While I attended BEA, I had the opportunity to attend an audiobook writing seminar held by John Grace at Brilliance Audio. I’ve been reviewing audiobooks for a few years now, but I was interested in learning more about writing professional audiobook reviews. It was nice to see that audiobook publishers were becoming interested in providing educational opportunities for book bloggers. This seminar, which was scheduled at the end of the day on Tuesday, also gave me a much needed break from the BEA floor and gave me the chance to meet Danielle from There’s A Book in person. I wish I had written down the name of the woman who presented with John. Although I cannot remember her name, she has experience writing audiobook reviews professionally for several publications, including AudioFile Magazine. I was happy to come away from this seminar knowing that I’m already on the right track: commentary on narration and production are key to any audiobook review.
The reviewer at this seminar mentioned that she devotes at least half of her reviews to the audiobook’s narration. This threw me at first until I remembered that her average review length is less than 200 words. I devote at least a full paragraph to narration and its impact on the book as a whole. Depending upon the circumstances, I may write more. Book bloggers have a distinct advantage in that we can use as few or as many words as we feel necessary to cover an audiobook completely.
One question I had was about writing reviews of a narrator’s work when you’ve previously written several other reviews. How do you continue to say that this narrator did another bang up job and keep it fresh? I got a great tip from another person attending the seminar. Her suggestion was to read other audiobook reviews to see how other reviewers have expressed their opinions. This advice was not meant to incite plagiarism, but to be used to expand one’s audiobook vocabulary. I don’t read reviews of a book I’ve read but have not yet reviewed or plan to read in the near future. For me, that is an important part of keeping my voice mine. Those reviews, however, are just a small drop in the bucket. This advice was the perfect reason to pull out past editions of AudioFile magazine to read up on the reviews.
When I first started writing audiobook reviews, I expressed my feelings about them just as I did any other book. Not knowing what had to be a part of the review made that easy. It was the “write like nobody’s reading” approach. Luckily, I have always felt compelled to discuss the narration and that is the one thing I need as an audiobook review reader. Over time, I’ve expanded the introduction sections of my reviews to include not only the narrator’s name, but the audiobook’s publisher and length as well. One thing I’d like to look into is the possibility of including an audio sample. I’ve been thinking recently how nice it would be to provide readers with easy access to a sample. In fact, we talked about this at the narrator/blogger luncheon. It was an interesting conversation started when someone mentioned that Audible takes minutes 7 through 11 (if memory serves me correctly) from each audiobook to create samples for their website. I didn’t think ahead enough to begin with my audiobook reviews from this week, but I will work on that for upcoming reviews.
There is one area of audiobook reviewing that I do not feel comfortable addressing very often: production. I don’t have a background in audiobooks other than as a listener, so I’m unsure of exactly what good or bad production means. Some things are obvious. There was an audiobook where small snippets small snippets of dialog were repeated (repetition intended to illustrate how the issue I encountered). I noted that in my review. Other things I’m not sure about. For example, I frequently notice when the sound of a narrator’s voice changes slightly and then goes back to “normal.” I’ve been assuming that this is where a correction was edited in. If I notice it at all, is that bad production? I am really unsure, so this is not something I’ve mentioned before in my reviews. I would like to develop that area of my audiobook reviewing in the upcoming year.
That is the state of the audiobook review here at Literate Housewife. I’m curious to hear about your reviews.
- What elements do you include in your audiobook reviews? Are there any that you’d like to add?
- What standards do you have in place for audiobook production? I would really be curious to hear your thoughts on that.