Read and Write with Natasha

The rise of audiobooks with CEO of Pro Audio Voices

March 23, 2024 Natasha Tynes Episode 50
The rise of audiobooks with CEO of Pro Audio Voices
Read and Write with Natasha
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Read and Write with Natasha
The rise of audiobooks with CEO of Pro Audio Voices
Mar 23, 2024 Episode 50
Natasha Tynes

Send us a Text Message.

In this episode, Becky Parker Geist, CEO of Pro Audio Voices, joins us to explore the booming audiobook industry. 

We cover the technological advancements that have made audiobooks more accessible, their significant impact on multitaskers like myself, and the journey from tape to digital.

We also discuss how platforms like Amplify Audio Books Create empower authors by offering a non-exclusive distribution model, challenging traditional retail monopolies and enhancing the author-listener connection.

We delve into the hurdles of audiobook production and marketing, highlighting Pro Audio Voices' scholarship program for authors facing financial challenges. 

Support the Show.

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➡️ P.S: If you find my content useful, you might want to check out my Substack newsletter, in which I talk and vent about the writing life:


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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

In this episode, Becky Parker Geist, CEO of Pro Audio Voices, joins us to explore the booming audiobook industry. 

We cover the technological advancements that have made audiobooks more accessible, their significant impact on multitaskers like myself, and the journey from tape to digital.

We also discuss how platforms like Amplify Audio Books Create empower authors by offering a non-exclusive distribution model, challenging traditional retail monopolies and enhancing the author-listener connection.

We delve into the hurdles of audiobook production and marketing, highlighting Pro Audio Voices' scholarship program for authors facing financial challenges. 

Support the Show.

****************************************************************************

➡️ P.S: If you find my content useful, you might want to check out my Substack newsletter, in which I talk and vent about the writing life:


Speaker 1:

We do a lot of author-narrated projects as well, and we usually are working with them on a home studio consultant basis. So we have a team of home studio consultants that will meet with you and help you get the equipment that you need and get your space set up and make sure that your audio is in good shape and teach you how to use the software you'll need, and then we'll work with you on doing all the post-production, so you don't have to handle any of that.

Speaker 2:

Hi friends, this is Read and Write with Natasha podcast. My name is Natasha Tynes and I'm an author and a journalist. In this channel I talk about the writing life, review books and interview authors. Hope you enjoy the journey. Hi everyone, and welcome to another episode of Read and Write with Natasha. Today I have with me Becky Parker Geist. She is the founder and CEO of Pro Audio Voices, which is a Portland-based company serving client as a go-to place for audio book production and marketing. She's also the producer of the soon-to-be-released Amplify app that offers the highest royalties and most controls to authors of audiobooks of any platform in the industry. Her debut novel, the Left Turn, Two Lives Words Apart, is the first in the split universe series, which explores self-discoveries in new science. So, Becky, so glad to have you with me today. As a huge fan of audiobooks Books I'm really excited and I have a lot of questions for you. So first, where do we stand when it comes to the audiobook industry?

Speaker 1:

Well, yeah, so the audiobook industry has been growing for over a decade, you know, and double-digit growth over those, you know, 10 years, and it is showing no signs of slowing down. So there's still actually a lot of potential, you know, in the market. It's not like the market is saturated by any means, and so I think we're just going to keep seeing this double-digit growth year after year. I don't know when that might slow down, but we do certainly. I see that when people start with audiobooks, most often they fall in love with the format and it provides a lot of flexibility. It also provides a whole other level of performance that, you know, that helps bring audiobooks to life, brings books to life, and you know, I just think that there are so many benefits, so many upsides to the format itself that then the more listeners we have, the more listening each listener is going to, you know, want to be doing, and so we're going to just keep seeing that growth. It's a great place to be and exciting.

Speaker 2:

Why is that? Why do you think it's growth? Well, I think there are several.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think there are a lot of reasons, and I do, you know. I'll just, I guess I'll start actually with how the pandemic, I think, had an influence, the fact that we can listen without having to have screen time. These days, in our world, where we have so much, our eyes are so, you know, spend a lot of time in front of a screen, and that can be, that can be tiring, you know. So it's a for one thing, it's a great way to be able to have that entertainment or that input, you know, being able to read without having to use our eyes to do so. But I think for a lot of people it's about how can I take in even more content? I hear that again and again from people. You know, just because the format is so flexible, you can be doing something else physical with your body. You know your hands, your mind can be off in another world, or taking in some new information that you want to learn about. So I think just the flexibility of it is tremendously powerful and probably the biggest driving factor.

Speaker 2:

What about the introduction of Bluetooth headphones? You know the fact that I'm not connected to my phone with a wire. For me personally, that kind of doubled my listening time, because I leave my phone in the kitchen or upstairs and I go downstairs to do the laundry or whatever, and this is always plugged in. And in the past, just the fact that I had the wires and like it, added an extra layer of friction Do you think that contributed to it?

Speaker 1:

It probably does. Certainly, as you've experienced, it contributes to the enjoyment of the format. In terms of how much that may have impacted or be impacting growth, really hard to say because I don't know that anyone's even studying that particular level of detail. But it's really cool that you brought that up because you're right, it's like the easier things are for us because we're doing a lot of stuff. Our minds are busy and our hands are busy, and the less friction we have in a process, the more likely we are to stick with it and grow with it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, I mean an AI as well, like Siri on the iPhone or Alexa on Amazon. Just the fact that you can like be running around and then like read or say the command and you're done. And like I'm a busy mom of three kids and for me this in the car or no, like even with not in the car, but everything I do is I ask Siri to do it, like ask Siri to like listen to the books that really help. So I'm just curious to see. So listening to books is not new, right? It's been on for a while. So when we, let's say, 10 years ago or more, when we used to go on road trips and stop by cracker battles, there's always these. You know, whatever books on tapes.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

I used to look like I never. I've never done it. I, you know, I grew up in the Middle East and I moved to the US 20 years ago, so that was a new concept for me that people will actually, you know, rent a book, put it in the car and listen to it. Yeah, I always wondered about it. I was like, oh my God, that's a lot of logistics, because you have to find the next cracker battle and all of that, but it's not a new concept, right? But?

Speaker 1:

no, no. And you know, if you think about it kind of, it's maybe the oldest concept of all, because before we even had printing presses, what were we doing? Oral storytelling, that's. It's how we share our histories, it's how we express what we're experiencing in life, you know, and, and the storyteller is kind of like the shaman right, the one who can weave those tales for us.

Speaker 1:

So I think in many ways it's the oldest form and I find it fascinating that now that we are in a technological place where we can take that, and now, instead of it just being to the court or, you know, the the group sitting around the campfire, we now have a way to make it so we can record a story in one place, one time and space moment, and it becomes available to millions of people in some other variety of time and space moments.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's true, because I remember my, my granddad who, who passed away a long time ago. He never used to read to us, but he used to tell us stories and he used to tell us ghost stories.

Speaker 2:

And funny because I remember the ghost story and I retold it last month as a ghost story at a camping trip and I told him this was you know, it's probably over a hundred years old story about a man who goes to Damascus to shop for his bride and he gets attacked by this mystical creature. And so I mean the fact that I still remember it because he's kept telling us there and so I feel like somehow I preserved the tradition or I saved that story through telling it. So that is fascinating. Yeah, so I want to ask you about this platform Amplify has it been released?

Speaker 2:

It has yes, you can tell us a bit about it, because I'm really curious about it. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

You know it's. We released the apps Amplify audio books. It's in both app stores that went. They were both released in July this year, so it's still fairly new in terms of that aspect of the platform. Congrats, thank you. Very exciting and it's.

Speaker 1:

You know, for just for many years I've been working in this industry and seeing how the model works for authors who are, you know, getting their books into audio, spending all the time and money and energy to create the book, get it into audio and then send it out into the world. And as authors, you know, we want to be able to have an impact, we want to share those stories with the world. And what happens in the standard model is that we send them out there and we're, literally, we have no control over pretty much anything. So, like pricing and being able to, let's say, like, run a promotion or offer a discount code, you know, and even and this is the most, actually the most valuable piece is even knowing who buys our audio books in, you know, at the end, so we have no way to reach out to those folks, we don't have a way to build community, and yet, you know, we, as authors, know that that's one of the most powerful things that we can do, but all the tools are taken away from us. So I've always seen this as a problem and had not been until now in a position where I could make a difference in that. And so you know our authors would come to us and say well, how do I, how do I market my audio book? And we're so. The tools were so limited because of this problem.

Speaker 1:

So Amplify Audio Books Create is a suite of marketing tools that includes a platform, a direct sale platform. It's a little bit like a mall where each author has their own store, a little bit like the Etsy of Audio Books, so that the authors have those controls that I just described are not available anywhere else. Completely control your own pricing, coupon codes, that sort of thing. You get to know who bought your audio book so you can build community with them. And one of the things that matters to many authors I would say most authors is also being able to earn some kind of return on your investment. You know it costs a lot to have an audio book created and that there's good reasons for that. It's a time consuming, expertise process, so being able to actually earn back on each sale really matters. And the truth in the general industry is that the retailers take this giant chunk out of each sale and then they leave just the crumbs. Crumbs on the table are for the authors and that also has felt just wrong.

Speaker 1:

So the retailers are providing a percentage of the net which is very low, and they don't usually say that. And that's why I say it in that way. Because you look at, let's say, amazon, audible offers, they'll say if you go exclusive with them, which is what they want, they'll give you 40%. They don't say of what, though. They don't say it's of the net, they just say 40%. So we'll all assume that means the gross price, and that's not real. So on Amplify Audio Books, our authors get 65% of the gross price that they set. So it's a huge difference On a real scale. It's like comparing somewhere between 0% to 20% versus 65%, just because of that net and gross difference.

Speaker 2:

What about for me as an author? I would be worried about taking the risk and not being on Audible. I'm playing the devil's advocate here, Because for me, I'm subscribed to Audible, so I get the free credit, and when I think audio books, I just think Audible, I don't think anything. Some people might think Libby, or they think now Spotify just launched a new thing. I'd read it, yeah they bought Finderhäuser, yeah.

Speaker 2:

So that's what I think, I just go. So, for me, I feel like it's a bit risky to go with a new platform where the audience still not there, don't you think?

Speaker 1:

Well, we're not encouraging, we're not saying only be on Amplify Audio Books.

Speaker 1:

We're saying also be on Amplify audiobooks. Because here's the thing is that, yes, you should be in all those places like Audible, where your listeners may look for your work, absolutely, and that's what we encourage our clients to do. But the truth is that most people are only going to find your audiobooks when in when you're marketing, whatever marketing you're doing, your social media posts, your email marketing, so you're our marketing is essentially like directing traffic. Oh, hey, here's my audio, would you buy it over here? Buy it over here, right, yeah, and it's in that direction when we say buy it here, that you want to send them to your Amplify audiobooks page and start to build your audience there. And the it's true you know that, yes, we don't have as many people coming to Amplify audiobooks yet because it is new, but it is through that, those marketing efforts of each author who's on that platform who are drawing more and more audio. You know listeners to the platform and in that smaller grouping, you're also become more discoverable.

Speaker 2:

Ah, I see. So what happens if I go on both on Audible and Amplify? What do I lose, like if I don't sign exclusively with Audible? Yeah, you don't lose anything.

Speaker 1:

You only win because you're adding a place. As I say, I think it's good to be in all the places where your listeners might show up, right. So by having a broad distribution and then also having that Amplify audiobooks as a part of that, broad distribution is really valuable, especially if you use it by pointing people to it when you're marketing and also you know it's, I think, wise to say you know, please buy it here and here's why, but it's also available at your favorite audiobook retailer. Okay, that way people know. Oh, okay. Well, if there are subscribers somewhere, they're going to go there anyway. That's just, that's just natural. But there is a growing number of, there's a growing number of people that are leaning away from Amazon as their source. You know, they recognize yeah.

Speaker 2:

I've been hearing that a lot on the podcast, especially, especially independent authors. They're kind of many of them are, you know, frustrated with Amazon. Yeah, so do you help authors create their audiobooks or just market them?

Speaker 1:

We came into this. So I, like, came into the audiobook industry. As I had just gotten my MFA in acting, I came into it as a narrator.

Speaker 2:

I mean you have a great voice oh thank you, it's like the perfect like radio voice yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so I started with Talking Books for the Blind and that's it was like back in 81. I mean ages ago, but that's when I really fell in love with audiobooks and so our core offering for many years. And we're just about to celebrate this month we celebrate 10 years in business as pro audio voices. So for I would say, even like the first five years, it was mostly you know me being solopreneur, but but still audiobook production right, and it was really in the last couple of years that amplify audiobooks started to come forward and also more of our marketing options were coming forward and they were all developed in response to what our clients were saying they needed. So, as we listen to how you know what they needed, how can we help and do a lot of networking in the industry and outside the industry. You know marketing and other business kinds of things and so I've been able to bring in a lot of expertise to help where our authors were asking for help.

Speaker 1:

So, yes, in terms of audiobook production, that's something that we love doing, you're still doing. Oh yes, absolutely yeah, and everything from single narrator, full cast children's books, nonfiction fiction, the works, Love it.

Speaker 2:

Okay, so that's for the sake of anyone who's who's listening or watching. I'm an which is me. I'm an independently published author or self published author. I want to have my, my book, as an audiobook. I'm a starving artist. I'm playing the devil's. I am a starving artist, but I'm also playing the devil's advocate. It is for me, the idea of spending thousands of dollars.

Speaker 2:

If that is. You know, what I hear in the market for the for the audiobook is a bit intimidating, and especially when you know that books do not sell that much. So how would you convince me to make that investment? And what kind of packages do you offer for self published authors who don't have the backing of the big fours? I guess now they're big five or big fours, yeah, yeah, big publishers.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, first of all, I guess I would say that we don't like try to try to convince, because we want to make sure that it's going to be the right decision for each person, you know. But what we will do is help you, you know, look at your goals, what are your goals and will having an audiobook help? You know? Could that help you achieve your goals?

Speaker 1:

And one of the things that you know, you brought up the question about audiobook sales, and this is the very place where Amplify audiobooks make such a difference. And because, you know, authors haven't had the tools to be able to effectively market their audiobooks and get a return. So you could look at this, and people have in our industry have looked at the problem of oh, authors aren't getting a return on their investment and how can we solve that? Well, some people, like Book Baby, for example, they went well, we'll offer AI narration, you know, because it's so much cheaper and I don't see that as a solution. I get that it might be for some people, but it's not one that I don't want to listen to an AI narrated audiobook and I don't think that's the best thing for us as human beings to be.

Speaker 2:

But can we tell? Can the audience tell it's AI, like when you listen to Siri? Let's say Siri is narrated, but can you tell?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, you can tell, and maybe some of us can tell more readily than others or more quickly, but I don't know.

Speaker 1:

I mean, there's a whole other sort of philosophical aspect to that question. But in terms of looking at that problem, like how do we solve the problem of it being worth it to an author to do an audiobook? Well, if you can't get a return, if you're not going to earn much back and you don't have any way to effectively market it in the first place, like you can do social media posts that say, hey, my book's on Audible now. You'll never know whether it's been effective. For one thing, if it is effective and you make some sales, the return on those sales is going to be so small that it's negligible for each sale. So those are the problems as I see it, from my viewpoint. So I was like, okay, yes, this is a problem. How do we deal with it? Well, let's give the authors the control that they deserve and the return from each sale that they deserve.

Speaker 2:

And how do you do marketing differently than, let's say, an author or Audible? What is your marketing magic?

Speaker 1:

Well, it's being able to have those tools. So if you being able to run a promotion, people love sales, I love sales, and so being able to do that, I mean that sounds like so basic and it is very basic, but you can't do that. You can't tell Amazon put my book on sale. They won't do it. You have no control over it. You can't control the price. No, you can't.

Speaker 2:

Not the audiobook, the paperback, but you can't control your audiobook price.

Speaker 1:

They don't even with Audible. You can't even suggest the price that you would like. Even if you did, they'd ignore it.

Speaker 2:

Interesting.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So you don't have that control and if you want to just run a promotion, you know you want it to go on sale. You can't and you can't do that on any retailer. You just don't have that power. And so being able to have a tool where you can actually say, yes, my book's on sale, get it here at that sale price, that's powerful and just like. If, let's say, you're doing an event maybe it's a book launch event, or you know special holiday and you want to, or you're trying to add people to your email list and you want to give them some reward, you could give them a coupon code. You can't do that anywhere else.

Speaker 2:

This is no way. So what are we looking at in terms of the price?

Speaker 1:

What's the package For production? For production, yeah, For production yeah.

Speaker 1:

It's going to be based on a lot of different things. The most important thing is going to, or the main factor is word count, and then the second biggest factor is is it a one narrator or is it like something more you know, or do you have a bunch of sound effects or music in there, you know? Or is it just straight narrative, you know? So the least expensive is going to be your single narrator and in terms of word count, they're most often, you know, audiobooks tend to run somewhere between like three to 7,000. But there's so much range largely because, you know, I mean, like a children's book, for example, might be a hundred words, but you know, or five minutes long, but it has lots of music and sound effects to sort of bring it to life in a different way.

Speaker 1:

And then you know, a full cast audiobook typically is going to be much more like you know, 15,000 or something you know and more in that range. But your single narrator is going to fall in that most often, like I say, three to 7,000. Here's and then. But there are different ways to do it. So at Pro Audio Voices, for example, we have what's our normal concierge service, which is the way that we love working with authors very collaborative, lots of there's. A author has a lot of say in the process. It's, you know, it's very hands on. And but we do have authors who will come to us and say you know, I really want to do this, I can't, I can't afford those rates and we have a scholarship program that people can apply for that will reduce those rates.

Speaker 1:

So, your options are narrowed, you know, in that because that's the only way that we can offer those, those special scholarship rates. But there are different ways. So I'm just putting it out. There is, there are different ways. And I will say this also because I think in our industry most production companies are going to give you a per finished hour cost and we don't do that, we do a project cost. So here's what listeners should know about that. Going into it and no matter, no matter where you're going to get your audio book produced, just be aware of this.

Speaker 1:

So you're doing a per finished hour basis and let's say they say it's going to be $650 per finished hour and we estimate your book is going to be five hours long. Okay, you want to find out what reading pace they're basing that estimated finished length on. And if you have a longer book let's say your book is more like 90, 120,000 words your finished length is at greater risk of growing. Here's why If an, if a narrator slows down just a little bit which is common, you know, and not necessarily intentional but if they slow down a little bit, they're going to get paid more and you are going to pay more as the author with a project cost, you know, going in, what it's going to cost you.

Speaker 2:

I see what if the author offers to read their own book.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that can, that can. It definitely impacts the price. We do a lot of author narrated projects as well, and we usually are working with them on a home studio consultant basis. So we have a team of home studio consultants that will meet with you and help you get the equipment that you need and get your space set up and make sure that your audio is in good shape and teach you how to use the software you'll need, and then we'll work with you on doing all the post-production, so you don't have to handle any of that.

Speaker 2:

So it's a bit of a hassle because you have to get all the gear right. It is. You can do it like in an open space, right? You have to close the space and all of that.

Speaker 1:

Sometimes you can do it in an open space. It really depends on your particular space. I mean it gets when you. There are sound engineers who geek out on this stuff. I am not one of them, but I have talked with some of our engineers and they get into well the relative dimensions of your booth, like is it two by three or two by four? Which way is your mic pointing? And I mean it's? It gets really. There is so much fascinating but technical elements of sound production that are impacted by all kinds of things. So it's not that necessarily any particular space is going to be better or worse, but though they'll work with you, with the space that you have to make it the best that it can be.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so I have a technical question that I struggle with. Okay, so most of my books are based in the Middle East right or between the Middle East and the US, so the main characters are like either moving to the US or to the West or whatever. And if I narrate the book, it's, you know it will be accented, but it sort of mirrors the authenticity of the characters. But at the same time, I feel this might turn people off because they don't like to hear like an accented English narration. What are the pros and cons of this? Like would I lose the authenticity or what is your advice?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so I think that there, first of all, I wouldn't say that it would turn off your audience likely, especially because your audience is choosing stories that you know your character is going through that. So I think it would, I wouldn't worry about that aspect of it at all.

Speaker 1:

If you were worried about like, say, like it to be a little bit lighter accent, for example, you know you could we look for a narrator that is going to be able to provide that and but I still I do think that the accent would be very appropriate to the story based on what you're saying.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, because if I bring a narrator who has like a Southern accent from Alabama is not like it's not going to work?

Speaker 1:

No, no. You got to. You always want to match the voice to the right project. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So like who would you bring? I mean, that's for me is like how do you pick your? There is I'm asking this, like how do you pick your narrators for each different topic?

Speaker 1:

So yeah, that's a great question.

Speaker 2:

Where do you find these narrators that fit these kind of very specific niche or very specific criteria?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so we have a casting director who works with us.

Speaker 1:

She works out of New York and she is wonderful at what she does and we have a currently about over 500 narrators in our talent bank and they're spread around the world. So we have many different languages available, many different accents available and that talent bank is constantly growing and expanding. Especially if we have something, a project, where it's like, oh, maybe we may not have that many narrators that sort of fit, this voice request, and so we do further outreach to find voices. Sometimes that's like, hey, narrators who are in our talent bank, who do you know that has this, and that almost always, I think every time we've done that, we've had recommendations that have been really helpful.

Speaker 2:

And you test them. Do you test them before you sign with them?

Speaker 1:

We do. Yeah, they have to be vetted yeah.

Speaker 2:

And does the author have to approve it?

Speaker 1:

Yes, and so the casting process starts with a conversation with the casting director and the author to where she's asking a bunch of questions to make sure that she has a clear idea of what it is that we're looking and listening for in that voice. And then she'll send out a casting call and a call for auditions for the project using the text of the project, and then she'll vet those initially so she'll go through and narrow it down to what she would consider her top, say five or six or something, and then she'll share that. So it's always going to be the author's or rights holder's choice as to who that narrator is, and it's not always necessarily from the casting director's first choice folder. It might be from one of the other voices that also came in, but it's a conversation about. She'll offer her input as to why she's selected the ones that she did, and we'll work with authors to make sure that we found the voice that they feel really good about.

Speaker 2:

So my question is now with Spotify announcement, is the audiobook headed towards streaming rather than buying, and so, which is kind of like, if I go to, is it Libby? Yeah, is it Libby the one that the author? So it's like Libby, but Spotify, where I pay monthly and I stream and I don't have to buy the book, like audible, because with audible, the book, you buy the book, right, right, that's right, it stays with you, that's right.

Speaker 2:

So what if now the industry is going towards an unlimited streaming rather than buying? Is that where we headed? Because I'd rather stream. Honestly, I don't like. Do you want to own the audiobook? Not really.

Speaker 1:

I think we're going to have more than one model on, you know, for a while. I don't think we're going to go all one direction. Okay, I don't know. You know, as a listener myself, I own many audiobooks and some of them I've listened to many times because I've enjoyed them so much. Okay, so I will sometimes go back to them, even though there's still lots of great listens out there. But I wouldn't. I don't feel the need to own them necessarily either, but I think it's going to depend on the person as to what model works best for them.

Speaker 2:

Because, like, when it comes to watching movies, people mostly stream, not buy. Yeah, right, at least if I look at my habits, the only time I rent if it's like a new release or whatever, but I just stream. Yeah, I was wondering if that's what's where we're headed now with audio. We just just something to think about. Yeah, so what's your favorite audiobook?

Speaker 1:

I would say I, oh, there's so many I love. But I'll say, of the ones that we've produced, I'll just start there. And it is on Amplify audiobooks, it's quantum, it's like a techno thriller, full cast, really, really fun project. And then for ones that we have not produced, ones that I've just I've listened to multiple times because I love them. So JoJo Moy's One Plus One is one of my personal favorites.

Speaker 1:

Why the character development. These characters are so delightful, the way that they progress. They're so flawed and yet so understandable. I just feel such a wonderful and I enjoy her dialogue. I think she's a wonderful writer, so I always look forward. I've listened to a lot of her audiobooks JoJo Moy.

Speaker 2:

JoJo Moy yeah.

Speaker 1:

Oh, wow.

Speaker 2:

So before we go, I want to ask you about your novels. So you just published the novel. So why did you move from like the audiobook industry to publishing? And was it always a dream of yours to publish, or like where you know? How did that happen?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, I think from the time I was a little kid. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be an author.

Speaker 1:

I wrote my first book when I was like I don't know five or six or something. Oh but, and I'd written a few. I have written a few like nonfiction and children's books. This was my first novel and I didn't actually set out to write a novel.

Speaker 1:

I was on a bike ride in San Francisco and this it kind of dropped into my head in this one moment when I it's like I was my husband at the time was we were on a this bike ride and he was way ahead several blocks and I came to this stop sign and I just had this thought what if I just turned left? And I didn't? I continued on. But this scene of what if I? Just the whole idea of just like turning left, is like what if I just changed my story? What if I stepped out of the life that I have right now? And what would? What would happen?

Speaker 1:

So anyway, this, this scene dropped into my head and I it stayed in there until I finally wrote it down and then this kept happening. So I had all these stories that was sort of popcorn into my head at various points and and forced me to write them down. So I did, and then later I figured out how they all fit together and and pulled it together into into the novel the left turn. And the funny thing is I can look at it now and say it's about how we change our story to change our lives. But when I was writing it I I don't think I really knew what it was about, except that it was about this person that was, or these, it was a couple, but the, the female character is, the the main character, and what she was experiencing. I didn't really know what it was about until I was able to step away from it. I was able to step away from it a little bit and go oh oh yeah, Look at that.

Speaker 2:

Did you self publish it or how? How did you publish it? I did?

Speaker 1:

I did and I published audio first.

Speaker 2:

So really.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and did you narrate it yourself? I did, yeah, of course. Of course, it's written from two points of view, so there's a male point of view, and so I had a co-narrator. And you know, what was so funny is because you were asking about casting. Oh man, I thought that the casting process and I went through it with our company you know our casting director and you know and I had about five top narrators. I know all of them well. We've done work with each one of them and each one was the best in a slightly different way, and I had a heck of a time deciding which one to go with. Any one of them would have been great, and I had. I asked, you know, family members and they each had a different favorite, and every one of them said they're all great. And I knew they were all great, yeah, but I had to come up with a decision. So JS Arquan is my co-narrator.

Speaker 2:

I love listening to memoirs. I feel like memoirs. You have to listen to them, especially when the author is, Because like it's very intimate experience when you listen to somebody's memoirs while you're walking the dog. It was just for me. I just finished listening to the many lives of Mama Love.

Speaker 1:

I'm not sure if you heard about it.

Speaker 2:

It's about a woman who was a heroin addict and then got into identity theft and went to prison and how she turned her life around, and so it's her memoir.

Speaker 1:

you know life in prison.

Speaker 2:

you know all describing addiction and it's such an intimate experience while I'm walking my dog in the woods that it's like I will always remember. Like listening while walking the dog in the woods. It's really nice, yeah.

Speaker 1:

You bring up a point, though I want to touch on, and that is about whether authors of memoirs should narrate their own book, and I don't think that that is necessary. I don't think it's necessary, and here's why, but many authors expect that they should be the voice, because it is their story and very personal, and my experience has shown me that doesn't necessarily mean that the author is going to be the best narrator for telling their story.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Because it really, you know, a good actor is going to step right into the shoes of that person and experience those emotions and bring that story forth in a way that is like optimal, and the authors themselves are not always able to do that, and I would say more rarely are able to do that, simply because it's a different set of skills and having lived through it does not make you the best teller of that story necessarily.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, like David Goggins memoir is not narrated by him, like I'm listening to like three books at the same time. But, I'm also listening to David Goggins. You know David Goggins, who's yeah, and it's not narrated by him and they did a very interesting format where they stop he and the narrator and the or the narrator or the ghost writer, I think and they just sit and discuss what we just listened. So it's kind of like a podcast slash audiobook in one format.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So it makes it even more exciting to listen to it. So that was like the first time I hear such format or memoir. But yeah, so, becky, this has been like amazing and for anyone who's listening. They want to apply for the scholarship. What kind of qualifications they need? What would make them get that scholarship? Well we always like you know to help authors and anyone who's listening to you know to know about this possibility.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, the first thing we're always going to start with is just a discovery call. We want to learn about your goals, you know, and that is the first step in the process, and then, as we move into a strategy call with an author. That is where we're really looking at, okay, what's gonna help best help you achieve those goals. And it's in that process, that conversation there, that if they feel like you know, if so, if it feels like your content is something that we really Care about bringing forth in the world, you know you have something that is valuable and important to say, and that is most often the case, but there are also times when you know someone's like pushing some agenda that is not necessarily uplifting or helpful in the world and so, okay, you know they're, they're not likely gonna land in that, but so we want to look.

Speaker 1:

you know, are we in alignment, are we trying to, you know, help you have that, that impact that you want to have, and then it's a very simple application For that, that scholarship program. But it's, and it's mostly tell us why, why, why, why, why should we get here?

Speaker 2:

and I'm, yeah, and I'm hoping, if people are hearing this, and I hope you get an end dated with the application.

Speaker 1:

You know we love audio books and we love authors and we. One of our core values is impact. You know we want to have an impact in the world and we know very, very well that the best way for us to have an impact is to help our Author clients have an impact. And there's so much great material out there fiction and nonfiction, children's the works you know that is really valuable and if we can help bring that forward then we're having a greater impact in a positive way that matters.

Speaker 2:

And one last question how do I get your voice? How do you still? I do still.

Speaker 1:

I do still narrate audio books and I love narrating, so how?

Speaker 2:

do I sound like you, like how do you have this charisma? This like everywhere you say, like it resonates, like how do you do it? Were you born? Were you born with it or did you?

Speaker 1:

You know, I think I I'm willing to be vulnerable and I think this really came a lot. It was a it's a part of actor training being willing to go to those challenging places, being willing to speak from the heart and to feel the emotions you know. So I think that that that is probably part of it. It can feel like sometimes that can feel like a risky thing to do, you know.

Speaker 1:

yeah you never know, but there's a. I guess it's feeling confident enough in who I am to to be willing to say, ok, this is who I am, and if you don't like who I am, then that's not going to feel very good to me, but yeah, I'm still who I am.

Speaker 2:

It's like you're putting me in the Zen mode.

Speaker 1:

There you go.

Speaker 2:

Well, this has been wonderful, but any last thoughts how can people read?

Speaker 1:

you buy your books, all of that, yeah, great, thank you, yeah, so best place to reach us for audiobook production is pro audio voices dot com. If you are an audiobook listener and you just want to go find out what's on that platform, amplify audio books dot com will take you straight to that. Take you straight there. And my author website is Becky Parker Geist dot com. All of you can find all of that just going to pro audio voices dot com. That's our home base.

Speaker 2:

Sounds great and thank you very much for your time, becky, and for anyone who's listening or watching. Thank you for joining us for another episode of Read and Write with Natasha and until we meet again, thanks so much, it's been fun, thank you.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for tuning in to Read and Write with Natasha.

Speaker 2:

I'm your host, natasha Tynes. If today's episode inspired you in any way, please take the time to review the podcast. Remember to subscribe and share this podcast with fellow book lovers. Until next time. Happy reading, happy writing.

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