Browsing the audiobooks on iTunes, I’ve noticed a few free audiobooks which have turned out to be podcasts of authors reading chapters of their own books as a promotional method. The example I’ve listened to is The Time Keepers: Evidence of Conspiracies by Scottish author E. Campbell McGregor.
This is not something I’ve tried myself, but here are my initial thoughts on what you will have to think about if you want to try this new promotional activity.
Firstly, if you’re going to record the chapters yourself, you must be aware of your speaking voice: speed, clarity and accent (McGregor has a gorgeous Scottish accent and is lovely to listen to [and in fact sounds like Ewan McGregor]; my Aussie accent, for example, not so much).
Read well: vary your tone to differentiate dialogue and convey excitement. Keeping people’s attention over long minutes is difficult if you’re reading in a flat monotone, so voice-acting is a skill you’ll have to learn if your voice has little natural expression.
Therefore, if your accent is thick, your reading pace hard to understand, or your tone flat, you might want to hire a professional or press a friend into service.
Secondly, reading aloud is the big test of the language of a book; it’s my most basic editing technique. Recording your book is not when you want to find out that you should have employed this editing technique some time ago…before you embark on this promotional technique, make sure your book sounds so good read aloud that listeners will want to rush out and buy the paper copy. You might have to read a chapter several times over to get smooth enough.
Thirdly, make sure you’re familiar enough with the technology of iTunes or whatever podcasting software/delivery mechanism you’re using. This includes:
- Using high-quality recording equipment (ie microphone) that minimises distortion and background pick-up
- Meeting technical specifications and quality requirements (here‘s Apple’s for podcasts on iTunes)
- Writing an inviting synopsis and including a bio and contact information…and a link to where/how to buy
- Listing in the right category
- Finding a nice picture for the Podcast ‘cover’ and using music (but not copyrighted music!) for your intro or bridging sections
Fourthly, be professional: provide the next chapter when you said you would, or your nascent audience will drift away (or even be automatically unsubscribed). Keep it frequent and regular.
And lastly, and most importantly, be absolutely sure you hold the right to turn your book into an audiobook: if relevant, check your contract to see what rights you sold to your publisher.
Even if you do hold the appropriate rights, you might want to check with your publisher/agent anyway, as what seems to be a good promotional idea to you might, for whatever reason, be a bad idea to them (just ask Holly Lisle, whose clever idea to run a competition getting entrants to produce a UTube promo ad for her new book was put on ice by her agent/publisher for unknown reasons).
I’m sure there’s other issues I haven’t thought of, that you’d encounter as you went along with this promotional technique. I’d love to hear from people who’ve tried it or who are thinking about trying it.