Thursday, August 17, 2017

Why I Love Audiobooks (a “series writer’s” point of view, by Aaron Lazar)

Hi, folks!

I love audiobooks as a reader and book lover. Since the day I discovered how easy it is to listen to a book in my car or on my phone, I have been hooked. I belong to Audible and my library is always loaded up with two to three audiobooks ready to go. If I don’t have a book to listen to—while driving to work, walking, doing laundry, weeding, or winding down at night—I panic. It’s really the only “reading” time I have left in my life, and I cherish it. No, I'm obsessed with it. (If you haven’t discovered this joy in your life yet, see this article to guide you through it.)

But why do I love audiobooks as an author?

Frankly, there are a million reasons why, and here are just some of them.

Fixing Typos and Other Embarrassing Errors

Normally, my Beta readers (God bless all fifteen of them!) find my typos and inconsistencies and just plain dumb mistakes. They're amazing! But even with all the times we go over my manuscripts, there are mistakes we collectively miss.

First of all, if your narrators are as good as mine, you'll “hear” your story in a whole new light as you go through the production phase together.

You’ll find “repeat” words that you can quickly and easily fix in the eBook version. (I hate when I use a word like "slip" or "tree" or "house" more than once in a paragraph or even on a page - except for the obvious little connecting words, etc.)

You’ll find missing spaces or extra punctuation marks. Again, easily fixed. Your narrator will comment on a sentence that might not feel natural, giving you a chance to tweak it on the spot. And you can also discover sneaky little inconsistencies that might have crept into the novel, such as one of your characters having brown eyes in the beginning and gray eyes in the middle of the book! Believe me, it happens. When I think about how many characters I’ve created over the years (primary and secondary), it's a little bit scary. (another article for another day…) Therefore, I use the creation of the audiobook to completely scour out any little niggling errors that might have escaped my notice in the eBook.

Assuring your Print Book is as Good as it Can Be

I usually wait to release the print book until I’ve approved the final audiobook. I hate the idea of print books being out there with even the tiniest error. So my usual release order is:
  •         eBook (so easy to fix and change on the fly)
  •         audiobook
  •         print booK
Note: I use Create Space to get my print books out there. So, even if you post the print book file with errors, you can of course, fix them at any time. It’s just that if people have already ordered them and have them on their bookshelves, there isn’t an easy way to “correct” these already printed books.

Preparing to Write the Next Book in a Series

I have to keep a lot of series straight. So far, here they are:

·       LeGarde Mysteries (11)
·       Tall Pines Mysteries (4)
The funny thing is, most of these series just started out as standalone books, but my readers begged me for more, so I turned them into series. It’s pretty cool, but that is a LOT of characters and a gazillion plots to remember. It’s especially hard if you’ve been working on one series and then want to switch over to the next.

So, what I do to prepare is I listen to my series again. Sometimes I just listen to the last book to get me in the groove and to “remember” what the heck I wrote about! Sometimes I’ll go through the whole series to be fully grounded again. After all, it might have been two or three or more years since I “visited” with these characters. I’ve got a pretty good memory, but it sure isn’t perfect and I often forget what I’ve written about after a while. It’s funny – sometimes I’m horrified and sometimes I’m thrilled at what I “discover” I wrote, especially from years ago.

Reclaiming Older Titles

I loved my first publisher (Lida Quillen from Twilight Times Books) and I will always be grateful to her for supporting me throughout the early years. But as time went on, I decided to take more control over my books’ release dates, cover designs, and promotion. Little by little, I’ve been asking for rights back on my older titles. I polish them up to match my current skill level (after all, some were written over ten years ago!) and re-release them under my own name, usually through Kindle Select Publishing. This is more lucrative for me and I really like having the control over pricing, sales, cover art, etc. Also, as mentioned above, I can edit or make small changes on a whim without having to bother my publisher about it. I love that.

So, let’s take an example. I’m going to be redesigning covers for and taking back the rights on the last two books in the Green Marble Mysteries, Terror Comes Knocking and For Keeps. 

 Right now I’m listening to Terror Comes Knocking again, and finding out how much I’d forgotten from this story. I’m mentally noting where I wrote, “shrugged his shoulders,” instead of the much simpler “shrugged,” (what else is he going to shrug, anyway?). I’m also reliving some scenes from my own life that I incorporated into this story.

For example, when Sam’s wife, Rachel, who has MS, falls and breaks both her shoulders, I am painfully reminded of when this happened to my wife, how she suffered, and how I took two weeks off work to care for her every need. So, I’ve decided to write an “afterword” for this book to explain some of these things. Honest to God, folks, I didn’t make it up, and you don’t have to employ the “suspension of disbelief” because some of these ridiculously improbable things really happened to us!

Redesigning Covers

When I reclaim a book from my original publisher, I also recover it. Let’s face it. Book cover design has improved a thousand fold since even five years ago, and the brighter, bolder, sassier covers stand out among the crowd. It’s more important than ever now to have a cover that is vibrant and also clearly visible in thumbnail format on websites or phones.

During the re-listen of Terror Comes Knocking, I decided on the new cover approach. I found a stock photography model of my character Zaffina Azziz, the sultry, saucy Egyptian “princess” who falls into Sam and Rachel’s life when their daughter disappears. Is she a sincere med student who just wants to help them? Or is there something much darker and more nefarious about her? The image displays all that I imagined, years ago. With my designer, we’ll decide what kind of a background to choose. It could be rolling hills and tree lines (just like where Sam lives), a small-town parade, or something to do with the President, since he is in grave danger in this book. (stay tuned for the new cover art!)


I hope this helps you series writers who might not have time to go back and re-read your older titles. Time is such a precious commodity these days, and this tactic can really help. 

Have fun, and if you need guidance on how to get started with producing audiobooks for NO cost or investment, check out these articles I wrote a long time ago to do just that!  ;o)

Remember to take pleasure in the little things and write like the wind!

Aaron Paul Lazar

If you’d like to listen to any of my books, here’s a link to my Audible page:

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