Recently, we recorded Stacy Allen’s Expedition Indigo. We loved the book and we loved being able to work so closely with Stacy during production. When the audiobook was completed, we asked Stacy to write a guest post for us about what is like to have your book turned into an audiobook from the author’s perspective.
I was at Bouchercon (the world mystery convention) last November, in Long Beach CA, having lunch with my agent. We were nearing the end of the meal when she casually mentioned “Oh, you got an audio offer.”
WHAT? An audio offer? I was catapulted over the moon with those 6 words! An audio deal! I was so excited. It made me feel like a real author. Real authors had their work on several platforms: eBooks, Print, and Audio. This audio deal made me feel like I had completed the Trinity in publishing.
I wasn’t shy about spreading the word. I was already at a writing/book conference – a reader’s conference – and I told anyone who remotely looked interested. I was so excited to know that an audio company wanted to produce the first in my series.
When I received the contract, I signed it and sent it back to my agent, and made a note of the Publisher, ListenUp Audiobooks. I googled them, and found out they are in Atlanta, and I was thrilled. I reached out to them, and explained I had just signed a contract for EXPEDITION INDIGO, my debut novel, and would they be open to a visit from me?
I heard back from them immediately. Holly, the Public Relations Coordinator, invited me down to the studios, and we worked together to find a time and date that would work for everyone. In the meantime, she sent me some audio auditions and asked for my input on the narrators. I loved all the audition samples, but one stood out. I thought this narrator could be my Riley Cooper, and I did some quick research on Kristin Kalbli. She was prolific, with lots of titles to her name.
The sample I got was about five minutes long, and I was mesmerized. I smiled. I giggled. I cried. Here were my words being brought to life by a professional actor/narrator. It was an extremely emotional moment for me. I tell everyone that it was like experiencing the story for the first time. Even though I wrote it, and re-wrote it, and editing and changed and deleted and added over all the editing rounds, this was a whole new story to me. Hearing Kristin’s beautiful interpretation of my words was so moving. We writers always want to hear from our readers how they felt when they read our work.What passages really spoke to you? What passages confused? Where did you tear up? What made you laugh aloud?
I torture my readers with endless questions. I desperately need validation that what I wrote was entertaining, made them think, amused them, moved them to tears. I want my words to make a difference.
And now I was hearing Kristin narrate a scene between my protagonist, Dr. Riley Cooper, and her mentor, Dr. Peter MacAbee. It is Chapter One, and sets the tone for who Riley is, what the situation at hand is, and both of their personalities. Kristin did a beautiful, beautiful job. When I listened to her narration, it was a fresh, new adventure to me, and it sounded as if she wrote it, because it came out so naturally.
The day finally came when all the stars aligned and my husband, Ron, and I went down to the studios one Friday. We got to meet much of the team at ListenUp. They were so friendly and welcoming, and they made me feel super-special. They all said they often never met their authors, when I asked them that question.
They asked if we wanted to watch an audition. We quickly said, “YES!”
We sat in a sound booth with Kristin, Casey (the Casting Director), and Vinnie (Sound Engineer). I looked up to see my book on the screen! They were auditioning a narrator for other projects, and they were using my book for the audition. It was an amazing gift to watch the audition, and to see Kristin giving tips and clues to the reader in the soundproof booth in front of us. She gave the reader all the clues and the nuances about my book, and really showed how much she knew my characters and my story.
We also got to meet Diane, the Director of Business Development. She was wonderful, and we all talked liked we had known one another for years, not minutes.
I have to say my overall impression was one of awe and gratitude. First, that ListenUp loved the story enough to send a contract offer to my agent. Second, that cared as much as I did about my book. The care they took through every step, the respect they gave me, and the finished product all show what a class act ListenUp Audiobooks is. From the moment I stepped through their doors, I felt as if I was home.
Every single person I met at ListenUp cares. They are professional, but more than that, their focus and drive to make my debut novel into a professional audio book has been one of the best experiences of my professional writing life.
What’s it like to have a professionally produced audiobook? It is an amazing adventure. The final product is so much better than I imagined it would be. I tell people, when they inquire, than on listening, it is like having a movie going in the family room and I run to the kitchen for a beverage. It is an entirely different experience than reading the book.
One of my primary concerns with readers is the foreign phrases I have in my novel. EXPEDITION INDIGO is set primarily in Italy, and my character is an archaeologist who speaks Italian and French (as do I). There are smatterings of both languages through the book, and it was critical to me to have these read in a natural way, because the characters are fluent, and it needed to come across that way. Kristin did a perfect job with the passages.
Thank you, ListenUp. All of you. You have my loyalty forever.