I'm so excited today to be hosting Karin Rita Gastreich on the blog tour for the release of the audio book of HIGH MAGA!!
First a little about the book...
HIGH MAGA [audio edition]
Karin Rita Gastreich (author)
Darla Middlebrook (narrator)
Sisters in magic, Eolyn and Adiana seek to revive a craft once forbidden to women. When war strikes at the heart of the kingdom, their fledgling community of magas is destroyed; its members killed, captured or scattered.
In hopes of defending her people, Eolyn tries to escape the occupied province and deliver to King Akmael a weapon that might secure their victory. Trapped by the invading army, Adiana is taken prisoner and placed at the mercy of the ruthless Prince Mechnes.
Even as their world is torn asunder, Eolyn and Adiana cling to a common dream. Courage and perseverance guide them toward a future where the Daughters of Aithne will flourish in a world set free from the violence of men.
“War propels the book forward, and the characters are at their best when the events engulfing them are at their worst.” –Publishers Weekly
And now, the interview!
1. How did you decide which route to take when approaching audiobook production? Working through your publisher, was the production hired out externally or handled internally?
My publisher, Hadley Rille Books, made the decision to release an audio edition of High Maga. The production was coordinated through the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX). Hadley Rille had already produced several audiobooks with ACX, including the audio edition of my first novel, Eolyn.
2. What all is in involved in finding a narrator, and how did you decide on the right voice?
ACX is designed as a platform in which publishers, authors, and narrators can find each other and then coordinate the production of an audio book. When a publisher or author is ready to contact a narrator, they post an announcement on the exchange. Interested narrators submit auditions by reading an excerpt from the novel.
In the case of High Maga, deciding on the right voice was relatively easy. We listened to a few auditions, but I was very interested in working again with Darla Middlebrook, who had already narrated Eolyn. Darla is a very talented narrator, and she is reliable when it comes to meeting deadlines and so forth. When Darla expressed interest in narrating my second novel, it was pretty much a done deal. I loved the way she handled the different voices in Eolyn, and given that foundation I knew she would do a great job with High Maga.
3. Was there a lot of editing and revising to make sure the narrator was reading certain sections the way you wanted them read?
In the case of Darla, not so much. Before recording, there was a fairly involved process of going through all the names of characters and places, to make sure pronunciations were correct. After Darla finished the first recording, I identified a few sections that needed to be reworked, mostly some dialogues where the voices were a little too similar. But in general, Darla really connected with the story and I was very pleased with her narration. Just thinking about it makes me want to listen all over again!
4. From start to finish, about how long did the audiobook process take?
About 8-9 months. That includes the audition process, plus edits and final preparation for release at the end. High Maga is a full-length 120,000 word novel; shorter works might not take as long. Even when the author and narrator are done, there’s no guarantee as to exactly when the book will come out, as ACX has its own quality control process and may not release the audiobook for another month or so.
I guess I should point out that I had a relatively smooth and trouble-free experience, but I know from other authors that it doesn’t always work that way. For a variety of reasons, your first choice in narrator might not be able to finish the work. Or, they might produce a narration with which you, the author, are wholly unsatisfied. Making an audio book is a significant commitment of time and effort, if you want to see it through to the end and ensure a quality product. Be prepared for everything to take up to a year or more in order to get the book done right.
5. What tips do you have for authors interested in producing an audiobook?
When soliciting auditions, choose an excerpt that features a variety of voices young and old, male and female. You want to get a good feel for the flexibility of the narrator when it comes to interpreting different characters.
Do not expect the narrator to read the book just like you would. Narrators are artists in their own right, and they are entitled to their own interpretation of scenes and characters. If you really, truly feel a particular voice is way off (too whiny, too bold, too grumpy, or whatever), then say so. But allow the benefit of the doubt when listening to your narrator’s final product. You just might discover some amazing aspects of your work that you never recognized before.
On the business end of things, independent authors may be put off by the fact that ACX assumes complete control over pricing. Unlike KDP, you cannot go in and change the price at will. ACX does provide free download codes when a book is released for the author to use however he or she pleases. Royalties are also less generous than with KDP. In addition, depending on the type of contract you choose, you may need to split royalties with the narrator. So make sure to consider all this carefully and decide whether the payoff will be enough before you commit.
Ironically, I don’t listen to audiobooks that much myself. Most of my reading is in paperback or to a lesser extent, ebooks. I do think audio books are great for anyone who loves stories and has to endure long commutes. In my experience, a lot of audiobook fans fall into this category. Avid readers dealing with significant time constraints like get their stories in by listening on the way to work. Audiobooks also help the hours pass during long road trips.
At home, I enjoy listening to audiobooks in the evening before I go to sleep. It’s like going back in time and having Mom or Dad read you a bedtime story.
7. What was your favorite part of having your books turned into audiobooks?
Something I kind of hinted at earlier: Darla helped me understand my work in a whole new way. In listening to her interpretation, I felt like I was discovering the story all over again. The drama of the characters, their struggles, triumphs, and heartbreak, became fresh and new.
It’s also just fun to know I have an audiobook (in fact, two audiobooks!) out there. Many people don’t have time to read and prefer to listen to books. So there is a large audience that didn’t have access to Eolyn’s world before and can now explore it fully. To all of them I say, “Welcome!” Enjoy the magic.
Where can you get a copy?
Amazon (audio book): http://www.amazon.com/High-Maga/dp/B00QMQLA3W/
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/high-maga-karin-rita-gastreich/1119380439
About the author and narrator...
About the Author:
Author web links:
Karin’s web site: http://krgastreich.com
Heroines of Fantasy: http://heroinesoffantasy.blogspot.com
About the Narrator:
With experience of 34+ years as a Speech-Language Pathologist, more than 20 years as a stage & film actor and over 20 years as a trained singer with knowledge and insight into the mechanics of the voice and speech, Darla Middlebrook brings a wealth of experience to bear to develop character voices (male, female, mature, extremely elderly, creepy, bright exotic, etc) with an impressive emotional range.
Currently, Darla is one of many voice actors who narrate podcasts for AIRS-LA (an audio internet service for individuals with visual challenges) in addition to narrating audio books.
Narrator Web Links: