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What I Learned On My Audio Book Journey

The Loyalist trilogy audio books, about those settlers who opted to stay loyal to Britain during and after the American Revolutionary War and who found their way to Canada, are finally available for the world to hear.

The Audio Book Journey

Once the books were available in print and in Kindle and Kobo e-books, I started thinking about audio books because of the number of people who told me they could not see well enough to read any more. They needed to listen to audio books. The mother of one of my friends was just waiting for me to get the audio books on the market. Unfortunately Elsie passed away before that happened.

I also noticed the huge numbers of people driving to and from work every day. Often as not they are caught in traffic jams on major highways. Add to that our delight in listening to books in the car when traveling and I recognized an awesome market just waiting for new stories. Why wouldn’t I take part?

Two and a half years ago I started recording in a local studio right here where I live. My musician friend was keen to embrace this new technology and he already had the studio and equipment for his music business. (Jack is a fabulous singer who records his own songs and sings John Denver and Glen Campbell legend concerts.)

The first book took about four months to record. I had lots to learn and Jack had to fine-tune his equipment. We suffered through motorcycles revving up on the street outside so loud they permeated Jack’s insulated studio. One night a train several blocks away spent about ten minutes shifting back and forth and Jack’s sensitive equipment picked it up. We had to wait again. And summer lawn mowers played havoc with our recording times and, one night, a thunder storm stopped us completely.

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For all of those interruptions, most of the time our sessions went off smoothly. I had a water bottle to keep my voice from getting too husky, Jack stopped me whenever he wasn’t satisfied with what he was hearing and I kept my pen in hand to mark something that needed to be changed in the revision of that first book. (It seemed a perfect opportunity to fix the few errors that had been driving me crazy whenever I was out doing an author gig. Ah, the life of a perfectionist!)

Finally Jack presented me with a thumb drive and a number of CDs containing my audio version of The Loyalist’s Wife. I learned about ACX Audible and tried to get my book up on their platform. Oh. I live in Canada and they only took work from authors in the US and the UK. Never mind that Canadians could buy Audible’s books here. We authors just couldn’t sell.

I tried to do a work-around and got my nephew and niece to let me use their US address, but then the IRS became the problem. Finally, I just concentrated on recording book two, The Loyalist’s Luck, and writing book three, The Loyalist Legacy. Believe me, my days were full enough. I figured I’d find another company to host my audio books.

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None of my author friends were spending any time recording audio books. The only authors who were seemed to have big organizations behind them. I concentrated on my newsletter, my website, my speaking gigs, and even took a flying leap into screen plays.

Jack and I finished recording book three in August, 2018, but a couple of weeks earlier I had noticed an article in the newspaper where my daughter lives in western Canada. Audible was coming into Canada. That got my attention. My husband and I came home and I went to my last recording session with Jack bearing that newspaper article. Such a good omen just when we were almost done the third book.

In the third week of August I logged into Audible ACX and uploaded the first two of my audio books. Then we went on holiday for a couple of weeks, expecting to get the go-ahead when we returned.

My Inbox was a disappointment, however, as book two was accepted and placed in ACX’s production queue, but book one was rejected. I immediately forwarded their email of technical mumbo-jumbo to Jack. This started a series of back and forth correspondence between us and ACX as we tried to figure out what they needed. Apparently the volume we’d recorded at was not acceptable. That was strange because it was exactly the same volume as book two (that they had accepted). Jack emailed them for clarification.

Finally, after 2-3 weeks of silence, I found the phone number for their company and managed to speak with a real person. He was very helpful and did his best to solve our communication problems and I grew to love listening to his southern drawl as he and I talked. We figured out that their production people didn’t want to talk with Jack as he was not the person whose book it was. He had no standing in their eyes. I sorted that out very quickly and we got the third book uploaded. By this time the second book had sold a copy!

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Another week or two went by and I got the longed-for email. Book three was in the queue and had been accepted. In a week or two it would be up on Audible, iTunes and Amazon. Meanwhile Jack was adjusting the levels for Book one in real time, a lengthy process. Finally I got the flash drive and uploaded it. Oops, one of the files was missing. (You have to give them a five-minute sample as well as opening and closing credits.) Jack emailed me the missing files and I added them to my project on ACX, crossed my worn-out fingers and pushed Send.

Since my books were accepted out of order I really couldn’t move ahead with advertising and finding the markets for this new venture. It did not make any sense to advertise without having the first book ready. I did a lot of thinking about it, though, and even a little research on just where I could sell audio books. Last week I got the notice that the first book had been accepted and would be available on all the sites in a week or two. I was ecstatic! And just this Friday morning ACX informed me that The Loyalist’s Wife is up on Audible, Amazon and iTunes.

Takeaways From My Audio Book Journey

  1. Audio books are well worth pursuing as only about 5% of books are made into audio books. That means the competition for readers/listeners is much less stiff.

  2. Depending on the market for your books audio books can be more or less appealing. My historical fiction market appeals to middle-aged women for the most part. It also appeals to those drivers to and from work.

  3. If you’re going to try this, do it sooner rather than later.

  4. Don’t be afraid to do your own recording as I did but only if people tell you they “could listen to you read the whole book” as one of my library groups did. You have to have a bit of the performer in you.

  5. If at all possible, when you are stumped by the online instructions talk to a real person.

  6. Don’t expect to get through this journey without flat tires and running out of gas.

  7. But just as you wouldn’t walk away from your car because of one of those misfortunes, don’t run from your project. Keep at it! You will succeed.

Of course, if you still prefer to hold a book in your hand, try these.

Click on the Loyalist Trilogy books below for great historical stories with satisfying endings:

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