Wired for Sound…a Look at Audiobooks and their Awesomeness

Audiobook available mid-December
For those who don’t know, I’m a writer. I’m also a publisher. A book cover designer. A businessman. An editor. And a forensic death investigator (my day job). On top of that, I’m very active in church and ministry and I do try to have a social life from time to time. I’m also an avid reader. Even if I wasn’t, as a writer, it’s essential that I constantly read in order to improve my craft. So how in the world, with all of those activities taking up my time, do I have time to read books?
One word…um, maybe two depending on how you write it (lol)…AUDIOBOOKS.
Egads! You may be saying. To many, audiobooks are more anathema than ebooks. After all, you’re not actually reading a book. You’re listening to someone tell you the book. It’s not really reading is it? It’s sort of like…cheating. Right? Surely audiobooks can’t be good. Can’t be considered actual reading. 
Okay. So maybe I’m exaggerating some people’s reactions to the word. But you know, as well as I do, there are people out there who have those feelings. Heck…you may even be one of them. I’d say you’re not alone. If there is such a vehement aversion to reading an electronic book…if the need to “feel” or “smell” or “hold” a book is so visceral as to cause people to run screaming from ebooks (that have actual words printed out to be read), I can only imagine what those same people think about audiobooks.
But I have good news! Audiobooks are okay to read. As a matter of fact, they’re much more than okay…they’re awesome! Honestly, after days of reading submission manuscripts or editing upcoming 7R novels, I definitely need to take a break and “read for pleasure” from time to time. But I seriously wouldn’t have the time if not for them. With my day job, I do a lot of driving. I mean a lot. My most remote region of the district I cover is close to two hours away. So my audiobooks keep me entertained on the long drive there and on the long drive back again. 
And trust me, you still need an imagination to “read” these books too. It’s not a movie. More like an old fashioned radio drama really…though typically, there is only one actor playing all the roles and usually there are no sound effects. But oh…if you have a top notch story and a narrator that really captures the feel of the characters and story….if you find that, you’ve got something really special on your hands.
My current audiobook I’m listening to…AWESOME!
Like so many things in the ever changing world of publishing, there are plenty of misconceptions about audiobooks. So I thought I would take a minute to explain how audiobooks have been in the past and what they’re evolving into now.
Audiobooks are essentially where a narrator (preferably a trained actor with a range for different voices and accents) reads a book out loud and records it. In the past, audiobook media have been cassette tapes (my first audiobook was on Cassette and was Elmore Leonard’s GET SHORTY! I loved that book!!). Later, they moved to CD (which actually my preferred medium as I can easily insert it into my car’s stereo and listen to it while I drove).
But the new model of audiobooks has gone the way of the music industry! Meaning, most audiobooks are downloadble as MP3 type files to be played on your electronic handheld devices of your choice (whether your phone, iPad, or even your Kindle/Nook). This is fantastic because it allows readers/listeners to listen to their audiobooks virtually anywhere (or burn them to CDs and listen to them in their car). And because there’s not a physical product involved, it can be generally cheaper in cost (and probably better for the environment).
Now for my next point in this discussion…narrators. This can honestly be the downfall of a particular audiobook. When you read a book in text, you only have one real criteria to worry about…is this a well-written, well-edited, well-crafted story (Okay, maybe that’s three things). With an audiobook, you not only have to consider the strength of the story itself, you also are going to be rating the narrator. You see, you can have one of the best stories in the world, but if you don’t have the right narrator…well, you’re not going to be happy with the story. 
Case in point, as you all know Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child are my favorite authors ever. I’ve listened to ALL of their Pendergast books on audio and have especially enjoyed Rene Auberjonois’ narration of those books. I know many prefer Scott Brick’s narration of the same books, but I always felt that Auberjonois captured the feel of Pendergast better. That’s not to say that I don’t like Scott Brick too. He’s an amazing narrator and love his narration of Preston and Child’s non-Pendergast titles. That’s why I was sorely disappointed when I discovered that the audiobook of their newest series Gideon’s Sword was narrated by Lionel Luthor (from Smallville) himself…John Glover. I’m sorry…the man is extremely articulate and well-spoken, but he’s just not a very good actor and he’s an even worse audiobook narrator. In my opinion, he completely ruined Gideon’s Sword for me. His voice just wasn’t right.
So imagine my horror when I discovered that Glover was slated to narrate Jim Butcher’s latest Dresden Files book Ghost Story! Oh my goodness! Could they have ever picked the wrong guy for the role. Prior to Ghost Story, the Dresden File audiobooks had all been narrated by Spike himself…James Marsters. Talk about the PERFECT person to voice Harry Dresden. Snarky. Witty. Youthful. Unlike Glover’s thick, distinguished voice. He just didn’t fit. 
And that’s what I’m talking about when I say that the one hazard to watch out for in audiobooks is the narration. It’s the one pitfall. The one thing that could totally ruin an amazing experience. But if it’s the right narrator…if it’s the perfect voice to go with the story…wow! You have no idea what kind of an amazing experience you’re about to have. Rene Auberjonois and Scott Brick offer that experience every time. So do so many others. You just have to listen and find out for yourself!
Available mid-February 2012
So, I say all this to segue into some great news! My books will soon be available in audiobook via www.audible.com. The first audiobook that will be released will be THE CURSE OF ONE-EYED JACK (A Dark Hollows Mystery) and will be available sometime in mid-December. The narrator for this book is just amazing. She is Katherine Joan Taylor and is an accomplished actress who has roles on TV shows such as Sons of Anarchy and a number of narration gigs. I chose a female for the narrator because the primary point of view character is Kili, a female FBI Crime Analyst. Just wait until you hear how well she captures everyone’s voices (including Ezekiel Crane)!
My next book to be released as an audiobook will be PRIMAL THIRST (the first book in The ENIGMA Directive series). I was extremely fortunate enough to contract Kiff VanderHeuvel to narrate. Kiff has a fantastic comic voice (he’s also part of the Second City network) and is an amazing narrator, comedian, and impersonator. PRIMAL THIRST will be available in mid-February 2012.
After that, the sky’s the limit. SIRENS’ SONG and THE DJINN will all be contracted as audiobooks in time, as will a number of other Seven Realms titles including THE SUPERNATURALS (to be narrated by the incredibly talented Jeffrey Kafer), The Adventures of Dodge Dalton in the Shadow of Falcon’s Wings, Survivor’s Affair, etc.
But as it just so happens, a number of my author friends (people who have been featured right here on this blog) either have audiobooks available right now or coming soon and I wanted to take a few minutes to make sure you were aware of them. 
DAVID  WOOD and Gryphonwood Publishing
Dave and the authors over at Gryphonwood are a staple with this blog and I would be remiss if I didn’t let you know about their audiobooks. They always have fantastic stories over there, so I can only imagine their audiobooks are equally as exciting. As a matter of fact, I’ve recently downloaded David Wood’s latest audiobook…QUEST.
Other Gryphonwood authors with audiobooks soon to be available are:
Alan Baxter’s REALMSHIFT…coming soon. (check out the book here: http://www.amazon.com/RealmShift-Alan-Baxter/dp/0982508743/ref=cm_cmu_pg__header)
John E. Baylor’s DEATH DEALT THE HAND…coming soon. (check out the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Death-Dealt-Hand-John-Bailor/dp/0979573890/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1322623513&sr=8-1).
And Dave has told me that all of the Gryphonwood books have deals to be made into audiobooks…so if you love their books, you’re definitely in luck!
RICK CHESLER AND WIRED KINGDOM: Of course, our friend Rick Chesler has his amazing techno-thriller WIRED KINGDOM now available as an audiobook as well (Narrated by Jeffrey Kafer). You can download a copy here: http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_1_36?asin=B006BBGDOY&qid=1322000655&sr=1-36
Rick’s sequel to WIRED KINGDOM, called KiDNApped will be available as an audiobook Spring 2012.

JIM BERNHEIMER and his CONFESSIONS OF A D-LIST SUPERVILLAIN! Jim sent me the book, but I’ve already downloaded this audiobook because I don’t have time to read it. Can’t wait to take a listen…it just seems like a fantastic and fun concept! You can download your copy here: http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_1_1?asin=B005HJK43M&qid=1322624410&sr=1-1.

And if audiobooks of the old fashioned pulpy and/or serials is more your cup of tea…have I got news for you. If you go to http://www.pulpmachine.blogspot.com/ you can find all kinds of old fashioned (and new) pulp titles available in audiobook format. Tommy Hancock, my official source for all things pulp, said of this site: This is where our first issues of FANTASY AND FEAR, MASKED GUN MYSTERY, and PECULIAR ADVENTURES audio books done with Broken Sea Audio are and the print ones can be bought.” So if pulp audiobooks are your cup of tea, you’ve got a fantastic resource right there.

So…audiobooks. What do you think? What are your feelings about audiobooks? Like them? Have you ever tried them? Share with us here. Tell us your thoughts and experiences. I love hearing from you, so talk to me! 🙂 

And once again, thank you for supporting me, my friends, and this blog.

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