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  • Ryan Robicheaux

Audiobook Countdown!

First and foremost- Happy New Year!

Around these parts, it’s already been busy and I’m just now getting to this update.

If you’ve followed Scouts Out! and the blog entries for a while, then you know how exciting it is for me to share this news:

In late December, audiobook production began for Scouts Out!.

If the audiobook creation process and distribution details are of interest to you, then please read on. I have to admit that it's been quite the learning experience on my end!

For those not tracking or who cannot recall, nearly a year ago, I began shopping around for a narrator and platform to complete this audiobook. When publishing a textual book or an audiobook, there's a lot of information and advice out there. Some is good, along with an almost equal amount of bad or terrible misinformation.

Unique to an audiobook:

The key questions are how much money to spend, which narrator to choose, and where will the audiobook itself be available? The immediate and easiest answer initially felt obvious: Amazon.

In reality, like almost everything else these days, the best option is a bit more complicated.

Although Amazon’s “Audible” service owns at least 40% of the global audiobook market, I ran into requests from many who not only sought an audiobook, but they also wanted it available on a wide range of alternative platforms. To only cater specifically to Amazon Audible users would unwisely alienate nearly 60% of the remaining audiobook listeners out there (and that was a big shock to discover, honestly. Amazon is very good at marketing and making folks believe that they’re the only game in town).

Some of these additional distribution channels were familiar: Apple, Spotify, Barnes & Noble, etc, while many others were new to me. And so, wanting to ensure I get it right the first time, I spent months combing through my options. I believe that patience and perseverance has finally paid off, and the service I’ve selected is the best one available.

"Find a Way Voices is a powerhouse in audiobook creation and production. Their reputation and satisfaction reviews from publishers and authors alike put any reservations to rest.

FAWV requires detailed criteria for narrator selection. The paperwork and questions were admittedly tougher to answer than I’d imagined, but the thoroughness was a true positive. After two more weeks of refining, FAWV began to send me voice actor profiles and samples for review. I listened to tons of audition clips and prior works from a litany of narrators. In the end, a few narrators stuck out and I created a short list. A specific passage from Scouts Out! was selected for audition and the requests were then sent out.

The first time that I heard a professional reading Scouts Out! in an audition clip gave me goosebumps. The emotions of excitement and a thousand others washed over me in a rush. All that I could do was close my eyes as I listened and smiled. It was finally happening!

Winner: Mr. Timothy Little.

Tim has been officially commissioned as the voice for Scouts Out!. He is a prior Air Force veteran and has over seventy audiobooks under his belt. I called almost immediately upon his acceptance of the contract, and feel that we hit it off well. This is a collaborative effort, so understanding one another and having a mutually defined goal for the project is key.

Audiobook production in a nutshell:

The narrator reads and finishes each chapter. Then, it is reviewed and edited by an audio engineer for accuracy and sound quality. Once that’s completed, the chapter is posted up on the FAWV Scouts Out! project page for author review. This will be done until every chapter has been completed. Once we all agree upon how everything is presented, the audio engineer splices it together. In total, at around 138,000 words, it's expected that Scouts Out! will have a total runtime of 14-15 hours.

The challenge initially has been correcting certain pronunciations and “Army-isms.” For example, when using a military callsign, “Wildwood 26” would be “Wildwood Two-Six” instead of “Twenty-Six.” Little things like that are being fixed at this time thanks to comment threads available for each chapter’s audio clip. If I hear something that doesn’t sound quite right, I make a note of the time and offer my thoughts. I’m confident once he gets really rolling with the main sticking points, we will move along smoothly.

This process isn’t a rapid one, but I sincerely hope to have the book ready within the next 2-3 months. I will of course give a heads up here before it hits the market.

This screenshot shows the distribution network where it’ll be available:

I’m hopeful that this investment will help even more people discover Scouts Out!.

Rather than monetary gain, my chief motivation has always been to ensure that the story remains as accessible as possible to anyone interested in what we were up to in Afghanistan.

As always, I cannot convey the level of gratitude I have for my readers and supporters. The individual messages I receive always make my week, and the continued referrals and reviews for Scouts Out! (particularly on Amazon and Goodreads) remain invaluable to its success.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope that the holidays and new year have treated you well!


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