HEXES the sunday spectra 12/4/11

Original image: “Lilith” by Yana Moskaluk

NEIL GAIMAN on Audiobooks: A Cautionary Tale

POSTED BY NEIL AT 11:57 AM [12/1/11]

I was talking to an author last night. Actually, we were sending text messages to each other, something I don’t do a lot of, but it was sort of fun, texting. I’m not going to identify her, or the book.

She had a novel published recently by a major publisher. I read it. I really loved it.

I thought, Why not see if I can do it as a Neil Gaiman Presents Audiobook, through ACX?

I asked if there was an audiobook. She said, “No, no audiobook.”

I asked who had the rights, and whether I could do it in ACX. She was thrilled and said of course, and she’d find out if she had the rights or if her publisher did. We talked about what kind of voice narrator she’d want, and whether a male or a female narrator would suit the book best.

And then I got a message from her saying “Oh. Bizarre. I just looked online and see there is an audiobook of (the novel) which no-one ever told me about. It apparently came out in November.”

I went online and looked. There was indeed an audiobook, and it had a terrible cover. And this morning brought an email from the author saying, sadly “Don’t listen to the (novel) audiobook. It might be the worst thing I have ever heard.”

I felt so sorry for her.

It was the same stuff that I’d been talking about in the interview that Laura Miller did for me with Salon.com
(http://www.salon.com/2011/11/23/neil_gaimans_audiobook_record_label/)

Why is there so much hesitation?

For me, the tragedy of audiobooks is that the physical limitations and impossibilities of putting out complete novels as audiobooks in the days of LPs and then pretty much in the days of cassettes, meant that the costs and the odds were always against you. Most books aren’t out as audiobooks. If you like a book, it’s probably not been done as an audiobook.

Publishers would take audio rights but then never do anything with them. … That process is that you persuade your publisher to do an audiobook and then you have no control over who gets cast, or who reads it. You have no quality control over pronunciation or goofs or anything like that. And then your publisher brings it out and then your publisher remainders it.

That is the problem that ACX was created to solve — and for me it’s also the problem that it’s highlighting. I’m hitting it more and more. All I know is that there could be lots and lots of audiobooks out there that aren’t. For years it didn’t matter that the rights were held by people because nobody could do anything anyway. But we’re not in that world anymore.

Can you talk a bit about the importance of the right narrator, and how much that person can add to or subtract from the audiobook experience?

I remember once talking to a best selling author about audiobooks. He’d written a book that was narrated by a 20-something black male and the audiobook was read by a 50-something white female. He had no say in this and after listening to it for five minutes he stopped, feeling physically sick.

In some cases, when the author is alive and available, I cede that choice to the author. I become the production entity and I’ll cast a deciding vote if the author says it’s between three narrators he or she likes equally. If the author’s alive, I want the author happy. That’s the most important bit.



And I felt really extra sorry for my anonymous sad author, because I was SO happy about the release two days ago of Swordspoint — mostly happy because of how amazingly happy author Ellen Kushner is. (See http://ellen-kushner.livejournal.com/tag/audiobook for proof and background.) Swordspoint‘s an audiobook narrated by the author, with additional soundscape and acting from such luminaries as Simon “Arthur Dent” Jones, and it’s a thing of joy. She’s happy, I’m happy, the people listening to it seem amazingly happy, the people at Audible.com are ridiculously happy because people are downloading it and the reviews are already coming in and they are happy reviews.(Go and listen to the Swordspoint extract, or listen to me introducing it, or read more about it at

And I don’t want to turn this into a big plug for Swordspoint, or a rant against publishers wasting or not using audio rights. I think what I want to say mostly is, if you are an author, Get Involved in Your Audiobooks Early. Get your agent involved and interested. Talk about them at contract stage. Find out if you’re selling the rights, and if you are selling them then find out what control you have or whether you are going to be consulted or not about who the narrator is and how the audiobook is done.

Also, make sure that your publisher has worked out a way to give you free copies (obvious if it’s out on CD, much less so if you’re on download-only platform).

If you’re an agent, notice that we are not living a decade ago, when audiobooks were expensive bells and whistles that meant very little, that normally wouldn’t be done for anything outside of major bestsellers, when abridgments were often the order of the day: we’re entering a golden age, in which there is no reason that any book shouldn’t be available in professionally produced audio. Unless you know that the audio rights are going to be used and used well, keep them for your author. And if they are being sold with the book, then guard your author, and make sure that she or he gets rights of approval.

I love, am thrilled with, and am getting a huge kick out of the ACX way of doing it, where authors (or rightsholders), producers and voice talent sign up and get together and make audiobooks that Audible put up. It’s there for you if you’re an author, an agent, a publisher with lots of rights you don’t know how to exploit, a director/producer/studio engineer, or an actor, and interested. (Right now, it’s US only, but they are working on that.) (Find out more athttp://www.acx.com/) (End of plug.)

But this isn’t an ad for ACX, either. Honestly, you can do it on your own, if you want: Find a narrator or a studio; you can release it through the web; you can give it away as a promotional item, or because you can. Or you can make sure that if your publisher is putting out an audiobook that you have a say in it, and it’s the book you want it to be.

Because otherwise it might be you writing to friends telling them not to listen to the audiobook of your book. And that would be a terrible thing indeed.

Text © Neil Gaiman
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Warren Ellis on ALMOST THERE
For the last year, Warren Ellis has faithfully shared the progress of his novel GUN MACHINE as it neared his projected word count!
November 30:
December 1:
December 2:
+

The DEATH BAR logs my word count.  As noted passim, I estimated GUN MACHINE to get itself told in 80,000 words.

DEATH BAR RIGHT NOW

VICTORY
But wait

IT’S NOT DONE

IT’S NOT FINISHED

AAAAAAAAA

HAAAAAATE

(dies)

(but KEEPS WRITING ANYWAY)

(A few hours later, WE wrote:)

At eighty-four goddamn thousand words, the first draft of GUN MACHINE is finished.

Normal service will resume here next week.

(whew)

 •
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Alan Moore on EVERYTHING
On Frank Miller and the OCCUPY Movement:
Frank Miller is someone whose work I’ve barely looked at for the past twenty years. I thought the Sin City stuff was unreconstructed misogyny, 300 appeared to be wildly ahistoric, homophobic and just completely misguided. I think that there has probably been a rather unpleasant sensibility apparent in Frank Miller’s work for quite a long time. Since I don’t have anything to do with the comics industry, I don’t have anything to do with the people in it. I heard about the latest outpourings regarding the Occupy movement. It’s about what I’d expect from him. It’s always seemed to me that the majority of the comics field, if you had to place them politically, you’d have to say centre-right. That would be as far towards the liberal end of the spectrum as they would go. I’ve never been in any way, I don’t even know if I’m centre-left. I’ve been outspoken about that since the beginning of my career. So yes I think it would be fair to say that me and Frank Miller have diametrically opposing views upon all sorts of things, but certainly upon the Occupy movement.
On the OCCUPY Movement itself:
As far as I can see, the Occupy movement is just ordinary people reclaiming rights which should always have been theirs. I can’t think of any reason why as a population we should be expected to stand by and see a gross reduction in the living standards of ourselves and our kids, possibly for generations, when the people who have got us into this have been rewarded for it; they’ve certainly not been punished in any way because they’re too big to fail. I think that the Occupy movement is, in one sense, the public saying that they should be the ones to decide who’s too big to fail. It’s a completely justified howl of moral outrage and it seems to be handled in a very intelligent, non-violent way, which is probably another reason why Frank Miller would be less than pleased with it. I’m sure if it had been a bunch of young, sociopathic vigilantes with Batman make-up on their faces, he’d be more in favour of it. We would definitely have to agree to differ on that one.
On Politics:
With politics at the moment seemingly determined to keep ploughing on their same destructive course because they can’t think of anything other to do, when we’re facing the possibility of an economic apocalypse, of potentially an environmental apocalypse, we don’t necessarily have an infinite amount of time. I think that since our leaders are not going to address any of these problems then we really have no choice than to attempt to wrest the steering wheel from them. If they’re aiming at the precipice with the accelerator pedal flat to the floor, then we don’t have any other choices left. Do it now, in this generation, because we don’t how many more there’s going to be.
And much more @ The Honest Alan Moore Interview, w/ more to come at their excellent site…
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Ya NA on ART

ya-na

also known as

Yana Moskaluk

Her deviant profile:
Russia
Current Residence: moscow
Favourite genre of music: metal, doom, goth, rock, punk, classic, soundtracks
Favourite style of art: symbolism, medieval, rock-posters, graphic
Favourite cartoon character: hello, kitty!
[and you creeps tell me there is no god — SD]

“Lilith”

“4”

“Zmey G.”

“Wild Swans”

Yana’s deviant page

homepage

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The PLAGIARIST on HIMSELF

The “fake” spy novelist behind the biggest episode of plagiarism in our time was addicted to stealing from other writers. Three weeks after confessing his crimes, he opens up for the first time about what really happened—and how he stayed sober.

Yeah, Quentin Rowan “comes clean” @ The Fix. The Fix!!! Go and read it, if you can stomach it. Looking over Rowan’s whining bullshit a second time, I can’t bring myself to copy and paste a single word. Ugh.

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Salvador DALI on ALICE

In 1969, the Random House Book of the Month Club gave readers the opportunity to purchase a copy of Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland as illustrated by surrealist painter Salvador Dalí. And yes, the Mad Hatter’s tea party does include a picture of a melted clock.

The painter put his loopy imprimatur on each one of the book’s chapters.

See the entire gallery @ io9

and edited to add:

Heads Up… anyone wanting to see all 12 original prints (along with each accompanying text) as well as 4 storyboard drawings for Dali/Disney’s 1946 collaboration “Destino”, the full 7 minute animation itself and 2 paintings directly referenced in the film will find them on show as part of “Alice In Wonderland” at Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, UK until 29th Jan 2012

— Minty, via comments

Many thanks! — SD

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PARIAH: The Elizabeth LeBlanc Interview, part 2

[ tk, soon ]

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Florence + the Machine | Take Care + More
Florence And The Machine performing Shake It Out, What The Water Gave Me, Take Care, Rabbit Heart, and No Light No Light for Fearne Cotton in the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge November 2011
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Ω

4 Comments

  1. The Occupation has given a name to its pain, and it is Batman!:

  2. Heads Up… anyone wanting to see all 12 original prints (along with each accompanying text) as well as 4 storyboard drawings for Dali/Disney’s 1946 collaboration “Destino”, the full 7 minute animation itself and 2 paintings directly referenced in the film will find them on show as part of “Alice In Wonderland” at Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, UK until 29th Jan 2012

    • Thank you! Pasting this into the main body!

  3. Read Rowan’s self-serving comments on The Debrief, and that was quite enough, thank you very much.


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