One of the many things I’ve learned over the past year is how popular audiobooks are these days. I had no idea. This is a small sample of tweets mentioning the Ready Player One audiobook, narrated by Wil Wheaton for example:
There are multiple tweets like this every single day (and I should know, I pretty much stalk mentions of RPO on Twitter). So I knew early on that I needed a Solarversia audiobook, but didn’t know where to begin. Here’s what happened next.
Where I went wrong
Turns out that Amazon owns Audible these days, the largest audiobook company in the world. A site called ACX is the backend – the place where authors / publishers are connected to voice artists who will record the book for you. I signed up at the end of August and was mystified when I didn’t receive any auditions whatsoever in the weeks that followed. I knew other authors, who’s books were roughly as successful as mine, who were receiving auditions. What was going on?
The mystery got solved about a month afterwards, when I was all but ready to contact Amazon. An author called Eric Padilla (who I’d never met before) contacted me out of the blue to tell me the following:
I’m a fellow author and I set up my book tonight on ACX, looking for narrators. While I was on, I saw that your book had been posted as looking for narrators as well. I noticed that in the information for the book, you apparently inadvertently pointed towards the print copy, so your rank is showing up as being over one million. I’m not sure if you have gotten auditions or not, but if you change it to the Kindle copy, your current rank would probably bring in more auditors. I hope it works out for you.
I was stunned. I logged in immediately to discover that Eric was spot on. I’d chosen the print copy. I don’t remember more than one copy being presented to me. Had I searched by the ISIN? Whatever had happened, I was more relieved than annoyed. I amended it to the Kindle version as per his advice (the rank was closer to 13,000!) and auditions started coming in that very same day – massive props to Eric for contacting me.
Update: Eric writes under the name P E Padilla, you can find him here on Amazon.
How to choose?
I had four auditions come in during the next few days and was faced with a new challenge – how to choose someone. Because this was my first book (and first audiobook) I wasn’t sure what I was doing.
- Did I want a male or female voice? Nova and Sushi are female … but Arty, Burner, Casey and Theodore are male.
- Did I want a British or American accent? Nova, Sushi, Burner and Arty are British … but Casey and Theodore are American.
I therefore ended up not specifying these parameters (gender and accent) and ended up with four American auditions. And the feedback I received from people (thanks guys) suggested this was wrong – they wanted a British voice. A guy called Alex was particularly helpful. He’s been following the Solarversia story for a while and gave lots of detailed feedback on each of the auditions. He told me that a guy called Peter Kenny was one of his favourite narrators. When I checked Peter’s website and discovered that he’d narrated all of Iain Banks’ books I was immediately sold. I contacted his agent the same day and booked Peter only a few days after that.
What makes Peter the best
I was already sold on Peter at this point, but what’s happened since then has only served to highlight why he’s considered one of the best voice artists in the world. As well as having a voice that you could literally listen to all day (good job that) his attention to detail is second to none. I met him a few weeks ago for a coffee, and he turned up with a little gilt-edged black book that looked like it had come straight out of Harry Potter.
It contained a special Solarversia page where he’d written down every name / word that he wanted clarification on, as well as a list of characters whose accent he wanted to nail down. To provide but one example, he asked what accent I thought Sushi should have. She’s British, but moved to the US when she was fourteen. Did she have a twang of American in there? Great question, something I hadn’t even considered. It was a lot of fun going through this stuff with him and I *cannot* wait to hear the finished product.
But it was an email a few days later that blew me away – Peter had spotted not one, but two, glaring errors in the book:
Chapter 25, Nova speaking – “I’m a huge fan of Solarversia and I’m doing pretty well. I’m a green belt, so I’ve still got a life left.”
Chapter 29 – “Although she still had a life left, they were only two-thirds of the way through the Year-Long Game, and according to the people at Spiralwerks, the tricky bits were yet to come.”
As any Solo worth their weight knows, green belts have two lives left, not one. Duh! (Nova still had two lives left in chapter 29). Peter was very diplomatic about it – apparently he picks up things like this in pretty much every single book he narrates. I was astounded that I’d missed it, my editor had missed it, the proofreader had missed it. Did you spot it? If so, why didn’t you tell me?!
Having Peter find these erros (allowing me to correct them in the versions before the book takes off, which it will, early next year, fingies and toes crossed) meant that I was extremely glad to have chosen him. Worth every last penny, as they say.
A visit to Metropolis
I visited Peter on Thursday down at Metropolis Studios where he’s currently hard at work (he actually finishes today, Saturday the 31st October). A big thanks to Ian Brenchley for donating the room in the studio
As Peter pointed out, this picture of the planets in the Solar System had to be a good sign!
Author Toby Downton with Peter Kenny:
Peter hard at work in his little room:
And finally, the man at work. Please ignore my phone buzzing around the 11 second mark … whoops. (Don’t worry, it won’t appear in the finished product…!)