Sunday, June 18, 2017

I've Jumped off the Deep End of Audiobooks and Feel Like I'm Drowning

After hemming and hawing, I’ve taken the first plunge into audiobooks. My publisher will begin to offer audiobooks within the next six months or so, but I decided to start with Rimrider, my self-published YA space opera series, to test the waters and get a feel for the process. I read all the articles I can, but still have no clue what I’m doing. I suspect they were written by people much smarter than me.

I chose ACX since it’s owned by Amazon and is the big dog on campus for audiobooks. They brag on the website that the process is painless. That’s not exactly true, especially for dummies like me who, as I said, haven’t a clue. The pages are set up weird and it’s hard to find specific information. After creating the account and claiming the audio rights for Rimrider, I wrote a short audition script. One section of the ACX website says it should be 1 or 2 pages; another says 2 or 3. I did 2-1/2 and hoped no one got mad. I used different passages in the book to get a feel for the actor’s emotional range. I didn’t find any way on the site to set a time limit to hold an audition. I decided to worry about it later and posted the call.

The producer (in this case, me) can put numerous qualifiers on the audition reading, such as tone, range, or emotion (you can ask for flirty, sheepish, and what the hell is a hip voice?)  My book has characters of different ages and scenes that require a range of emotion, so I only put that I wanted a female voice because it’s a teenage girl’s story. I listed the genre as science fiction/fantasy and posted payment information. I also added more details about the book, characters, (ACX adds your Amazon book description) and what I want for overall tone. My audition pages include a pronunciation guide for the characters and several short phrases that occur in Spanish so I know they’re said correctly. I have no idea how to set qualifiers to find the right narrator, but simply throwing my book up there and crossing my fingers the right person will magically appear seems like a terrible idea. I feel like I’m doing everything wrong.

What are my biggest fears right now?

  • No narrator will want to do my book.

  • Narrators will want my book, but no one’s voice will be right to bring the story to life.

  • I’m doing everything wrong.

I'll post updates as I continue my quest to create a audiobook.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Book Review: Footsteps

Literary pilgrimages around the world from the pages of The New York Times

A writer’s inspiration can come from many things; a person, object, or even a particular location. A special place can sink into your bones, color your thoughts, ooze from your pen (or computer.) Some places are so closely associated with a writer as to be inseparable. Say “Charles Dickens” and you immediately think of Victorian England. How would stories have changed if L. M. Montgomery never lived on Prince Edward Island or if Stephen King settled in Arizona instead of Maine?

Footsteps is a collection of articles from an ongoing series in The New York Times that explores how the physical path a writer takes affects the literary journey. Each one is written by a different person who thoughtfully walks in the footsteps of a favorite author. The result is a collection of delightfully different travel essays. The selected authors are an eclectic mix spread across the globe. Some, such as Mark Twain, are well known, but others such as novelist Orhan Pamuk of Istanbul might be new to the reader. All the essays are charming and written with obvious affection and even a bit of whimsy. In a walking tour to trace fictional Sam Spade’s routes through the real Dashiell Hammett’s San Francisco, the essay’s author came across the following tongue-in-cheek plaque on Burritt Street. “On approximately this spot, Miles Archer, Sam Spade’s partner, was done in by Brigid O’Shaughnessy.” There is no mention of the Maltese Falcon or that Sam, Miles, and Brigid never existed.

Many of the essays hold a surprise or two. Bram Stoker’s inspiration for Dracula’s eerie setting came from the English coastal resort of Whitby and not Transylvania.  H. P. Lovecraft was an early king of creepy and he found his doorway to hell in Providence, Rhode Island. Sometimes the negative affect of a place was more profound than the positive. Alice Munro hated Vancouver, British Columbia, but used her time there to craft memorable stories. Some essays have a dash of bittersweet. Not every writer ended up rich and successful. Many weren’t particularly admirable (Shelley and Bryon were two misogynistic dirtbags), but all had been touched by a place that transformed their writing into glorious words.

I highly recommend Footsteps as both a quirky travel guide and a warm-hearted tribute to writers and their inspiration. I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review.