05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Listen To Your Book

As a writer, I spend a lot of time staring at a screen. This is on top of my day job which also involves working at a computer 8 hours per day. So no matter how much I love reading, sometimes my eyes have had enough. That’s when I turn to my trusty audiobook collection.

As an adult I’ve become prone to motion sickness as a passenger in cars, buses, trains and definitely on boats. A green-grey complexion is not a good look on me. I need to distract myself but reading is definitely not an option. Music helps at times but music can’t carry my mind away the way a story can.

I discovered audiobooks in an unusual way. In 2013 I suffered a minor neck injury and experienced motion sickness symptoms. For the first few weeks, unless I laid flat on my back staring at the ceiling, my stomach revolted as though sitting in a row-boat being tossed around by a stormy ocean. I was in pain, nauseated and so damn bored!

Here we introduce the periscope horizontal reading glasses (thanks eBay). 

Not the most attractive eyewear, but they made it possible to watch TV while staring at the ceiling. This kept me entertained some of the time, but my inner bookworm desperately missed reading. Holding a book out in front of me while staring in a different direction proved too much for my uncoordinated body. Plus my arms hurt from all that book-holding (my upper body strength is severely lacking!).

That’s when a friend suggested audiobooks. I signed up to Amazon’s Audible service and received a free book through a trial membership (the free trial is ongoing if you want to give it a try  - It was as simple as downloading the app to my phone, choosing a book and pressing ‘play’. What a revelation—discovering the best friend I never knew I needed!

And I’ve never looked back. I still love reading, but the best benefit of listening to, rather than reading, a story is being able to escape into your book while driving, doing housework, exercising or on public transport—without the urge to hurl.

There are several ways to get your hands on an audiobook. You can still buy them in CD format, but they’re expensive, and having to switch CDs over every few chapters is too much for an impatient gal like me. I prefer to purchase digital files because you can listen from start to finish without any hassle. And they can be downloaded immediately—instant gratification.

Consider yourself thrifty? Check with your local library service. My library has a catalogue of audiobooks available to borrow for up to three weeks. Just download the appropriate app to your phone, log in with your library membership details and voilĂ —free audiobook.

Tips for finding the right book for you:
  • Start with an author you love—less chance of disappointment.
  • Listen to a sample – I’m not sure about all audiobook retailers, but Audible provides a 4 – 5 minute sample of their books. Take the time to listen. The narrator of the story is just as important as the author. Books I listen to range from 8 hours to 15 hours in length. Imagine spending 15 hours listening to someone whose voice grated your every nerve—a unique form of torture. I’d rather toothpicks under my fingernails, thanks.
  • Approximately 80% of my audiobook collection is romance, and most of these books are in the point of view of both the hero and the heroine. Some audiobooks are recorded by two voice artists—male and female. But usually, one voice artist records both voices. Female artists try for a deeper masculine tone for the hero, and male artists go higher for the heroine. It can take a little getting used to at first, but I barely notice anymore.
For authors—listening to audiobooks can make you a better writer. One of the tips we get when learning the craft is to read your work out loud. You can hear the cadence of your words, pick up on repetitive words and sentence structures. We often miss those things when simply reading with our eyes.

As readers we tend to skim lines, flying past long paragraphs or repetitive words etc. You don’t have that luxury when listening to an audiobook. I actually took a particular author off my ‘potential must-read’ list after listening to one of her books. Her use of ‘she said’ and ‘he thought’ etc tacked onto the end of every other sentence drove me crazy. I’d skipped over it in her eBooks, but there’s nowhere to hide in an audiobook.

To sum up the benefits of audiobooks in a much more succinct and entertaining way, I’ve added these clips. Enjoy!

Audible Australia – Listen To Your Book. My favourite ad of the year for—I dare you not to laugh!

Are you already a fan of audiobooks? If so, what are your genre, author or narrator preferences? I’m always looking for recommendations.

Lauren James is a country girl at heart. Raised on a small property surrounded by animals, it's no surprise she writes small town romance with lots of love for creatures great and small.

Having failed fabulously at painting, sewing and playing guitar, she finally found her creative outlet in writing strong, quirky heroines, and tough, handsome heroes with gooey animal-loving centers.

Lauren lives on the outskirts of Melbourne, Australia, with her beloved rescue greyhound, Daisy.

You can contact Lauren via her websiteFacebook or Twitter.


Judith Ashley said...

What a fun post, Lauren! Just what I needed on a not-so-fun day. I may watch the clips again. Loved the horse and rider and woman leaning out of the wagon going past the woman sitting in the chair and reading...although I did also chuckle at the second one. Where do you come up with these?

Sarah Raplee said...

Loved the videos! I listen to audiobooks while cleaning and on long drives.

I'd never heard of the periscope glasses before. Clever assistive device!

I read my book aloud right before publishing and caught some of the things you mentioned in your post. I'll definitely keep up the practice.

I've enjoyed Romance and Suspence stories, as well as a few SciFi audiobooks.

Do you think readers prefer a man or a woman to read a romance book?

Lauren James said...

Judith, I'm glad it could brighten your day a little. The first clip with the immersive listening experience is fabulous. Sometimes it really does feel that way :)

Lauren James said...

Sarah, it's amazing how much you can pick up in your work just reading it aloud. I still hate doing it, but it's so worth it.

From what I've seen, most romance stories are narrated by women, so we might assume listeners prefer it that way. I'm happy with either. One of my favorite historical authors, Anna Campbell, writes 'Regency Noir' novels and they're all narrated by a man. Some Georgette Heyer novels are narrated by Richard Armitage - I adore listening to him.

Miranda Morgan said...

Audio books kept me sane travelling to and from work via the freeway carpark. Mind you, making eye contact with other drivers during a hot and heavy sex scene took some getting used to! And OMG Craig McLachlan is hilarious in the Audible Australia advert ... he's still a favourite of mine. :)

Lauren James said...

Miranda, I concentrate so hard on looking innocent when I'm listening to a sex scene in traffic! Makes the work commute interesting lol

Craig McLachlan is so funny. I love him :)

Savannah Blaize said...

A great post Lauren. I love audio books. I have borrowed some from my local library in the past, when I was driving on my three hour round trip to work. However I have not borrowed any for some time, and you have just given me the push to do so again, remembering how much I enjoyed the experience. You are correct the right narrator makes all the difference.

Lauren James said...

Savannah, I'm so pleased I could remind you of the joy audiobooks bring. Happy listening!

Jennifer Lynne said...

Interesting post, Lauren! I'd never heard of those periscope specs before and can see they would be useful in some situations. I must be one of the few who haven't yet jumped on board the audio book train, not for any particular reason than "haven't gotten round to it yet". Sounds a little pathetic, I know! After reading your post I am definitely going to give it a try. I especially like your point about authors having nowhere to hide in an audio format - to have the enjoyment of listening to a story while I sit back and relax, and hopefully at the same time be able to learn something about the craft of writing, seems like a wonderful opportunity. Thank you :)

Lauren James said...

Jennifer, being able to make your audiobook listening count towards learning writing craft (and sometimes housework time) is a definite bonus! Guilt free and productive :)

Michelle Somers said...

Hi Lauren
Wow, I'd never really thought about audio books, but I love the idea of listening to them in the car. I'm constantly swapping radio stations to find something I'd enjoy, and more often than not, I just give up. Audio books sound like a great alternative.
Thanks for the great post.