Tyger Extra: the Audiobook
‘Listen to any good books recently?’ It seems more and more of us are downloading audiobooks, thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets – and the format’s popularity on long car journeys. The UK audio market rose by nearly 25% in 2014 – and has grown by an astonishing 170% in the past five years, making it the fastest growing market in publishing.
I myself was thrilled when I learned that once again Christian Rodska was to narrate the latest audiobook in the Kydd series, Tyger.
This multi-talented actor/ narrator has a truly superb range of voices — and a real feel for stories about the sea. Let’s hear from Ellie Wheeldon of Hodder & Stoughton’s digital team and Elspeth McPherson, Strathmore Publishing, about just what’s involved in getting my manuscript to a listener.
- ‘We had to wait patiently for first proofs to come in before we got started on the audiobook, although we schedule things in months in advance with our studio partners. We work with a number of third parties. Tyger was recorded at Strathmore Publishing, a well-established studio in Farringdon. After estimating running time and costs based on word count (and reading the book of course!) we sent the text and a casting brief to the studio team. In this case we have a long-standing (and excellent!) reader, so that sped things along nicely!’
Elspeth McPherson on how it’s done :
- ‘The the actual process of recording the audiobook begins with the publisher contacting the production company (us – Strathmore Publishing) to say that they have a book that they would also like to include as an audio version, and when it will be published. We get told when final text will be due and when final files (edited sound files) will be needed. At this stage we talk about who will be a suitable reader, often reading an early draft of the text. We usually suggest 3–4 possible readers and these suggestions get shared with the author and the book’s editor and a decision is made. Some books are part of a series so the reader of previous books is the obvious choice. We (sometimes the publisher) then contact the reader’s agent and arrange a suitable time to do the recording. We have a recording studio on site with a large and a smaller recording booth so we can have two projects on the go at any one time. We book a producer for the recording and also a sound editor to take the recording away, fix retakes that were done in the studio and make it all flow smoothly.
Usually the producer and narrator will have some contact beforehand to discuss voices and pronunciations. Often the author might get involved in advising on pronunciations (especially with a sci-fi book where the author might have created the names / words) and sometimes on characterisation. More difficult pronunciations get checked by the production company and we have been known to call the Natural History Museum for dinosaur names, Kew for botanical names, obscure gun clubs in USA and various embassies among others!
Many readers will mark up their scripts extensively. Sometimes in colours for different voices, sometimes like a play scripts with the character names in the margin and the tone of the speech (loud, angrily, whispered etc.). I have seen a script marked up like a musical score with the phrasing and pauses written in too. The more prepared the reader is the more smoothly the recording goes. If the audiobook forms part of a series the production company often keeps reference clips of voices to refer back to when future books are recorded.’
How long does the recording take?
- ‘The recording usually takes double the finished length of the book. So if an audiobook is likely to be 12 hours long it would take 4 x 6 hour days to record.’
Is there is ‘proof-listener’?
- ‘We always use proof listeners who work alongside our editors to check the recording and anything that the editor might have missed.’
Once approved, what happens to the digital audio file of the recording?
- ‘Occasionally the client also wants to check the recording, but usually they are happy to leave it to our check-listeners. Once everyone is happy with it we upload the final recording to Audible and send notifications to both the publisher and Audible that the files are there. We aim to have the files three weeks before publication date (which is almost always a Thursday, so three Thursdays before pub date is the delivery date).’
In the UK and Commonwealth, Tyger will be available as a digital download at Audible and iTunes on October 8, coinciding with the release of the hardback, and a CD set of the audiobook is planned for March 2016 release. The audio download will also be available in the US.
The previous Kydd Series audiobooks (all narrated by Christian) are currently available as digital downloads at Audible in the UK and Audible in the USA.
For those who like to switch between ebook and audiobook format the titles have Whispersync for Voice capability.
All of the previous Kydd titles as CD audiobook sets, as well as The Silk Tree, are currently available From Whole Story Audiobooks where you can also listen to an excerpt of each book.
Christian Rodska fittingly has the last word:
‘It’s always a pleasure when my agent calls to say I have another Kydd adventure by Julian Stockwin to record – Tyger will be the sixteenth. His research is impeccable, his knowledge and understanding of the sea and those who spend their lives upon it unparalleled and I look forward to the next one!’