Monday, July 17, 2017

Guest Post: The Audio Book Process

When I offered to host other writers on this blog, Alex J Cavanaugh was one of the first to respond. Read below to learn how his popular books became audio books.

Over a year ago, my publisher announced they would be moving into audio books. During the next two years, the most successful titles would convert to audio. I had no idea what to expect. Even scarier – my Cassa trilogy would be first!

Now, I can only tell this story from the viewpoint of an author with a publisher taking care of the audio. Self-published authors will take on a lot more work than I did during the process. But many of the steps will be the same.

Once my first book began receiving auditions, my publisher passed along the best ones. This is where my input mattered. I was warned that the narrator wouldn’t read my book exactly the way I’d envisioned it. I was just to select the best of the lot, the one who not only got the voices right but captured the essence of the story. My favorite was Michael Burnette – and fortunately, he was also my publisher’s favorite.

The narrator selected, my next task was to make a list. Since I write science fiction, the first part was to list all of the potentially challenging words and their pronunciations. I had to search through my manuscript for names, places, and things that might cause confusion. I had to type out the word and its correct pronunciation. (To the best of my ability – Ernx is easy to pronounce but tough to describe how to pronounce.)

I was also asked to list all of the main characters and describe them. What did they sound like? What was their personality like? The narrator would take a lot from what I’d written, but it helped him to know up front a bit about the characters.

After that, the narrator went to work. I received a chapter now and then, just to be sure the narrator was on track with everything. (Michael Burnette narrated all four of my books and put together the Cassa boxed set for audio, and only once during that time did he pronounce something wrong that had to be changed.) There was one instance where he selected a different pronunciation than what I’d envisioned. But you know what? His was better. So I let it go.

And I think that’s the biggest thing with audio books. As authors, we have this vision in our head of how everything looks and sounds. But so do our readers. And every one of those visions is different. Our narrators will also see our story in a different light. We have to accept that. No matter what, as long as the narrator is good, it will be all right.

I’m fortunate that all four of my books – and one boxed set – are available as audio books now. It blows my mind to see them offered in three different formats – print, eBook, and audio. Plus hearing them, especially with all the layers of special effects my narrator added – well, I can hardly believe I wrote those stories. (The last two in particular. Really, I wrote that?)

Even more fun – my publisher has been running a giveaway the past couple months on Twitter for all of their audio books. (And I believe one of mine is the current giveaway!)

So, if you get the chance to get into audio books, I highly recommend it. Just keep an open mind and work with your narrator. Let that person bring your books to life!

Alex J. Cavanaugh

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design, graphics, and technical editing. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. He’s the author of Amazon Best-Sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, CassaStorm, and Dragon of the Stars. The author lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

Audio Links:

Dragon of the Stars



CassaSeries boxed set

Dancing Lemur Press LLC -


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks again, Sandra! Hope you get to hear your books soon - it is a trip.

PT Dilloway said...

They recently added audio books to Draft2Digital but I haven't looked into it.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

Thanks for stopping by, Alex! There are audio versions of Lyon's Legacy and Twinned Universes available, but the budget doesn't extend to making audio books for the Season Avatars yet.

Pat, I'll have to look into that at some point. Do they go through ACX, or is it something different?

Barbara said...

Thanks for sharing this Sandra and to Alex for the link to the giveaway, I've just entered.

SpacerGuy said...

science fiction is almost like a separate alien language on its own. Once expounded well there so much to appreciate from the dynamic flow of energy and knowledge between peoples conversations.

Pat Hatt said...

Great that you found a good one and bringing it to life sure is a win. Never thought about how everyone has a different voice and such about a book, but true enough indeed.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I don't listen to audio books but my sister relies on them for medical reasons. Interesting to hear about how much input you have into the narration. Yeah, scifi and fantasy could be confusing on the pronounciations.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks, Barbara!

Spacer Guy, what you said!

Susan, I think my input was required!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

ACX is no cost if you split the proceeds with the narrator.

The narrator who did Alex's books was top notch. We were fortunate he did all five books plus The Remnant, so six total. He added so much not only to the characters but with sound effects. I've yet to find another narrator at his level.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

Good luck, Barbara!

Thanks for stopping by, Spacer Guy!

Voices are important, Pat!

Susan, you could always give the narrator a pronunciation guide.

Diane, it's great you were able to use the same narrator for all the books!

Fundy Blue said...

It was really interesting to learn about the process of making an audio version of a book, Alex and Sandra! Great post!

PT Dilloway said...

It's a different one. I guess today is the first day they're offering it.

Karen Lange said...

Thanks for sharing your insight into the process, Alex! It's interesting, and exciting to think that your books were chosen. Sandra, thanks for hosting Alex!

Sandra Cox said...

Alex, it's wonderful that you were able to be involved in the decision making. Kudos to both you and Diane.

Hello to Sandra.

Murees Dupè said...

Wow, having to write out how things are pronounced sounds tough. Congrats on converting your books to audio Alex. That is quite something.

Michelle Wallace said...

I've never done the audio book day...
I'm wondering how similar/different are the sound effects/devices, to what the author envisions when he imagines the audio parts...but I'm sure there are some pleasant surprises!! Really interesting.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Diane, I'm glad he did all of my books.

Murees, it was challenging. And here I thought I'd picked easy words.

Michelle, I'd never really thought about the sound effects, so that helped!

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

Thanks, Fundy Blue!

Pat, I think they did switch the link.

You're welcome, Karen!

Thanks for stopping by, Sandra (great name, BTW!), Murees, and Michelle.

Site Meter