Digital eBook Building and Formatting

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Turning Your Manuscript into an Audiobook

Recently, while doing some research for a friend, I stumbled upon a lady who makes professional-quality audiobooks. My first thought was that my clients, as well as my author friends, really need to consider making audiobook conversions of their manuscripts, as I’m a huge fan of audiobooks. I love the process of slipping a CD into my car stereo or hooking up my mp3 player to my car jack and listening to something while I am driving around town or on a road trip. In my family, we listen to audiobooks a lot.  I have J. K. Rowling and Jim Dale to thank for getting us hooked on that format.

To get back to the point, I want to introduce all my readers to Francine, so without further ado, here she is:

Q. Is it difficult to turn a manuscript into an audiobook?

A. No, not really. Books are all about telling a story. Sometimes verbally we have to reword things so they aren’t so complicated to follow, but a good editor can handle that easily.

Q. Are there some genres that should not be attempted as a audiobooks?

A. LOL.  Well, anything that is a dry read to begin with probably would be horrible to listen to. A few years ago I was on a road trip. My driving partner LOVED audiobooks. He would check out five or six of them anytime he had to drive a few hours. On this trip he had a book on Darwin, volcanos and shifts in the atmosphere. It wasn’t my cup of tea. I felt after listening to 3 of the 6 or seven CDs that my ears were going to bleed. Afterwards I thought that if the CDs had been edited down, they may have been fascinating to listen to.

Q. If an author wanted to have an audiobook made of his or her manuscript what should they consider?

A.Three things:

1. Finding the right voice for the story. Not every voice is a good fit. It is not a one-size-fits-all format.
2. They should also consider quality of the recording and how it will be duplicated. Those costs can add up.
3. They also need to think about who owns the audio rights and if the voice talent will be given credit on the book.

Q. Are multiple narrators or voices needed for heavily dialogued books?

A. Not necessarily. A good storyteller can handle several changes in mood, characters and emotions. But some authors like the idea of making their story into an old-fashioned radio play. If an author or publisher wishes to do that, (s)he should edit the book so that character parts are easily defined/found.

Q. What steps do you follow to make an audiobook?

A. Well, this sounds silly but after I do a sight read, I go back and read it aloud, breaking lines every time I need to breathe. This way I get the flow. Then I read it again and red-pen changes in character or mood on the printout. Also, since many books take days if not weeks to record, I make a note as to when and under what conditions I am recording so I can get the same dead-air background noise consistently throughout the story.

Q. After an audiobook is made, how can an author go about getting it into the mass market? Can anyone upload to

A. Yes, anyone can upload an audiobook to Audible. But just because it is available through Audible doesn’t mean it will sell. As with books on Amazon, both the publisher and author have to market the story.

Q. How many years have you been making books into audiobooks?

A. I started recording back in 1995 after answering an ad to be the voice for a piece of software. My first CD, a collection of four stories, was a little over an hour long and sold through Good Vibrations and Playboy. Since then, I have recorded several hundred stories, mostly for others.

Q. How long does it usually take you to make an audiobook?

A. A lot depends on the content, the number of words and pages, and the tone of the book.  Not the answer you wanted, I know. Truthfully, it can take from several days to several months depending on those things and the number of voices, and that can get really involved if there is music or sound effects involved.

Q. Is there a way that my readers can listen to some of your work or contact you?

A. Email is the best way they can get to me.

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4 thoughts on “Turning Your Manuscript into an Audiobook

  1. Thank you for the great post…this is a new and exciting addition to the ebook world. I look forward to being able to listen to some of my favorite Indie Authors!

    Elizabeth Knightbridge

  2. Great post. I’d never really thought about the audiobook. Everything seems geared towards the ebook, but this is a growth market to consider as well. Thanks.

  3. I love audio books. I can’t wait to try making one for my book. Thanks for the tips.

  4. Pingback: In Praise of Audio | E-BookBuilders

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