We’re so pleased to welcome author Haley Walsh to TNA today to chat a bit about audiobooks and her latest audio release in the Skyler Foxe Mysteries series, Crazy Like a Foxe, available now at Audible.com.
We are in a new digital age for books. Print on demand makes print books more affordable in smaller runs. Digital books or eBooks are cheaper for consumers where hundreds of digital books can be carried around in our pocket or purse by way of our phones or reading devices. And though they aren’t new, audiobooks have now made a resurgence.
They used to be called “books on tape” and were, indeed, an expensive and bulky package of cassette tapes in a giant container. Even CDs of audiobooks were clumsy boxes (after all, most books take nine hours to listen to which required a number of CD disks to do the job). Today, an MP3 file is all inclusive digital ether.
I write the Skyler Foxe Mysteries, a series of books with gay protagonist Skyler Foxe, high school English teacher, who stumbles into murders, and makes it his job—along with the help of his Scooby Gang of friends who were all former hook-ups—to solve crimes. It’s a rom-com series full of humor and heart, with Skyler getting himself into all sorts of funny shenanigans and unlikely circumstances. And I’m lucky enough to have all my audiobooks performed by the celebrated narrator Joel Leslie, who breathes life into the characters and is the perfect match for the character voices I heard in my head.
But getting from book to the perfect narrator can be a tough road. Here’s a few dos and don’ts to make the transition a smooth one.
DO: Examine your options.
- Do you want to narrate it yourself? See below.
- Hire someone? Well, yes. You’ll need to do that. Amazon’s audiobook self-publishing arm, Audio Creation Exchange or ACX, offers several options. With it, you can find a narrator of the right voice to do the job. For nine hours of finished recordings (plus more hours of editing), you will have to pay a narrator/technician. Fees can start you at around $150/hour.
- Go fifty/fifty with royalties. This is the route I went. We each earn 50% of the royalties earned. That is to say, whatever percentage of the royalties are left over after ACX scrapes theirs off the top, you will get half and the narrator would get the other half.
DO: Be picky.
- This is your work we are talking about. Be picky about who narrates. Are they the right gender? (If the story is told through the eyes of a woman, it is best to have a woman narrate, for instance.) Are they the right age? Nothing worse than a story of a youthful hero only to be narrated by a geezer, no matter how good he is. Accents? Make sure you listen to the narrators’ sample recordings. They will also do a sample audition of your work if they are interested, so listen carefully to how they do it.
DON’T: Narrate it yourself.
- Only if you are an accomplished actor and understand how to keep your voice in good shape should you ever attempt this. Do you have the proper digital equipment? Or will your narration sound as if you are performing from inside a tin can? Quality is paramount. If you don’t have the speaking chops or the right equipment, it might be a better idea to leave it to the professionals.
DON’T: Direct the narrator.
- You’re a pro, they’re a pro. I’ve always felt—ever since my days as an art director—that you just let pros do their job. Telling the narrator how to read each line will have them soon saying hasta la vista! It’s okay to have them correct mispronunciations or skipped lines. Or if one particular passage needs perhaps more of this or that, but otherwise, let them do their work. Remember, an audiobook—just like a movie or TV show—is a far different animal from the original source material. The narrator will give it his interpretation. Instead of worrying about it, celebrate the differences.
A good audiobook is the marriage between your finely written prose and a narrator who recognizes that fact and lovingly performs it. Both will lead to a happy sales figure.
Haley Walsh is celebrating her 8th Skyler Foxe Mysteries audiobook, CRAZY LIKE A FOXE, performed by the award-winning narrator, Joel Leslie. If you’d like to find out more about the Skyler Foxe Mystery series, go to SkylerFoxeMysteries.com.
About Crazy Like a Foxe
Skyler Foxe Mysteries: Book Eight
Narrated By: Joel Leslie
Publisher: Foxe Press
Run Time: 8 hours and 36 minutes
Release Date: January 18, 2017
Blurb: High school English teacher Skyler Foxe swears he’s done being an amateur sleuth. Instead, he’d rather concentrate on his career as a teacher and on his hot boyfriend, head football coach Keith Fletcher, who is busy with football practice and an interesting new player that puts Keith in the spotlight for a change. But Skyler encounters a few homegrown surprises of his own, not the least of which is the unwelcome appearance of one of Keith’s old flames. What does he want? And then Skyler is confronted with two shocking bits of news in his own backyard that make him rethink his own future plans, whatever those are. But all that gets put aside when a murder occurs in plain sight at an outdoor concert. Skyler, his Scooby Gang, and even Keith join in to investigate a murder that’s far too close to home.
About the Author
Haley Walsh tried acting, but decided the actor’s life was not for her. Instead, she became a successful graphic designer in Los Angeles, her hometown. After fifteen years of burning money in the ’80s and early ’90s, she retired from the graphics industry and turned her interests toward writing. She became a freelance newspaper reporter, wrote articles for quirky magazines, published award-winning short stories, and now writes an acclaimed gay mystery series, the Skyler Foxe Mysteries. She’s lived all her life in southern California, sampling wines and chomping chocolate. Yeah, it’s a living. Find Haley on Pinterest and on Facebook.