We’re thrilled that Ellen Kushner’s novel Swordspoint, produced on ACX under Neil Gaiman’s Neil Gaiman Presents label, has been selling so briskly and that so many listeners are discovering this wonderful title for the first time in audio. Swordspoint’s producer, Sue Zizza, has written a fascinating and instructive piece on the making of the audiobook. To dramatize the Swordspoint story in audio, Zizza and Kushner collaborated to create an unusual multicast narration that includes sound effects and a musical underscore. And the effort has paid off–Swordspoint has just won an Audiofile Earphones Award! (Note that this kind of “illuminated” production isn’t appropriate for the majority of audiobooks, but it’s an approach that can really bring a special book like Swordspoint, with its vivid historical setting and large cast of characters, to brilliant life in audio. And one of Zizza’s points is that it can be affordable to incorporate additional production values, if done judiciously.)
Is My Book a Candidate for an Illuminated Production?
You may be wondering what kinds of books make promising candidates for this unusual kind of production. Here are four factors to keep in mind:
- Your ACX title will typically not be royalty share. Illuminated productions should be funded up front to cover at least primary production costs.
- Scenes need dialogue. Illuminated scenes should include a few continuous minutes of conversation.
- Sense of time and place. Consider that the soundscapes and layering techniques need to have an imaginative base in the text. Your book needs to be atmospheric in some way.
- To recoup investment in production, a book’s profile and author’s ability to promote are desirable.