Attracting Romance Audio Listeners – RWA Handout

From the workshop Hearing Voices: Why Audiobooks Are Suddenly Chic:


I. An Enthusiastic Audience

Advocating quality audiobooks

The developing romance audio fan base

Publishers are paying attention


II. What Listeners Look for in Audiobooks

A seamless listen

The all-important production quality – what does that mean?

Why a listener returns a book to Audible

Performance true to author’s word

Ease of identifying characters

Males sound male – females sound female


III. The Importance of the Right Narrator

Experience Counts

Right narrator can create new fans for author

Understanding of the romance genre

Dialogue between protagonists

Male versus female narrators

Solo narration versus dual narration

The problem with pseudonym


IV. Do Your Homework

Listen to romance audio in your genre

Get to know romance audio bloggers

Find the right publisher or producer

Use resources below to create best product no matter the route


V. Promoting Your Audiobooks

Get involved

Romance sites and blogs

Where to find romance listeners

The right sound sample – speak up

Backlist versus new releases

Use Goodreads

Author Appearances on Blogs – Create Impact

Social Media Advertising


VI. Converting Print Readers to Audio Listeners

Necessity of listener researching their first titles – don’t expect immediate success

Group or personal recommendations

Goal – listening rather than reading first

Emphasis – it’s a process

Rapid growth of audiobook industry


VII. Resources Overview


Audiobook Publishers Association                Audible/Harlequin

Audible Studios                                             Blackstone/AudioGo

Hachette                                                        Harper Audio

Recorded Books                                            Tantor Audio

Penguin Random House


Producers (those below allow you to work with union talent)

Antland Productions                                       Bee Audio

Common Mode                                               Deyan Audio

DuArt Digital/Benefit Media                            John Marshall Media

Eljin Productions                                             Outloud Audio




Romance Sites/Bloggers

All About Romance (               AudioFile Magazine                                                                                                     Caz’s Reading Room(                                                                                                      

Speaking of Audiobooks (


Vocabulary involved in Producing an Audiobook

Per Finished Hour (PFH) – The time length of the completed audiobook. Most narrators get paid a certain rate ($190 – 250 and above for experienced narrators) multiplied by the number of finished hours, no matter how many hours they spent in the studio to record it.

Preparation – Narrators must read the entire manuscript before starting to record (unless it is simply not possible). This is the only way to create consistent characters and to understand the tone and pacing of the entire book. Preparation is included in the PFH rate. If there is a great deal of pronunciation research to be done, narrators may be compensated for that additionally.

Punch record vs. straight record – When a narrator works solo, they generally do a punch record, a nifty innovation that allows the narrator to edit as they go, keeping only the desired takes and discarding the rest. In a straight record, a narrator just stops and does a new take, but the recording continues. This generally requires a director or engineer to keep track of the takes and then an editor must spend time to remove all the unwanted takes later.

Post Production – The process which takes the narrator’s initial recording and turns it into an audiobook ready to download and/or to be burned onto CDs.

QC or Proofing – A person listens to the first pass recording and notates any errors, unwanted sounds (including distracting breaths) or other mistakes, which are then removed by an editor or re-recorded by the narrator. Some companies will put a book through two rounds of QC.

Pickups or Corrections – Re-recording the material to fix errors. One round of pickups is usually included in a narrator’s rate. Narrators should be paid extra for pickups needed due to last minute rewrites.

Room Tone – 20 – 30 seconds of what it sounds like in the narrator’s booth when he/she is just sitting there “silently” (it’s never really silent). This is used to fill in any spaces when editing, including replacing spots where there was a loud breath, noise or the space between chapters, etc.

Editing and Mastering – The final processing which includes the skilled application of compression and other magical audio applications which “smooth out” the sound and dividing the book up into appropriate sections (different lengths for download and CD).


Audiobook Formats:

Digital Download Only – a book that is released only in Digital form

CD printing – some publishers create CD copies of all their audiobooks; some only do a CD run for books that they expect to sell well, especially to libraries.

mp3 CD – a physical copy of the audiobook in CD form where mp3s for the entire book are provided on one CD

Print on Demand (POD) – a newer technology just being implemented that allows individual or very small runs of CD copies to be printed on demand economically.



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  1. Caz

    Wow – what a comprehensive list. I’m so glad to know that industry people are not only interested in what listeners have to say, but that they’re becoming more actively engaged. We’re practical people and know that not everything on our wish lists is possible for various reasons, but the dialogue is a great start.

    I’m very much looking forward to hearing more.

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