My audiobook is out and I’m totally thrilled – even if only a handful buy it!
How it began
I hadn’t thought about producing one, as getting a hardback published was more than I’d ever dreamed of. But, almost imperceptibly, a trickle of people began asking if How to Age Joyfully existed in an audiobook format. I remember one saying that her mum would love it, but sadly her eyes were no longer up to reading. Another said she’d like to listen to it whilst walking her daily steps thereby getting two benefits for the price of one – audiobooks had become her new passion during the pandemic.
A tiny bit of market research
So, I asked around and the feedback was positive. ‘Go for it’ was the overall message. An audiobook would be less effort for some older readers; there were many with visual impairments; one could listen whilst cleaning, gardening, walking, at the gym, driving, or in bed; it could be played to a group, in a care or community setting…..
Audiobook sales were booming for good reason I was informed – they are wonderful! I was sold, despite, I confess, not having been a listener myself.
A journey of discovery
I then faced the challenge of discovering how on earth you produce an audiobook and get it out there. I needed ‘Audiobooks For Dummies’ but Mr Google was a start. Fate, or luck, intervened. I belong to an inspiring Society of Authors Non-Fiction Group, stuffed full of amazing authors producing books on such varied topics as Egyptology, the benefits of swearing, Charles Dickens, Iranian culture, how to think like Steve Jobs, Obama and countless others, and the joy of heartbreak! And ageing joyfully, of course.
At one of our, now regular, Zoom meetings, I asked these literary experts for advice. Incredibly, an audiobook producer was in our midst! Nartan Rose, for it was she, suggested we had an informal chat and, as they say, the rest is history.
Can someone else truly convey your story?
Nartan was wonderful and made the whole process a delight – well, for me anyway.
She advised on the key issue of narrator. I hadn’t realised how crucial it is to get the right voice to read words you have agonised over and which are deeply personal – at least that’s how I felt. In print they’re still yours as you read them, but hearing someone else say them is a very different matter. It took a couple of replays to get used to a stranger’s voice and appreciate how good it sounded.
Several had said I should read the book myself but I’m so glad I didn’t – it’s a real and significant talent which I do not possess.
We agreed it would be best to have a woman, roughly my age, to read my text, and a man to read the 150 plus quotes, largely to differentiate the two. But I also realised, for the first time, that the large majority of the quotations are by men. This was perhaps inevitable (given they date back to the Ancient Greeks) but is disappointing nonetheless.
Audiobooks have many varied benefits
I have listened to How to Age Joyfully and it is a completely different experience to reading and one that brings its own special rewards. It’s true you miss the great design (thanks to my publishers, Summersdale Publishers Ltd) and I do love holding a book and being able to flip back and forth.
But there’s no doubt having a wonderful voice in your head brings the words to life. Audiobooks are immersive and intimate.
More generally, research shows they help build and enhance literacy skills, such as comprehension, vocabulary, language acquisition and pronunciation. I stood corrected on how to say the names of some of the famous people quoted in my book!
Audiobooks have also been shown to boost mood and disrupt negative thinking.
They can help you get to sleep, perhaps even if you’re trying to listen!
Time is saved if you’re doing something else as well, such as exercising, and certainly make chores far more enjoyable.
You may end up ‘reading’ a lot more books, and with a great narrator may get more out of the books than from a hard copy.
If you usually read e-books, listening gives your eyes a well earned rest, especially nowadays when we spend so much time looking at a screen.
And studies have found they’re just as good for you as reading, stimulating the same cognitive and emotional areas.
Why not try an audiobook if you’ve never done so. Any topic, genre – the choice is endless . But just in case you’re tempted by How to Age Joyfully, here’s my Audiobook page where you can listen to a sample, and find a link to where it’s available. And it’s free with an Audible trial!
Stay safe; stay strong; stay smiling.