The Audiobook Diaries | Week 11

Remember how we went from Week 5 straight to Week 8 because there was no news? And see how we jumped right to Week 11 now?

Well, things are now happening fast!

See the links above if you want to remind yourself what happened last. If you’d rather catch up from the very beginning, read the audiobook diaries from Week 1!

The Audiobook Diaries | Week 11: Approving the sample and going into production

The Extended Sample

Sunday afternoon, I got this email from Findaway Voices:

The Audiobook Diaries | Week 11 - extended sample notification

*ensue minor freak-out*

My narrator had read and uploaded the entire prologue, and it’s fantastic. I had goosebumps at all the right moments when I listened to it, and I can’t wait to share it with the world!

I listened to it on Monday, and then I slept on it – the last thing I want to make are rash decisions because I got carried away in the excitement!

So, on Tuesday, I started to listen to it again…

and immediately stopped.

The Audiobook Diaries | Week 11 - Production dashboard
The production dashboard once the extended sample has been uploaded

As great as the sample of the prologue is, my main character doesn’t feature in it. Her story – and therefore the overall tone – doesn’t begin until Chapter 1. I felt that, while the prologue was fantastically read, it didn’t really give me an insight into how my narrator would read the rest. The prologue sets everything up, true, and it sets the tone, but my main character isn’t in it, so it didn’t feel like the right example.

I emailed FindawayVoices and asked if it’s possible to get a sample of the first chapter. Now, I understand that this is potentially inconvenient and that they likely do a sample of the first 10-15 minutes, not whatever chapter the author wants (I mean, they’d just have asked right away if that were the case), but I wanted to ask. Just in case.

FindawayVoices got back to me (very fast, as always!) and said that’s perfectly fine – I can request it myself with the handy Request Second Sample button. I thought that was just for revisions on the sample I already had, so lesson learned and sample requested.

My narrator was just as reliable, and had uploaded the new sample by the next day.

This morning, I approved the sample. The production is now officially underway!

How to Review Your Extended Sample

This is daunting when you’ve never done this before and want to provide helpful feedback, but good news! You need not fret, because FindawayVoices sent me guidelines for reviewing the extended sample.

The Audiobook Diaries | Week 11 - how to review your extended sample

They had included a link in the email, and I could find the same link again on the production page. You’ll see both in the pictures above.

If you’re happy (and have hopefully slept on it first instead of rushing your decision) with the sample, you can click the green Approve Sample button.

If you had some issues with it, like your grim murder mystery being read too cheerfully or an accent being wrong, you can add a comment next to the Play button and request another sample of the same chapter.

You get up to two revisions of your sample, so you can make sure that you and your narrator are on the same page before you approve it.

This is not an invitation to show your narrator how it’s done.

It’s your book. It will inevitably sound a certain way in your head, but you need to accept that it will sound another way in your narrator’s head. You’re two different people – they won’t read it exactly like you read it to yourself. This is fine.

Remember that your narrator’s reading is their interpretation of your book. Accents and pronunciations of words you’ve made up are important, but you don’t need to micro-manage every little detail. In fact, you shouldn’t. You’ll only put off your narrator, and that’s not the right way to approach this professional relationship.

Your narrator is just that – a trained professional. They know what they are doing, so trust them to do their thing.

This is an opportunity to communicate with your narrator.

Up until this point, all communications has happened via FindawayVoices, but whatever notes you add to the sample will be seen and answered by your narrator.

I really appreciate the chance to talk to her personally (well, via chat, sort of), and it’s been nice to see that we want the same things.

Mistakes in Your Book

As we all know, no book is perfect. Every book has small errors in them – that’s just the nature of novels. Pick any book off your shelf, and I guarantee there’ll be at least one mistake.

Rise of the Sparrows is my debut novel, and I have put more work into it than the others because of that. When I first published it, I had 12 beta readers and got a professional proofread. When I re-edited it last year, I had the reviews as feedback and the chats about it with good author friends. I got a developmental edit, a line edit, and a proofread. I rewrote everything before I got my editor involved last year, and read over everything again when we were done.

It’s fair to say that we didn’t go easy on this book.

But my narrator still found three mistakes in the first five pages alone.

My first reaction was worry – we can’t have missed those things… so did I upload the wrong versions everywhere? o.o

I checked the extended sample against my version and against the version my editor sent to me last year, and I uploaded the right versions. My 12 betas, critique partners, own rewrites and edits, and my editors developmental edit, line edit, and two proofreads just… missed them.

Friends, that’s normal.

We all want to think that, when we make our books available for sale, they’re flawless, but that’s never the case.

So, if you’re considering getting your own audiobook, be prepared for some surprises–

And don’t forget to fix them in the ebook, paperback, and box set!

Summary

I approved the sample. The production of the full audiobook is now underway! *throws confetti*

What’s Next?

My narrator is hard at work recording the entire book, and she told me that she’s on track to finish by the end of July.

Does that mean we’re done?

No.

Once she has uploaded the chapters, I listen to them and make a note of everything that’s not quite right – mispronunciations, missed words, background noise, etc.

As I mentioned above, things are moving fast now, so I expect I’ll have another update next week!

If you have any questions about this process, leave a comment and I’ll reply asap.


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July Goals | All the Camp NaNo excitement!

Happy JULY, friends and Sparrows!

My burnout is finally over and I feel like myself again, so my to-do list is finally looking a bit more ambitious! I’ll keep this post short so I can get to work *does little ready dance*

Brightened Shadows

I’m thrilled to finally be making good progress with this book. My read-through is well underway and my editor knows it’s coming her way this month!

I loved writing this sequel to my duology, but I’m at a point now where I don’t want to look at it any more. I’m very ready for my editor to do her thing!

The Silence of Magic

I’m so pleased that I’ve chosen this WIP for my NaNo project! I’ve been excited about this book and its intricate world for years, and I can feel it restoring my creative well as I’m writing and plotting. It’s kinda been a blessing so far. I know it won’t last forever, but right now I’ll treasure it.

I’ve set my NaNo goal to 15k to allow for burnout prevention, and I have a feeling I’ll reach it pretty quickly! I’ll need to fill in some world-building details along the way, and that alone is pure rejuvenation for me <3

Blood Wisp

Now, I don’t want to give myself too much to do and fall right back into burnout, but the plan is to return to BLOOD WISP once BRIGHTENED SHADOWS is with my editor. I’m usually editing one book while writing another, so it should be fine.

BUT, if I can feel my burnout returning, I’ll put it back on hold. Right now, I feel fine, but I’m also very aware that a two-month-long burnout is likely to have some lingering effects, so I’ll be careful.

This Blog

See above note about careful burnout prevention…

All being well, I’d like to get back to posting once a week. I’ve got a few ideas for regular posts, so technically I just need to make it happen now. And if you have any ideas for what you’d like to see on an author blog, let me know! I’m all ears.

What have you got planned this month? Share a tea with me and let me know.


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The Audiobook Diaries | Week 8

No, you haven’t missed Weeks 6 and 7. It’s just been quiet, so there’s been nothing to report! I do have a small update today, but first…

If you’re new to my audiobook journey and would like to follow along from the beginning, you can find all updates here. If you’d like to remind yourself what happened last time (it was three weeks ago), you can read Week 5’s entry here.

Because this is such a short update, there won’t be a summary at the end. There’s no need, as you will see. *shrugs*

The Audiobook Diaries | Week 8

Clarification

Earlier this week, I received an email from Findaway Voices. My narrator is pretty much done taking notes and ready to start recording from what I gathered, but she asked me to clarify a few things, such as whether a character at the end will be important in the sequels (this matters because if he is important, she’ll create a voice for him) or how to pronounce the many words I made up, like country names.

Today, I will put together that guide and send it over.

I’ll also include a note to say that the release date I set is very flexible since I didn’t know what I was doing. The last thing I want is for my narrator to stress over a deadline that doesn’t really exist!

And that’s it for this week. See? No summary necessary 🙂

If you have any questions about this process, leave a comment and I’ll reply asap.


For all entries in The Audiobook Diaries, look here.

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June Progress | An Unexpected WIP & #burnoutisabitch

Remember how I mentioned back at the end of May that I had burned out badly? Well, friends, it’s taken me all of June to recover.

Take that as your friendly reminder to look after yourselves <3

I’m not quite there yet, but it’s getting there, and I’ve made self-care a priority. The moment I sense burnout winking at me from the shadows, I take a break – no questions asked, no arguments.

As you can probably imagine, I didn’t get as much done this month as I might have liked, but I’m proud of what I did manage, and I remind myself that burnout is a bitch whenever I feel like it’s not enough.

Brightened Shadows

I’ve gone over all critique partner feedback and have made a note of things to adjust when I read over it again, which I’ll start doing today. I’ve also sent the chapter headings to my editor ahead of the book since some of my critique partners felt they were repetitive. I split opinions there – half thought they were repetitive, half thought they weren’t.

The Rise of the Sparrows Audiobook

I’ve booked my narrator, we’ve signed the contract, and she’s currently reading the book to take notes and prepare herself.

For all other updates and details, please check out The Audiobook Diaries.

The Silence of Magic

Honestly, this was a pleasant surprise to me. Camp NaNo begins tomorrow, and I was in the uncomfortable position of not wanting to work on any of my WIPs. (#burnoutisabitch)

Now, I really like NaNo, and since I’m unlikely to have time for the big event in November, I wanted to at least do both camps. But what to work on? All my WIPs made me feel like I was slipping back into burnout, and that’s the last thing I want!

That’s when I wondered about this idea I’ve had for years. I’ve mentioned it here and there, but I wasn’t expecting to start work on it any time soon.

And yet, the moment I considered it I felt excited.

Friends, I haven’t felt excited in months!

It feels beyond indulgent to work on THE SILENCE OF MAGIC when BLOOD WISP needs so much work and when BRIGHTENED SHADOWS still isn’t with my editor, but I feel good about this. It’ll be nice to work on a book and actually enjoy myself! I’ve been missing this feeling for months, so TSoM will be my NaNo project.

I’ve spend the last few days preparing for it, naming characters and sorting out the backstory that’s responsible for the main plot. I don’t have as many details worked out as I usually would, but that’ll be part of the joy! I’m excited to discover this vast lore-rich world alongside my characters.


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The Audiobook Diaries | Week 5

Not much to report this week! The waiting for uploads has officially begun *throws confetti*

If you’re not up to date on my audiobook’s progress and would like to catch up first, you can find the whole process here.

The Audiobook Diaries | Week 5

Production Notes

As mentioned last week, I got the production notes form late last Thursday. This might sound daunting if it’s your first time, but it’s actually very straightforward. You get instructions and examples with the form, so if you’re not sure what to do, you can just follow those!

The Audiobook Diaries | Week 5 | Production Notes Instructions

In the production notes, you specify things like individual character accents, tones, the pace of the story, the overall feeling you want to achieve, and there’s even room for other notes at the end, so you can make sure your narrator has all the necessary details before they record the extended sample.

Once you’ve filled everything in, you upload the notes to the Audio page for your project. It looks something like this:

The Audiobook Diaries | Week 5 | FindawayVoices Dashboard

I’ve received emails for every bit of progress, but you’ll also be able to see all changes on this dashboard.

One important thing to note is that you need to upload your production notes as a PDF. I tried to upload a .doc and got an error message I didn’t understand (#notechskills) and that disappeared again before I could show my IT SO, so I just tried a PDF and that worked in seconds. It doesn’t mention this when you go to upload it, so I wanted to mention it.

Two Things I Was Confused About

I’m fortunate enough to be enrolled in the Voices Share program, meaning I only pay half and then share my royalties when the audiobook is out instead. It’s not a given that you’ll be accepted – anyone can choose it, but if you don’t have the social proof and haven’t sold enough copies (I don’t know what that magic number is), you might not be accepted.

For some reason, I got it into my head that I had to pay half up front – as in, before my narrator starts recording.

I’ve emailed them – possibly twice, bless their patient souls – and they have confirmed that I won’t pay anything until we’re ready to publish the audiobook.

So, if you also want to apply for the Voices Share program:

You pay half once the audiobook is ready to be published, not before the recording starts.

Not sure where I got that idea from, but I wanted to clarify it in case other people get confused as easily as I do *nervous laugh*

The other thing I emailed them about was the fee in the contract. As I’ve said above, Voices Share means I pay half plus I’ll share my royalties, but the fee included in the contract was the full fee.

FindawayVoices, as always, responded very quickly to my call for help and explained that everything is fine, this is normal, and as long as it states in the contract that I’m enrolled in the Voices Share program, I won’t pay the full amount.

All good, kittens.

I firmly believe that narrators should absolutely be paid what they’re worth. But as someone who doesn’t have a lot of money to spare right now, having to pay twice as much as I expected could have been disastrous for me. So, I’m grateful they replied so quickly and put my worries to rest.

Summary:

  • I’ve uploaded my production notes (this needs to be a PDF!) and am awaiting the extended sample.
  • In the Voices Share program, you pay half once the audiobook is ready to be published, not before the recording begins.
  • If you got into the Voices Share program, the contract will still state the narrator’s full hourly fee. This is normal. As long as the contract also states that you’re enrolled in Voices Share, you will pay half.

What’s Next?

I don’t know how long I’ll need to wait for the extended sample, so for now, I’ll… well, I’ll wait. It’s not very exciting, but that’s all I’ve got this week! Once I have that – and again, I don’t know how long it’ll be, so I might not have news next week! – I’ll listen to it, get any feedback I might have back to my narrator, and then the recording will begin.

We’ll see where we’re at next week, hm?

If you have any questions about this process, leave a comment and I’ll reply asap!


For all entries in The Audiobook Diaries, look here.

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The Audiobook Diaries | Week 4

Friends, a lot has happened since last week’s update! Make a tea and settle in, because there’s a great deal of excitement ahead.

To remind you of where things were at this time last week:

Findaway Voices had sent me eight narrator recommendations. I listened to everyone’s samples, made a short list, and requested an audition from five.

Then, I waited.

Later that same day – after I’d posted the update – I had two auditions, and it may have been the most exciting moment of my life.

If you want to catch up before moving on, you can find every entry here.

As always, there’s a summary of this week’s progress at the end of this post.

The Audiobook Diaries | Week 4 | Choosing and Booking My Narrator with FindawayVoices

The Auditions

Out of five requests, I got two auditions, so I was pretty chuffed with that!

I listened to both several times, trying not to flail too hard as two wonderful ladies gave my characters a voice.

It was such a surreal moment for me. I kinda just smiled at my screen with blank eyes as I listened to every word.

Both narrators did amazing jobs, but they were also quite different to each other. I loved both and struggled to choose.

Fortunately, I have critique partners who were happy to help, and by Saturday, I’d pretty much chosen.

I still waited until Monday just in case I changed my mind, but I didn’t and pressed the exciting/daunting BOOK NARRATOR button.

I got these two screens next:

The Audiobook Diaries | Week 4 | Narrator Booking Confirmation Pop Up
The Audiobook Diaries | Week 4 | Narrator Booking Confirmation

I’ve blacked out her name for now since nothing is official or signed yet. To be honest, this is probably overkill, but since both of us can still pull out at this point, I don’t want to make anything look official.

Production Notes and the Contract

Last night, I got an email.

The Audiobook Diaries | Week 4 | An Email from FindawayVoices requesting production notes and the contract signature

IT’S HAPPENING

*throws confetti*

(I mean, it’s probably happening. As I said above, we haven’t signed anything yet, and I never like celebrating too soon.)

So, things are suddenly moving very quickly. This time last week, I didn’t have the auditions yet and was hoping that at least one of my five would be interested. Fast-forward a week and I’m about to sign the contract and my narrator is getting ready.

A Shout-Out to FindawayVoices

The fourth week of my journey into audiobook production is about to end, and so far, I’ve had nothing but a good experience with FindawayVoices.

On the few occasions when I’ve emailed them with questions, their team got back to me quickly with helpful answers and a friendly tone.

Everything has been easy, clear, and professional, even to a complete newbie like me.

So far, I’m very pleased that I chose them to produce my audiobook, and can only recommend them if you’re considering doing the same.

Summary:

  • I got two auditions late last Friday and listened to both.
  • Since I struggled to decide – they were both incredible! – I asked my critique partners and my editor for their feedback.
  • On Monday, I booked my chosen narrator, and FindawayVoices got in touch with her.
  • Last night, I got the production notes form to fill in and the contract to sign. My narrator is currently reading the book and making notes as she goes, so it’s possible that she won’t like what she reads and cancels, but I’d like to think that’s a small chance.

What’s Next?

I’ll be filling in the production notes over the next few working days (unless there’s a tighter deadline than that – I’ve emailed them to check) and signing the contract as soon as they’ve confirmed one more thing for me.

And then we’re off! :O

All being well, I’ll be able to tell you next Friday that the production is officially underway *high five*

If you have any questions about this process, leave a comment and I’ll reply asap!


For all entries in The Audiobook Diaries, look here.

Sign up to BOOKISH WITH SARINA for updates on my books, excerpts, early cover reveals, and other exclusive freebies such as the short stories All that I Can Be and Bubak.

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June Goals | WIP Milestones and Booking My Audiobook Narrator

Happy June, Sparrows and bookworms!

After I’ve burned myself out in May – badly – I vow to do better this month *high five*

The below may not read like much, but they’re all big milestones across all WIPs!

Brightened Shadows

My first priority this June is to go over the rest of my critique partner feedback and make some changes to my draft. Once that’s done, it’ll go to my editor for its line edit. I might also read over everything again before that to make sure I’m happy with the changes and that everything flows well.

Blood Wisp

As I mentioned in the May update, this book is a right mess. Once I’m done with Brightened Shadows and it’s in my editor’s capable hands, I’ll restructure Blood Wisp. I’ve already started, and it’ll be a fairly simple process of copying chapters from the current draft and pasting them into a new draft, without any of that repetition and now-unnecessary chapters.

I’ll have quite a bit of rewriting and adding to do afterwards, but it’ll be much stronger for it when I’m done.

The Rise of the Sparrows Audiobook

I won’t say too much here because details are what my Audiobook Diaries are for, BUT I’ve chosen my narrator and am ready to book her.

I’m a little unclear right now as to how the next steps work (mostly admin-y things), but I’m hoping to wait with production until July to make sure I leave myself enough for living costs.

I’ve gone slightly over budget, but this narrator is perfect for my book, so I’m okay with that.

If they are happy to wait, too, I’ll be booking my narrator this month. I imagine it’ll be fine, but as someone who’s never done this before, I don’t want to make any assumptions.

And that’s my little big update! What are you all up to this June?


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The Audiobook Diaries | Week 3

Welcome to Week 3 of my Audiobook Diaries! This week has been an important milestone, because I’ve requested auditions from specific narrators *flails*

More on that in a moment. If you want to remind yourself what’s happened so far or if you want to start at the beginning, you can find the rest of my audiobook experience here.

As always, there’s a summary at the end if you don’t have time to read right now and a look at what’s next.

The Audiobook Diaries | Week 3 | Requesting auditions from specific narrators with Findaway Voices

Narration Samples

Findaway Voices sent me a list of eight recommended narrators last Friday afternoon.

I’m really impressed with the variety, especially the experience some of them have! Based on my own lack of awards and tiny social media proof, I figured I’d only have a chance with new narrators who are just starting out – and I got one or two of those, too – but some of my recommendations have won multiple awards.

Findaway Voices provided me with the list, which includes headshots of every narrator, their name, their estimated fee, and a description of what they’ve done, awards they’ve won, what accents they can do, what they’d rather not do, etc.

Along with all that also come narration samples in different genres and styles for every narrator, which really helped narrow it down and get a feel for the type of work they’ve previously done.

You can listen to as many samples as you want and request auditions from your book from your favourite narrators. If none of them are a good fit, you can request another set of samples.

At this point, there’s still zero commitment.

I focussed on two things: narrators who had samples in my genre, and narrator’s whose tone of voice fit my protagonist Rachael best.

I made my own little list of every narrator and my first impressions, and then I left it over the weekend.

The Auditions

As I mentioned above, I got the list of narrator recommendations late on Friday. Monday was a bank holiday here, so I had lots of time to think about my preferences and consider what excerpt to choose for their auditions.

Above the narrator details and their samples, I could fill in specific guidelines for the audition – including the text I’d like them to read.

Now, you don’t have to choose anything, in which case it will default to the first 700 words of your book…

Or you could choose whatever excerpt from your book you want, maybe something with dialogue, to make sure your chosen narrator handles those parts well. If you decide to go this route, find the sections you want them to read in your book and copy & paste them into the provided box.

I chose two important scenes – one a plot milestone, one an emotional character development milestone – because I wanted to see how the narrators read those big moments.

You can give them a few details besides the script, like the main character’s accent, but you can’t give them too many details beyond that – for example, one of my chosen excerpts had Cephy in it, and there was no room to mention that she’s twelve years old – so consider that the narrators don’t have all the info at this point. If your narrator doesn’t voice the Elderly man with a strong Scottish accent differently to the 20-something girl with a British accent, don’t worry about it. There’ll be time to pass these things on later.

I could then tick the narrators I wanted to send the request to, but don’t worry – if you later change your mind and would like to request an audition from someone you didn’t tick, you can still easily add them with the click of a button.

If you change your mind and don’t want to request an audition from one or more narrators from anymore, don’t worry about it. There’s no guarantee they’ll be interested in return, so they might not audition anyway, and if they do, you don’t have to pick them to narrate your whole book. Remember that there’s still zero commitment at this point! You might as well see if they audition and, if they do, if they are a good fit after all.

Once I’d filled in this little questionnaire and copied and pasted my audition script, I clicked Submit and got another Thank You pop-up, informing me that my chosen narrators will read the excerpts within seven working days. I’ll also get an email once all interested narrators have submitted the script.

Naturally, I forgot to take a picture of this. *ahem*

It’s important to note that my interest in the narrators doesn’t mean they’ll be interested in my book. It’s entirely possible that all of my chosen narrators decline my audition request, in which case we’ll try again with a new set of recommendations.

Summary

It’s been a big week with few steps!

  • Findaway Voices sent me a list of 8 recommended narrators.
  • I listened to the narrators’ samples and decided which ones I’d like to audition.
  • I filled in a brief questionnaire (the audition request) and added two vital-moment excerpts from my book. As long as it’s between 500-700 words, you can choose any scenes from your book you’d like.
  • I submitted the audition request! *throws dark confetti*

What’s next?

Now I wait. I submitted the requests on Tuesday, plus seven working days… *counts on fingers* All being well, I’ll have an audition or two (or maybe even all five! I dare dream) in my inbox by Thursday afternoon!


For all entries in The Audiobook Diaries, look here.

Sign up to BOOKISH WITH SARINA for updates on my books, excerpts, early cover reveals, and other exclusive freebies such as the short stories All that I Can Be and Bubak.

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May Progress | Between Audiobook Excitement and Burnout

I’ll keep this month’s update short because I’ve burned myself out pretty badly this month *rolls eyes at self*

Brightened Shadows

I’ve received all critique partner feedback and have begun to go over their suggestions. Most of it is straightforward – a word spelled wrong here, an easy-to-fix inconsistency there – but other parts…

I’d go over one set of feedback and the critique partner loved, say, a chapter. I’d then move on to the next set of feedback, and the critique partner didn’t get on with the same chapter at all.

There’s one character I was worried had too many chapters compared to the others. One critique partner thinks they had too few and need more.

And on it went! So, in short, I somewhat divided my critique partners with this one. This isn’t on everything, of course, but they’ve given me a lot to think about, and I have some ideas on how to strengthen important parts of the book thanks to them.

Blood Wisp

Remember how I said at the beginning of the month that I’d dive into rewrites at some point this month, depending on how messy this draft really is?

Turns out, it’s messy. I was tempted to start over from scratch at one point.

I’ve gone over the entire draft now and have begun to take notes of my notes. There are some serious structural problems (friendly reminder to avoid turning three novellas into one novel), which means a good bit of rewriting is necessary.

To hopefully make sense of the mess without creating more mess, I’ve re-outlined it and will copy and paste the chapters I’m keeping/moving into a new, clean document. I’m cutting a few chapters and need to add quite a few more so everything comes together well, so I’m hoping this will make it easier.

The Audiobook Diaries

The audiobook process for Rise of the Sparrows has begun! You can follow my audiobook journey here.

At the moment, entries are weekly every Friday – and the reason this monthly progress update happens today rather than tomorrow.

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I’ve rejoined Twitter earlier this month! I considered tidying up my account, but that would have taken a very long time, so I deleted it and started over.

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And that sums up my May! Remember to look after yourselves <3


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The Audiobook Diaries | Week 2

Welcome to the second week of my audiobook diaries! *high five*

I started this series last week to record my first journey into turning my books into audiobooks and to give everyone who’s interested an insight into that process. Start with Week 1 if you want to read it in sequence or missed the first entry.

This week, I dove into the good stuff – I started the casting process for my narrator *rubs hands together*

If you don’t have time to read the whole article right now, I’ve summarised the key points at the end.

The Audiobook Diaries | Week 2 | An explanation of Voices Plus and the narrator wishlist

The Necessary Paperwork

Because everything about this is a business, there was a quick tax form to fill in. It’s as exciting as it sounds, but I don’t want to give you the wrong impression by not including it, so here we are.

If you want an audiobook and make money from it, you’ll need to fill in a quick, legally required tax form. Findaway Voices made that surprisingly easy.

Voices Plus

The first thing I did was choose Voices Plus. It looked like I had to choose this early on, but I actually didn’t choose until later as part of the narrator wishlist, so don’t worry about it until you give them all other details about what you’re looking for. More on that in a bit.

Opting in to Voices Plus means that Findaway Voices will be the exclusive distributor for a year. I can change my mind any time within the first six months, but I’m not sure why I would want to – Findaway distributes to 43 markets (at the time I’m writing this), and if they add any new ones after my book is out, they’ll automatically distribute our audiobook there too.

(I’m calling it our audiobook because, while it’s true that I wrote the thing, they’re doing a good bit of the hard work, too, so the audiobook is very much a team effort.)

With Voices Plus, the royalty share option works like this: the author (aka me) pays half up front and shares 20% of the royalties with the narrator for ten years. Findaway also keeps 20%, meaning I keep 60%.

You don’t have to choose the royalty share option if that doesn’t work for you. You can pay the full sum instead (in which case you’d keep 80%), but I deemed this safer since it’s my first time and I don’t have a lot of cash lying around.

A quick comparison: ACX has a royalty share option, too, but it works slightly differently from what I understand. With ACX, you don’t pay anything up front and share only your royalties. This might sound like the better option, but consider this:

My narrator could do a lot of work without getting paid if the book doesn’t sell – and this is always a risk, friends. Would I have accepted a work-intensive editing job that takes several months if there had been a chance of me not getting any money for it? Would you? Of course not.

Narrators do a lot of work and they do it well, so they should be paid what they’re worth. This is one of the reasons I chose Findaway Voices! Fair pay for everyone involved.

Narrator Wishlist

Once I’d filled in the tax form, it was time to start casting.

Findaway Voices takes you through a pretty straightforward questionnaire where you can specify what you’re looking for in a narrator.

The Audiobook Diaries | Week 2 | A screenshot of Step 2 of the narrator wishlist

Choosing up to five vocal timbres isn’t as easy as it sounds – throughout Rise of the Sparrows, Rachael goes through so many situations that her vocal timbre naturally isn’t always tough or warm. For the most part, she’s a tough, terse girl, but she also has soft conversations, for example, so I really appreciated being able to choose more than one.

I took the screenshot before I chose all five, but I did choose all five.

Just a heads-up: before this step, I also had to define the overall tone of the book. Again, not an easy thing to do since my book is mostly dark but there are also joyful moments and there’s a good dose of sarcasm – just like any book isn’t one thing only. They gave examples like ‘joyful’ and ‘morose’, and I gave them a small essay in return. This might be something to think about before you start this process if you don’t want to stumble once you’ve started.

Details Besides the Narrator

Besides the narrator wishlist, they calculate how much this is likely to cost you and how long it’s likely to take based on the wordcount in the document I’d uploaded to Draft2Digital. Findaway Voices gets the book straight from there, which saves you an upload. The calculation is automatic and instant, so you’ll get a good idea of costs before you commit to anything.

Remember that, if you choose Voices Plus, that number will be halved.

I was tempted to upload a ‘clean’ document without the front and back matter (since those bits won’t be read in the audiobook), but it barely changed the wordcount (and therefore didn’t touch the production cost). In the end, I figured it’d be recommended on the site if they preferred it or they just wouldn’t take the book from Draft2Digital in all it’s back matter-y glory, so I left it as it was.

Choosing Voices Plus means they wanted to see social proof. This is very fair – my narrator will earn less, possibly nothing from royalties if the book doesn’t sell, so Findaway wants to see before they commit to anything that this is worth their time.

I stumbled again at this point.

They asked for up to 5 proofs that I’ve previously sold the ebook, so I uploaded sales data from the KDP dashboard and thanked the Powers That Be that download numbers have gone up since I made it perma-free.

They also asked for links to any awards I might have received (which is 0), reviews (easy – I linked to BookBub and Goodreads (their suggestion)), and social proof – which confused me. I included a link to when I first posted the book trailer on Instagram, but to be honest, I’ve no idea if that’s what they were after.

Fortunately, I could also tick that this is my first time, so hopefully they’ll be understanding of my ignorance o.o

The Waiting Game Begins

Once I had filled all this in, I got this super exciting screen:

The Audiobook Diaries | Week 2 | FIndaway Voices' Thank You screen
Every time I opened Photoshop on this screenshot, I had a second of thinking I needed to click the big green button because Photoshop had crashed or had an update or whatever.

I filled in the metadata last week, so now I wait.

It’s my understanding that they will send me recommendations with general audition recordings. I will narrow it down from those and upload an excerpt or two from my book for my favourite narrators to audition from – which, I imagine, is when my nerves will really go through the roof.

But we shall see what happens next week, yes?

To summarise:

  • I filled in a quick and necessary tax form.
  • I opted in to Voices Plus, meaning I’ll pay half up front and share my royalties with Findaway Voices and my narrator once the audiobook is out.
  • I filled in the details of what I’m looking for in a narrator and submitted the form to Findaway Voices.

What’s next?

I submitted the form on Tuesday, so in theory, I’ll get a list of potential narrators around Tuesday next week. I expect this can easily take longer (especially because I don’t have any awards or massive social proof to show off, plus there’s a pandemic going on), so I won’t hope for it to be that fast.

Either way, I’ll keep you posted next week Friday!


For all entries in The Audiobook Diaries, look here.

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