Authors! Are Your Books Available in Audio?

I caught hold of the audio book coattails at the end of 2012. My first audio book, The Merry-Go-Round, came out around Christmas time. I've put out nine other audio books since then, and I'm now working on having the final three produced.  I used the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) for every one of my books. ACX made it easy to search for the perfect narrator for each story. And Amazon offers customers Whispersync that allows them to switch between reading the Kindle book and listening to the professional narration from Audible. Fantastic!

Please be warned: the production of audio books is time consuming, but it's well worth the effort. I checked my sales this morning, and I'm happy to report that I've sold over 500 audio books in two months. And the audio market is exploding! Here's news from the ACX blog:

ACX Produces 10x More Audiobooks in 2012

If you haven’t heard the good news, let us be the first to tell you. A whopping ten times as many titles were produced via ACX in 2012 as in 2011! Audiobooks of all kinds are getting made via ACX and are available for sale on Audible, Amazon and iTunes.

If you were part of our great year, thanks! If you weren’t, now is the time to get in on the action. Are you an audiobook narrator/producer? Do you own the audio rights to a book (this could be you, authors, publishers, etc.)? Then check out our How It Works section, learn a bit more, and create an account!

Here’s to even MORE audiobooks in 2013!

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So, authors, if you haven't ventured into the audio book market...what are you waiting for? Grab those coattails! You're in for a wild ride!

Orecchiette with Peas and Prosciutto

Orecchiette means "little ear" in Italian. This round pasta, with its cup-shaped center dent, is perfect for capturing bits of vegetables and sauce. Prosciutto is dry-cured pork that comes from the hind leg of the pig (i.e. ham). Mmmmm! Let's get on with the recipe...


  • ½ pound thick-cut prosciutto, diced
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ medium yellow onion, minced
  • 1 ½ cups green peas, fresh or frozen
  • 1 pound orecchiette
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Brown the prosciutto in the olive oil in a heavy frying pan until crisp. Remove the proscuitto with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the onion to the pan and cook until translucent. Add the peas and prosciutto and stir to combine. Turn flame to low heat while pasta cooks. Boil the orecchiette in salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta well and place in a bowl. Stir the butter and cheese into the pasta, add the pea/prosciutto mixture and toss to combine. If desired, offer extra freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano to be sprinkled on top.


You Don't Need an e-Reader to Read e-Books

Okay, I'll admit it. I dragged my heels when it came to buying an e-reader. What can I say? I love books. Real books. The ones made of paper. The ones that have a spine that cracks when you open them. (I can hear the collective gasp. "You cracked the spine? That's sacrilegious!" But that's a whole other blog post.)

Once I began selling my romance novels as e-books, I felt I had to break down and buy an e-reader. I settled on a Kindle, but I have friends who own Nook and Kobo e-readers who are very happy with their choice. If you're in the market for an e-reader, you can find some product reviews here at CNET and here at PCWorld. I really enjoy my kindle (this, too, is whole other blog post), and I rarely leave the house without it. But…

Did you know… you don't have to buy an e-reader to enjoy reading e-books? If you own a computer or a laptop (PC or Mac), a smart phone, or a tablet, then you can download a free reading app. Yes, I said FREE. I'm always surprised by the many readers who are unaware of this fact.

Choose which e-reader app you'd like, then click the link and download the app. It's as simple as that!


Voice Over Artist, Laura Jennings

Today, I welcome Laura Jennings to my blog. Laura has narrated several of my romance novels, and she's done an exceptional job of interpreting my stories. When I write a novel, the scenes unfold in my mind's eye; I actually hear and see what's going on, all the while, tapping the keys on my laptop as quickly as possible so I don't miss anything. Like great music, fictional stories have a cadence, a rhythm, that hopefully wraps the reader in a soft embrace and carries her along for a wonderful ride. Laura not only understood the rhythm of my books and my characters, she truly got what my sweet romances are all about. And she worked tirelessly to turn my books into wonderful audio productions. I asked Laura to tell my readers and listeners a little about how she does what she does.
Laura Jennings, Voice Over Artist

In Laura's words:

I love books. I always have. As long as I can remember.  I love the feel of them in my hand, the words strung together to create another world that one can slip into and out of. But, most of all, I love the telling of a story. The way the words roll around in my mouth and come out in a way that creates three-dimensionality. A listener can close their eyes and lean backwards, safely falling into the story with the sound of my voice cradling them and rocking them gently into another world. I am the bridge that connects the writer’s imagination and the eager mind of the listener in an audio book. In short, I am the narrator.

Every narrator has their own way of building this bridge. For me, working closely with the author is the first and most crucial step. In my humble opinion, if a narrator doesn’t believe the characters and the world created by the author, how will they ever do the story justice?  I just finished narrating a novel in which there were no less than 15 separate characters. If I did not take the time to get to know these characters, it would have been impossible for me to attempt to make them separate entities in their own right for the listener. These characters are purposefully and lovingly created by the author and should be handled with care. ‘Nuff said.

Editing, editing, editing. Anyone can speak into a mic and record the written word. But it is the editing that makes the audio a work of art by the narrator. Pronouncing every word as intended, correcting mistakes and fixing mouth noises is just the beginning. These corrections are made during the first listen. The second listen is where you rerecord dialogue for special effect, and add pauses and silences, those little things that create nuance and ambiance for the listener, all the while staying true to the author’s intent. 

For the tekkies…equipment.  Baseline speakers, good editing software, a computer with lots of memory are a must. The real arguments break out over preamps and mics. Some purists record straight into the digital interface and use a bit of gain control there. Others want the warmth of tubes in a good tube preamp or the ability to compress while recording so that there is less end processing. Every artist has their favorite tools as every writer has their favorite pen or word processor. A narrator should know their voice and which equipment enhances it. Then there are condenser mics versus dynamic mics….don’t worry…I’ll stop here.

So this is what we do to make an audio book. With a little luck and a lot of hard work we create something in which we are totally transparent.  If a listener’s heart quickens when shots are fired on the battlefield or a long lost love is finally found then the bridge to the listener’s imagination is passable. If the driver goes once more around the block just to hear the end of a chapter all over again, then we have done our job well.
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Laura Jennings earned a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Antioch University. She is a happy newly-wed who enjoys the outdoors and has even competed in the odd triathlon or two. She has been a voice over artist for a couple of years now and she trained with the best voice over coach ever - Jim Conlan. To learn a bit more about Laura, visit her website where you can find contact information as well as audio and commercial samples

A few of Donna Fasano's sweet romances narrated by Laura Jennings: