Audio Book vs. Written Book – Should You Write Differently?

As more and more people discover the joys of listening to audio books, more of my clients are asking if they need to write differently for audio book projects.

The short answer, if you’re a writer and are wondering this too, is no.photo of ear, Sandy Weaver Carman, Voicework on Demand, audio products, audio learning, audio books, writer, speaker, trainer, coach, author

Write in your voice, in your style, and with your words. Write the way you normally write, and let your editor edit your work normally. You don’t need to do anything differently unless the spirit moves you to make an audio book edit to your manuscript. One of my clients does that when we do audio versions of his short stories – he wants them to be as easy as possible for his listeners to follow, as there’s a lot of dialogue in his stories. If you write with a lot of conversations in your creations, you might want to think of making an audio book edit to your manuscript, too, since the listener can’t hear open and close quotation marks!

The one thing you have to know is that the voice actor who reads your book for the audio book version may make slight word changes, and that’s normal. As a matter of fact, the best narrators know how to make very small changes that help the listener stay in the story. They’re not mistakes – they’re deliberate language changes that take your manuscript and make it into the best possible audio book.

Should your book be available in audio form? Well, since my company produces audio books, you won’t be surprised that my answer is yes! But, here are some things to consider when deciding whether or not to turn your book into an audio book:

  • In January, 2011, the Association of American Publishers reported a slight decline in sales of physical audio books, ie: cd and cassette versions. Downloadable audio book sales were up nearly 10% year over year as sales of books declined.
  • In their 2011 professional survey, The Audiobook Publisher Association reported that audio book downloads represent 36% of dollar volume and 52% of unit sales, with downloadable audio book sales growing 300% in dollar volume the previous 5 years.
  • In a report issued September of 2012, Business Insider revealed that 78% of the US adult population uses a smart phone or tablet, and the percentage is expected to grow to nearly 85% by the end of 2013.

Smart phones and tablets are changing the way readers “read” your books. Ebooks are dominating the book sales marketplace, and downloadable audio books are the even easier way for people to read a book. Amazon.com introduced a Whispersync app, which encourages purchasers to buy both the e-book and audio book version, and seamlessly switch from one to the other. Go to bed and read chapter four on your Kindle, wake up and listen to chapter five on your smart phone or Kindle as you work out or commute, and there’s no searching for your place – all of your devices know where you left off, and pick up there, no matter which version you’re reading.

As you go through your normal day, pay attention to the number of people you see with headphones or earbuds on. They’re not all listening to music – chances are many, if not most, of them are listening to an audio book or podcast.

If you’ve written a book or are working on one, don’t worry about making any changes if you want to have an audio version available – simply write, knowing that people will love your book – and audio book!

Do you have a question about audio products? I’d love to hear it, and maybe answer it right here. Helping people monetize their content is what we do!

Sandy Weaver Carman
CEO, Voicework on Demand, Inc.

Voicework on Demand, Inc.

I partner with writers, speakers, trainers and coaches, taking work they’ve already done and turning it into a revenue river. Ready to get your feet wet?

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