Decisions to make when developing an audiobook
1. Does the age of the narrator make a difference? Can a forty-year-old narrate a thirty-year-old main character? Can a thirty-year old narrate a forty-year-old character?
Listen for nuances of voice that can signal older or younger, then decide if the voice can be maintained throughout the book. I like to somewhat match the age of my main character.
2. Would you enjoy listening to this voice for 4 to 12 hours?
My books run between 4 and 8 hours. I know when I look forward to hearing the next recorded chapter that I've chosen the right narrator.
3. Can the narrator upload one chapter at a time either into an app like Dropbox or onto ACX?
This method is less tedious for both the narrator and the author. I've experienced handling one chapter at a time, a batch of chapters at a time or the whole book. The problem with handling the entire book is this. If you find a problem in an early chapter--for instance length of pauses at scene breaks--it's much easier for the narrator to adjust it in the next chapters. If, for example, you like the audition and the first fifteen minutes but then the narrator speeds up for the rest of the book, he or she can't edit that.
4. Do you want a performance or a narration?
With a performance, you will hear a distinct change in voice for each character. My narrators Johnny Peppers (Toys And Baby Wishes) and Jeff Bower (Wish On The Moon) do this beautifully. With a narration, the reader reads the book, maybe with light inflection changes. My narrator Leslie Ellis (Always Devoted) is expert at this.
5. Do you care about deadlines?
If the book has a stipend, the project must be completed in 60 days. Otherwise, you can set your dates for the fifteen minutes and then the completed date. All of the narrators I've worked with have been professional about meeting their deadlines. Just remember you need time to listen and give feedback before final approval. If a stipend is not involved, it doesn't matter. You and the narrator can push the final approval to a later date.
6. Do you want the same cover on your audiobook as your ebook?
Even if you do, it will have to be re-sized into a square (2400 x 2400 pixels)
7. Do you want to share royalties 50-50 or pay a narrator for production hours outright?
I've done both. When I couldn't find a voice I liked to do the 50-50 share, I went to pay per production hour narrators. I paid from between $100 to $225 a finished hour. But a higher fee doesn't always mean better quality. Be sure about the voice and quality of his or her technical skills before beginning.
All of these decisions are part of audiobook development. It helps the process if you're prepared for the decisions you have to make.
©2014 Karen Rose Smith
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