- SPECIAL GUEST
AUDIO BOOK PUBLISHER -
Today, I am pleased to introduce a man in the audio book industry. Below, you will see the covers of some of the books Dave has turned into magical audio books, and don't forget to check out his videos.
Welcome, Dave ...
1. WERE YOU A GOOD READER AS A KID?
Hopeless! And really, the same throughout my adult life (with the exception of text books – stuff I HAVE to read). I’ve never felt that joy of curling up with a good book. In the audio publishing game, my customers are all authors, who not only enjoy reading, but are advocates for the written word. I’ve decided to ‘fess up’ to them all from the get-go. It can be an awkward moment, usually accompanied with rather glib responses like “Riiight…”, “Okaaay…” and “Hmmm…”. I guess storytelling (aural learning) is how I engage with and continue to understand my world. That - along with a love of playing and listening to music – made audiobooks a pretty good fit.
2. WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME AN AUDIOBOOK PUBLISHER?
author2audio commenced in September 2017, shortly after I finished an IT contract. At the time, a friend and social media expert, was singing the praises of voice advocate and futurist – Gary Vaynerchuk. “With your music, recording and technology background Dave, why not offer a mobile audiobook recording service?” I couldn’t think of a single objection, and have been enjoying the development of the business and meeting authors across a huge diversity of subject matter ever since.
3. WHY AN AUDIOBOOK PUBLISHER?
Apart from a love of all things audio, there seemed to be two obstacles for authors: 1. Extreme prices and 2. A perception that authors outside the US or UK could not publish and receive royalties from Audible and iTunes. It appears that authors are paying up to a 300% premium for in-studio recording, production and publication. My service is mobile. I come to the author. It avoids costly studio overheads, and at the same time I ensure a high quality, ‘background noise free’ professionally produced recording. Soft furnishings, in a carpeted room with drapes is ideal, so a dining room or home office is perfect. Through my association with an international distributor, the audiobook can be for sale on Audible, iTunes and 20 + other online retail and library outlets within a month. Royalty payments go directly to the author’s PayPal account. So both myths busted!
4. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING AN AUDIOBOOK PUBLISHER?
By far and away the most enjoyable step in the audiobook publication process is recording the author’s narrative. All have been experts in their field, public speakers, podcasters and workshop facilitators. I hear their book once during recording, again during editing and a third time during the final ‘listen through’ after production. It’s a great free education and supports informed blog posts and articles to help the author promote their audiobook. I take lots of notes during the recording process and help the author with pronunciation. There is a huge value in reading the audiobook to an audience (of one) – it brings out the storyteller by encouraging expression, persuasion and enthusiasm.
5. WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT YOUR JOB?
I guess there are two things that challenge me: the constant quest to promote the service and perfecting techniques for reducing breaths in recordings. Although Australian and other non US and UK authors can now easily publish to Audible and iTunes (and get paid!), the last three of four years has seen them ‘park’ their audiobook projects. I want them to know I can help. I’m constantly perfecting techniques for quieting breaths. It’s an optimum, as in not completely removed (which can make you sound like a robot!), and not so loud that you sound like an asthmatic! Gentle breaths allow a warm consistency when listening on headphones or earpieces.
6. WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A PUBLISHER?
I have always been interested in music, and have played drums in and recorded bands since my early twenties. During that same time I have also enjoyed a career in technology, working for computer networking companies and stockbrokers. I guess I found my ‘sweet spot’ by finding right and left brain joy in audio.
7. HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?
I’ve published 10 audiobooks since my business got started in September 2017, so about one per month up to now (June 2018). I have also ventured into podcasting production, author interview recording and audio visual tours.
8. WHAT ARE YOU READING AT THE MOMENT?
‘The armchair guide to property investing (how to retire on $2,000 a week) by Ben Kingsley and Bryce Holdaway. We are scheduled to record the audiobook of same in July 2018.
9. WHAT INSPIRES YOU AS A PUBLISHER?
Again, not being an avid reader, the thought of bringing an audience to listen to an audiobook during their daily commute is very motivating. The largest growth market is young men, who are also voraciously consuming podcasts. I feel a kindred spirit!
10. DO YOU PREFER TO PUBLISH A PARTICULAR GENRE’? WHY?
My authors so far have written business books designed to inform, extend brand awareness and promote their expertise. Although all subject matter is appropriate for the audiobook format, some content is particularly well amplified. The books on business storytelling, voice coaching and executive presentation skills are a particularly good fit. For instance, describing to the listener how to use your diaphragm to project your voice is conveyed infinitely better by vocal expression, rather than text and diagrams! I am looking forward to producing some novels in audio, which have so far eluded me, but I know some wonderful voice actor narrators who can pull off dozens of character voices.
11. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
One of the book publishers I am working with has a great common sense method for getting your book underway. It can be tough to sit down with paper and pen, and ‘go’! An alternative is to pick say, 10 subjects that you can and want to talk about. Record a spiel about each topic straight into the voice recording app on your smart phone. Have each recording transcribed. By the end of the process, you have 10 chapters that are 80% complete and require minimal editing. This technique transitions beautifully to audio, because you have written simply in a conversational and intimate tone.
12. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE PLACE TO WORK?
Being a mobile service, I’m constantly on the move for recording. It’s great to be welcomed into people’s homes, and I enjoy the comfort the author feels by recording in their own space. When it comes to editing, a quiet place is essential. The final ‘listen through’ of the audiobook is probably the most challenging. I’m actively listening to the book for the third time. Despite laying on the couch being a comfortable option, two hour stints with a break sitting at a desk stops me from getting too dozy!
13. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN PUBLISHING A MANUSCRIPT?
It’s all about the author having another publishing format to share their story.
14. WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE ALL TIME AUTHOR. WHY?
Graham Greene. I read ‘The Quiet American’ whilst at school and have never felt so absorbed in a story since. I am fascinated with concepts like social justice, colonial power and belief systems. I love his ‘detached observer’ perspective, where questions of action and involvement resonate with the proposition that ‘no person is an island’.
15. WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A CLIENT?
One of my authors was particularly adamant about recording themselves on their own equipment. The experience was very challenging despite our best intentions, discussions and advice. Recording venues included: a noisy CBD apartment, a bedroom, basement carpark (a short time after beginning, construction works began on the site next door!) and ended with a three day cottage retreat to the mountains among the screeching Galahs. It was mortifying. The editing process took three weeks. After completion of the audiobook, we both reflected on our existential, ‘Sisyphus like’ experience. The author was amazed and delighted with the result, but reflected this was going to be a ‘one time only’! We’ll see whether in fact ‘time does heal all wounds’.
16. WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A CLIENT?
Publishing is a ‘shot gun’ approach to extending your influence and promoting your stories and expertise. You are relying on ‘pulling’ your customer toward you (rather than using a ‘push’ strategy). After a long and involved exchange with a financial services author, discussing these brand benefits, the pitch came to an abrupt halt after a breakeven analysis. “Why would I waste my time and money?” was the author’s closer. It was a good lesson in understanding the difference between an author who derives all their income from book sales, versus a writer who is using their audiobook to promote their professional services, expertise and influence. It’s a big ask’ to have your cake and eat it too’.
17. DO SOME OF YOUR CLIENTS FRUSTRATE YOU?
Not really. There can be a long sales lead time, but this just means making sure you have plenty of irons in the fire (like most businesses). Most are committed to the idea of an audiobook before I first speak to them, so they are more likely to be frustrated with me when I don’t inhibit my sales pitch, when all they want is to just set aside a date for recording!
18. WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU AS A PUBLISHER?
I guess the most important skill in the audiobook game is active listening. I’ve always had an auditory learning preference. It was a great moment of empathy when I discussed this with a sales manager I once knew. He would never make eye contact when chatting, presenting or thinking. Couldn’t help myself and called him on it one day. He said: “I really don’t concentrate very well when gazing at others. Listening is how I learn best!” I realised that I had the same preference, especially when trying to absorb something complex.
19. OTHER THAN PUBLISHING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
Dinner parties, with a few reds getting to know others. My favourite thing! I’m mad for documentaries and love a good biography.
20. DO YOU ALSO WRITE?
It’s a work in progress. I’m working on a do it yourself guide to recording and publishing your audiobook currently. It’s a bit like Doctor’s children always being sick… too busy making audiobooks to find the time to write something that will save me time!
21. ARE SOME MANUSCRIPTS DIFFICULT TO REVIEW? WHY?
The beauty of creating audiobooks is that all the editing has been done previously. Apart from tripping over the occasional complex sentence (which reads fine in your inner voice), authors read their books very well. As you would imagine, it’s much easier to read your own writing.
22. DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
Viewing documentaries and binge watching a Netflix series with my beloved)
23. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
As far as the audiobook business is concerned, I would like to contact as many book publishers as possible and become their preferred supplier. I’m chatting to a publisher in Dubai at the moment, with a view to popping over for a couple of weeks and recording a dozen authors while I am there. There are a few authors in Tasmania who will be done in the same way.
24. DO YOU HAVE MUCH TO DO WITH OTHER PUBLISHERS?
The small number of publishers I have met so far, have found most of their work with self-published authors. It’s great to meet for coffee and a chat at regular intervals. It’s good to get together and discuss publication options for an industry that is changing very rapidly. Some authors are releasing their audiobooks prior to their eBooks and paperbacks. Very disruptive.
25. HOW DO YOU SEE PUBLISHING IN GENERAL? POSITIVE?
Absolutely! My favourite quote for those thinking about publishing a book is: “It’s a business card on steroids!” I feel the greatest challenges for authors is in the promotion of their book and expertise. With self-publishing becoming incredibly popular, you need some way to ‘cut through the noise’. By identifying your target market first, you can leverage your social media with author interviews, blogging, speaking and podcasts – all of which point to your ‘publication triangle’ – paperback, eBook and audiobook.
26. WHAT’S YOUR VIEW ON E-BOOKS AND AUDIOBOOKS VERSUS TRADITIONAL BOOKS.
After participating in an author’s Facebook poll, I realised that most readers still covet the time to curl up with a good book. About 20% were pure audiobook listeners. Others used a combination, in particular those who were travelling (or got car sick). They would resume a paperback on audio during long haul flights or car travel interstate. For aged and disabled folks, where vision is less than perfect, an audiobook with earphones fits the bill. The Google Home’s, Amazon Echo’s and Apple Siri’s of this world are enabling – particularly aged couples – to share their storytelling time (and have a talking calendar with prompts for ‘bin night’ .)
27. IS THERE ANY ONE THING THAT ‘SMACKS YOU IN THE FACE’ AFTER READING A MANUSCRIPT, OR IS IT A COLLECTION OF THINGS?
The art of storytelling is ancient - older than spoken language or writing. We are ‘hard wired’ to listen and observe what is going on around us. It’s an evolutionary survival ‘must’. An amazing fMRI experiment concurrently recorded the areas of the brain active in the storyteller and the story listener. It was shown that the listener’s brain was active in the same areas as the storyteller, prior to the forthcoming parts of the tale. This suggests that ‘anticipation’ is a key feature of listening and that comprehension can occur in the future. So stories that engage your imagination are the real ‘page turners’. The reader or listener is urged into wonder, and the author can encourage the reader into their own interpretation of their story. Clever stuff!
DAVE'S YOUTUBE VIDEOS
Clancy's comment: Wow, thank you, Dave. Most interesting. I especially enjoyed your videos, as I'm sure other authors will.