Storytime - Summer 2010

Children, probably listening to Fiction School.

Remember how, when you were a kid, you loved having a story read to you?  You loved hearing a story out loud?  There was just something about it, some soothing magic, that only a story told out loud can provide.

But, hey, now that you’re all grown up, the world doesn’t have to be all corruption and boredom, you curmudgeon!  You can still get that childhood magical feeling of having a story told to you any time you want.  The secret? Audiobooks.

This week on the show, we’re talking about that magic of stories told out loud, and how authors can use audiobooks to read more and further their career.  And even cooler, authors can nowadays get their own books into audiobook formats that sounds great, and do it quickly and affordably.

It’s an awesome audible world out there, kids (this podcast notwithstanding…).


  • We start off getting honest: we confess our love for hearing stories out loud.  There’s something about this primal, basic human instinct to have a story told to us, and audiobooks fulfill that need.
  • It’s also cool how we can get stories told to us through audiobooks and podcasts when we’re doing mundane tasks like working out or washing dishes or even commuting to work.  All stories, all the time, people.Headphones
  • Some audiobooks and podcasts we love that have to do with fiction and writing include: Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, and The Truth, The Moth, Criminal, Serial, A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment, and even highfalutin brain candy like Home Dunk.
  • Then we talk about how Jody and Baker both have audiobooks of their own work!
  • Jody talks about how the author is often the last to know what is developing with their books in the world of traditional publishing.
  • Like how she got an email out of the blue that BOMBSHELL was being produced as an audiobook on Audible.  Then she got an email from the voice actor about accents, pronunciations, etc.
  • Baker talks about turning The Battle Hymn Blues into an audiobook through ACX, an Amazon subsidiary.
  • It was a good experience as a self-publisher–first, because of the option for partnership.  Baker did not want to record his own book because, damn, that would be hard and take FOREVER to get anywhere close to okay, and let’s not even talk about PERFECT.
  • So, Baker uploaded a sample and got some voice actor’s pitches, found a good one to work with, and then proceeded with the production.
  • The Battle Hymn Blues audiobookWith ACX, you can partner with the voice actor and share royalties on audiobook sales, so there’s no upfront costs.  The book gets distributed on Audible and Amazon, which are the two biggest sources for audiobooks.
  • Then we start ranting about how hard it is for the writer to record their own books as audiobooks.  There’s the stamina to read your own work out loud.  There’s the technical work to record in the right file type and bitrate and get the best sound quality.  There’s the need for it to be basically perfect.
  • We can’t do that.  (Proof of this is in your ears.  Listen to our dadgum mistakes on this podcast–which we totally own and don’t care about, thank y’all very much.)
  • But even so, audiobooks are a very important part of the book market these days.  It’s growing like crrrrraaaaaazzzzzzzzy.
  • There are tons of ways to listen to books and podcasts now, and Amazon has bought Audible, which is a sign they believe in its growth.
  • And now you can read books on your Kindle, then listen to the audiobook, and then go back to the Kindle, and it’ll know exactly where you are the whole time through this technology called Whispersync.
  • Some parents are using audiobooks to teach their kids to read, even.  Baker talks about his 1990 boom box that his kid loves.  And also loves to smear peanut butter and jelly all over.
  • Having your book as an audiobook for sale changes the way it’s listed on Amazon–audiobooks are kind of expensive, so it makes your print book’s cover price look like a sweet deal in comparison.
  • Big books are more managable as audiobooks or ebooks, we talk about–a thousand page book will bloody your nose if you try to read in bed and fall asleep and that bad boy falls on your face.
  • And audiobooks are more communal, too.  You can listen to them with someone at the same time, like while you’re making dinner with your partner or whatever.  Or on road trips, listening in the car with your family.
  • Baker relives this tedious, fucking idiotic painting job he had to do that was made tolerable by listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
  • Does it change the way you experience the story if you’re listening to it instead of reading it?  Does it change the story if you hear it while you’re making dinner or cleaning the bathroom?  Some people say so, but Jody doesn’t buy it.
  • In fact, Jody actually likes the audiobook better sometimes–she’s hated some writers’ use of punctuation on the page, but it was okay out loud.  (She even hates the font sometimes!)
  • We try to think of any authors who are good at reading their own stuff.  Donna Tartt does pretty good with A Secret History, even though she’s a middle-aged woman and the narrator is a college guy.
  • Stephen King reads his memoir, On Writing, really well, but that’s nonfiction so it works better.  His horror books use voice actors.
  • Jody mentions The Walt Longmire series, with an iconic writer/narrator pairing.
  • And we end with the old writer’s guilt.  No matter what you do, it’s never enough…

Hey, thanks for listening!  Here’s The Battle Hymn Blues in audiobook!  And look for Bombshell in audiobook format early in 2015!

***And hey, one last thing?  Please support Fiction School by leaving a review or a rating at iTunes or anywhere else.  It’ll just take a second!  Here’s a link right to iTunes for you to do that.  We really appreciate it!***

Love to y’all, and happy writing.