Audiobook Narration for YOUR Book
The time may come when the book you have written is completed and ready to come out into the world. What form(s) would you like to share it in? We tend to think in terms of print. (Of course — it’s what we grew up with, and still the best way to ingest a book visually, if you want to have a more direct, intimate experience of what’s in it.) An E-book offers an additional visual option, providing a different format (and speed) of communication.
And then there are audiobooks.
Audiobooks are not only popular (I have a friend who does almost all her “reading” that way, especially when driving in her car), but they also are the latest iteration of an ancient model that our forebears knew well: the oral tale. Gathering round the fire, a circle of people listen raptly as the teller orates the story. What goes in through the ears rests in us differently than what goes in through the eyes — harkening back to the sounds we heard in the womb. We take the story (or nonfiction material) into us with less intellectual intervention, less criticalness. I’m reminded of a saying I once heard, “The eyes grab but the ears receive.”
AN AUDIOBOOK OF YOUR BOOK
If you have written a book that you would like people to receive deeply — as deeply as you intended when you wrote it — you might consider including an audiobook among the formats that your completed book will take. Whether it is fiction, nonfiction, narrative nonfiction, memoir, or some other genre, a skilled reading aloud can meet your readers (aka, listeners) where they are and take them to where you were when you wrote the final version of your book. It can inform them, enchant them, thrill them, transform them . . . and leave them with an emotional as well as mental experience (perhaps, depending on the content of your book, even a spiritual experience) that may become part of the listener’s ongoing inner life.
There are schools of thought as to who should narrate an audiobook. Some say the author should do it, since he or she knows intimately what is meant, what to emphasize, and so on. There is much merit to this school of thought.
But just as often, the author may not be the best person to narrate the book. The skills involved in writing — even if the book is a page-turner — are a different form of expression than the skills involved in speaking the material. Just because you wrote a thrilling book doesn’t mean you are trained in conveying that thrill in speech. In addition, the technology of making a professional-level recording is not a no-brainer. It involves good recording equipment, a recording space that neither echoes nor muffles the sound, and (especially for beginners) multiple takes — to account for coughs, moments of lapsed attention, flubbed words, hindsight realizations of how it should have gone, and much more. While it certainly is possible to hire a recording engineer-plus-studio and do the multiple takes likely to be needed, it may make more sense — esthetically, commercially, and even financially — to hire a professional audiobook narrator to speak the book of your heart for you.
MY RECOMMENDATION: Sarah Beth Goer
I was fortunate to meet a professional audiobook narrator named Sarah Beth Goer in one of those unexpected, serendipitous ways. We were both taking a small business workshop on business accounting, of all things. The instructor had the habit of asking participants to introduce themselves and their work, and then he wrote down their names and an abbreviated version of their work on the blackboard. So, after my name came the designation, “Books.” And after the name of this young woman who had introduced herself as Sarah Beth Goer was also the designation, “Books.” I knew right away that I wanted to talk with her!
Going up to her at the first opportunity, I introduced myself and asked about her connection to books. She responded warmly and brightly, telling me the salient details of her story: a dedicated professional actress who had studied with a direct disciple of the acting teacher Sanford Meisner, she had chosen to specialize in narrating audiobooks to do a service to authors and publishers, as well as keep her acting chops well sharpened. A few weeks later, we met at a local cafe to discuss how we could be of service to each other. Because by this time, I knew that she could support those of my clients, as well as other interested authors, who were ready to publish their books, if they wanted an audiobook format.
This was exciting! Before meeting Sarah, I hadn’t known anyone who did this work, and so it hadn’t crossed my mind to locate someone who could provide such a service to my clients. Now I did. And so, now I am.
LISTEN FOR YOURSELF
If your book is at the ready-to-publish stage, you may want to consider having an audiobook as one of your formats. If so, I do recommend Sarah Beth Goer. Although I hope that you by now trust my word, you don’t have to take my word for it. Sarah has done a sample narration so that you can receive your own impression of her work.
The following audio clip is from Chapter 6 of Dark Innocence, the first book in Rahima Warren’s trilogy, The Star-Seer’s Prophecy. (Rahima was my book-development client and is a Rose Press author. You can read more about this trilogy on her Rose Press page.) For now, here is all the back-story you’ll need to understand the following narration.
The Back Story:
The scene takes place after the hero, a young man named Kyr, has been sprung from the compound where slaves are kept. (This is a society where an evil, sorcerous despot known as “the Master” has all but destroyed the earlier Goddess culture where people lived cooperatively and harmoniously. Enough generations of enslaved inhabitants of the land of Khailaz have been in existence that for most, slavery is all they know.
However, unbeknownst to him, Kyr has been chosen to be the savior of the land. This was prophesied by the visionary Star-Seer, before her passing. Through an intricate mind-meld with one of the members of a resistance group known as “the Circle, Kyr — a favorite of the Master — was instructed to kill the sorcerer against his will. Enslaved since birth, Kyr had been both victim and perpetrator of acts of violence and abuse under the Master’s sway.
As Chapter 6 begins, members of the Circle have come to rescue Kyr, knowing that he will play an even greater part in the redemption and transformation of the culture, and they treat him with great care. But Kyr doesn’t know about the prophecy and is terrified, believing that no good can come to him from any quarter.
Listen, now, as the story dramatically unfolds.
TO EXPLORE FURTHER—
If you would like to explore having Sarah narrate your book, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll put you in touch.
If you are interested in audiobooks but Sarah's voice doesn't fit your project, she is also available as an audiobook consultant or producer.
And if you carry this desire all the way through to the final product, let me know. I’ll want to let my list know to “listen” for your book!