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Anyone have any thoughts on it?  I'm going to do something with audio books in 2013, but haven't decided which way to go yet.
 

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Some authors read their work beautifully--Neil Gaiman, for example. Others--Madeleine L'Engle comes to mind, bless her--do not. It depends on the author's reading ability and voice. I'm reading my main series, I'm farming the others out via ACX.
 

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My books are not yet available in audio format.

However, I am an avid listener of audio books and the point I would make is that the correct choice of narrator is paramount. Like many who listen to audio books I am conditioned to quality narration by excellent narrators such as Gordon Griffin, Penelope Keith, Stephen Fry, Christopher Lee, John Gielgud and other masters. Consequently, I cannot and will not listen to books narrated by people who are not of a high standard.
 

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Neil Gaiman has done at least one of his own audio books.  It just turned out to be a talent he has in addition to writing books.

I've also listened to A Lot of audio books. It is an art form similar to acting on a stage. It is an intense talent to be able to believably convey different characters (male and female) without breaking the audience's suspension of disbelief.  Unless you turn out to be unusually gifted in that area, I would highly not recommend you do your own audio.
 

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Yes, I'm doing the VO for my own books. COMPLETE KITTEN CARE is already live and I'll be voicing several others of the nonfiction titles this year. The thriller LOST AND FOUND hasn't yet gone live but should shortly. In another life I'm a stage actor.  ;D

Nonfiction is pretty straightforward. And that can work well for authors because after all, YOU are the expert and readers may indeed want to hear it in your voice.

But fiction can be quite a challenge as others have said, using multiple character voices. I agree that especially for fiction it's best to go with a pro (unless you ARE a pro!). Because it's not just the reading. The equipment ain't cheap, and there's a skill to editing and mastering. It's also time that you could instead spend writing.  ::)
 

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I'm with Amy. For non-fiction, you actually want the author to read it since he/she's the expert. For fiction, you don't want to hear the author -- you want to hear the character. So if the author is trained as an actor and can become the character flawlessly, then sure. But most of us haven't progressed much beyond the middle-school-play level of acting. ;)
 

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I've bought some of Stephen King's author read audiobooks before and they were awesome. He's often better than the professionals though he says otherwise.
 

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I have limited experience on the audio book consumer side, but how do the pros mentioned in one of the comments do 'the other voices'?
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If you want to experience a range of readers, check out librivox.org and download some (free) titles. The tale of two cities has one reader (Paul Adams, with an English accent) that is really great. http://librivox.org/a-tale-of-two-cities-by-charles-dickens-2/
I've done cross-state trips with kids listening to Old Mother West Wind books I've gotten from librivox, a great resource.
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As for software, check out the liveDVD ubuntustudio.org (you can run the whole thing off a dvd and save data to a usb flash drive), audacity is a good mixing program on there (runs on windows too, I think), but you can run the base audio through some filters for atmosphere, and add scary-music tracks (whispering wind sounds perhaps).
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Question for the romance market readers/listeners here .. is it better to have a male voice read the story or a female voice (to match the POV)?
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Second question .. Are there any data sources that show what audio sales can be for a book? Does it make sense to put a book on audio or go write the next book?
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jvin248 said:
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I have limited experience on the audio book consumer side, but how do the pros mentioned in one of the comments do 'the other voices'?
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If you want to experience a range of readers, check out librivox.org and download some (free) titles. The tale of two cities has one reader (Paul Adams, with an English accent) that is really great. http://librivox.org/a-tale-of-two-cities-by-charles-dickens-2/
I've done cross-state trips with kids listening to Old Mother West Wind books I've gotten from librivox, a great resource.
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It is uncanny the way a good narrator can switch from one character's voice to another. Sometimes they use a change in pitch, sometimes different pacing. The changes are often quite subtle. I often wonder how the narrators are able to maintain a unique voice for each character without getting them mixed up. Sometimes the characters have different accents and to listen to a master effortlessly switch from one accent to another is a joy. In general, I find male narrators are able to portray female characters better than female narrators are able to portray male characters. One exception to that is Maggie Mash who does the male characters very well, and I am sure there are other exceptions.

I have tried several of librivox.org books and have yet to find a quality narrator so I would not use them as a benchmark for audio book narrators. (I am sure there are exceptions and I will check out the ones you mentioned.)
 

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jvin248 said:
Question for the romance market readers/listeners here .. is it better to have a male voice read the story or a female voice (to match the POV)?
Well, actually if it's romance then most likely you have both POVs (hero and heroine). There are some 1st person POV romances, but most 1st person POVs are strong romantic elements, rather than actually romance.

But to answer your question, I generally much prefer a female narrator for a romance audiobook simply because when I'm reading I tend to put myself into the heroine's shoes, or at least to put myself into the role of the heroine's best friend (and the heroine is telling me the story). The exception is romantic suspense -- I don't mind a male narrator there.
 

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If you look on the stuff at Podiobooks, the majority of it is author-read, and a lot of the authors are excellent at it (obviously, it's a spectrum, with everything else), but a lot have professional set-ups, or at least a decent soundproof closet. :)
 

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I have bought both fiction and non-fiction titles in audiobooks, and I don't agree that authors must narrate non-fiction.  You need a solid narrator to give the right pauses and emphasis, for an engaging narration.

In my opinion, non-fiction audio is a slippery slope.  Some books are awesome.  I was researching for my book and bought a pop psychology book, which was great as an audio book.  However, another heavier piece of non-fiction was a waste of money.  It was better read in print to absorb the points made.

Fiction is better read as an audiobook, however, you need to have a trained narrator, someone with radio experience may be?  You need to make the characters come alive, or else you'll be boring your audience.
 

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JB Rowley said:
...I have tried several of librivox.org books and have yet to find a quality narrator so I would not use them as a benchmark for audio book narrators. (I am sure there are exceptions and I will check out the ones you mentioned.)
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Sorry .. I meant it as an example of a range of results. Librivox is all done with volunteers donating their reading time. So they record for fun as much as anything. The one I noted on Dicken's was good and I think he did that book like we do freebies on Amazon - get noticed and pull in some followup business. At either the beginning or end of a chapter he says his web site so you can find him.
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Somewhere I saw pictures of a bunch of narrator's sound booths. And most are really like closets as noted. Foam draped walls and a computer system with a good microphone. No toddlers screaming in the background :)
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I found the link I was thinking of:
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3S8N2s3L4mQ
a little humor (couldn't find a better 'sound' copy though)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imwl0Be0Y38
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This shows an intro to getting into that business (also the strip of related videos on the side show more equipment etc).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v89kTfJaykQ
If someone wanted into this business and priced it right, doing novels could be a great start and a large number of clients easy via KBs.
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I suspect many of them are set up for short items (commercials) rather than longer novel-length projects - for pricing.
Which reminded me of this site https://voicebunny.com/ .. I didn't get a quote back from them on my novel query last summer, I think because they didn't want to tell me it would be a zillion dollars...
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I've recorded a couple chapters of my SF novel, but I'm leaning towards finding a voice actor to read for me. I don't read with enough feeling. Maybe in the new year I'll look into it. If you read well out loud, with varying tones and inflections and so forth, go for it! I like hearing a book read by its author best, providing the author doesn't sound flat and bored like I do. haha
 

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https://librivox.org/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=33439&sid=4c1031c88a860902d1c0c3db735eba84
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The link above is the librivox.org's forum listing the "how to's" to get the best audio of your reading. Including sound reduction, fixing sections (splicing in repairs), and more.
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I did a sample chapter of one of my books and after messing with noise elimination, centering the sound channel, a touch of reverb/echo/"presence" and it actually sounded better than I expected. The raw version (typical "I hate listening to myself") compared to the enhanced version made me feel like a radio announcer. And that was just playing around before I tracked down the librivox founder and he pointed me to the forum section where I dug up the link. Watching a few of their hints and I might try one of my short stories as an audio book.
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