ACX author Joshua Gayou snagged all-star Audible Approved Producer R.C. Bray to narrate his debut novel, Commune: Book One, after he approached R.C. during a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything). But before that fateful question, Joshua set himself up for a ‘yes’, putting the right pieces in place to catch lightning in a bottle. Joshua joins us today to share the work that enabled his audiobook achievement.
ACX author Joshua Gayou
Working with Audie Award-winning voice artist R.C. Bray has resulted in the audio version of Commune: Book One outselling both the eBook and print formats of the title, sending it to the #1 position on Audible’s post-apocalyptic genre charts for several weeks. Not too shabby for a debut novel by a completely unheard-of author, no?
I have written at length on why I believe audiobooks are the new place to be in today’s market, but for this article, I wanted to offer some insight into how I managed to have a book produced and performed by R.C. Bray, given my relative obscurity. Sadly, there is no fast and easy answer to this. There is a lot of groundwork to have in place before you ever approach the narrator of your choice. Here’s what I recommend.
1. Be Good
The importance of this concept cannot be overstated. I truly believe R.C. Bray would not have signed on to produce my audiobook if he had not been wowed by my writing. Generally, the steps necessary to become a good writer will vary from person to person, but all involve a great deal of practice.
- Read/listen to lots of books to learn what works well and what doesn’t with regard to telling a story using the written/narrated word.
- Do a lot of writing and share your work with people you trust. Most importantly, ask for blunt criticism.
- Write with a view toward the audiobook production process. Concern yourself with narrative flow, delivery, and dialogue structure.
2. Find a Way to Distinguish Yourself from the Herd
I know I just told you to be good, but I’m going to reveal the hard truth: good writers are a dime a dozen. You’ve also got to be refreshing. One way I’ve done this for myself has been to consume a great deal of similar media from other creators with a hyper-critical eye. You know that jerk that’s always picking apart movies and TV shows to a surgical degree to discover what’s wrong with them? Yep, that’s me. I’m looking for things that I don’t like, and if the opportunity presents itself, I actively work to avoid those tropes and clichés in my own work.
If you focus on finding some way to make the story an uncommon reader experience, and more importantly, if the result of that focus is exciting to you as the writer, you’re most likely on the right track.
3. Make Sure Your Work Fits the Narrator
The better narrators tend to be very protective of their brand, as they should be. A performer of any type wants a project that will favorably show his or her talents. Be sure to research your dream narrator’s body of work and learn what projects he or she typically likes to pursue. If you’ve written a gritty procedural crime drama and the performer you’re looking at spends most of their time in the fantasy and cyberpunk genres, you may not have the best chance of getting that person on board with your project.
Both R.C. Bray and I enjoy a good apocalypse story; I know this because I’m a fan of his. To set yourself up for success, do your research on both the type of project you’re looking to publish as well as the people you’ll want to work with along the way.
4. Get a Narrator on Board
Up until this point, everything has been under your control. Now you have to convince someone else that your story is worth investing in. No one is going to just dive in to help you make your book, unless they think there’s a payday on the other side of their efforts. Narrators do this for a living, after all.
Audible Approved Producer R.C. Bray
I started by connecting with my favorite narrator via social media. I was a fan of R.C. Bray’s for a few years before I ever signed him for my books. I followed him on Facebook, I interacted with him, and made it a point to let him know that I appreciated and supported his work. This was not for the purpose of schmoozing him to do my books; I hadn’t even written any at the time. But we built a rapport such that, when he hosted a Reddit AMA (and I actually had written a book by this time), I felt comfortable asking him about the steps necessary for a newbie to break into the audiobook business, which he graciously answered in a private email. Unbeknownst to me, he also went and downloaded a copy of my book, and after reading the first chapter, decided that he wanted to produce it.
It was a lucky break, absolutely, but a lucky break that would have never happened had I not done the work outlined above and made it a point to reach out and connect. Work on your craft, study the industry, find ways to connect with those narrators you most enjoy, and interact on a human level. This is the best advice I can offer to help you open up your own doors. Good luck!
Joshua Gayou is the author of the best selling novel Commune: Book One, the first entry in the Commune Series Tetraology. He lives in Southern California with his wife Jennifer and son Anthony. When he isn’t writing, he divides his time between being a senior engineer in the avionics industry, accomplishing tasks around the house as assigned by his wife (The Boss), and goofing off with his kid. Find him on Facebook, Twitter, and his blog