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  • Peter Baker

ADAPTING A BOOK FOR MAXIMUM IMPACT AS AN AUDIOBOOK



Our fantastic courses on www.Voiceovermasterclass.com have helped so many people and we have been asked to create reference materials such as books. On Amazon now you’ll find the main Voiceover Masterclass course, the Podcast Production course and “Turn your book into an Audiobook” as paperbacks, Kindle books and audiobooks!

However, certain types of print books, don't work that well in audio at all, such as business books with lots of graphs and tables or recipe books, and obviously photography books. So this short blog may give you an idea as to why an awful lot of books do need to be adapted for audio. You may think this is just an issue for factual or nonfiction books, but we’ll come to fiction in a minute.


First of all, if it's a self-help book or a business manual or something like that, quite often the text refers to graphs, or data charts, or photographs, and of course those visuals are not going to be in the audio book version. When I am a narrator, and the author hasn't had the time or inclination to adapt any of the text, I obviously can't just read “have a look at the illustration on page 34” if that is mentioned in the manuscript. So what I have done in the past, is to assume that the listener to the audio book also has the text version, or if they haven't, maybe they would like to purchase it as well! Quite often, the author who I do this for, is pleased with this, as it seems to be a bit of a marketing ploy! So I would say something like “In the text version of the book on page 34, you will see a graph that…..” and so on.


I’m sure you're an author who cares about your book and doesn't want any pesky voiceovers like me to mess about with your precious words, that's why it's best for you to go back to the original manuscript and think audio. It's really worth your while doing this, as you may think of an even better way of adapting the text to make more sense in an audio environment. Many factual books, particularly those in the self-improvement area, have quotes from various people, and when a quote is in print, it makes sense to have the quote – in italics - first and then the author of the quote is mentioned afterwards. If it is a short quote, this works in audio fairly well, but for longer quotes, the listener often does not know it IS a quote, because they cannot hear italics.


The narrator may put on a different voice to make it clearer that it’s a quote, or the listener may be used to hearing a quote at the beginning of every chapter, for example, but for longer quotes, you may want to consider having a sentence mentioning the author of the quote before the actual quote is written. So you might want to say something like “Mahatma Gandhi once said…” and then you would actually state the quote.

If you have photographs in your factual book, and they are referred to in the audio book a lot, and you feel it is a bit of a big ask to brazenly plug your print book or digital book when someone has actually bought your audio book, you could always give a website address where people can see those photographs for free, so again that's something you may want to consider.


But the biggest thing that I find as a narrator I have to change an awful lot, is the phrase “as mentioned above.” I normally just adapt this as “as I’ve mentioned”.

So what about fiction books? Why would you need to adapt your text version of fiction for audio? You must remember that the listener to your audio book cannot see text. That is obvious, but maybe you haven't considered that people when they are reading a text version of a fiction book, and in particular conversation, they cannot see any punctuation, and they cannot see speech marks. If there are two or three people talking between themselves, it is very clear to see when one person has finished speaking and the next person starts speaking, because of the use of speech marks and punctuation. The listener of course can't see these. So unless you have got a fantastic narrator, who can give different voice styles to each of your characters, so dramatically different that it is obvious to the listener, maybe you want to consider adding in a few extra “he said”, or “she said” type attributions, so it's absolutely clear to the listener who is saying what, at what point.


Please check out my new book on this subject and more…”How to Turn Your Book into an Audio Book” on Amazon now!


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