With around sixty romance titles to her name, Amy Rubinate is well known in the romance audio community. And she’s making quite a name for herself in audio publishing as well with the formation of her independent publishing company, Ideal Audiobooks. When I issued an invitation to Amy in January of this year to become an AudioGals Narrator Friend, we searched for just the right romance audio release or other opportunity to feature her work. She’s narrated numerous romances since then but we decided to wait for her launch of Ideal Audiobooks. In our chat today, Amy introduces us to her company and shares her vision.
As I listened to several of Ideal Audiobooks’ releases, I was impressed by the quality of production and the selection of narrators. Amy believes in excellence and it shows.
And since Amy is our newest Narrator Friend, we are also talking about her background and a few of her latest titles. You can find out even more about Amy on her Narrator Friend’s page as well as a full list of her romance audiobook titles. We’re also featuring two giveaways! We are giving away two Amy Rubinate titles (winner’s choice) and Ideal Audiobooks is giving away two sets of three of their releases.
FIRST GIVEAWAY – Amy Rubinate titles
In our first giveaway, we’re giving away to two winners their choice of an Amy Rubinate romance audiobook at Audible. Entry is simple. Just complete the easy entry form found at the bottom of the page by midnight (CST) Monday, June 15th. No comments are necessary to enter although we’d love to hear your thoughts in our discussion area. You may only enter once – anyone entering more than once will be disqualified. We’ll contact winners on June 16th so watch your email as we must have acknowledgement of your win within 24 hours. If we don’t hear from you, we’ll select another winner. The giveaway is limitedI to availability of your chosen Audible title in your geographical area.
SECOND GIVEAWAY – Ideal Audiobooks
Ideal Audiobooks is giving away two sets of three Ideal Audiobook releases – Kasie West’s The Fill-in Boyfriend narrated by Shannon McManus, L. Alison Heller’s The Never-Never Sisters narrated by Julia Whelan, and Tamara Ireland Stone’s Every Last Word narrated by Amy Rubinate – all downloads from Ideal Audiobooks. The Fill-In Boyfriend is available at this time. Every Last Word will be available to winners on June 16th. The Never-Never Sisters will be available to the winners in July upon release (scheduled July 1st). Entry is simple. Just complete the easy entry form found at the bottom of the page by midnight (CST) Monday, June 15th. No comments are necessary to enter although we’d love to hear your thoughts in our discussion area. You may only enter once – anyone entering more than once will be disqualified. We’ll contact winners on June 16th so watch your email as we must have acknowledgement of your win within 24 hours. If we don’t hear from you, we’ll select another winner. The giveaway is limited to geographical availability of these titles in your area.
Chatting with Amy
LEA Welcome to AudioGals Amy! We’re thrilled to have you as a new Narrator Friend.
AMY Thank you! I’m thrilled to be here – I’ve been a fan of the AudioGals for a long time!
LEA We love hearing that!
I see you are nearing two hundred titles over at Audible. It looks as though your first commercial narration was in 2010 with a few additional titles in 2011. But in 2012, you recorded close to forty titles. How did you get started narrating audiobooks?
AMY Yes, I’ve spent a lot of time in a dark room talking to myself in the past few years! I’m so happy to have an abundance of work, and titles I love.
I became a fan of audiobooks when I was a voiceover actor and singer, driving all over the San Francisco Bay Area for work, and hating the traffic. I started renting audiobooks on CD from my library, and found my new passion. My only CD player was in my car, so I spent many hours driving around the hills instead of going home, just so I could get to the next plot point and find out what happened next!
LEA Oh – you are speaking my language. :)
AMY I remember seeing Rosalyn Landor, Renee Raudman, Cassandra Campbell, and Justine Eyre’s smiling faces on the back of the audiobook cases, and knowing I was going to have a good week listening to them narrate.
LEA Only true audio lovers understand that feeling. We know you are a true enthusiast right along with us!
AMY I was already working as a voice actor, and I realized that as a Speech Communications major with an emphasis in Oral Interpretation of Literature and a Theater Arts minor, I was uniquely qualified to narrate audiobooks myself!
Audiobook listening was such a big part of my experience that the stories and the narration felt larger-than-life to me; otherworldly. So when I set out to become a narrator, it felt like an old-time fairytale quest.
LEA Who was your first contact or did you audition for a publisher?
AMY Scott Brick held a contest called Share the Experience, celebrating the ten-year anniversary of his amazing audiobook narration career by offering an opportunity for new narrators to be heard. Over 400 people ended up submitting demos. I thought, “I’m going to get lost in a sea of women,” so I decided to use the unique skills that would make me stand out. I had spent a lot of time voicing animation and children’s projects, so I submitted a young adult demo, first-person narrative, with a young-sounding protagonist. I placed third in the contest. That led to my first job at Random House with Dan Musselman, a beautiful middle grade book called A Faraway Island, by Annika Thor. At the same Audio Publishers Association Conference (APAC) where the contest winners were announced, Laura Grafton from Brilliance “scouted” me. I did an impromptu reading in a microphone class, and afterwards, Laura gave me her card and said, “I’d like to hire you to do Young Adult books for me.” I’ve loved working with her ever since. She gave me my first Romance novel, too!
LEA I love that! Wish I had been there. How many years ago was that?
AMY Five APACs ago. My first book came out in December of 2010, so I’ve been narrating audiobooks for four and a half years.
LEA Although you narrate multiple genres, your largest number of books in one genre is romance with around sixty titles. What were your thoughts when you signed on to narrate your first romance? Had you read the genre?
AMY Oh yes, I was a romance listener – though I always defined the genre pretty broadly in my own mind, expanding it to include women’s fiction and chick lit. My first romance audiobook listen was Anne Rivers Siddons’s Fault Lines, narrated by Kate Burton. It was so incredible, and her voice and narration added so much to the experience for me, that I never really went back to reading print books for pleasure. I still reference her genteel Southern accent in my mind when I need to do a character that fits into that category. This book led me to listen to a lot of romances by authors like Barbara Delinsky, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips and more by Anne Rivers Siddons. For chick-lit, I bought the Sophie Kinsella stand-alones and must have listened to each one of them about ten times. All of that listening informed my narration, and gave me a sense of the qualities I wanted to bring to my work. When I narrated my first romance, I was directed by a wonderful veteran romance narrator, Sandy Burr. She gave me a lot of great tips that I use to this day.
LEA I mostly listen these days. I still read a little at bedtime but the rest of the time – it’s listening. My preferred way of enjoying a book now.
AMY Me too! Though I have less time to listen now than I used to; I’m always recording or prepping scripts. I walk around the studio with my phone/Audible stuffed in my pocket and my earbuds in on breaks.
LEA It seems to me that a narrator’s time to read for just pleasure would be so much less.
We’re giving away to two winners their choice of your romance narrations. Therefore, I’d like to discuss two of your latest romances. I see that Tantor released Sharon Sala’s I’ll Stand By You on June 2nd. Can you give us an overview of what one can expect?
AMY Oh, it’s a wonderful book. It’s actually one of my favorite books that I’ve narrated in the past year. I really like romances that are on the sweeter side, with an element of hope, where you can wholeheartedly root for the characters – and I just fell in love with the couple in this book – and all of their neighbors, too! It’s set in a small town in the South, and the main characters go through so much trouble and heartache – but underneath it all is an underlying core of goodness and strength. It has that small-town community charm with quirky minor characters unexpectedly rising to the occasion to help them. When I finished I went around telling anyone who would listen (my husband and my engineer), “That was such a satisfying story!”
LEA That’s how I recall the Sharon Sala books I read years ago – feel-good satisfying stories. This one has piqued my attention.
AMY When I started, a friend cautioned me, “Don’t be such a fangirl.” But I think that’s one of the good things about my narration – I truly love the work and the writing, and the genre. I feel like I’m sharing the story with friends who feel the same way – and what could be a better approach to audiobook narration?! So I let my fangirl flag fly…
LEA Fangirls make the system work!! We are a site full of fangirls. :)
AMY Right! One of my favorite phrases is, “We’re all in this together.” I have a core group of generous friends who are narrators, and we all support each other. I think that love extends to our listeners too, and to our authors. It’s always so fun when an author reaches out to us to work together to spread the word about our audiobooks.
LEA Choosing an audiobook is a two part process for consumers as we must consider the narrator as well as the author. So, we always enjoy seeing authors and narrators promoting their work jointly.
AMY So true.
AMY I like to tweet about the work I love, regardless. And I like to spread the word about other narrators whose work I enjoy. It’s wonderful to have a voice in the industry to be able to share a tip on something good with someone who might like it too.
LEA And we as listeners appreciate that word. It’s hard to find the right listens without the recommendation of listeners who have like tastes.
So, there’s another release of yours that I want to ask you about – Macmillan’s release of Barbara Delinsky’s Blueprints which was released just this week. Can you tell us a little about it as well?
AMY Oh, that was a great experience for me, because it brought me full circle. I loved Barbara Delinsky’s books when I first started listening, so I was excited to narrate her new novel. Her writing is so good and her stories are so strong that the book was really easy to narrate. There’s something about a writer who is in the groove, seasoned and still inspired, that makes their words just roll off the tongue. It’s a romance, but it’s also a mother-daughter story. It deeply explored all of the complex relationships in the story, and I thought it was wonderful!
LEA Now for the really big Amy Rubinate news – Ideal Audiobooks. Please tell us more!
AMY Thank you for asking! Ideal Audiobooks is my new independent audiobook publishing company. The slogan is “Stories with heart.” I developed a catalog of audiobooks I felt strongly about in women’s fiction, romance, young adult and children’s titles. I have acquired twenty-five books so far, and have hired many of the narrators whose work I most love to narrate them – veteran, award-winning narrators who I know can deliver on a good story. Ideal launched on June 1, and in the first three months, we will have books narrated by Julia Whelan, Hillary Huber, Kate Rudd, Tavia Gilbert, Xe Sands, Cris Dukehart, Emily Woo Zeller, and Shannon McManus, and I’ll be narrating as well. I read/listen to a wide range of books for pleasure, in addition to my narration, and the books that make my heart sing are usually by, for, and about women. I love books that tackle difficult issues, but leave readers satisfied and with a sense of hope. Above all, I want to fall in love with the characters, and journey alongside them in their stories.
LEA I’m completely impressed with the narrators you have chosen. Guaranteed good narration. And the “Stories with heart” slogan – I think that is what romance listeners seek in their romances – that hope – that positive ending.
AMY Thank you! I was so thrilled when each of these narrators said yes. It’s a true dream team for me.
You know, I came from a background in casting. I associate produced a children’s television show, and cast character voices for interactive projects for years. One of the things I found creative about casting was the ability to identify the strongest elements of each actor’s delivery, and to know where they had the ability to stretch into new territory. I couldn’t help but apply that background to my listening. Every time I read a print book I found myself casting it in my mind. Whenever I heard a narrator I liked, I analyzed what made them great, and which audiobooks would be a good fit for their talent. As a narrator, I found myself strongly connected to certain types of material – positive stories from authors who found new ways to engage their readers. I realized that I had the skills and experience to create a company that would share my vision for audiobooks and bring good stories to listeners. I wanted to develop a catalog of books that was recognizable for its quality, so that when I called a narrator I respected with an offer, they would know automatically that they were going to have a great week of narration. And I think that enjoyment translates to the listener.
Can you share with our listeners your first titles and the narrators?
AMY Sure. There are titles in our catalog for listeners of all ages. I like to imagine women and their daughters listening together.
The Fill-in Boyfriend by Kasie West, young adult romance, narrated by Shannon McManus
Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone, young adult with romance, narrated by Amy Rubinate
The Opposite of Maybe by Maddie Dawson, women’s fiction, narrated by Hillary Huber
Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick, middle grade, narrated by Amy Rubinate
The Never-Never Sisters by L. Alison Heller, women’s fiction, narrated by Julia Whelan
The Art of Arranging Flowers by Lynne Branard (aka Lynne Hinton), women’s fiction, narrated by Xe Sands
The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick, middle grade, narrated by Cris Dukehart, Amy Rubinate, Kate Rudd, Emily Woo Zeller
LEA An impressive lineup!
And you are offering a number of these titles in a giveaway today. Can you tell our listeners what titles will be included?
AMY Ok, here goes!
The Fill-in Boyfriend by Kasie West – a breezy, funny, romantic young adult novel, deftly narrated by Shannon McManus.
The Never-Never Sisters by L. Alison Heller – a women’s fiction about a woman struggling with her relationship and family. Narrator Julia Whelan brings out the wry humor and quirky dynamic of this family.
Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone – they’re calling it “The buzz book of the summer.” It’s a YA about a girl with OCD, whose life is changed when she discovers a secret poetry society in the basement of her high school, and the cute musician who runs it. I’ve narrated several of Tamara’s romantic young adult books, and I’m happy to be a part of this beautiful story.
LEA I’d like to repeat the giveaway for our listeners – the Ideal Audiobook giveaway is two sets of The Fill-in Boyfriend, The Never-Never Sisters, and Every Last Word – all downloads from Ideal Audiobooks.
As if this isn’t enough to keep you more than busy, can you share with us some of your other current or upcoming projects?
AMY This isn’t romance, but I’m so excited to be recording a Judy Moody children’s book by Megan McDonald for Brilliance! It will be my official 200th audiobook recorded, and it means a lot to me to have that milestone take place with the type of children’s book that started it all for me. Some other standouts from my current recording lineup: I’m doing a Brenda Novak book for Harper and the third book in Darcie Chan’s charming Mill River series next week, and in August, a new Kristan Higgins women’s fiction will come out, which I co-narrate with Xe Sands. We’re both madly in love with it. And next month I start recording a new contemporary romance series by Beth Kendrick for Ideal. She’s a wonderful writer, and I’m looking forward to spending time with the characters in her Black Dog Bay series!
LEA We are so excited about the Kristan Higgins and, as you know, have a chat planned with you and Xe and the author. Recorded Books will be helping us celebrate as well. It will be quite the event!
AMY I can’t wait!
LEA Thanks Amy for joining us today. We’ll be keeping a very close eye on Ideal Audiobooks.
AMY Thanks so much for including me. It was great to talk with you!
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