Thursday 8 June 2017

Audible asks “dear readers and writers, are you listening yet?”

I was delighted to be asked to join the Audible team for lunch at London’s The Ivy by Alice Geary of MIDAS. Joining Laurence Howell, Audible’s Director for Content and his team were Bestselling crime writers Mark Billingham and Sharon Bolton as well as renowned audio narrator Clare Corbett and guests; book reviewers and literary commentators Marcel Berlins, Michael Carlson, Nick Clee and I, as well as Tony Mulliken keeping order.

Tony Mulliken’s presence was required at the lunch, as I have become an enthusiastic advocate, and rather vocal [pardon the pun] about the importance of audio fiction in publishing, be it narrated work or audio dramatizations, with Audible taking the lead in this fast growing area of publishing.

I joined Audible over a year ago as a customer, taking advantage of their remarkable £7.99 a month deal which allows one Audiobook download a month. This is remarkable value when you consider it allows you to download work such the remarkable Sherlock Holmes : The Definitive Edition narrated by Stephen Fry. This work is produced by Audible Studios and runs close to 72 hours and would normally cost you £69.99, however if you are an Audible member, it is eligible for the ‘£7.99 one audio book per month’. I will not say more for fear of gushing like Vesuvius [on a bad day], for Fry’s reading of Conan Doyle’s Holmes and Watson is remarkable.

I know around the watercooler there are avid conversations about the latest TV miniseries on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sky Atlantic and BBC Iplayer; however I am often talking excitedly about what Audible Studios have commissioned next. The Original Content that Audible provide, with soundscapes is remarkable. I am particularly in awe of the Dirk Maggs productions of Alien out of the Shadows and Alien River of Pain, and very excited about the X-FILES Audio Production due out in July, entitled Cold Cases.

I find the short story format as well as the novella especially suited to the Audible platform. I store my Audible Novels and Dramatizations on my PC and Phone, so I always have access to my favourite narratives, which I especially enjoy in bed before sleep [and the app on the Iphone has a sleep timer]. Being read to before slumber is one of life’s great comforts.

Both the Audible app for IPhone / Android and Audible website are excellent, as apart from daily deals, and 3 for 2 offers; they feature clips allowing you check the ability of the narrator, or the dramatization [many which are commissioned in London by Laurence Howell’s team]. The website and app allows you to search by narrator as well as author or genre. I have often selected an Audible book, not by the author but the quality of the narrator.

Over lunch I was delighted to meet Clare Corbett, the renowned actress and audio performer. Clare was involved in Audible’s adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ THE GIRL ON A TRAIN and Fiona Barton’s THE WIDOW which she performed and are exceptional works for audio.

If you hurry, for one week Audible are giving away audio copies of THE WIDOW, scroll to the bottom of this LINK; a book that Stephen King described as 'If you liked GONE GIRL and THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, you might want to pick up THE WIDOW by Fiona Barton. Engrossing. Suspenseful'

Speaking of Stephen King, as a long time reader of his work since my teenage years; I have been revisiting my youth by collecting his work on audio via Audible, which I listen to when too tired to read, using the sleep timer function. I was delighted to see James Franco has been commissioned to narrate Stephen King’s THE DEAD ZONE a rather prescient work, considering what many think of current POTUS Mr D Trump.  I have been rather vocal [pardon the pun, again] for King’s last collection of short fiction THE BAZAAR OF BAD DREAMS. I reviewed it at Shots Ezine, but had to add to my review how much pleasure the Audible version was following my re-listening to the book –

Specific favourites are the very droll ‘Drunken Fireworks’, which started life as an audio novella, and is indeed a very engaging morality tale that when placed into context, mirrors the inherent madness in humanity’s need for the arms race. Though my favourite is the dark reflection of age and the mysteries of death in ‘The Dune’ [originally published as a story in the British literary journal Granta].

I subsequently purchased the audio version of this collection from Audible, which is remarkable, as King prefaces the stories vocally, but each is narrated by professional actors and vocal artists, such as Craig Wasson; and these narrations brings the stories to life [and death]. 

Read More HERE

Again, I digress; the reason for the lunchtime meeting, was that Audible wished to announce a new initiative - a writing grant for a piece of unpublished crime-fiction worth £10,000.
So for the budding crime writers in the room I’d suggest it worth taking notes –

The Audible New Writing Grant: The Crime Edition invites the UK’s most promising crime writers to submit an unpublished thriller of 50,000 words or more to a panel of experts. Free to enter, a shortlist of three candidates will be announced in early 2018. For a little extra inspiration, applicants will be able to download a copy of The Widow by Fiona Barton – one of Audible’s best-selling crime novels – for free during the first week of submissions.

The winning author will be selected from the shortlist in Spring 2018 by a judging panel which includes: Sunday Times Best-Seller and two-time Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel Of The Year winner Mark Billingham; Sunday Times Best-Seller and CWA Dagger In The Library winner Sharon Bolton; The Girl On The Train and The Widow narrator Clare Corbett, the Daily Telegraph’s Crime Critic Jake Kerridge and Audible’s Director Of Content Laurence Howell.

The winning author will receive a £10,000 advance, accountable against royalties, for an exclusive Worldwide English language audio publication deal, as well as mentoring from Audible’s panel of judges.

Laurence Howell, Senior Director at Audible, said: “Audio offers enormous potential for creators to connect with new listeners, and we’re always looking for ways to delight our members with gripping new debuts. This New Writing Grant marries those two aims together perfectly. It allows us to support, daring, innovative storytelling whilst also giving our listeners access to exclusive audio stories we know they’ll love. We’ve commissioned original works from Philip Pullman, Robert Caro and Tom Rachman amongst others, now we’re looking to nurture the next generation of writing talent.”

Mark Billingham, author of the Tom Thorne series, said: “What’s special about this kind of storytelling is the intimate connection with the listener. We’ll be looking for stories that create suspense and tension through classic techniques such as the cliffhanger and the twist, but more importantly we’ll be looking for strong, multidimensional characters that really engage and resonate with the listener. Everyone loves being told a great story and that is exactly what we’re looking for.”

Clare Corbett, narrator of The Girl On The Train, said: “There are certain elements that are key to whether a novel will work in audio. Writers should think about how they would naturally speak - we rarely talk as formally as we write and rhythm is really important. A bit of variety in sentence length and structure will hold a listener’s attention and leaving space for silence is central to tension-building. These are some things we’ll be considering throughout the judging process.”

To enter, applicants must email (in Word or PDF format) a copy of their manuscript, submission letter and synopsis of the story to before 23:59 on 30th November 2017. Terms and conditions apply, please visit for full details.

For more information about Audible : New Writing Grant for Crime Fiction Click Here and from that link there is an offer for a free download of Fiona Barton’s THE WIDOW as performed by Clare Corbett [but hurry as the offer is for a very limited time].

And remember though I mentioned Crime, Horror, Science Fiction Audio work here, I should add as a postscript that Audible’s offerings are very wide. One of my very favourite downloads of this year was Bruce Springsteen reading from his autobiography BORN TO RUN, making it an experience that is as revelatory as it is life affirming, and I got it for £7.99 on the Audible monthly deal.

About Audible
Audible, an, Inc. subsidiary (NASDAQ:AMZN), is the leading provider of premium digital spoken audio information and entertainment, offering customers a new way to enhance and enrich their lives every day. Audible was created to unleash the emotive music in language and the habituating power and utility of verbal expression. Audible content includes more than 250,000 audio programs from leading audiobook publishers, broadcasters, entertainers, magazine and newspaper publishers, and business information providers.

Photos (c) 2017 A Karim & (c) 2017 

No comments: