Hey writers, hearing is believing: Let’s go to the audio book

Hi, Maureen here.

I’m not a person who listens to audio books much. Or at all, really. I’m not against them, they’re just not my thing. But I was intrigued at this year’s New England Crime Bake when fellow mystery writer Dale Phillips gave a talk on the benefits of an author’s book also being “published” as audio.

I’ll leave the nuts and bolts to Dale, who has blogged about it on this site.

The cover for the audio version of Cold Hard News.

The cover for the audio version of Cold Hard News.

But here’s the great part for writers: Listening to the recorded chapters as the book goes to production so I can help correct errors has made me think a lot about my writing and see it in a different light. I’ve often heard writers advise that reading a work out loud during the writing process helps clarify things. I believe them. Just rarely did it. But listening to Cold Hard News has been a huge help with the writing I’m doing now.

A lot of the reminders go right to the fundamentals: It’s much easier to recognize an overused word or phrase when you keep hearing it — when you’re writing, you may pass over it without noticing. I won’t list them here, in case you didn’t notice them when you read the book, but man, they’re there.

It’s also easier to be reminded of the rhythm of sentences, and using shorter ones in conjunction with longer ones. That’s a writing technicality it’s easy to forget about as I get caught up in trying to get the story down.

Then there is chapter length. Nothing highlights the length of a chapter more than seeing its length in minutes. Most of those in Cold Hard News are in the 11 to 20 range. Then suddenly, as I was listening, there was one more than 40 minutes. Ugh. My immediate thought was “I bet that could have been two chapters.” I was right.

I look forward to hearing what audio book listeners have to say about the Cold Hard News audio version after it comes out at the end of this month. (If you want to listen to a couple minutes, go to my website, maureenmilliken.com, where I’ve created a little video to go with the audio sample that’s been provided.)

But the big benefit for me so far as it’s refocused my writing on the basics as I try to finish up No News is Bad News, the next book in the Bernie O’Dea series.

Maureen Milliken is the author of Cold Hard News. Follow her on Twitter at @mmilliken47 and like her Facebook page at Maureen Milliken mysteries. Her website it maureenmilliken.com. Sign up there for email updates.

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7 Responses to Hey writers, hearing is believing: Let’s go to the audio book

  1. Monica says:

    With aging parents living 5 hours away, I’ve taken advantage of the drive to catch up on all those classics I skipped in high school. When I had to drive alone to my mom’s funeral having someone ‘talking’ to me in the car to my mind off the reason I was on the road again.

    Glad your books will be available for this year’s driving!

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  2. I’ve never listened to an audio book but may have an opportunity to do so on a rather long road trip this summer. Maybe it’ll be Cold Hard News!

    Reading your work aloud is one of the many benefits of belonging to a writers’ group. Even if you don’t have a group of talented and trusted writer friends to meet with regularly, it helps to read your work aloud … if you’re alone where no one will think you’ve lost your mind. Just sayin’. 😉

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  3. Barb Ross says:

    The first three Maine Clambake books are available in audio. I’ve never listened to them. It’s a head-in-the-sand type of thing. I just don’t want to know…

    But the reality is, audiobooks were the fastest growing segment in publishing last year, and I am coming to believe it behooves me as a professional writer to know and care how my book sounds. So I think, going forward, I’m going to have to read it out loud, at a minimum, and maybe listen to it in text-to-speech on my computer, and probably go back and listen to those first three audiobooks.

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  4. Jim Erbe says:

    Thanks Maureen! Another good way to hear your work aloud is to enable text to speech in Word. It sounds a little wooden, but it’s not bad. At least it allows you to hear without chewing the air, which tends to sap my energy after a while. Gettin’ old, I guess. Heh, heh. Now where’s my cane. I can’t find it without my bifocals.

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  5. Calla says:

    I travel to and from my work fifteen hours every week and this leaves very little time for reading a real book. However, I listen to audio books continually. It makes the drive bearable and I am thrilled at the possibility of more authors including this option!

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  6. Maureen, thanks for the shoutout. Yes, absolutely, audio is the growing market that writers should pay attention to. Your written word can sound awesome with a good narrator, and any clunkers will stand out. So by hearing your work read, you become better as a writer. And you’ll find new fans with audio as well.

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  7. David M says:

    Recording audio versions of your books is more cost-efficient than ever. If you search voice actor databases like voice123 or voices.com, you can find top-notch actors who work out of their home studios. Listen to the voice reels, find a handful you like, and ask them to read a paragraph or two as a demo. This casting is a standard business practice that voice actors do for no charge … I don’t want to make this comment too long, but you’ll first want to do some research on standard audio book rates per recorded hour. (The rate is based on the recording itself and the audio post.) Remember, everything is negotiable. Also, keep in mind that garbled words will be inevitable, so you’ll want to make sure the negotiated rate includes revisions … Okay, now the post is too long.

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