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Boldly going where I haven’t gone before

June is Audiobook month!  But then if you found my website and have an interest in audiobooks you probably already know that.

I’m a Twitterer, or Tweeter or Twittifier…or whatever, and of course a large number of the people I follow are audiobook professionals.  I can’t tell you how many times the fact that it is audiobook month came down my Twitterfeed today. It’s only the first of June and I’m already so tired of audiobook month…! Sacrilege, I know.

We audiobook professionals love what we do and we all agree that we’d love to enlarge the audiobook community so audiobook month is probably a good idea.  But with all this Twittering, etc., are we not preaching to the already converted? The problem, as I see it, is how to attract the attention of those who don’t yet know anything at all about audiobooks or just haven’t made the connection.

So I decided to try something different – different for me, anyway – and I picked out a couple of ‘celebrities’ who had a connection with audiobooks (but are certainly not known for them) and by Tweeting using the @-reply and referencing them with a message about audiobook month hoped to be seen in their own mentions column and provoke some kind of response on the subject (too much Twitter jargon for you? – sorry). Yes, of course it would be nice for me to appear in one of their responses – but it would also mean that many more thousands of their followers on Twitter would see something that might make them think more about audiobooks.

The two celebrities I chose were relative newcomers to Twitter but due to their celebrity they have, between them, already garnered 330,000 followers: William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.  You’re absolutely right – I was also indulging a bit of a fantasy of my own … The idea that Capt.Kirk and Cmdr Spock might actually see a tweet that I had sent out was a thrill I could not resist.

Am I crazy?  Quite possibly.  I often act on impulse and do things like this.  If what I’ve done is successful then I feel great and justified in the action.  If nothing happens I wonder if I did the wrong thing and people ‘out there’ think I’m an idiot for trying….

So far nothing has happened, no response, no reference to audiobook month by either of my chosen celebrities… so what does that mean?  Well, nothing yet – after all it is audiobook month and I have another 29 days before the verdict is in.

Live long and prosper – or, as we say in England,
Cheers
Simon

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Oh, by the way, I lied… (cont’d from Wed.)

It wasn’t three days I spent in New York City, it was more like two and a half. That may seem like a minor error, but you can’t get away with anything these days and I know I’d pay for that error somewhere down the line (Oh, that Vance – he’s so prone to exaggeration). As Gary Vee said in the APAC keynote speech; you can’t get away with any BS in these days of Twitter and Facebook – the truth will out.
So, better play it safe: Two and a half days.

Now, back to my experiences in NYC:
You’d think narrators would know better.  Whenever we’re asked for guidance from new narrators as to what are the important things to watch for in this business one of the first things we say is ‘protect your voice’. It’s not easy to sit for several hours behind a microphone constantly speaking out loud.  So we say ‘don’t shout at loud sports events’, ‘don’t go to parties where you can’t be heard without shouting’, etc., etc…  Now APAC  prides itself on allowing a great deal of time for networking during and in between the day’s meetings but that networking on Monday took place mostly in a large room with a couple of hundred people all talking at once – and of course the day ended with a social event courtesy of Tantor Audio in the upstairs room of a Manhattan bar.  I can’t tell you how many experienced narrators suffered from very sore throats after Monday’s events… including me!  Throw in the Audies gala on Tuesday evening and I wasn’t able to get back behind the microphone until Friday.  Note to self for next year – listen more, don’t speak!

Talking of the Audies: As you may know my name was attached to four finalists this year – sadly none of them came through in the end, but that in no way diminished my enjoyment of the evening.  The MC was Baba Booey (meant nothing to me either, initially – that’s Gary Dell’Abate, Howard Sterne’s executive producer who happens to be a big fan of audiobooks – nice guy, I got to chat with him early in the evening) and Gary did a great job of keeping the ceremony in it’s newly slimmed down format rolling and I did my bit by speed reading through the masses of names I had when presenting awards for things like Audio Drama and so on.  The winners as well as all the finalist can be found on AudioFile magazine’s website and congratulations to all of them.  Got to meet a lot of old friends and made a few new ones (and tried to bribe a few judges before next year’s Audies – kidding… no really, I’m joking).  Catering was particularly good this year (and a photo of me in tux and waistcoat will follow eventually).

Last year I had a very late night at the party after the Gala (sponsored by Playaway, as it was this year) and ended up in a deli, still in my tux, eating an early breakfast at something like 5am.  This year I was much more conservative – mainly because I was flying back early on Wednesday.  So I didn’t feel at all bad (except for a little hoarseness) when I returned home to California later that day – just very tired…

So ended my two days and, just a sec… nineteen hours in the Big Apple.

Cheers
Simon

Fingers crossed, but I think the audio link below should work!

link to audio here

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That Was The Week That Was (well, 3 days)

There was a political satire show on British television in the early 60’s that went by the name in the title above (less the 3 days thing). The title song came into my head as I began to think about what I should write, and I can’t get rid of it. It went: “THAT was the WEEK that WAS, it’s OVER, let it GO” (in the audio version – still not here yet, sorry – of this blog I’ll try to sing it to give you more of an idea of how it went). And that’s sort of my feeling about the past few days in New York City – it’s over, let it go (but perhaps that’s only because I’m feeling so tired). It was a very full few days (and, in case you didn’t know, no Audies this year – all together now… ahhhh!) and though I feel really good about a lot of what’s happening (not least this blog – I’ll get to that later) now I’m home and dazed from the traveling (I’m a wimp) and I have to look ahead as I plan to conclude my recording of The Eustace Diamonds by the beginning of next week.

Monday saw the Audio Publishers Association Conference. An event that takes place every year and, in the past, focused on the business side of the industry: How the last year had been in sales, what publishers could do to help the industry grow. This, generally, not of much interest to the growing number of narrators who have joined the APA and attend the conference for the networking opportunities it offers and the chance to meet fellow narrators (there is no Audio Narrators Association). Now, I don’t know how the publishers felt, but I was certainly aware that there was a much healthier collection of meetings in the narrators track this year than there has been in the past (the meetings through the day are split into ‘publishers’ track and ‘narrators’ track, though there’s no obligation to stick to just one side).

The keynote speaker at the start of the day was Gary Vaynerchuk – a high energy proponent of the use of social networking tools to (as you say in the US) ‘grow’ your business. Now this is, sort of, what I’m doing here. He was very full of the idea of building ‘genuine relationships’ with every client, customer or fan. It happens he has 1.5 million Twitter followers and he’s the only guy to have maxed out his friends limit on Facebook – and I did ask him how he maintained a ‘genuine relationship’ with all of them (I have 130 followers on Twitter – see the link on the right)! I may sound a little cynical, but I’m actually a great believer in the principles he espouses. I want to be as accessible as I can be to the people who listen to my recordings (maintaining limits, of course) because, so far (!), I enjoy this interaction. My wife will confirm that I’m not good at cocktail parties where I don’t know anyone (and no-one knows me) but most of the people who read this blog or follow me on Twitter already know something about me and for some reason I feel more relaxed as I began our ‘relationship’. I’m sure a therapist would have reams to write about this.

Sorry to disappoint, but in order to get things done (like unpacking and eating…) I’m going to pause here and continue with my retelling of the events of the last few days in a day or so. Yes, I wonder if I’ve taken on too much by wanting to keep these things rolling – but I’m confident a balance will be achieved if I keep focused… which I’m having trouble doing right now (must lie down).

Cheers

Simon

Fingers crossed, but I think the audio link below should work!

Listen to audio here

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NEW YORK CITY: THE HORNET’S NEST!

The title of this blog is deliberately misleading. I do not intend to slight NYC by likening it to a hornet’s nest, I simply wanted to attract your attention. The fact is that I am in New York as I write this… and, in case you missed the announcement, the audiobook of my narration of The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest is about to be released in the US.

Now, I’m not going to go into the details of this book here, they can be found with a simple web search if you so desire, but I do want to celebrate the fact that this is probably the biggest selling recording I have been associated with to date – and who knows when the next blockbuster will come my way. Don’t get me wrong, I love Charles Dickens and Anthony Trollope as much as the next man (well, the man next to him, maybe – if he knows his classics) but they don’t set the world on fire these days as much as the final installment of a too-soon-deceased Swedish author (Stieg Larsson) whose first two novels sold millions of copies around the world. So please excuse my little thrill…

Why am I in New York, you ask? (or don’t ask, whatever, I’m going to tell you): If you’d seen the ‘Coming Events’ space on the home page and in the menu bar (honestly, I don’t know why I carefully craft these things if you don’t pay attention) then you’d have noticed that the Audio Publishers Association Conference is taking place here on Monday 24th (tomorrow, as I write) and then on Tuesday evening this year’s Audie Award winners will be announced at an event taking place at the Museum of the City of New York – and I’ll be dressing in my tuxedo and announcing a few of said awards as I have been so nicely asked to do in each of the past four years (I bought this tux 20 years ago for when I sailed across the Atlantic on the QE2 – then it went into mothballs until I attended my first Audies in 2006 – Oh, and I wear a waistcoat I bought at the Edinburgh festival in 1983… a whole other story, or stories… boy, do I ramble).

Clearly I haven’t quite got the hang of this blog thing yet. You see, I had planned to tell you what I thought about travelling and hotel rooms and all sorts of random things, but I took up most of the time telling you about the title I chose for this blog and I’m really not sure how much more I should write.

So let me just end by mentioning that I’m up for a couple of Audies myself and who knows what could happen. I’d like to be a winner, but it’s not really the reason I do what I do. After all, the important thing is not the destination, it’s the journey we take to get there and… Aw! Who am I kidding? I’d love to bag another – who wouldn’t?

Keep well!
Simon
PS. The photo at the top of this blog is the view from my hotel room…I love New York!

Took the audio out as it was getting to be a headache trying to make it work in all browsers – give me time and it will be back!

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Introducing…

Websites can be difficult things: I would very much like to throw a lot of money at a found web genius and have them somehow, perhaps telepathically, understand exactly what it is I want and need and have them do the creating. Of course, there are several problems with this kind of wishful thinking, not the least being my not exactly knowing what it is I want and need. Money and telepathy might prove problematic also.

So, here it is! I could delay until everything is perfect, but I know that might take a while. In the meantime most of the site is operational so feel free to look around. I figured that anyone who came to my site was probably looking for me because of my audiobook narration… and maybe they wanted to discover what else I had narrated over the years (something like 500, maybe 600 books in all – I didn’t keep track early on and I’ve been narrating for more than 25 years beginning with the RNIB Talking Book Service in London).

You’ll find a list of books recognized for their quality under ‘Winning Books’ in the menu above. Hover over it and two choices present themselves: Audies and Earphones. Hover over each one of those and I’ve separated the books into the years in which they were recognized.

Next to that there’s a link to the books I’ve just finished, the one I’m working on right now and the books I’m looking ahead to (if I know and can tell you). To the right of that in the menu is ‘My Blog’ – which is what this is! I’m hoping to allow myself a little free thinking here and not just talk about audiobooks and so on. I’m trying to be more proactive in the world of social networking here so please feel free to click on the comments tag and tell me what you think… about almost anything – maybe we’ll have a conversation! Of course I’ll be moderating the comments, but I’ll not censor unless it’s truly offensive (or irrelevant… as in spammed comments).

In the top menu bar you’ll see an item for ‘Book Search’. I’m very excited about this as it’s a searchable database of all the books I do have records of. You can select by ‘Title’, ‘Author’, ‘Genre’ and ‘Keyword’. The results will (eventually) also give you a link to where you can purchase/download the resulting titles. As you can imagine there’s a lot of work involved here – so it might take a while before every book provides that ‘link to purchase’ option.

You can see there’s a video in the top right of the page and I’ll be bringing you something new here at least every month (that’s the plan, anyway). Below that are some useful links, including an invitation to follow me on Twitter (facebook will be coming soon), that I think audiobook peeps like yourself might be interested in. Then you can see the latest comments left in response to my blog, and below that a random selection of favorite books of mine.

That’s it for the introduction – I’m off to do research on my next narration task. In the meantime I should thank Bradley at Likoma for a great deal of the help with getting this particular WordPress theme to behave as I wanted it and for his technical knowhow. And I’m very grateful for the extra impetus provided by my friends Julie and Lee at All-Ears Audiobooks in San Jose. Their enthusiasm helped to lift me off my butt and get to work on the site so it would be ready for the release of ‘The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest’ – as that seemed like a good marker to recognize.

Enjoy!
Simon

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