Writing Your Books for Audio

When a printed book goes to audio, parts of it sound really great, while other parts, shall we say, aren’t as smooth.  If you’re an author looking to get your works into audiobooks, make sure your manuscript is as polished for audio as possible with these simple guidelines.

1) Make sure the manuscript is proof-read.  I’ve gotten manuscripts that were full of errors in grammar and spelling, even after having been proofed.

I also offer Proofing as a separate service, before narrating.

2) When possible, disguise and minimize tags.  Few things are worse to a listener than being “punched in the ear” by unnecessary tags:  he said, she said, etc.  If the characters are distinct enough, such as having different manners of speech, personality, or other characteristics, tags are rarely necessary, even in written form.  Readers tend to glide over or even skip these tags in their mind, and for a narrator, they really just get in the way, particularly if they come in the middle of the character’s line:

“I hate that guy,” she said.  “He’s such a jerk.”

You can also, rather than saying “said,” describe what the character is doing as they say the line:

Jenny scoffed and took a gulp of cider.  “Yeah, he’s like that with everyone.”

3) Read your stuff out loud.  You know the saying “That sounded better in my head”?  It absolutely applies to books.  When you’re in the zone, immersed in creating your wonderful written work, it comes out in fountains.  Reading it out loud is the best way to find out if it actually flows off the tongue.  Read it to yourself, or even to a willing friend, who will be honest and tell you if anything sounds awkward.  If you are tripping over a word or phrase several times, chances are good that your narrator will too.  You can smooth these spots over, choosing better words and punctuation if necessary.

Hopefully these tips will help you polish your manuscripts, and in the long run they can even speed up production for the narrator, getting your audiobooks available in retail all the sooner for your fans.  Happy writing!