Audiobook Week 2012 – Audiobook Reviewing

Welcome to Audiobook Week – Day #2 here at Going Public!


AudiobookWeek2012 pictureRecap: Monday through Thursday of this week, I (Xe) will be posting new Going Public content and blog posts in conjunction with the wonderful audiobook promotional effort of Jen at Devourer of Books. Need further info on Audiobook Week? Pop over to here and check out all the wonderful content flowing in from bloggers all over the cyberverse. For Monday’s post, please scroll down, see the side bar, or click HERE.

Tuesday’s discussion topics: Discuss the essentials of audiobook reviewing. What do you make sure to include? What do you want to see when you read other people’s reviews?

Oh here is a topic near and dear to my narrator’s heart! I think I’ll tackle this from the flipside – what a narrator most benefits from when reading a review…and I don’t just mean positive reviews. But before I get to that, I have to offer my thanks to all of you who even bother. You give your time for no other reason than because you wish to share your experience with a book, and I am always grateful that you choose to spend precious time offering your thoughts.

For a rundown of the mechanics of writing an audiobook review, I’ll direct you to two excellent prior posts on this topic, a wonderfully succinct one from reviewer extraordinaire, Beth Fish Reads, and an indepth look at narration as it applies to reviewing from director Paul Alan Ruben.

**UPDATE** Many thanks to Jeff at Audiobook Jukebox (and exceptional site, btw) for this as well: AN AUDIOBOOK LEXICON, written by Mary Burkey, published in AudioFile Magazine.

So the first thing narrators (like authors) must acknowledge is that reviews are not written for them. They are written for other listeners, to give others a feel for what worked/didn’t work in a given audiobook. That said, I believe what I hope to glean from a review is also content that best serves potential listeners.

Because audio can dramatically alter your experience of the read, I’m looking for a separate section specifically on the audio aspects. Within that section, here is what I find most helpful:

  • How did the performance affect your experience of the book. Did it elevate the experience or detract from it? Did I get out of the way of the story and author’s intent, or were you always aware of my presence as narrator?
  • If you enjoyed the narration, what specifically worked for you and why (if you can get specific)? Was there something in particular that stood out positively for you in the performance?
  • If you didn’t enjoy the narration, what specifically detracted – pacing, characterizations, vocal tone, enunciation, etc? Were there specific moments that really pulled you out of the story?
  • Did you feel the delivery and tone matched the nature of the book, matched the emotional content?
  • How was the audio production? Did you hear too much extraneous noise? Breaths bug you too much? Odd changes in volume or “presence” that detracted from your experience?
  • Lastly, it’s also helpful to hear how you listened (your laptop speakers, headphones, MP3 player, etc.).

I suppose that makes it sound like quite a long bit to write, but I don’t think it needs to be.  My goal is to continue honing my performance to deliver a the most immersive and engaging delivery for you that I possibly can…so I appreciate every bit of information you can pass along.

For those who haven’t written an audiobook review but want to give it a try with no risk and minimal time outlay, I’m going to make a cheeky suggestion (I wish I had a British accent…makes saying “cheeky” so much more gratifying). I’m offering the classic gothic short story, The Yellow Wallpaper, in serialized format, today through Thursday, as part of the Going Public celebration of #JIAM2012. It will come in around 35 minutes total. I’m game to be your Guinea pig – use this as your test case. The first installment is below.

The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman – Part 1 of 3

(and if you cannot see the player above, you can access it via the SoundCloud page for The Yellow Wallpaper). 

And if you just want something entertaining to listen to – feel free to just enjoy the story 🙂

Now how about you? How do you feel about reviewing audio – does it present specific challenges that print reviews don’t? Have you ever been contacted by a narrator or author after you’ve reviewed their work, or have either ever commented on one of your reviews? If so, what did you think – was it uncomfortable to be directly engaged by the narrator or author?

And remember – each post you comment on enters you another time in the Triple-Threat Giveaway…

The Triple-threat Giveaway: 1 Audio + 1 Print Book + 1 Custom Piece

Leave a comment on any of my Audiobook Week posts before 8PM PST on Friday, 6/29, and you will be entered to win a gift package including:

  • 1 Audiobook of mine, from either Tantor (Mp3 CDs or digital download) or Iambik (download only)
  • 1 Print book of your choice from the ARCs below**
  • I’ll narrate the poem or short story of your choice (some restrictions on length/content)

…and for each post you comment on, you get your name added into the hat another time. Comment on all five posts, and you’ll have five chances to win! Regrettably, if you are outside the US, I can only offer item #3.

If you’ve got a Twitter handle, please list it in your comment so I can more easily notify you.

Winner will be announced here, and via my and Going Public’s Twitter and Facebook feeds. Winner will have until 5PM PST on Saturday, 6/30 to make their print and audiobook selections (more time can be taken for the custom recorded piece :) ) Please be sure to check one of those sources after the close of the drawing.

**print ARCs to choose from:

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27 thoughts on “Audiobook Week 2012 – Audiobook Reviewing

  1. Great suggestions! I love hearing what a narrator would like to see in a review – and I’m definitely going to incorporate your ideas in future reviews.

    • Thank you! I think Beth Fish Reads gives a nice rundown.

      But I’ve always appreciated what you already include in yours – haven’t felt anything lacking 🙂

  2. Shanna Roberson

    Lovely, Xe!!! You made my Tuesday!

    • Hello Shanna! Well I’m so glad it made your Tuesday 🙂 The other two parts are coming on Wed/Thurs.

  3. This is great – nice to hear what is important in a review from a narrator’s point of view. I like that you mentioned delivery and tone and whether it’s appropriate to the book. And I will start including info on how I listened to the book- good point.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • So glad it was helpful! I realize the reviews aren’t there for me – I’m just feasting on them when you’re not looking LOL! So I appreciate ANY thought the reviewer gives to the audio. This is just my tippy-top wishlist 🙂

  4. I love seeing this from a narrator’s perspective!

    • Thanks! I think it matches with pretty much all you folks have been posting around the web today 🙂

  5. Thank you for your thoughts! I never thought to include how I listened to the audiobook.

  6. It is interesting to see the other side, what the narrator wants to see in a review. I never thought to incorporate how I listened (laptop speakers, headphones, MP3 player) but I guess that would definitely affect the quality.

    Dorothy – The Alaskan Bookie – Squeak
    Blog ~
    Twitter ~

    • It really can. I’ve certainly found that as a listener (my laptop speakers are just so awful, even for a quick sample listen). And as a narrator with a very intimate style, I’ve found it can definitely affect a listener’s experience of my narration, depending on the book. Neil Gaiman is another such reader. I enjoyed The Graveyard Book far more with headphones than in my car.

  7. Nice, but I already told you that in FB.

    This is a useful article from AudioFile Magazine that offers “words” to describe how narration sounds.

    • I had not seen that before, Jeff! That is AWESOME! I’ll be sure to circulate that around Twitter, if you haven’t already. Thank you!

      And thanks so much for stopping by 🙂

  8. I never thought about sharing how I listened. Good idea. Although a generally listen in a lot if ways (IPhone speakers, headphones, car, etc) all with one book.

    • Hello Michelle! Thanks for stopping by 🙂 Before I forget – LOVE the new blog look! I don’t think I’ve told you that yet.

      And I think you’re representative of many listeners – they listen a variety of ways depending on what they need to do while listening. I’ve done the same – usually laptop (poor narrator – awful speakers!) + mp3 player combo.

  9. Penny K.

    I plan to print those suggestions out so that I can try to address those things you mentioned. I know that people invested in their work always want to know how to improve but this even lets the listeners know what impressed the reviewer too. I usually have my mp3 player with earbuds in constantly but now I am trying to listen while in the shower…Yes, I’ve been in an interesting place in a book and don’t want to stop while I shower…(we must shower…LOL) So I got some speakers to try that…haven’t tried it yet to see if it is loud enough. lol

  10. talesofwhimsy

    Tone! Excellent point!

    • I hadn’t thought of it until I was typing up the post, but I’ve definitely caught myself in a mismatch an decided to retool the delivery.

  11. Bree

    I love the perspective you offer audiobook listeners, Xe. Before I started reading your comments on Goodreads, I was too harsh when it came to narrators.

    • Thanks for that, Bree – glad that my presence over there has been useful and not detracting 🙂

  12. I love when narrator’s and authors read/respond to my blog posts. I don’t temper the reviews because they might be negative, but I read / listen to at least 5x more than I post about, so unless it is a review copy, I don’t usually post about books I don’t enjoy.

    • I’ve heard that from many bloggers and think i would be the same myself, if I were reviewing audio (or anything, really). Thanks so much for stopping by, Melanie!

  13. A literal gold mine of information for a reviewer Xe, thanks! I like interacting with narrators while dreading to hurt feelings so my goal is to always be constructive

    A computer and especially a laptop computer give me the worst listening experience. Using the equalizer settings on an MP3 player no matter which one you use can really help improve narrations I’ve found too sharp or hollow, which has never happened with one of yours. 😉

    • So glad, Brenda! But I think you hit on all these things anyway. And yeah, the laptop speakers are the WORST! For an intimate reader like me, no way I’m going to sound decent coming out of those. But for a very resonant strong reader like Sachs, it made for passable listening in a pinch. Depends on the narrator to some extent.

  14. Literary Feline

    Thank you for this! I have bookmarked your post and will return to it the next time I write a review for an audio book. I have only ever listened to two audio books in their entirety and both were read by their authors–both memoirs and very funny. I hope to try a novel next (once I finish the Sedaris book I’m listening to). This whole audiobook experience is so new to me. I’m learning to be a better listener.

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