Do you listen to audiobooks?

I’ve been considering recording some of my short stories as audiobooks.

I could go about this in two ways. I could either outsource the recording work to someone who is a professional voice artist, or I could read them myself with the equipment I have to hand.

A number of questions arise as a consequence of this idea:

I’m not an audiobook consumer myself, because I read extremely fast and I find listening to a story at the speed of natural language very frustrating. I’m therefore very biased against audiobooks. I find them boring, even when the story is excellent.

My first question is therefore: Do people who like my kind of writing like audiobooks?

I’ve no doubt there are many convoluted answers to this (“audiobook consumers can be people for whom reading is logistically challenging”, or “there are audiobook listeners in every genre”). While I’m sure all these have their merits, and are true in their own way, that’s not what I’m really asking. Underneath my question is : is it worth my time getting audiobooks prepared? Are there enough listeners to make it worthwhile?

Second, I wonder as to the process. Would I be better off getting a professional voice artist to narrate the book, or should I do it myself? Both answers exist in the world of blogs and YouTube. I’m quite capable of reading my own story clearly into a microphone. While I’m sure a professional could do it better, I could most likely do it well. But I have a very British accent, and that might put of the majority of my readership, which appears to be American and Canadian.

Voice actors are expensive. Just so you know. So the third question becomes: How much are people willing to pay for a short story in audiobook format? Can I realistically sell enough of those to make back (after royalties) the cost of producing the thing?

So many questions… let me know your thoughts in the comments, or through the form here, or by replying to one of my newsletters.

12 thoughts on “Do you listen to audiobooks?

  1. Rugene Jacobs

    I read fast and enjoy a good story. Having it read to me is something all together different. I lose my concentration on a story if someone reads it to me. My mind wanders and I miss crucial information. This is even more prone to happen if the reader is slow. If I get interrupted easy enough to find my place in a book

    • nicklavitz

      That’s exactly my problem – I can’t keep track of what’s going on because my focus drifts away from the story. Something about having it read to me does that. I doubt it’s that big a problem and I could probably get used to listening to the story instead of reading it, but I enjoy reading enough that I prefer absorbing a story that way. Listening to someone else reading it is a very different experience.

  2. Paula Reagles-Beers

    I do not listen to audiobooks. I like to read in the evenings before bedtime to relax and unwind. Having it read aloud would be a distraction . If I want background noise, I will leave the TV on

    • nicklavitz

      Maybe if I gave them more of a chance I’d get used to hearing stories in a voice other than the one in my head, but so far I’m in the same situation as you!

    • nicklavitz

      Hi Matt – I think one of the problems I’ve had with audiobooks is that the ones I’ve tried were books I’d either already read, or were part of series I was already into. As a consequence, the way it was read clashed with the way I thought of the story and interfered with my enjoyment of what I’d already read. I probably need to keep a more open mind!

      Thanks for your feedback.

  3. Richard Kellerman

    Did you know that Audible allows you to either increase or decrease the speed that a book is spoken. You might want to try listening and make a decision on your new experience. As for doing the narration yourself you might try recording one book and sending it to your mailing list as a test. British or not really applies to the nationality of the characters in the book.

    • nicklavitz

      I didn’t know you could do that with Audible – I haven’t tried out that service. The audiobooks I’ve used were downloaded free to see if I liked the medium and I found it difficult to stay in the story when it was being narrated. As for the recording – I was considering doing exactly what you suggest, part of the idea was to gauge my audience’s appetite for an audiobook to see if it was worth the trouble. I may try it anyway, and if this audience enjoys the story, put it up on Audible or somewhere else.

      Thanks for your feedback!

  4. I do enjoy audio books. Granted – l do not enjoy every reader. Some voices just irritate. Those l give up on and read the book myself. Being read to can be relaxing. It can also help with boring chores. Most of my audio books do have a speed adjustment and that does help. A slow reader makes me tired.

    • nicklavitz

      Most of the people I knwo who swear by audiobooks say the same thing – that they listen to books when doing something else like cleaning, gardening or driving. I can’t seem to concentrate on the story when I’m also paying attention to something else, and the story ends up half-formed, with things I don’t understand because I missed them. Thanks for taking the time to reply.

  5. I listen to a lot of audiobooks, and honestly I love them. Yes, I have listened to a few where I haven’t been fond of the narrator, but I do sometimes adjust the playback speed to help with it. For me, audiobooks give me the opportunity to enjoy many more books than I could if I were to read physical copies.

    • nicklavitz

      Hi Catrina. Thanks for your answer. I assume you’re an Audible subscriber, or that you subscribe to something similar. The price of individual audiobooks looks very high to me (although to be fair I haven’t examined the sector in detail, so I could be mistaken). It’s good to hear that there are “power users” of audiobook content.

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