I am very blessed to be the godmother of two terrific godsons and one charismatic goddaughter. I recently found out, however, that I’m a kind of godmother to a brand new audiobook publishing company, Ideal Audiobooks. I couldn’t think of a better way to close out June Is Audiobook Month than to feature my newest “godchild”.
Little did I know that, when I invited audiobook narrator Amy Rubinate to participate in my “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” event in 2012, it gave her the much needed opportunity to create something wonderful. I created “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” to highlight and celebrate wonderful narrators. Amy ran with it and wrote and recorded her own children’s story. While her zeal for my event was fantastic, that was just the beginning. That spark, her personal passion for the art itself, and her focus on learning all aspects of the audiobook industry led Amy to found Ideal Audiobooks this June. That I play a role anywhere in this story is such an honor. I spoke with Amy on the phone and learned a little more about how Ideal Audiobooks came into being and how she goes about the work of producing and publishing audiobooks.
Amy loved and listened to audiobooks long before she became a narrator herself. Although she has an acting background and studied oral interpretation in literature, it wasn’t until she listened to Fault Lines by Anne Rivers Siddons narrated by Kate Burton that she understood that audiobook narration is its own art form. When done well, audiobooks add magical elements to the page. This realization was life changing. Audiobooks stilled her road rage and led her to take a class on narration from none other than Simon Vance. From there, she continued to learn the craft, took specialized vocal training, and began trading samples with other up and coming narrators.
Amy’s hard work paid off when she entered Scott Brick’s “Share the Experience” audiobook narration contest to celebrate his 10th anniversary in the audiobook industry. There were over 400 entries and, to prevent herself from getting lost in a sea of women’s voices, she chose to submit an entry featuring her younger voices. Ultimately she came in third place and it help her land her first role with Random House Audio. Later, the New York Times reviewed her work on John M. Cain’s The Cocktail Waitress.
As she honed her craft, she found herself interested in the full process. She learned about audiobook rights and marketing. She was interested in what it was about specific audiobooks that made listening to them intensely pleasurable, even when those of other equally good books were not. She looked at what narrators and noticed what it was that made them powerful behind the microphone. It wasn’t long before casting audiobooks in her head led her to consider producing audiobooks on her own. She could not only choose audiobooks that spoke to her, but she could cast narrators where their sweet spot is and encourage them to grow successful in new areas. There was nothing but passion in Amy’s voice when she said, “What a wonderful way to spend my life!”
When I first discovered Ideal Audiobooks, it was the selection of titles and narrators that struck me the most. When pursuing audiobook rights, she looks for satisfying stories that always have a vein of hope in the midst of darkness and difficulty. She wants to develop an intimate and family feel with the titles she produces. While she welcomes all listeners, young and old, that the initial titles spoke to me as a woman was impressive. I love that she’s producing the Heather Vogel Frederick’s Mother-Daughter Book Club series and she even narrates several children’s audiobooks. I also am a huge fan of Amy and the narrators she has cast thus far: Hillary Huber, Julia Whelan, Kate Rudd, Xe Sands, Shannon McManus, and Tavia Gilbert. My ears are happy just thinking about what these narrators can do with a book.
Everywhere you turn there are articles about the significant growth the audiobook industry is experiencing. While advances in technology certainly play a significant role in this advance, it wouldn’t as fulfilling without the passion and enterprise of people like Amy Rubinate. As I jokingly named myself the “godmother” of Ideal Audiobooks, I was so inspired by her story. It is a great day to be alive and listening when a woman can take her love of audiobooks and make it her vocation.
I for one am eager to dive in to some of these titles. I am certain that Ideal Audiobooks will live up to its name.