Blogger/Reader Guidance for Authors/Narrators

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Who is Your Listening Audience?

In May 2017 Karen White (narrator), Michelle Cobb (AudioFile Magazine & Insatiable Press), Viviana Izzo (Enchantress Designs), and I did a panel at RT17 about Where is Your Listening Audience.  This is compilation of the things we talked about and things I have gathered from fellow listeners!

In the panel we discussed the following:

Submitting Review Requests to Bloggers:

  • ALWAYS READ THE BLOGGER’S REVIEW POLICY AND FOLLOW IT!
  • What to include within your request:

Blurb-well written and accurate include genre and sub-genre if possible

Book info (release date, links, etc.)

Author’s info (bio and links)

Narrator’s info (bio and links if available)

Audio Sample

Link to Audiobook Edition

If the blog has reviewed your narrator previously mention that.

  • Time Provided to review

This vary’s from blog to blog but state your expectations. If they don’t fall in that blog’s time frame then it might not be a right fit.

Remember to provide reviewers with sufficient time to listen and then review audiobook.

Remember bloggers are generally unpaid so this is all in their free time.

  • Timing of ARC Availability vs Audio Review Copy Availability. If a reviewer already read the book (and liked it) this might be incentive to listen to it again for audio review.
  • Be polite and don’t get mad if you don’t get a positive review.
  • Thank them for the review by spreading the word especially when you are tagged.

Cost of Audiobooks for Readers/Listeners (things to consider when deciding publishing avenue)

  • Alternative to “buying” audiobooks for listeners

-Renting/Borrowing audiobooks can increase audience so ask “Will I be able to put this in a Library?” “Can I put this on a rental site”

  • Libraries

-Ask for your book to be added to the catalogue or see if your listeners have asked for it in their libraries. Libraries are a great place for readers to stumble on to new favorites. They often will carry that out into the buying world.

  • Amazon WhisperSync

-Readers will often buy both ebook/audiobook instead of one/other if the price is right because it is seamless to switch between the two copies.

  • Audible – Monthly Subscriptions

-Several different plans exist but remind new listeners that their first audiobook is FREE!

Feedback from Readers/Listeners

I did a post What do Readers look for in Narrators and got a ton of great responses including:

Michelle @ FaerieFits
Twitter:

OMG the pacing one is probably one of my biggest pet peeves. I have DNFed more audiobooks because of THAT than anything else. Yeah, you can speed things up, but there are some narrators who take random pauses between the end of a dialog snippet and the “she said” or whatever. Or breaths/pauses at completely inappropriate points in a sentence. Or random pauses between sentences that are CLEARLY in the same paragraph. It makes it sound stilted, and I spend more time thinking about how the pacing is driving me nuts than about the book itself. Not cool.

The dialect thing is a big one too, and I can’t STAND female voices who sound like catty teenagers (unless, of course, there is a catty teenager in the scene).

I also try to pay attention to the tone of the narrator and how that voice fits in with the overall mood of the book. If the narrator has a super pretentious/posh voice, but the author’s writing is super casual, the writing style and narrating style clashing will get under my skin pretty fast. I think that fits under temperament, but thought it would be worth specifically mentioning 🙂

Chrystal
Twitter:

You nailed it! I dislike monotone readings and will stop if I find an audiobook like that. And I dislike music/sound effects – it’s distracting.

I actually really love when they have multiple narrators for different characters, but still enjoy if one narrator can make you feel like you are listening to a few people talking.

Livia

I also listen for a narrator’s ability to 1) match the age of the characters indicated by the synopsis 2) emote and not sound too monotone 3) at least switch tone and cadence as s/he switch character voices even if s/he may not be good at doing authentic regional dialects (I’m not super picky on dialects so getting something close that indicates s/he is trying to make that distinction is fine by me.) 4) have a believable opposite gender voice without sounding too stereotypical and fake (this is super subjective, but it’s a make or break thing for me.)

kimbacaffeinate
Twitter:

All valid points. For audios with multiple or dual narratives, I need them to have the same pacing or voice speed. Nothing makes me crazier than having to slow or increase speed per chapter.

I totally get the sick narrator, had that happen for 4 chapters she was completely nasal. Another awkward one was swallowing. Like hard swallows as she caught her breath. That weird noise should have been edited out. It got so bad, I was listening for it instead of the story.

Yes…no valley girls please unless it is an 80’s story!

One of my greatest fears is that the narrators will change mid-series. I am so anal, and once I begin a series in a format (read or audio) I have to continue that way. The narrator’s voices become those voices. Just like when I read, I create them in my head.

Jennifer
Twitter:

Narrator reading the book – not performing. Boring! Put some life into it or I could just read it to myself.

Accents – I agree 100% with the southern accent thing. So if a character has an accent give them one and the correct one. Don’t make them sound like they are from Jamaica if they are NOT from Jamaica.

Dual Narrators – loving it more and more especially if there is changing POVs but please make them sound like they are in the same room recording. I listened to an audio recently with two of my favorite narrators and I kept being taking out of the story because they sounds spliced. When in fact (narrator told me) they were in the same room recording together.

Changing narrators for a series – doesn’t bug me too much. UF could be the expectation because they follow the same MC through the whole series. There has been a couple of times the change was for the better.

I would has matching the age is a big thing for me. I’ve listened to some narrators (mostly female) who were voicing 20-somethings and sound like they should be voice the MC’s grandma. Not bad performance just not a great fit. I also have a couple of narrators that I like for certain genres. I may like them for contemporary but not for suspense or PNR, etc.

Authors having the same narrator for ALL their books – can be great or bad. A great author/narrator combo is awesome but sometimes I find that the narrator may not work for all the titles the author writes or more like all the MC. I have a hard time moving between series by the same author if the same narrator voices all the books. I can’t keep the characters separate in my head so I have to space them out with other narrators.

I think most of you ladies play with the listening speed where I rarely do. But I’ve found a couple of narrators I really like but need to speed them up so I guess that would go with their pacing.

Jen Twimom
Twitter:

I’ll jump in and say keeping same narrator for a series is important – ESPECIALLY if it’s the same main character, which is primarily UF. I won’t stop listening to a series just because a narrator changes, but keeping a similar sound, pacing, accents, etc. is important. But what really rubbed me wrong was what happened in the Mercy Thompson series with the most recent book… Lorelei King (GODDESS OF AUDIO!) has narrated every book, all parts, all characters, to include most of the current release. What drove me nuts was the introduction of a new, male narrator for Adam’s POVs. Why do that on the 10th book? Ms. King has always been the speaking voice of Adam – so it really threw me off. Plus his pacing was different than hers for me.

When having two narrartors – similar tempo is important. I don’t like having to switch listening speeds each time the narrator changes in a dual POV story.

Having a narrator match the temperament and age, etc. of the character is key. For example, I didn’t really care for Leila’s character in Jeaniene Frost’s Night Prince series; however the narrator nailed the character’s whininess.

Another pet peeve of mine is dub overs – you know what I mean… when it is evident that a section of the text was recorded at a later date and dubbed in. If it happens a couple times in a book, fine, but I’ve listened to books where it happens a lot and it really draws me out of the story b/c I’m listening for when the voice changes just slightly and I can tell it was a redo.

And I prefer “emotional” performances. I can’t stand it when it’s a sex scene (or any heightened emotional scene) and the narrator sounds like s/he is just reading the text. I don’t need “When Harry Met Sally” but some emotion, breathlessness, whatever is needed.

Also – what Melanie says about the narrative voice, especially on changing POVs. I want my narrator voice to change slightly if the POV changes.

If the same performer is used over the course of a book series, please have them keep the unique character voices the same from book to book. I hate when the sound of a character changes between books. But taken one step further, in a romance series where there is a different main character/characters for each title, but they are in more than one book, please keep each voice for each character consistent. I’ve listened to books where the h/h sound the same in every book, even though they are different characters, and may have sounded different in previous titles.

Alexis @ Reflections of a Bookaholic
Twitter:

I love it when narrators have realistic voice changes that allow me to easily tell the difference between characters. I think dialect and realistic accents are imperative. Ultimately, I want a narrator that makes me react to the book as I listen. I have to feel like I’m listening to a play not listening to someone read a book. I know that’s so arbitrary.

Stephanie @ Once Upon a Chapter

I recently quit an audiobook after just 30 minutes of listening. The main character was a 26 year old woman who apparently runs her own business. But she has a gay best friend for life who is her business partner. The narration made her sound like a complete and total airhead. It was horrible. I had to quit.

I like to have voices I can listen to. I like accents but not so thick I can’t understand them. In romances specifically I like to be able to distinguish my male and female leads. And they have to be believable. I have a harder time with male narrators who pitch their voices too high. Some of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher’s books suffer from this and they are some of my favorite books!

Stormi Johnson
Twitter:

Never thought of it in such detail but a lot of what you said I would have to say AMEN too. I know that it’s very important for me to have a narrator sound like a region they are in, have a good pace. Don’t overdo the accents! Not all southerners are southern bells so they don’t all live on a southern plantation nor do they need to sound like it. 🙂

I am not real fond of those with willowy soft voices that read a bit slow and even when I speed them up they are still slow…but on the other hand, I do like a voice that you can speed up and they almost sound the same…not sure what you would call that. 🙂

I don’t always have to have a narrator that changes voices but when they do they better know w hat they are doing. No weird sounding guys or females with a funny high pitch, to me if you cannot do voices it’s best you just don’t try. 🙂

Lover Of Romance

oh I just love this topic!!! I think the number one I look for is the voice. It has to be pleasant and likable and fits the story. I do like it when the narrator can handle change of accents. Another thing I look for is display of emotion. If a narrator can portray the emotions of the characters and the tone of the story—then they are a win for me

Tanya @ Rantings of a Reading Addict
Twitter:

I really don’t like, and I mean REALLY, series narrator changes. Especially if it is a female narrator to a male. I do not care if the book has switched from MC alternating POV to First POV male. It still totally throws me and already puts a strike against the narrator. Not fair of me, I know, but it does. I also do not like the big pauses between chapters. I never know whether it is a chapter change or my app has stopped working. I like for the narrator to put the sound into the emotion, but not so much so that it seems like she’s reading with an excited voice. Do you know what I mean? I like it to sound like the narrator is in the middle of the excitement telling us the story. Immersed, I think that is what I mean. That the narrator be as immersed in what she/he is reading that it all flows as if it is live.

Heidi

A great post. I agree, a good narrator can make or break a book. I love books that get it right and do the male and female voices with different actors instead of one throughout. I hate when you get a male narrator or female narrator that do bad voices for the opposite sex. I have also run across books where you can totally tell the narrator has a cold it drives me nuts!

Melanie Simmons
Twitter:

  • with dual narrators, if they don’t have the same pace. I haven’t had this issue, but I’ve read some reviews where people have to change the speed at which they listen every time the narrator changes.
  • I love when a narrator changes not just the voices of the characters, but where you can also tell the difference between whose POV you’re currently in (when male POV, even the non-dialogue sounds more masculine and female POV is more feminine).
  • I know you mentioned this, but great to point out to publishers again how much having the same narrator stay on with a series. I tend to shy away from series on audio when there is a different narrator for each book (and that does seem to happen a lot, some series that I love are that way and it really brought down the listening experience). I would rather have an okay or average narrator that is consistent than a great one in just one book of a series.

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