#JIAM: Interview with Little, Brown & Company Audiobook Department + Giveaway

Today I am happy to bring you all an interview with Anthony Goff - Vice President of Audio and Large Print, Michele McGonigle - Director of Production and Megan Fitzpatrick - Associate Director of Marketing & Publicity for Little, Brown & Company. They share with us some great answers during audiobook month. 

1. Audiobooks have come a long way since the era of "books on tape." What do you credit for this evolution? 

I feel an increased passion on behalf of the publishers for putting out a solid, creative product, coupled with consumers that are busier than ever, yet still want to devour books from their favorite authors, or on a hot topic of interest. (AG)

2. Audiobooks are theater without the visual, but who makes the interpretive decision --publisher or narrator?

The publisher sets the stage and the narrator shines in the spotlight, each trying to bring to life the author’s intent. (AG)

The decision is usually made in collaboration – our producer, director, and narrator discuss, and the author is often consulted. (MF)

This is a collaborative effort/decision between the producer, director, narrator and the material the author has provided them all to work with. (MM)

3. How do you decide who narrates which books? Are specific instances in which you opt to bring an author in to read their own book?

When the producer/director reads the manuscript early on, they often immediately have a sense for the kind of voice they want, and will reach out to a few actors for short audition pieces. A big part of the interpretation is decided in the very casting of the narrator, so that falls mainly to the publisher, but the author sometimes weighs in on a few audition clips, or tells us what kind of voice they hear for it. Our Producers decide to have the author read their own nonfiction much more frequently than fiction, but in cases where the author is also a performer (like the author of American Dervish, Ayad Ahktar, recently), we’ll often try to have them read themselves. (MF)

Many people don’t realize what particular skills are required in the audiobook recording booth; it is an in-depth process, which is physically, mentally and often times emotionally demanding. Audiobook narrators are much more than just a good voice. (MM)

4. What are your goals when converting a book to audio? How can you be sure it will translate well?

We utilize several trade techniques in order to help material translate from print to audio. (MM)

Adding another dimension to the print work is definitely a goal. Complimenting the book in every way so a reader who may be listening for the first time, would have a wonderful experience consuming this book (and hopefully many more) in the audio format down the road. (AG)

We choose which books become our audiobooks carefully. There are certain parameters to the format, and we’re aware of them when we’re adapting any complex work to audio. Some, like books of photography, may never translate into a great listening experience, but other titles with charts and graphs or visual jokes can be really fun challenges to get creative with. The audio format allows us great opportunities to showcase language, rhythms, and patterns that might not jump out as easily from the printed page. Some books just scream out at us from the manuscript pages to be converted to audio! (MF)

5. Do readers have a role in determining how audio products are adapted to a constantly evolving listenership? How have consumers affected audiobook production in recent years?

Absolutely! We’re always keen to hear to listener feedback, from questions about sound effects and music in the background (which always seems to be a 50/50 split among those who love and hate it), to the best formats for downloading. In the past few years, inspired by new movie DVDs that give consumers the convenience of multiple formats—regular DVD, Blu-ray format, & digital video files for download in one package—Hachette Audio rewarded the faithful listeners of a few of our hugely popular "digital pioneer" authors. We wanted to bridge the gap between physical and downloadable audiobooks, so each of the selected titles included the full unabridged audiobook in two formats—on traditional CDs and in an MP3 file. People who purchased these editions could go more easily from listening in the car to listening on the treadmill on their MP3 players.

In another case, we recently released David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest as a 56-hour-long digital download – you can read more about our decision to go back into the studio to record the extra 6.5 hours of endnotes and release them as soon as possible, based on fan feedback, here: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/books_9781619696167_Description.htm.

We’re also recording a wider list of titles each season, and producing more as digital downloads, in response to the growing numbers of people buying in this format, and (so sadly!) limited space in physical bookstores. (MF)

Now Thanks to Little, Brown & Company we have a copy of Daughter of Smoke and Bone to offer to one reader. If you are interested in obtains your own copy, here are the links to purchase today: Amazon / Hachette Audio.

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  1. Thanks for the great post! Audio books are great. They have really saved us on long road trips.

    kprwrite at hotmail dot com

  2. I learned about audio books. I didnt realize that they were so selective.

  3. I've been wanting to read this for a while. Thanks for the giveaway!

  4. I didn't realize the readers feedback effected the audio production. That is cool to know.

  5. Great interview! I've just gotten into audiobooks this year and love them! They're great for listening to when doing housework or cooking ... that way I can get things accomplished AND read.

    I'm curious how much TIME goes into making an audiobook ... from the interview, it sounds like a lot, but how much recording time does it take, I wonder? Like the interview says, a narrator is so much more than a good voice -- the narrator has to be SO familiar with the book! It's not like they can just sit down and read. The first book I listened to, An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, had a great narrator and I was impressed by all the voices he could do. It would be an interesting process to watch!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  6. Great interview! I listen to audiobooks all the time, but I have never really thought about how much time and planning go into making the audiobook.

  7. Nice interview! I'm surprised listener feedback plays such a role in audiobooks. But, I guess that would make sense. It is a product.
    Thanks for the giveaway too!

  8. I learned that there are such things like audiobooks...:/ yeah i know. I can't believe that i didn't know that:/

  9. I didn't know how much time and planning went into the creation of one audiobook.

  10. That audio books have come along way. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

  11. I love audiobooks and it was interesting to read a little more about the process of how they're made. It's amazing how much talent narrators have (and as I've discovered, I enjoy some narrators much more than others). I've also wondered how they tackle challenges like visual images in a printed book to the audiobook format. Great interview!

  12. I learned it takes lots of planning & time goes into making an audio book

    ctymice at gmail dot com

  13. I didn't know that you could make books with charts or graphs into audiobooks, I didn't think that anything except ordinary novels can be made into audio.

  14. Yes! I never figured that just "reading a book" could be so physically, mentally and emotionally taxing on a reader. Very insightful.

  15. I don't think I really learned anything except that some have sound effects and background music. I've probably listened to over 200 audiobooks and haven't encountered either. I think they'd probably add to the experience.

  16. I'm torn about the background noise/music on audiobooks. Sometimes, it works really well, but there are other occasions where it is quite distracting. That being said, I like when music signals the end of a chapter or section of a book. I know it's usually a good stopping point. :-)

  17. I didn't really know how complicated it was to make an audiobook. I suppose after thinking about it I should have know, considering their taking the book, and unlike the movie, basically transcribing it. But they still have to do it in a way which is entertaining and flows well with the written book. Very interesting to see a little of the behind-the-scenes!

  18. wow I didnt realize how much went into the making of an audiobook. this was very informative. great interview!

  19. I have never read an audio book before and didn't realize the process and thought that goes into them and how a narrative is picked. I'm really intrigued and can't wait to get ahold of my first one

  20. Loved learning that there are other readers who don't like sound effects in abooks. Thanks for the giveaway!


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