Heather Day Gilbert is as much a bravehearted pioneer as her God’s Daughter heroine, Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir. Talk about discovering new worlds! Like Gudrid, who traveled across the vast, untamed waters to explore new lands and new opportunities for expansion, Heather bravely set her own ship into the waters of the Audiobook World, and asked me along as her sailing partner.
God’s Daughter is Heather’s pioneer audiobook, just as it is the pioneer book in BraveHeart Audiobook‘s small, but mighty, and ever-growing library. It was because of Heather, who encouraged me, supported me, and trusted me to give a voice to her own brave-hearted pioneer, Gudrid, that BraveHeart Audiobooks was able to launch our own ship.
God’s Daughter is available on audiobook at Amazon, Audible.com, and iTunes (affiliate links)
This month, and into July, to celebrate JUNE as AUDIOBOOK MONTH (yes, it’s a real thing), I’m having ALL our current audiobook authors visit. They’re answering a few questions from me, and asking some of their own. Who better to begin with than Heather? So without further ado, here’s Heather Day Gilbert!
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ME: What motivated you to turn God’s Daughter into an audiobook, and what was the reason for choosing me as your narrator?
Heather: I know many readers enjoy audiobooks; often commuters like my husband, or even those with vision problems. I think it’s a great way to get my book into venues print and e-books can’t reach.
As far as choosing you—I had a few people try out for this narration part. One was a woman with a very authentic Norse accent. But the problem was that American listeners (those I sent her sample to) couldn’t understand everything she was saying. I realized that I wanted an exotic accent (in keeping with the Viking time period/locale), but not one listeners couldn’t easily “get.” I also knew I wanted a very soothing, lush voice for Gudrid, since she’s my main point of view character. She is a calm person; a healer. I figured I’d know Gudrid’s voice when I heard it. And once I heard your narration sample, I didn’t have any doubt you could bring her to life. “Chocolatey velvet” is one way a friend described your voice, and I totally agree. I wanted someone whose voice listeners could enjoy hours on end. Also, many books are narrated by women far older than the main character, and they sound old. I wanted someone who sounded young yet wise, like Gudrid, and you did!
ME: What was the best part, and what was the most difficult part of the process of having someone else narrate your book?
Heather: The best part was sitting back and hearing Gudrid speak to me. It was a pretty surreal experience for me as author, just hearing those first words. I can’t really describe it. My jaw literally dropped, I think, and I probably said, “Wow!” several times in succession.
You are excellent at picking up on nuances in my writing, but there were a few times when I had imagined one word would be emphasized, etc. I think the hardest part was just catching/correcting those words and going back and forth with re-recording bits, etc. But in the end, it is SO worth it because it’s a finished product that satisfies the both of us, author and narrator. And you were very clear that you wanted me to get it the way I thought it should sound. I appreciated your respect for me as author and your willingness to work together to get it “right.”
ME: Was there anything unexpected about the process; any surprises, either good or bad about working with a narrator, about working with ACX, about the finished product?
Heather: I think I was surprised that it’s trickier to market audiobooks than ebooks/softcovers. I’m still learning which outlets to tap into to get the word out. I’m impressed with Soundcloud, because I’m able to install a widget with a sound clip of my book on my website, share to twitter, etc. I was pleased that ACX gives us codes for audiobook giveaways (if we ask for them!).
ME: One of the things I ask of an author is that you listen as both a reader AND an author. I am sure that you hear the story in your head already, and my take on it may be slightly different than yours. Rather than looking at my version as being wrong, consider that my narration is that of the unbiased reader, and even if it is different than what you imagined, it may be the way readers perceive your story, and may be just as effective. That being said, I also feel communication regarding character personalities, voices, etc. is paramount to getting your story told the way you want it told. It really is my mantra all the way through: Communicate, communicate, communicate. Do you have any tips for authors who are planning to turn their books into audiobooks?
Heather: Ah, yes, like I said above: those nuances. Yes, authors do hear characters in their heads. Yes, I did want the narration to match up to that as much as I could, BUT I also realize that your voice brought even more dimensions to those characters. Sometimes your Gudrid might have spoken softly when I hadn’t thought she would, but it worked BETTER. I just love that living dynamic narration brings.
ME: Do you have any special plans or suggestions on marketing your audiobook?
Heather: Tips. I’d say be sure to find a narrator who is, as you said, communicative. You want someone you can be honest with if you’re not liking the way one character sounds, etc. A good narrator (like you) will be open to trying to change the voice, etc.
And as far as marketing, I’m finding sites via twitter who will review audiobooks, and I’m able to use those free audiobook codes from ACX for reviewers. (ME: Heather is also spotlighted in Audiobook Monthly this month, and Susan Keefe is doing a fantastic job of getting the word out about God’s Daughter!)
ME: Do you have any questions you’d like to ask me as your narrator?
Heather: As a narrator, how do you have the patience to sit for hours and record? I think I’d go stir-crazy!
ME: Oh, this is a good question, Heather. First, let me tell you why I love what I do.
- I’m first and foremost an author. The written word and I have this deep “ache in the bones” relationship; a relationship that has contributed greatly to me being able to grasp the ebb and flow of a story as I read it.
- And I love to read. I love to read out loud.
- I’m a songbird who has spent a lot of time behind a mic, learning what it means to slip into that “sweet spot” when putting words to music.
- I’m a closet drama queen. Granted, some would argue that I’m not so “closet” about it, but in fact, because my sound booth is a converted closet…well, need I say more? But seriously, I really am a bit of a loner, and I actually enjoy spending long periods of time inside my own head. I get weary in large crowds and overstimulated by too much time on social media, but I love to speak and perform on stage.
- And to top it all off, I home school our youngest and wanted a way to contribute more to our income so that I could continue to do so.
After considering all the above, narrating and producing audiobooks seemed a perfect fit for me.
All that said, it isn’t the hours of recording that’s difficult.
It’s the hours of editing that often seem interminable. After a chapter is recorded, edited, mastered, and formatted for retail…and then an error is discovered? It is the most frustrating thing in the world for me when I can’t get MY voice to match MY voice from one day to the next. I learned quickly that consistency is my biggest weakness, which also leads to my greatest frustrations if I don’t go into each recording session proactively. The better I do the first round, the less I have to redo. Sounds simple, right? But I’m always amazed at how often I read right over a word or a whole line, or add one that isn’t in the manuscript! Besides my reading quality, there are other things that can affect my consistency. Mic positioning is a big deal – I have a fantastic microphone, and if it’s repositioned from one session to the next, I can hear the difference in sound. My husband built my desk into the booth with the mic stand locked in place so I’m pretty limited on how much I can move it. I also picked up a legit drafting chair so I can sit or stand without changing the height of the microphone, and I’ve learned that I sound a certain way at certain times of the day. Before noon, Marilla Cuthbert. Post-algebra lesson, Edith Bunker (because I hate math more than my poor daughter does). After midnight, Darth Vader or Don Carlione, depending on how much recording I’ve done.
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Thanks so much for spending a little time with us, Heather!
You can find Heather at her website, Heather Day Gilbert–Author, and at her Facebook Author Page, as well as Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube. Her novel, God’s Daughter, is an Amazon bestseller. Heather is a monthly contributor to Novel Rocket, a site dedicated to bringing helpful information to authors.
Heather’s new book, Miranda Warning, a contemporary mystery set in Heather’s own West Virginia mountains, is releasing this month! Check out a few sample chapters HERE!
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And don’t forget about the FIVE FREE FRIDAYS giveaway I’m hosting all through June and July for all my email subscribers. Sign up to receive my quarterly newsletter by email, my blog posts by email (see right column), and/or BraveHeart Audiobooks email notifications of each new audiobook we produce, and your name will be entered into our Friday drawing for free audiobooks. (I totally messed up last Friday’s drawing, so this Friday the 13th (yep), I’m giving away TEN free audiobooks!)
And if you’re already signed up, your name is automatically in!
What about you? Do you have any questions for either Heather or me about the whole audiobook thing?