Audiobooks: Do You Hear What I Hear?

By Kristy Horine

Multi-published Kentucky author, Hallee Bridgeman, looked at audio books for several years before she seriously pursued them. Her first audiobook was published in early 2018, after she had 19 books already in print. Hallee agreed to answer a few questions about her audiobook process.

Q:  How did you know where to begin with audiobooks?

A: I researched through different author social media groups, asked questions, and read articles.

Q:  How did you find your voice artist?

A: I have a unique situation in that my voice artist is a good friend. He has been a voice artist for years, owns a radio station, and was looking at getting into audiobook production about the same time I was looking into getting my books done. I was intentionally seeking out a male artist, so he was my first choice.

Q: Did you have to do all the editing and production yourself or does another company handle that?

A: The voice artist is in charge of all editing and production. I listen to the first draft of recordings while reading along. As I encounter things read wrong, inflections wrong, voices wrong, I provide a detailed list per chapter. The fixing of problems is called “pickups” – when the artist implements all of the pickups, I listen to it all again and make sure the changes were correct.

Q: How much creative input did you have in the process?

A: It’s my book. The artist should want to record it in a way that I envision it in my mind. If he cannot then he isn’t the right voice for me.

Q: Were there any surprises along the way? (Positive or negative)

A: I was surprised at how much my writing has improved after listening to the way the audiobook sounds. I’m way more conscious of overused words and dialogue tags, etc.

Q: If you could do it all over again, would you and why?

A: I definitely would – and I would do it sooner. Right now, it takes hours and hours to produce one book. He is keeping up with my current production, but there are several books written before that he hasn’t had a chance to get to record yet.

Thank you, Hallee, for sharing your wisdom and experience with us! 

In addition to this interview with Hallee, there are multiple resources on audiobooks available to writers. As stewards of the words God has given us, it is wise to find out more about this growing field.

According to author and speaker, Amy Collins, almost 28 percent of the budgets in the top libraries across the US is dedicated to audiobooks. In this video,  Amy takes the time to speak with Richard Rieman, award-winning narrator and director of Audiobook Revolution.

Richard outlines the audiobook process that picks up after the manuscript is complete. This includes:

  • Recording (self-narrated by author or narrated by a professional)
  • Editing (making changes to inflection, pronunciation, etc)
  • Mastering (putting all the cleaned up audio files together into one cohesive form)
  • Uploading files to an audiobook platform.

Richard advises that authors understand the audiobook process takes time. The average narration rate, he says, is 9,300 words per hour. This means that a 90,000 word book can take upwards of ten hours just to record. The entire process could take ninety days or more.

But Hallee and Richard would probably both agree that audiobooks are the wave of the future. It’s a sentiment that podcaster and author, Thomas Umstattd, Jr, repeats in this audiopost  from the Christian Publishing Show. Thomas takes listeners on a history of the oral tradition, the popularity and forecast for both podcasts and audiobooks, and encourages writers to begin the audio process now.

As a writer, are you are headed in the traditional direction of publishing, going indie with self-publishing, or braving the auditory waters of audiobook publishing? If so, we at Inspired Prompt invite you to look back over May’s posts. Visit as often as you’d like, or need. We pray your stay has been an inspiring one.

Click to Tweet: Multi-published Kentucky author, Hallee Bridgeman, looked at audio books for several years before she seriously pursued them. Find out what Hallee and others have learned about #audiobooks: Do You Hear What I Hear via @InspiredPrompt

3 Questions Wednesday with Ginny Cruz

ginnyGood morning! It is my pleasure to welcome award winning author Ginny Cruz to the Inspired Prompt.

Good morning, Ginny.  Let’s get started!

Who is your favorite author?

Ginny: My favorite author is Jean Auel. I’ve read many authors and this is a hard question to answer; however, I think it’s Jean. When I discovered her, she had just completed Clan of the Cave Bear, the first book in her Earth’s Children series. It was agony waiting the years between each book, but well worth the wait.

I love finding a new favorite to add to my old favorites! 

If you could write about anyone or anything, fiction or nonfiction, who or what would you write about?

Ginny:  Ever since childhood, I’ve wanted to take a months-long cross-country trip and write about it. As a child, I devoured the Little House on the Prairie books and dreamed of being Laura, riding in the covered wagon across the plains. As an adult, I read and reread, Peter Jenkins’ book, A Walk Across America. Maybe it’s just my wanderlust leading me to see what’s on the other side of the hill.

I love this idea!

If you could spend time with a character from your book or another book who would it be? And what would you do during the day?

Ginny:  Again, I think I’d climb in the back of that covered wagon with Laura Ingalls and head west. We’d smell the grass lands and hear the mourning doves. Ma would cook up biscuits and bacon on the campfire and Pa would play his fiddle before bed. And, somewhere down the trail, we’d find a perfect place to build a cabin.

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Sounds like a wonderful day!  Ginny, we’re so glad you stopped by to visit. Come back soon…

Click to Tweet: Ginny Cruz talks about her books and writing today on Inspired Prompt @InspiredPrompt  #giveaway #childrensauthor #Southernfiction #Christian

Readers, Ginny is giving away one FREE autographed copy of  Mud Holes and Magnolias to one person who leaves a comment!


Mud Holes and Magnolias

unnamedMama’s family loved telling stories, especially on each other. As a child, I heard Mama and her family tell these old tales over and over. As a result, they’ve never left me. Over the years, as life dealt trials and difficulties, I’ve recalled these stories. And there, tucked away in the recesses of my memory, God showed me some lessons on faith. In this book, I’ve shared those lessons with you.


ginny

Ginny Cruz is a pediatric physical therapist and award-winning Christian author. Born and raised in Mississippi to a family of preachers, teachers, and builders, she knows a good story, a moral lesson, and a solid foundation when she sees one. Whether teaching moms how to help their children or composing a devotion, her Southern roots show. Her latest book, Mud Holes and Magnolias: Lessons on Faith from Mama’s Stories pays tribute to her spiritual heritage. More about Ginny at www.ginnycruz.com

The Growing Trend of Audiobooks

By Cammi Woodall

We have come full circle. Humankind’s rich story telling tradition started with nomads huddled around a campfire, listening to the elders spin tales and lore. We graduated to words written on animal skins, papyrus, clay tablets, paper, and even a digital screen. Now, with the popularity of audiobooks, the spoken story is once again skyrocketing in popularity. With sales in 2017 reaching multi-billions of dollars, oral story telling has once again become the norm.

Audiobooks started out as a reading alternative for the visually impaired. In the early 1930’s, the American Foundation for the Blind and the Library of Congress joined to create vinyl records. Now the blind could enjoy works by William Shakespeare, Helen Keller, and Edgar Allen Poe, along with selections from the Bible and the Declaration of Independence. These early recordings were about fifteen minutes long per side. To help with distribution, the United States Postal Service agreed to send ‘talking books’ free of charge through the mail. This allowed people across the nation to benefit and enjoy literature with ease.

From vinyl records, the recordings graduated to cassette tapes. During the 1970s, most audiobooks were abridged books produced for the visually impaired, but companies began to see other opportunities for a wider customer range. Professional voice actors were hired and studios were opened to produce better quality recordings. By the 1980s, new technology allowed twice as much recording on a single cassette. This allowed unabridged versions of classics and best-sellers. Audiobooks became more mainstream and available through such places as Time-Life or the Book-of-the-Month club. Soon CDs became the standard as technology marched forward.

In 1997, Audible.com (pre-Amazon) introduced the ‘Audible Player’, a mass-market digital media player dedicated solely for audiobooks. Retailing for $200, the device held two hours of audio. Up to this time, people were limited by the physicality of cassettes and CDs. You had to go to a library or bookstore to get one, or wait for one to come through the mail. Digital downloads meant you could get a book anywhere and anytime you could get online.

Then Amazon came along and bought Audible. The two companies combined to become the biggest seller of audible downloads. On the chase behind them is Apple iTunes, Google Play, and Japanese-based Rakuten. Healthy competition benefits the readers – I mean, listeners – of audiobooks. More titles are released each year, with publishers pouring over backlogs or asking authors for original works.

So who listens to audiobooks, and where do they listen to them? Simply put, everybody listens everywhere. Approximately 54% of listeners are 18 to 44 years of age. They read or listen to 15 books per year on average, with the most popular categories being suspense/thriller, romance, and science fiction. At home and in the car are the most common places to listen, usually on a Smartphone.

Audiobooks have achieved sales increases in the double digits for the last six years. With advances in technology, these numbers are expected to keep growing over the next few years. So what does this mean for an author? New avenues for your stories. Today’s technology means we no longer have to rely upon traditional brick-and-mortar publishing houses.

Those nomads around the campfire would be overwhelmed by the technology we have to access information and entertainment. I think they would be glad however, that we have returned to the voice, to a tale enriched by the human emotions and nuances that bring a story to life.

 

Prompt – She jumped as she heard the crashing sound behind her. Pulling out her earbuds, she spun around.

Dreams Deferred by June Foster

june-foster-LR-1Today we’d like to welcome multi-published author, June Foster, to the Inspired Prompt blog.

Glad you could join us, June! Tell us a little about yourself.

June:  I am a mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. When God called me to write Christian romance, I asked Him, “Are you sure, Lord? You know how old I am.” But He confirmed my calling many times. I enjoy traveling in our RV with my husband and visiting kids and grandkids. When I’m not writing, I love to read my Bible, workout, and act like a tourist in the various destinations where we travel.

What do you love most about the writing process?

June:  Though I consider myself a plotter rather than a pantster, I love it when my characters tell me things about themselves I hadn’t imagined. I love the way ideas tend to flow at times and help fill my pages more creatively than what I’d first thought.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

June:  None. It surprises me every time I think about it. God knew I needed to be on the fast track to publication. I started writing in 2010, and I now have nineteen published novels as well as a devotional. That doesn’t count a few short stories that are also published.

If you could give advice to your younger writing self, what would it be?

June:  Trust God more. Don’t take it personally when you receive rejections from publishers and agents. Don’t compare yourself with others.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

June: The answer relates to question 4. It is so easy to take rejections personally causing you to doubt your calling or your ability to write. The publishing market is fierce. It is next to impossible to become another Jerry Jenkins or Karen Kingsbury, and there are many, many talented authors out there. Just because you don’t get the contract you wanted, it’s easy to say I quit. Avoid the temptation to give up.

What does literary success look like to you?

June: Success of any kind is finishing what God asks of you in His strength. At the end of the day, if you can say I followed the Lord’s leading in accomplishing His purpose, then that’s success.

 

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Future Projects or WIP you can talk about?

June: I have a contract for another book to be published around Christmas time. I plan to write a light hearted story about a veterinarian who works for his father’s chain of clinics that cater to pets of wealthy owners. He’s fed up and leaves the practice to take a job as a veterinarian tech in a clinic in the northern part of the state. My heroine, nicknamed Cookie, owns a bakery but is struggling financially. When she brings her beloved lab into the animal clinic, the vet is gone, but somehow the tech knows exactly what to do and saves her poor pooche who ate macadamia nuts.

Thanks, June, for stopping by and sharing with us today!


Dreams Deferred

Dreams DeferredFrances Matthew Hall is obedient to family tradition: all firstborn sons will serve as a priest. Now Matt officiates at St. Aloysius Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas. But when on Easter Sunday, he notices a beautiful young woman who takes his breath away, he must fight against his attraction to her or leave the priesthood and alienate his entire family.

Mary Louise Graham is a middle school teacher and devout catholic. Yet no amount of service to the community can ease the heavy load of guilt she carries. God can never forgive her unspeakable mistake. But when Father Matt tells her about a forgiving God through His son Jesus Christ, she’s free. Only thing, the Godly priest now means more to her than he should.

Can two people find their way to each other amidst insurmountable obstacles? Dreams Deferred is inspired by the author’s great grandfather and great grandmother’s story.


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June Foster

June Foster is an award-winning author who began her writing career in an RV roaming around the USA with her husband, Joe. She brags about visiting a location before it becomes the setting in her next contemporary romance or romantic suspense. June’s characters find themselves in precarious circumstances where only God can offer redemption and ultimately freedom. To date June has seen publication of 19 novels and 1 devotional. Find June at junefoster.com.

 

 

Four Tips on Landing and Working with a Traditional Publisher

By Jennifer Hallmark

I stared at the typed manuscript on my desk. It represented over a year of work. Traditional publishing or Indie publishing? Or vanity press? Though I was a newbie, I needed to make a decision. I knew very little about the publishing business. No, scratch that. I knew nothing at all.

I’d been writing my first novel and loving every minute of it. It sang, it soared, it was perfect. (Yes, I can hear you laughing from here)

A person from a vanity press approached me and offered to publish my wonderful 100,000 word work in progress which had no genre, no edits, and no formatting whatsoever. I’d been praying ever since I started writing for God to show me what to do. I was clueless and not ignorant of that fact.

So, when this opportunity presented itself, I went back to prayer. The only words that seemed to resonate inside of me were “Follow the traditional road.” I was a bit sad at the time. I mean, look at what the world was missing by me not putting my novel out there.

*Shaking head.*

What did I know about traditional publishing? Nada. I began to study all the types of publishing, taking online courses, reading writing craft books, and attending writing workshops, groups, and conferences. It didn’t take me long to figure out what a mistake I’d almost made. I kept following the traditional road the best I could and here I am, thirteen years later, about to release my debut, traditionally published novel.

Click to tweet: Four tips on landing and working with a traditional publisher. #publishing #amwriting @Inspiredprompt

If the traditional road is one you’d like to follow, don’t despair. It shouldn’t take you as long as it did me. Let me share four tips that will make a difference in your journey:

  1. Know the publisher. When I first started, I just sent my novels to publisher’s names I liked and gave little thought to what they wanted. I did get some helpful criticism back from several publishers but nothing else. When I finished my novel, Jessie’s Hope, I diligently studied the publisher I had set my sights on, Firefly Southern Fiction. I studied their guidelines until I could say them in my sleep. And I read several books by Firefly.
  2. Get your manuscript edited. Whether you hire a freelance editor, join a critique group, or find a critique partner, get another set of eyes on your work. I ran Jessie’s Hope through a critique group first, then had an editor friend give it a once over. I wanted it to be as polished as I could make it.
  3. Meet said editor or publisher. One way you can meet them is online. You can visit their site, read all their blog posts, and comment until they recognize you. I found out that the Firefly editor, Eva Marie Everson, was going to be at a conference near me and I made plans to go. I made an appointment to meet with her and also took all of her classes. I needed to learn what she was looking for in a more personal way.
  4. Submit your work. Finally, at the conference, I showed her a bit of my work and also explained the trouble I was experiencing in learning deep POV. She ripped my first pages to shreds as she taught me first-hand about deep POV both in our meeting and during class. She asked for a longer submission to be sent to her email and two months later told me the story intrigued her. But I had to first take a chance and submit or I would have never known it had potential.

After the good news, I started snoopy dancing. But then she had one of her beta readers read the full manuscript and tell me all the problems it had. I worked hard over the next two years and resubmitted it in 2017. She accepted the manuscript and on June 17, my dream of being a traditionally published author will come true.

Eleven and a half years after I made the decision to follow this road. I’m sure glad I didn’t know in the beginning how long it would take or I’d have probably given up.

Now which road should you take? Indie publishing has come a long way since I started writing. I believe God understood my lack of patience and desire to see my work in print and the fact that I would regret publishing too soon. He pointed to the traditional road and for me, it was the right one.

I suggest you prayerfully look into both ways of getting your work into print. (I purposely left out the third way. Don’t use a vanity press.) Do some research into both methods. Use my four tips with a publishing house that you feel a connection to and see what happens. You never know until you take that step.

In leiu of a writing prompt:

Question time. Ask me a question in the comments and I’ll try to answer it or find an answer for you.