It’s official. Look for The Risk Theatre Model of Tragedy: Gambling, Drama, and the Unexpected in audiobook format wherever talking books are sold this spring. I’ve signed on with an intriguing newer company called Findaway Voices. It’s a one stop shop for audiobook creation and distribution. Findaway has teamed me up with a fantastic narrator: composer and actor Greg Patmore. Here’s Greg’s bio:
Audie Award Winner, Earphones Award Winner, SOVAS Voice Arts Awards nominated. Greg narrates in a warm, mature and responsively detailed British baritone, characterising in UK, US and world accents and listeners often feel they are listening to multiple actors in his productions. Ideally suited to a wide range of fiction genres, his natural presence also works well for factual and non-fiction presentations. He is a British actor in TV/Film in the US and UK such as Hatfields & McCoys, Vera, Coronation Street, Law & Order with additional experience in music and sound design production. Showreel https://vimeo.com/155034065 Passions include Rugby League, roaming Europe in a Dutch barge, real ale, music and books. Lots of books.
Although I found Findaway through an internet search, there’s surprisingly few third-party reviews of the company online. Most of what’s online is from Findaway itself. They have an informative website and also maintain a blog. It’s hard to find information about the company itself such as when it was founded and who owns it. It appears to be run by Will Dages, who signed my contract as ‘Head of Findaway Voices’. The Creative Pen has an informative hour-long interview with him on YouTube where both interviewer and interviewee are brimming with enthusiasm over the possibilities of the audiobook format. Worth a watch.
The Audiobook Process
Findaway makes it easy. You create a project file by downloading your book and a blurb about your book. You let them know a few details such as genre, BISAC codes, ISBN, and copyright. If your book’s already published, you should have everything on hand. It took about half an hour to enter the project metadata.
After that’s done, Findaway asks some questions about the type of narrator you’re looking for: gender, tone, accent, age. Then you wait. A few days later, they sent back a casting list with eight narrators that fit the criteria. In 2018 they boasted connections with 1500+ narrators. I would think that number has grown–it’s a really good opportunity for folks with golden voices to make some side money. Prices ranged from $240-340 (USD) per hour (narrators on average read 9000 words per hour). There’s a short bio of each narrator as well as multiple audio samples from previous books. After you listen to them, you can narrow down the field further by asking for a personal audition. You upload a short section of your book, and they’ll record it. I selected four narrators for a sample, and three got back the next week.
The section of my book I asked the narrators to read had extended quotes from various plays with male and female voices. When I listened to the audio samples, Greg Patmore’s ability to make each of the characters take on a unique identity won me over. I hit the ‘Book for Production’ button. The choice was easier than I thought, and, for that, I was happy.
In the next few days, Findaway sent me a basic contract. I signed and they signed. The next step in the process was to fill out “Production Notes.” On this form, you tell the narrator what you’re looking for in terms of tone (I wrote down “clear, powerful, gritty, tough”), pace (“dramatic and lively”), and feeling (“with authority, engaging”). I also included a pronunciation guide for fifty or so names, as the book discusses quite a few ancient plays where the characters have names we’re not used to today like “Gorboduc,” “Eteocles,” or “Eumenides.”
And that takes us up to the present moment. In the next few weeks I’m expecting an extended audio sample. I’ll review and comment on it, and then we will be in full production. I love this “Uberization” of the press. First it was companies like Friesen Press that gave self-published writers an opportunity to be heard. And now Findaway is extending this into the world of audiobooks. This is the digital revolution! Yes!
Until next time, I’m Edwin Wong, and I’m doing Melpomene’s work.