Tag Archives: wendy lindstrom

Best of 2013: ACX Storytellers

We’re wrapping up our look back at the best of the blog in 2013 with a countdown of the most popular ACX success stories of the year. The ACX users featured here have been there and done that – and have valuable insight to share on audiobook publishing and production.

Take one last look at 2013 with us, and use the stories below as inspiration for your own audiobook success in 2014 and beyond!

The Countdown

10. Tim Grahl – Author of Your First 10,000 Copies talks rights reform and audiobook self publishing

9. Anti-Matter Media – The studio that produced Josh Kaufman’s The First 20 Hours checks in to offer their tips for aspiring audiobook authors and actors.

8. Rebecca Forster – Author of the Witness series shares 5 essential steps for bringing your book to life as an audiobook.

7. Badwater – Author Toni Dwiggins and producer Christine Padovan team up to talk both sides of this award winning production.

6. Wendy Lindstrom & Julia Motyka – The author of the popular Grayson series interviews her narrator and gets a  snapshot of a typical day in the recording studio.

5. Jared Tendler & Barry Carter – Authors of DIY success The Mental Game of Poker remind readers that ACX also accepts and distributes fully produced audiobooks.

4. H.M. Ward – NY Times & USA Today bestselling author offering marketing advice for fellow ACXers.

3. Arika Rapson – One of 2012’s best producer success stories returns with an update after reaching the 8,500 unit sales mark on ACX.

2. Bella Andre – Super successful ACX author and NY Times bestseller has advice for authors looking to get in the audiobook game.

1. Falling Into You – Our top success story of the year covered all aspects of Jasinda Wilder’s audiobook production, with tips from the author, along with narrator Piper Goodeve and studio pro Pete Rohan.

Are you an ACX success story? Tell us why in the comments, and we might just feature you on the blog in 2014!

ACX Storytellers: Wendy Lindstrom & Julia Motyka

Wendy Lindstrom’s previous post on the blog, Writing For Audio, was such a success that we’ve asked her back. This time, she speaks with the narrator of her popular Grayson series, Julia Motyka. Read on to find out about Julia’s emotional connection to Wendy’s characters and how her career on stage informs her audiobook work.

Wendy Lindstrom: The inflections in your voice and the ways in which you approach each character’s dialogue are just wonderful. What is your process for bringing a character to life within a book?

Julia: I come to the world of audiobooks from the world of theater, so I find that I approach each book I narrate very much as I would a play, or one person show. As I read the book for the first time, I create a spread sheet of every character which contains their age, physical features and a few key descriptive words about their personality. I note whether the character has an accent of any kind or is described vocally in any way as well. After having read the book once, I look back both at the primary scenes a character takes part in and also at my description sheet.

Motyka_Julia_f16-FP_SMALL

“Grayson” series narrator Julia Motyka

Most often, what happens next is a bit of a mystery- even to me! I sit quietly for a little while and kind of meditate on each character. I know it sounds silly, but I start to feel what it would feel like to be them, in my body; How they carry themselves, where they speak from (are they more intellectual or sentimental), etc. When I have a feeling for the essence of the character, I try on a little bit of their dialogue. If that feels ‘right’, I try a little bit more.

I don’t rehearse the entire book- that would take WAY too long, and besides, it would take a lot of the fun of the spontaneity out of the recording process, but I do try to get as fully ‘inside’ each character as possible before recording so that, as I read their dialogue, I feel fully invested in who they are are where they’re each coming from.

Which scene(s) in Shades of Honor/The Grayson Brothers Series did you most enjoy recreating and why?

Julia:  There were so many!! Truly! But, if I have to choose… [Spoiler Alert!] I’d say the scene(s) surrounding Evelyn’s father William Tucker’s death. I became very fond of that character and felt a particular affinity for him. I have a very close relationship with my father (both of my parents, actually) and spent several years caring for him when he was in ailing health in my late teens and early twenties, so that provided an added connection for me within that material.

727tpe4761sf5cg11374614520830I also felt the writing in that section to be particularly evocative and very moving. I had to stop narrating in the booth more than once to blow my nose and dab at my eyes! It’s always the best when the investment in a given set of circumstances and characters becomes overwhelming to that degree. It makes me feel like I’m doing justice to great writing!

Can you describe a typical day in the studio during the recording of Shades of Honor/The Grayson Brothers Series? For instance, what happens the day of recording, and how long are your days in the studio?

Julia:  A typical day of recording for me is pretty simple. I’m generally in the studio for about 5 hours per session (some people prefer a 6 or 4 hour session, but 5 is my preference). I generally take about 5-10 minutes every 60-90 minutes to use the restroom, rest my voice, and/or eat a snack.

On the actual day of recording I get up pretty early, do about an hour of yoga, have a good breakfast, and steam my voice (Keeping your chords well hydrated is of paramount importance! If I’m recording a lot in a given week I’ll likely be steaming my voice at least 2x per day for about 20 minutes each time). Before I leave home, I warm my voice up a little bit – everyone is different, but I do little articulation exercises and sometimes even little vocaleases to get my voice as pliable as possible. I also look over the pages I’m hoping to record that day, reminding myself of any new characters that may be emerging in the book, and perhaps running through a couple of voices to make sure I have easy access to them.

Wendy Author Photo pds copyright

ACX Author Wendy Lindstrom

What one piece of advice would you share with those who would love to do what you do for a living?

Julia:  I LOVE what I do and feel so lucky to get to do it but people often think it’s MUCH easier than it is!! If you’re interested in narrating audiobooks, find a book you like and choose a chapter. Then record yourself reading it out-loud while sitting COMPLETELY STILL! Stop and go back every time you make a mistake, have to clear your throat, or swallow. If you still enjoy it (like I said, I LOVE it, but it’s not for everyone), listen back and see if you like what you hear. If you’re still giving yourself the thumbs up, consider putting a demo together and creating an ACX profile! The book world is booming with opportunity! Go get ’em!

Julia can be found on via Brick Shop Audiobooks’ ACX profile or at her website, www.juliamotyka.com.

What did you learn from Julia’s interview? Leave a comment and let us know!

ACX Guest Post: Wendy Lindstrom on Writing For Audio

Known for the riveting emotional power of her work, award-winning author Wendy Lindstrom has found a perfect home in digital audio on ACX. Masterfully crafted for audiobook format, her bestselling Grayson Brothers series captivates listeners and is fast becoming an audio 5-star favorite. Today, she shares her ten tips on writing for audio.

Writing with Audio in Mind

The audiobook world is experiencing explosive growth, which presents a huge opportunity for authors to gain new readers and to create a potentially lucrative income stream. Writing for audio is an exciting new world that begins and ends with a great book. Preparing your manuscript for digital format requires some time and thought up front, as I quickly discovered.

Wendy Author Photo pds copyright

ACX Author Wendy Lindstrom

Since June of this year, I have been working with a talented producer (Brick Shop Audiobooks) and actor to bring my Grayson Brothers series to audiobook via ACX.

Creating my title profile on ACX was a breeze, but auditioning narrators and working with a talented actor to create character voices and to bring my books to audio has been an incredible journey. I learned that writing for audio puts you in the driver’s seat. You’re in charge—and you’re responsible. Having control of the product and the creation process can be both heady and terrifying.

If you would like to see your work in audio format, here are 10 tips I wish I had known before I started the process.

Ten Tips to Improve the Audiobook Experience—For You and Your Readers

  1. Open with dialogue and action, if possible. Long narration can get boring fast. (I ought to know. After listening to the first fifteen minutes of The Longing, I cut most of the first chapter for this very reason!) Reading text is a very different experience than listening to those same words as an audiobook.
  2. Create descriptive tags that keep your readers from getting lost. Use tags to clarify who is doing the action or experiencing the emotion, especially in scenes where characters banter back and forth quickly or for long stretches. Without good tags, listeners must depend on the vocal skill of the narrator to differentiate characters. Not an easy task with two or three characters of the same gender in a scene. Listen to samples from other audiobooks and evaluate what works and what doesn’t.727tpe4761sf5cg11374614520830
  3. Ensure that your author voice is evident in your sentence cadence and phrasing. You might have heard the adage, “If it’s not on the page, it’s not on the stage.” This holds true in the audiobook world as well. The stronger your voice comes through on the page, the better chance your narrator will create something close to your vision of your book. The same is true for your character’s voice. If your protagonist speaks with a raspy, seductive voice, get that on the page. Envision how you will convey this information to your narrator and put it in your book. These are all tips your narrator will use when creating character voices and recording audio. Listen to superb character dialogue from The Longing for an example. 
  4. Limit the number of characters in a scene, or limit how many of those characters speak in that scene. In Kissing in the Dark, there are nine female characters conversing in a scene! My mistake. Thankfully, my talented narrator was able to pull this off, but I guarantee I won’t be doing this again.
  5. Maintain a balance between narration, dialogue, and inner monologue in order to keep the listener engaged. See tip #1.
  6. Make each word count. Words carry more weight when read aloud. A good voice actor can raise your story to a higher level, but don’t depend on your narrator to act or convey the level of emotion you imagine for the scene. Your words must create that impact. A skilled narrator will make those words sing.
  7. Beware of character accents and localized speech—use judiciously. A narrator must read those lines, and the results might be far different than you desire. Listening to characters with very heavy accents can be confusing and grow tiresome.
  8. Read your work aloud to pinpoint areas needing clarification and to eliminate choppy writing.uln8ne5nvavw7alt1374620097444
  9. Complete all revisions on your book project before uploading to ACX and seeking auditions from narrators. It can be confusing and difficult to swap out your manuscript and sales copy once production begins. Plus, for Whispersync for Voice your e-book must closely match the audiobook. If you revise more than a word here and there, you’ll need to upload a new e-book file that matches the revised audiobook.
  10. Manage your project budget through book length. Writing a shorter (but not too short) book will require less money to produce in audio format, which may enable you to get into audiobooks sooner. There is always the royalty share option to consider, but that is for another post.

I hope these tips help make your entry into the audiobook world a little easier. It’s a great place to be—it’s a place you want to be.

Read more about Wendy at www.wendylindstrom.com.

Do you write with audio in mind? Tell us in the comments!

ACX on The Road: Dipped In NINC

In late October, the ACX team had the pleasure of attending the Novelists, Inc. annual conference in Myrtle Beach, SC and hosting a panel of your peers to discuss the audiobook revolution. Novelists, Inc. (or NINC, for the initiated), is an organization dedicated to helping multi-published fiction writers as they write and promote their books. Jasinda Wilder (Falling series), Julie Ortolon (Forever series), Patricia Ryan (Pure and Simple), and Wendy Lindstrom (Grayson Brothers series) joined ACX Marketing Manager Hannah to discuss their journeys through having their series produced in audio and how they are successfully promoting their audiobooks.

Today, we’ve collected the top advice they shared to inspire you, no matter what stage of audiobook production you’re in!

Jasinda_Julie_Hannah

L to R: ACX Authors Jasinda Wilder and Julie Ortolon, and ACX Marketing Manager Hannah Wall at NINC

On Selecting a Narrator

Julie Ortolon had a very specific vision in mind for her narrator, but she had an unexpected change of plans once she started producing her audiobooks. “Your favorite narrator may not fit your book,” she said. “I waited until the narrator was available to do my book and I didn’t like the audition. Picking the right scene for your audition script is crucial.”  Casting off those expectations, she found a voice that matched the one she envisioned.

Once her narrator had been cast, Julie wanted to be proactive about setting expectations for the different characters in her three book series: “I learned to piece together different scenes for the 15 min checkpoint, so that you can get the most out of that checkpoint with your narrator.” That collaboration at the checkpoint helped drive the tone for all three books.

On Writing with the Audiobook in Mind

Jasinda Wilder is a musician as well as author, so thinking of how her words would sound when spoken aloud came very naturally to her. She has even gone as far as incorporating her original music into her audiobooks after the credits, which helped her capture even more sales; by including exclusive music in her audiobooks, readers of the print and Kindle versions of her books have purchased her audiobook editions.

On Giving Feedback

Wendy Lindstrom opts to give feedback to her narrator directly. “I actually get on the phone with the narrator and have her do several voices for me.” This lets her give instant input on the voices before the recording process begins.

2014conference_logo2On Promoting the Audiobook

Patricia Ryan promotes her contemporary and medieval romances through social networking channels, promoting the audio on her site, and providing readers with links to SoundCloud audio clips. “I also have an interview with my narrator on my site. I put a sexy photo of him with some Q&A’s and it was a big hit with readers.”

Wendy, Pat, Julie, and Jasinda all took the plunge into audiobooks for their series – will you?

What’s the best piece of advice you can offer aspiring writers?