My Other Job

Photo by Melanie Franciso, Avon NC July 2018
I wrote two blog posts for my friend Jill. One ran on Monday of last week, the other is be a new cheat sheet that runs today. In it I wrote briefly about my experiences as an audio book narrator. In the year that I've been narrating books professionally, I have learned a few things. I'm going to share them with you here, for a bit. 

There is a huge difference in quality between indie authors and traditionally published authors. This remains true despite the fact that there are a lot of professional free lance editors that have deep experience in the industry out there. This begs the question why? I think I have an answer.

I can tell, from the moment I click on an audition sample, if it has been published by a real publisher or not. Now, you would think you can fool me, by setting up your own company to publish your books, but that's not what happens. There are things that indies routinely do, that traditionally published authors do not; or rather, the things the editors veto, that indies over rule.

The first is, indies have ensemble scenes where the group gets together and hashes out the plot. They all fight together, they all argue together, they all celebrate together. Traditionally published authors, even in a setting with multiple characters, have more intimate scenes. Sure the whole high school is dancing, but they set up the scene, maybe drop in a couple of characters dancing well, and then zoom in to an intimate scene between two or maybe three characters at the most. Sometimes there are more people in the scene, but long passages go without reference to those other characters until the reader nearly forgets they are there, and then wham, the other characters up end the narrative.

Traditionally published authors have fantastic tension in almost Every. Single. Sentence. I once heard a maxim about being a writer "Don't be boring, not for even one word."  Traditionally published authors rework their sentences until they all work. They work grammatically, they work holistically, and they work to advance the plot. Every. Single. Sentence. Works. Well.

Indies have more imaginative plots. They aren't interested in writing that book that has been read before. They are hungry for the new, the inventive, mishmash--the challenge. This makes characters and plots more interesting. They aren't afraid to wander down the side plot for a while. They have a strong voice and they follow it.

Indie books are either much longer or much shorter, there doesn't seem to be much in between. Indies are either publishing novella length works, and building a brand around that, or they are going to epic lengths of more than 100,000 words. A traditionally published novel usually clocks in around 90,000 words unless the author has had a runaway best seller. Mid-listers are required to have a novel between 75,000 and 95,000 words and for whatever reason, I regularly see then come in just short of 90,000 words.

So take away from this whatever you like. These are just observations. 


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