Why writers should be thinking about audio

Audiobooks are booming. Here’s what that means for authors today.

This year Thrillerfest in New York was pretty much about audio for me. I gave a talk on what audio means for writers at Craftfest. Later I was on a panel with some audio industry luminaries and two wonderful audiobook narrators, Therese Plummer and Robin Whitten.

A good time was had by all, and as always, listening to audio professionals, I came away learning lots of useful new stuff. But you know what? Thrillerfest seems to be mainly a convention for people looking to get into the writing business these days. And an awful lot of them didn’t seem to know audio is the most dynamic bit of the business around at the moment, and the only part that is growing at a phenomenal rate.

I was amazed frankly. The books world is looking pretty flaky right now. I came into this business a quarter of a century ago and, while I’m by no means a household name, I’ve done well enough to retire if I felt like it (I don’t — I love writing and never intend to stop). Today, for a variety of reasons, it’s harder than ever to have a financially secure writing career with any longevity. In the future authors will have to be all-round storytellers, able to turn their attention to different media when the opportunity arises, if they’re going to live off their writing skills alone. Audio could make the difference.

So here’s a version of the talk I gave at Thrillerfest, delivered in audio as a podcast because, well, that’s the medium, isn’t it? It’s the first time I’ve tried podcasting and, if everything works, should be available shortly on the usual outlets such as Apple and Spotify.

As an experiment I’ve left the comments open and will try to respond, as time allows, to any queries you have. As for the technical quality of this first stab at podcasting — no apologies. I’m new to all this and it’s my first day on the job. Still learning. And the failings of this first stab illustrate one of the points I make in the talk — producing good audio is hard.

Here, to make things easier, is an illustration of the dialogue tagging example I gave in the talk.

And here, with all its misspellings, is my original PowerPoint file used in New York. Please excuse repetitions and misspellings. It was all done in a hurry and I’m a writer not a presenter.

If you want to understand this medium from the point of view of a professional narrator I highly recommend the audiobook Storyteller: How to be an Audio Book Narrator by Lorelei King. Lorelei is a busy actor in many media but also one of the most prolific and talented audiobook narrators around at the moment.

More podcasts coming shortly, and from Venice where I will be chatting to a couple of fellow writers who live there. Watch this space as they say…

4 replies on “Why writers should be thinking about audio”

I think a lot of new writers aren’t prepared to do any research into writing as a business. They just want someone to tell them how to find the magic bullet to being successful.

Loved the podcast, interesting for readers/listeners as well. I’m one of those that listens to audiobooks during my commute to work, but I also listen on weekends while doing chores around my apartment, doing laundry, etc. Now I’ve been listening to audiobooks on CD in my car prior to Audible, but it is so much easier being able to listen on my tablet or phone. My grandmother was visually impaired later in her life and I remember her receiving these audio cassettes and even vinyl LP’s with books and magazines from the library. But you are absolutely right, no comparison to the wonderful audiobooks of today.

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