Blog Archive

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Putting Together an Audio Book, Interview with JM Surra

I understand you are doing an audio version of your book, Angels and Their Hourglasses. Tell me about the process. Are you using commercial grade recording equipment for this?
I’m using a Yeti Blue microphone, and yes, it’s a professional model which I bought at a musical specialty store like Sam Ash. It’s as good as a microphone gets. I record directly onto my computer using a program called Audacity, which can be found online.

It’s a big job. I’m no professional recording technician, and I have to do my own editing. It’s slow going for me. Add into the mix my propensity to mumble when I talk (mumbling = retakes), and it takes me twenty to thirty hours for every finished hour of recording. The completed audio book will be an estimated ten or eleven hours long.

How many CD’s will that end up being?
Audio Book CDs provide just about an hour and five or six minutes per disk, so this book will take about the same number of CDs. Figuring that there are ten hours, that extra 6 minutes over the course of that many CDs will use up an hour, so it should be ten or eleven CDs..

Are they also done like POD?
Though my books are available through Amazon as a POD, I also had a large shipment of about a hundred books sent to me. I use those books for gifts to people who played a special role in helping me to complete my book. I also send them out to the newspaper book reviewers, other authors who might wish to read it.

A well-known author writing a favorable review for you is a big deal, of course. I also keep enough of them around so that I can do a personalized signature on a book and send it out to fans who want that. I've had special bookmarks made that I include with those book as a special gift, because they took the time to ask.

The audio books will be done somewhat differently. There are far fewer reviewers, and most of the folks have already been thanked for their help.

So far I haven't found any places that provide the audio books on demand, at least none where the author can walk away with a few dollars from each sale. So, until I can identify a good source of distribution, I'll be marketing and selling those directly.

How will you set up your initial order for the CD’s?
It will mean having a big run of them done, and I'll store and ship them myself as well. I don't really want to do it that way, but audio books are often sold in places like truck stops, and once you've developed a market to those, you sell them by the half-dozens or dozens. They're smaller and not difficult to handle or pack, so it's not too hard.

What have you discovered in your research to do audio sales?
I still have a lot of research to do on the audio book sales, and I'm hoping that some better options - at least better than what I've described above - will be found. One of my distributors for eBooks - eBookIt - also offers distribution for audio books and says they can provide me with that service, but to date I haven't fully explored that. Too often my research reveals that these distributors charge extra because you didn't record it using their artists or their automated voices.

I'm not opposed to using a "voice" to read my books. I heard Terrence Mann read a Grisham novel, and Terrence is a trained stage actor with an amazing 'voice.' I'd love to have him read mine! But this time, I'm going to take on this challenge and I feel confident that I can prevail. 

As you can usually read excerpts from a book, will you be able to listen to an excerpt from the audio?
I've seen sites where you can do just that - listen to an excerpt. However, I should qualify that by saying that I don't know what sites I'll be using to sell the audio books. I've been researching those aspects as I've been working on the audio book, but my spare time has been gobbled up by the editing and preparations for publishing the paperback.

I think of those commercials with the words “There’s an app for that.” Is there an app for an audio book?
eBookIt has an app that will read your book and it uses an artificial voice. There are choices of men and women, a couple of each. Theirs is about the best. I suppose I could use it, but I'm thinking about how folks might not like it too much. I worry that I'll drive away folks before I ever get them used to me.

That completes our two-part interview with JM Surra. If you would like to learn more about his writing or buy his books, here's a link to do just that. 

No comments:

Post a Comment