Audiobooks – A Question, from Jann Rowland

Audiobooks – A Question, from Jann Rowland

Today I would like to discuss audiobooks a little more, including an intriguing email I recently received from a publisher.

As most of you who follow this blog know, I have been fortunate to have been approached by an audiobook publisher called Tantor to publish some of my books in that format. My first experience did not work out well with them, for they published the audio format of In the Wilds of Derbyshire a full year after the original release of the book, and the book did not sell well enough for them to proceed with other titles. Then last year, with the success of In Default of Heirs Male they contacted me again about making that one into an audiobook. Armed with the experience I gained the first time, I knew it was likely to be a repeat, so I suggested we do future coordinated releases, expecting the sales would be more robust.

They accepted and I have currently got one scheduled for release later this summer that will be a coordinated release. In the interim, they’ve published another title, and one of my older novels will also be made into an audiobook. If you have not listened to them, they are worth it if for nothing more than the talent of the narrator. In this also I have been fortunate, as Mary Sarah, who has narrated all my titles so far, is a marvelously talented narrator. If you have the chance, I’d highly recommend giving them a go!

That has been the only facet of my audiobook efforts so far, as I have never considered the benefit of putting them out there worth the effort. That might have changed, however, which is the reason for this post today.

I recently received an email from Google with a new service they are offering. The offer is to take any books I write and convert them into audiobooks using their software and a digitally produced narrator. As you might expect, early reviews on this service suggest that while their system does a very good job producing the audiobook, the technology for the narrators still lacks that human element, not conveying the feeling a human would give to the story. Any audiobook narrated by Google’s service would not be the equal of Mary Sarah’s interpretation.

Then again, for me this would not be a huge drawback. As I have mentioned before, I find that the only way I can do any reading at all is to get eBooks and load them into a text to speech app. Sure the result is not as good as an audiobook, but the price is far more reasonable, and I find that I can interpret the emotions by listening to the synthetic voice. Not everyone would feel that way, but it works for me. And as past of this service, Google allows the publishing of the book to any other seller, as long as it is also sold on Google.

So, my question to you the audience: would you be interested in listening to an audiobook produced digitally with a digital voice? I will probably try the service out regardless, as there is no cost to use it at present. But I would like to know if anyone else would find the option intriguing, particularly when I suspect the cost of such a book would be far lower than that of a traditional audiobook.

In conjunction with this, I would like to announce two upcoming audiobooks, one of which is new version of an old favorite as I mentioned above, and one which will be a joint release of all formats. The first will be entitled A Most Attentive Mother and will be released in all formats on August 16. If you would like to read an excerpt, you can find it here.

The second release is an audiobook format of The Mistress of Longbourn, which is my most popular long novel to date. That release is scheduled for September 18.

Sharing is Caring!
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Whatsapp
LinkedIn
Follow by Email
0 0 votes
RATE THIS POST!
SUBSCRIBE (optional)
Email alert of:
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

24 COMMENTS
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
DarcyBennett
DarcyBennett
June 30, 2022 10:03 AM

I have started listening to many of my ebooks using a text-to-speech option and am used to it though I still prefer narrators over this method as I find names are often said incorrectly and it often messes up words that are also abbreviations. For instance “wed” becomes Wednesday which always produces a chuckle for me when they say Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy Wednesday.

Ginna
Ginna
June 30, 2022 11:12 AM
Reply to  DarcyBennett

Hah! I’ve experienced that too. I also enjoy how when someone is thinking, and says “Hm”, it becomes Hectometers!

Ginna
Ginna
June 28, 2022 8:01 PM

Jann, I listen to my books via text-to-speech on my kindle. I do this when I am driving somewhere. But then, I can pick up the book later and continue reading once I am done driving. This can’t be done with audiobooks. However, I’ve done it this way for so long, that I am quite used to the computer generated voice, and now find narrators annoying. One thing I prefer about the text-to-speech on my kindle is that it doesn’t cost any more than the initial cost of the ebook.

Caryl Kane
Caryl Kane
June 25, 2022 8:00 PM

I can’t stay focused on an audio book.

Buturot
June 25, 2022 12:12 PM

I have listened to different audiobook formats. I think digital voice narration will be better for mysteries maybe thrillers.

I personally prefer for love stories to be specially narrated by a true person. Actually, a great one. I have had e-books that I just had to stop reading because the author was not good/great.

Plus I re-listen to the ones with great narration by great authors and thus swayed to buy those books by those narrators.

Stevie Zimmerman
June 23, 2022 9:44 AM

Google’s digital “voice” is an affront to narrators such as Mary and myself amongst many others who work long hours and put a great deal of emotion and skill into their performances. It might work for some non fiction material but for books like yours and many other writers of sensitivity and romance what matters is the quality of the voice acting and the connection that creates with the listener.

J. W. Garrett.
J. W. Garrett.
June 23, 2022 9:44 AM

Although I don’t do audiobooks, if I did, I think I would prefer a human voice rather than a digital one. I get those all the time with the robocalls I receive. You just can’t beat that emotional connection. I wish you all manner of success in whatever arena you choose. Blessings.

cindie snyder
cindie snyder
June 22, 2022 2:35 PM

I never have good luck with audiobooks. But I think it would be better with a real person as opposed to digital voice. I love my ebooks! I have some of your print books and have read them several times!

Shana Jefferis
Shana Jefferis
June 22, 2022 11:30 AM

Jann,

I have never “read” an audio book. It’s not my cup of tea. So if you can picture an aging runner on the treadmill with a kindle, you’ve got the idea of my book reading.

However, I do not think this is necessarily a bad idea. Similar to your first experience with Tantor, I think you should try it and see what the learnings are. I have no doubt you will have future books with which you can tweak your audio book marketing.

Best of luck and please let us know about your experience! I appreciate hearing other authors’ experiences in the publishing world.

Shana

Charmaine M
Charmaine M
June 22, 2022 11:00 AM

I like audiobooks, I like to read the book itself and then listen to the audiobooks. I love having a live person who adds emotion to each of the characters, and some of the narrators out there today have the ability to bring the characters in the story alive. I do not enjoy the cost of audiobooks (lol) but I get it. I have listened to the ‘digital readers’…not a fan. Hope that helps! 🙂???

Charmaine M
Charmaine M
June 22, 2022 11:05 AM
Reply to  Charmaine M

Oh and Jann, I have read and listened to both “In The Wilds of Derbyshire” & “In Default of Heirs Male”…a few times, I loved both formats. ???

Jean Stillman
Jean Stillman
June 22, 2022 8:14 AM

I do like audiobooks, but I have not listened to one with a digital voice. I would give one a listen, just to see how it compares, as the prices for audio books are definitely too much. And I have heard some narrators who were terrible and maybe the digital voice would have been better. I hope this experience is a good one for you.

Stevie Zimmerman
June 23, 2022 9:40 AM
Reply to  Jean Stillman

I’m sorry you find audiobooks to be too expensive. You might find it more understandable if you know what goes into producing one. For each hour of audio (the average book is about 8 hours long, with many much much longer) it takes a narrator about 1.5 to 2 hours reading out loud and correcting mistakes, plus whatever time might be involved in researching place names, accents etc etc. Then, unless the book is “published” by a house like Tantor, there is post production and mastering to be done to the files so they meet the requirements of Audible and iTunes etc. That takes most of another hour. So an 8 hour book takes about 24 hours to make. Obviously that isn’t 24 hours in one go – there’s a limit to how many hours a day a person can read out loud! Then there is time spent helping the book sell with marketing efforts, being interviewed sometimes, appearing on blogs and at conventions etc. Narrators are sometimes paid up front for that time but usually share royalties with the author and the distributor, earning usually 20% of the royalties. It can take a long time and a lot of sales for the time spent to recoup anything much above minimum wage.

SamH.
SamH.
June 22, 2022 7:44 AM

I love listening to audiobooks and In the Wilds of Derbyshire, was the first book of yours I ever read (listened) and I loved it!
On listening to samples of your most recent AB releases, I find I don’t appreciate the Narrator’s performance and could not fathom listening to whole books even at X2 speed.
With no experience listening to digitally rendered products I have no opinion one way or another. However, I can only imagine that with further development of this AB method, it will only continue to improve in the future and become even more life like! Maybe even be able to interpret the emotional nuances that it can’t at this time.

Rebecca L McBrayer
Rebecca L McBrayer
June 22, 2022 7:44 AM

My first audiobook experience with JAFF was In The Wilds of Derbyshire. I enjoyed it so much that I have listened to it twice, and I bought In Default of Heirs Male and Among Intimate Acquaintances from Audible. Your audiobooks introduced me to listening to books as well as reading them. I truly enjoy Mary Sarah’s voice and I feel that a digital voice could hinder me from listening to audiobooks. But I am willing to try it. Thanks for the books you’ve written. You are one of my favorite JAFF authors, and one who feels the most like I am reading Jane Austen.

24
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x