an integral profit margin for the indie author?

Tina Radcliffe said...

PS. I love your cover. So evocative. Who gets the credit?

karenk said...

Love audiobooks...I listen to them all the time in the car.

A wonderful posting :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Mary Hicks said...

Thanks, Joanne and Gail! This is interesting and informative information.

I enjoyed the soundbite. A clean, smooth, easy to listen to voice—one I could cross country with.:-)

I've always enjoyed audio books. I like to listen while I paint. It frees my mind from being so critical and I paint more intuitively.

Wish it worked that way with writing, but I have to have total quiet when I sat down to the keyboard.

Rose said...


Thank you for you insights.

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Joanne and Gail! I found the post on making an audiobook fascinating.

Gail, I'm impressed with the work you do to prepare. And tickled that accents from the books come out of your mouth in your everyday life. I often find myself picking up an accent when I'm talking to someone. Unnerving as I don't do accents well and hope they don't notice.

Joanne, your books sounds terrific, but also somewhat of a tearjerker. I've decided to believe Tucker gets a miracle.


Janet Dean said...

I listened to Frank McCourt's Tis on tape. The cadence and accent helped me create my Irish immigrant heroine.


Joanne Bischof said...

Mary - That's so neat to hear! Happy listening to you and your children. :)

Cindy - That is such a fun story about you and your husband. It's like a book club on the road! Talk about a great way to pass the time!

Ruth - Thank you! And I'm so glad to hear the story sounds like one you might enjoy. Gail so amazingly got the sound bite ready for us this week and that's a great question... this is my first audio book and it's still in the production stage (I just got the last chapters to listen to yesterday! Yay!)but soon, I'll know more about how it works with sales and such.

Joanne Bischof said...

Tina - Thank you! Great question. I'm not sure what the profit margin will be, but what's nice about ACX is that you can either A) pay a narrator up front or B) do royalty share. SO it flexes with your budget. And thanks for your kinds words about the cover. I designed it and it was a huge learning curve as I was brand new to photoshop ;)

Karen - So great to see you hear! And it's fun to hear about your love of audio books.

Mary - Doesn't Gail have a nice voice?! I agree. I could listen to it cross-country too. :) Happy writing to you... and painting!

Joanne Bischof said...

Karen - I'm laughing over my "here/hear" typo. Seeing as we're talking about audio books, I guess we'll let it slide, lol.

Rose - Thank you!

Janet - I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. Gail's work really is impressive. When I get to listen to it, it feels like a treat! And it sounds like you narrate your own books (?) That's neat! And yes, the book is a bit of a tearjerker. Tucker's miracle? I like that. I would definitely say that God has a special one for Tucker in this story. Perhaps a little differently than he might have expected, but one that makes him whole all the same <3

Julie Lessman said...

JOANNE & GAIL ... SOOOO good to have you in Seekerville today, my friends!!

WOW!! I just finished listening to the audio clip and am TOTALLY amazed over a couple of things right off the bat.

1.) How on EARTH did Gail get that Appalachian twang in her sweet voice and then switch masterfully to the stern voice of the headmaster??? Have you taken acting lessons, Gail?

2.) Joanne!! Every single time I read one of your books, or in this case, hear an audio clip, I am blown away at just what an incredible writer you are! I was MESMERIZED, both by your beautiful words and Gail's reading of them. It's a five-minute clip, but I honestly only intended to listen to a minute or two. Uh, nope. You hooked me and reeled me right in, draining every single second out of me of those glorious five minutes. EXCELLENT work, my friend, for both you and Gail!


Julie Lessman said...

JOANNE!!! Just NOW reading the comments and did I read correctly that YOU designed your own cover for This Quiet Sky????

HOLY FREAKIN' COW!! You are one talented lady, my friend, because not only are you a fabulous writer, but apparently an artist too!! I may take exception with God at the Pearly Gates over why He dumped a BOATLOAD of talent on some while I got a boatload of emotions instead. ;


Gail Shalan said...

Hi everyone! Thanks for the sweet and positive feedback. We are wrapping up production work this week so now it's on to the post-production marketing adventure and, thank you Seerkerville, this guest post couldn't have come at a better time!
Joanne has invited me to hop on board with responses, too... So I'll do my best to respond and please don't hesitate to contact me directly with questions. You can find me on or email me at gailshalan22 at gmail dot com

Julie Lessman said...

CINDY, KAREN, AND MARY ... I'm kind of shocked at how many of you listen to audiobooks because I honestly thought it was a blip on the screen of reading statistics, but three out of the comments so far prove me wrong.

So I decided to look at statistics on audio books, and here's what I found:

As of January 2014, some 76% of American adults ages 18 and older said that they read at least one book in the past year. Almost seven in ten adults (69%) read a book in print in the past 12 months, while 28% read an e-book, and 14% listened to an audiobook.

Also, 87% of e-book readers read a print book in the past 12 months, and 29% listened to an audiobook.

WOW ... pretty cool, huh? And it's only going to grow, so get ready to expand your business, Gail!!


Gail Shalan said...

Hi Mary,
Thanks for reading! I don't know about a companion tree book, but have you heard of Whispersync? It allows your computer to sync up an ebook with an audiobook so that you can take in the story via ear, eye, or both! All books produced via ACX have the ability to be Whispersync-ed. Or, grab yourself a copy of both and read as you listen! I'll be giving away a couple copies of the audio version once it's released. Stay tuned!

Lyndee H said...

Joanne and Gail,
Very cool post. I especially like seeing the yellow and blue highlights of what is really read.

I'm dyslexic and so are both of my kids, so auditory is key for our learning. I used audio books as teaching tools for them, but I force myself to read from the page. I should get into audio books because I'd 'read' so much more. I guess I'm really limiting myself! Never thought of it that way.

Gail Shalan said...

Hi Tina,
I'm sure Joanne has some brilliance stored away, as usual... But really marketing for an audiobook is mostly word of mouth, hooking in a following (like the strong one Joanne already has), and getting reviews on Turns out the number of reviews is much more important than the individual ratings. It's probably all very similar to marketing a regular book. Giveaways are great publicity. So are interviews and blog reviews! ACX also has a whole section of their website dedicated to advice on marketing.

Becky said...

The audio book process seems like quite an undertaking! I remember being in elementary school and when we had free time, we could go to the station and put on the huge, heavy headphones and follow along with the story and turn the pages at the BEEP! :) I'd like to be entered for a paperback version :)

Gail Shalan said...

Thanks, karenk! Me, too. Love roadtrips for that reason. Hope you'll take This Quiet Sky on a shorter drive with you!

Jeanne T said...

What fun to read this interview. I LOVE LOVE audiobooks. It was so fun to read your process, Gail. I'd love to learn more about it. :) Reading about how you highlight the text made me remember all the times I've used voices when reading to my boys and read the wrong character's voice (especially with Tolkien's The Hobbit). :) You're brilliant!

Joanne, your book sounds amazing. I am already looking forward to reading it. Loved reading this interview today!

Please put me in for the drawing. Winning the audiobook would be so great. :)

Gail Shalan said...

Hi Mary,
Thanks so much for your sweet words! This will be great for a drive across a little state like my own:) you can find longer titles of mine on audible, Amazon and iTunes. I also am much more productive listening to an audiobook. If I've got a good one, my house is that much cleaner!!

Robin Willson said...

Fascinating. I wonder if I were doing the narrating if I would be able to stay consistent. Obviously you can't record the whole book in one day so you'd have to retain your focus. If I missed it, how do the other characters come into the story? Is it just the one? I think that would be a huge challenge if you're just reading alone without the interaction.
Very interesting. I'd love to hear the finished product!

Gail Shalan said...

Hahaha, thanks Janet! Me, too!! I fall too easily into them, that's the danger. But also a lot of fun when you get into it in a nerdy way like me. ;)

Gail Shalan said...

Thanks, Julie! You're too sweet:). Yes! I have a BFA in Acting from BU and studied classical theatre at LAMDA in London. I've been acting and training professionally since I was about 8 years old and realized that people would take my love of playing make-believe seriously all my life if I called myself "an actor".
I especially love dialects. Both the playfulness and the anatomical phenomenon of studying dialects! I'm a regular Henry Higgins! Lol. My last project was done completely in a British accent;)

Gail Shalan said...

Ha, yes! Thanks, Julie! Let's hope so... It will be the one arena of performance in which that is true:( well, maybe tv as well. But yes! Audiobooks are more popular than ever and also easier than ever to produce!!

Gail Shalan said...

Lyndee, check out my first reply about Whispersync, it might be helpful in bridging that gap! And I find I get a lot more 'reading' done by listening, too. I can multitask that way. Certain books are easier to take in as audio and certain ones on the page.

Joanne Bischof said...

Julie - THANK YOU, my friend, for having us!! This is such a treat to be on Seekerville. If I thought getting the post ready was fun, getting to enjoy all of these comments -- including yours! -- is a blast. Isn't Gail's accent for this great?! That's how I found her in the first place, was searching through accents. I stumbled on her sample and raced to my email to shoot her a note and see if she might audition. And thank you :) I'm so glad you like the cover! Your comment made me laugh. I'm glad God bestowed so many emotions on you. All of us readers of your are grateful!

Gail Shalan said...

Hi, Jeanne! Thanks so much! Please feel free to ask me any thing you'd like. It's a thorough process, but so fun along every step of the way! Katy Kellgren once said at a Q&A I attended, unless you are ready and wanting a marathon, don't narrate audiobooks! Stick to commercial VO. She is so right! Even though it is a source of income, it's such a labour of love. You don't nearly get the pay off you do in other corners of the VO world, unless the pay off is a love for great story telling!

Joanne Bischof said...

Hi Gail! >waves wildly< So fun to see you here!! (and so proud of you!!)

Lyndee - aren't Gail's highlights a good idea!? She marks each character's dialogue a different color to help her along with each different voice as she reads. She switches back and forth so well. That's a great idea - audiobooks for dyslexia. My son is slowly but surely catching up to his reading level in elementary school and in the meantime, audio books have really bridged the gap for us - he gets to listen and enjoy great literature and develop a love of story.

Katrina Epperson said...

Joanne, it sounds like a complicated process. I have never listened to a book on audio. I think I might this winter give it a try. Many years ago my paternal grandmother made a cassette tape of folklore and family stories to give to each of her children. Not long thereafter she passed away so this cassette was a cherished item at our house. Thank you for sharing.

Gail Shalan said...

Hey Robin,
Not quite sure what you are asking, but I think you are referring to the sample and how we only meet Sarah, Tucker, and Mr. Davis? There are a plethora of others introduced along the way. I took clues from the text and Joanne to assign them each a different voice and then used my highlighting system to make sure I spoke as the right one each time. You should definitely give the book a listen! I'll be giving away a couple review copies on my twitter account down the line. Follow @grshalan for updates!

Joanne Bischof said...

Becky - what a fun memory! I think I remember that too! :)

Jeanne - I love hearing about you reading the Hobbit to your boys... with all those voices! As my kiddos get a little eager, I am SO excited to read the LoTR books with them!! And thank you for your kind words about This Quiet Sky. I so hope you enjoy it!

Robin - Gail may hop in with this one, but from my end, it's been fascinating to hear how the different sections that she reads all mesh together so beautifully. Oh and yes, there will be other characters-- and Gail reads them all! :)

Gail Shalan said...

Hehehe, hiiii!!! I opened your email this morning and got so distracted by all the fun on this page that I haven't responded yet, but hello! I'm so proud of YOU! So excited for the paper release of TQS! Can't wait to head what everyone thinks. You have truly woven the most endearing, heart wrenching, sweet little tale! We have a lucky audience:)

Gail Shalan said...

Katrina, so sweet! Stay posted on my twitter ( @grshalan ) for a giveaway of the audio version in December!

Myra Johnson said...

Joanne and Gail, thank you so much for giving us a glimpse into the making of an audiobook! I can't even imagine the hours it must take to study a manuscript, figure out the different voices and inflections, and then put it all together in a recording. Amazing!

Kav said...

Totally fascinating!!!! I don't want to offend Gail, but I had no idea of the background work a narrator did before reading. Honestly, I thought you just opened the book and...well started reading! I'm amazed and impressed that you go to such lengths to find the voices in the story.

I haven't listened to any audiobooks lately, but I used to listen to them a lot back in the cassette tape days. :0 I don't have an ereader so I'd much prefer an audio book to an ebook. Hoping it will become a trend in the ebook self-pub market. I'll definitely be buying this one in December.

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, GAIL ... you said the magic word ... Henry Higgens!!

My Fair Lady is one of my ALL-TIME favorite musicals, not only because of the subject matter with speech dialects, etc., but Henry himself. What a grump, but OH, how I loved him!!


Connie Queen said...

I've only listened to a couple of audio books: Hank the Cow Dog and one by Carol Higgins Clark. At first, it was distracting listening to the different voices until I got into the story.

Gail, you do a terrific job and sounding like the character--heartfelt. Definitely need to store this post away in my keeper file.

Robin Willson said...

Interesting - again! That Gail reads and speaks all of the characters Gail you do a great job! You're very believable.

Debby Giusti said...

So interesting, ladies. Thanks for giving us a behind-the-scenes look at the process.

I'm in awe!

Joanne Bischof said...

Myra - I'm so glad you enjoyed it. And I'm with you... I had no idea the amount of work that went into it!

Kav - It sounds like we are not alone! Truly, isn't it amazing?! What I love so much about what Gail has done with the story, is she truly acts out the emotions and the dialogue in a way that grips me in! I have a hard time turning it off! :)

Joanne Bischof said...

Julie - I am so with you two and Henry Higgens. I LOVE that story!

Connie - thanks for your kind words! I'm the same way, too. It usually takes me a moment to get into the swing of all the different narrators, then I begin to forget that it's all not real. That's one of the marks of a really good one :)

Isn't it interesting, Robin?! And so nice to connect with you on Facebook!

Joanne Bischof said...

Debbie - I am so glad you enjoyed it!

Deanne said...

Wow that's really interesting. I had no idea how involved audio books were.My husband listens to audio books in the car sometimes but it's books for me. Thank you for the interesting post.

The Artist Librarian said...

What a fascinating look into this emerging field! I haven't listened to indie audiobooks yet, but my favorite audiobooks were Brian Jacques' Redwall series. They were full cast and being able to hear the music of the songs and ditties he often included in his work were amazing. Plus, he was the narrator. :) I've also enjoyed Star Wars audiobooks I've borrowed from the library. They often included music and sound effects from the films, so the books had an added "Star Wars" feel besides the unique terminology. There was only one performer/reader, but he did have different voices for the variety of characters.

One thing I have noticed is that several audiobook performers/readers didn't have quite the emotion or feeling I thought they should have for certain scenes. They also enounciated words rather clearly, so it seems like there's a balance between performing and coherence. Is that true, Gail? And if so, how do you approach or keep that balance?

My tablet isn't letting me listen to the excerpt, but I definitely will once I get to my computer. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your process!

Joanne, congrats on your novel and audiobook! What made you want to have an audiobook version of your book?

DebH said...

this is one fascinating post. in my line of work, we have to record and edit narrarators and it is amazing what a professional voice can do. thankfully we have a sound booth - but we also use the Adobe Audition sound editing program that has a WONDERFUL noise reduction filter that takes out unwanted and pesky ambiance noise. i'm a bit spoiled, so i don't think i'd edit as well with the program Gail uses.

very cool to see how different VO actors work. it is a definite talent and gift to bring characters to life via voice. as an animator, i covet beautiful, talented voices.

i cannot listen to the audio sample at work, but I'm excited to go home and take a hear.

Thanks Joanne and Gail!! I don't listen to books on audio that much, but I do have some happy memories tied to them. Perhaps I need to take another peek/listen to that world.

DebH said...

LOVE, love, love Henry Higgins...

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Joanne and Gail, Welcome to Seekerville. I have had two of my books produced in audio and the process turned me on to audio books. I really enjoy them. Its a wonderful way to "read" a book during my busy schedule. I listen while driving, folding clothes, cooking, doing dishes, etc. Makes a better use of time for me.

Thanks for sharing your process. There is definitely more involved than one would imagine.

Enjoy and thanks again for sharing with us in Seekerville.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Gail, I'm so glad you pointed out the importance of reviews. Authors and readers don't realize how they generate sales in the world of Amazon. The more reviews the better.

When I did my audio books, ACX gives the author 25 free books to distribute for reviews. I didn't get that many takers and of all that only about 25% actually wrote reviews. I know it takes time, but makes it pretty easy to post a review.

I sure hope our readers are taking note of this.

Cara Lynn James said...

Very interesting, Joanne! I usually read a book instead of listening to it because I'm more of a visual learner.

Joanne Bischof said...

Deanne - our pleasure! Thanks for stopping by!

The Artist Librarian - Those sound like exciting reads!! Well, I should say "listens". :) I absolutely love audio books, so seeing how others enjoy them too, is so fun. That's a great question. I'll look forward to Gail's thoughts. From my end of things, it was amazing how well she balanced the emotion and the enunciation. There were times that I got chills because of how engaged she was in the scene!

Joanne Bischof said...

Deb - That is so neat to learn about you and your line of work. I'm excited for you to be able to hear Gail's sample. Thanks for your kind words!

Sandra - I'll look forward to checking out your titles on audio. :) And yes, SO true about reviews. They are so key and helpful and can really be done relatively quickly. Those reviews really are a blessing and I truly hope they roll in for Gail and the audio version of This Quiet Sky. (and for your titles!)

Sandy Smith said...

My son loved trains when he was little and we had several train books with audio that were fun. I have never been into listening to audio books although I can imagine they are enjoyable. Please enter me into the drawing for the print version of This Quiet Sky.

bonton said...

Hi, Joanne and Gail!!

I really enjoyed your interesting post!! I am another person who had no idea of all that is involved in the making of an audio book, however, it all sounds entirely necessary for a quality product - which I am sure "This Quiet Sky" will be!!

I didn't listen to any audio books as a child, or know if they were even in existence then (LOL)- when were they created?? Our family has it's own version of an audio book, in a way - an interview with my grandparents, years ago, telling stories from their pasts. What a treasure that is - since they passed away a number of years ago!!

Congrats on "This Quiet Sky", Joanne - I can't wait to read/hear it!! It sounds like such an emotional book and every bit as wonderful as your others!!

My thanks to both Joanne and Gail for their post, beautiful audio excerpt, and comments. I was already aware of Joanne's wonderful talents - it appears you are just as talented in your fields, Gail!!

Please enter me for a written copy of "This Quiet Sky"!!

Shared post!!


bonton said...

P.S. Joanne, congrats - also, on the beautiful cover for "This Quiet Sky"!! I love it!!


Jennifer Rumberger said...

It is always fun to read about the "behind the scenes" stuff. I remember listening to the Disney books on tape when I was young. You could follow along in the book and it would chime when you needed to turn the page. Usually two songs were on the tape as well. Memories! :)

Thanks for the giveaway! Can't wait to read Sarah's story!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Great post. I think I must be crazy to even be contemplating recording my own book! I would sure like to give it a try, though. :)

Marianne Barkman said...

I just finished my very first audio book, written by a favorite author, and fellow Seekervilliger, Sandra Leesmith!!!! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and having just finished it, today's post is so insightful. I wondered how the process was done! Would love to win your book in paperback, no matter how awesome a job the reader does. Thanks.

Joanne Bischof said...

Sandy - those train books sound like something my sons would LOVE!

Bonnie - Your comments never fail to bring me a smile. You are such a dear! You have been such an encourager in my life. I am so excited for you to get to listen the story ever since you and I began chatting about it. And thank you! I'm so glad you like the cover :)

Joanne Bischof said...

Jennifer - It's so great to see you here!! And thank you! I'm excited for you to read Sarah's story too! I had forgotten they had the Disney books on tape. How fun!

Ann - sometimes crazy can be good! I'm sure you'll do a great job and what a fun experience that will be :) Happy reading!

Marianne - so neat that you were able to enjoy an audio book that way :)

Gail Shalan said...

Thanks, Kav! I hope you'll enjoy it. Every process is different based on the material and the narrator's desire for top quality. It helps me to deliver my best performance when I approach a manuscript like a theatre or film script:)

Gail Shalan said...

I'm with you there, Julie! Liza Doolittle is totally one of my dream roles!

Gail Shalan said...

Thanks so much, Connie!! I'll be giving away a few free copies for reviews when the audiobook is released. You can follow me on twitter for updates. @grshalan

Gail Shalan said...

Thanks so much, Robin!!

Gail Shalan said...

Hi there!
Thanks for the follow on twitter:) it's funny you bring up The Star Wars series! Marc Thompson ( narrator) is a bit of a hero of mine... He's amazing!!!! And I'm a big fan of authors who also happen to be talented narrators:) do you listen to Neil Gaiman?
As for your questions... There is a bit of a discrepancy in the audiobook world in regards to portraying character. Some people find lots of character voices distracting, others find they make the story three dimensional. I think it depends on what is being narrated. The bottom line is that we are story tellers, so whatever tools enhance the story, those are the ones I would stick with. Enunciation and pace are always important, but I don't think most character voices ask that those values be compromised. In a colorful or young adult fiction I think that the fun characters written deserve just as much delight in their portrayal, and the setting of a mood can be great as well, and achieved with a subtle dialect like in "This Quiet Sky", where as in a nonfiction or more fact based read, it might be more important that the diction be the main focus and funny voices might indeed be an unwanted distraction. Does that all make sense? What do you think, as a listener?

Gail Shalan said...

Hi Deb,
Thanks for your thoughts! I only use audacity because it is the most effective affordable software I've come across, upgrading to adobe or ProTools is certainly on my to-do list once I start pulling in enough to make those investments. So far this work has been really part time for me, but I just quit my day job to make more room for Voice Over and my first love, Theatre.
What kind of animation do you work on? I've been really eager to get into animation VO. Would you have any tips for me? I'd really appreciate it! Gailshalan22 at gmail dot com

Gail Shalan said...


Gail Shalan said...

Hi Sandra!
Did you know that those codes simply translate to an open credit... For any download?? Since I learned that, I've been gifting review copies of my books instead of simply sending them the codes. Who knows if they even downloaded your audiobook:( it's an uphill battle, but every bit counts!

Gail Shalan said...

Thanks so much, Bonton! I really appreciate it. I'm not sure of the history of the audiobook, but I do have a copy of an old LP from the '60's that was my mum's. It's of a gentleman reading cowboy stories outloud. :)

Gail Shalan said...

No chimes in this one, but there is a song!

Gail Shalan said...

Go for it, Ann! Lots of authors are also very talented narrators like the aforementioned Brian Jacques and Neil Gaiman. One of my favorite performances is an author reading her own book 'The English American'. Give it a listen, it's a great read! Listening, I find, is the best way to become a better narrator. You can also pick up a lot of tips on ACX's website or join the many linkedin and Facebook groups for narrators to find fabulous tips and a very welcoming community!

Pam said...

I'd never really thought about what goes into making an audio book so this was very interesting. My kids and I would sometimes get audio books to listen to in the car when we'd travel. They made the miles seem more enjoyable.
I loved Joanne's Cadence of Grace series so would be quite excited to win a copy of This Quiet Sky. Thanks for the chance.

The Artist Librarian said...

Thanks for answering my question, Gail! I don't remember the audiobooks I was listening to, but it was when I first started listening to audiobooks but the observation of their dictation/enounciation had stuck with me. Neil Gaiman's come up in various classes of mine for a couple of semesters, so I think I ought to check out some of his work soon! I just saw and enjoyed "Stardust" on tv a couple of months ago, so I'm going to read that and Coraline when I get the chance. :)

Marc Thompson is a awesome narrator. I like having various character voices as a reader --the only distracting part for me is sometimes when the narrator is doing the voice of the opposite gender. It's usually much better than your average person would, but I wish that the author or publisher were able to hire and male and female to do the narration (I imagine that's probably cost prohibited). I think that's why I enjoy full cast audiobooks so much, but I'll listen to books and authors I've read whether it's that or a single narrator. :)

Deanna Stevens said...

I didn't realize some narrate from their homes.. I figured they had to go into a studio set up for audiobook.. Interesting.. Please enter me...
I do like audiobooks but I would prefer a paperback please, a book in hand is easier to review :)
thanks, dkstevensne AT outlook .COM