Catherine Asaro is the author of more then twenty-five books, including thrillers, SF, and fantasy. Her novel The Quantum Rose and novella “The Spacetime Pool” both won the Nebula Award. Among her many other distinctions, she is a multiple winner of the Readers Choice Award from Analog magazine and a three time recipient of the RT BOOKClub Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. Her most recent books are the anthology she edited, The Nebula Awards Showcase 2013 (Pyr), the novel Carnelians (Baen/ Simon & Schuster), and the anthology of her short fiction titled Aurora in Four Voices, available from ISFiC Press. Her novel Undercity is due out from Baen in 2014. Catherine is an accomplished musician who also also teaches math, physics, and chemistry. Visit Catherine on her website, on Facebook and on Twitter as @Catherine_Asaro.

Kickstarting AURORA IN FOUR VOICES

by Catherine Asaro

It’s an exciting time to be an author. We have so many options: traditional publishing, self-publishing, hybrid publishing, ebooks. Now, Audible has made it easier for authors to create an audiobook. Audible’s ACX exchange connects authors with audiobook producers and narrators, and provides distribution for the finished audiobook through Audible.com.

I’ve been curious to see how doing an audiobook on my own would compare with my experiences in selling audiobooks to publishers for an advance. It is certainly more work to do it yourself, and most of us don’t have built-in distribution, production, and promotion available through traditional publishers. However, the royalties are significantly higher when you do it on your own and you have control over the process. After some thought, I decided to give it a try, specifically to create an audiobook of my Aurora in Four Voices anthology. The anthology is a collector’s edition published by ISFic Press to accompany my 2011 appearance as Guest of Honor at Windycon. It includes the Hugo and Nebula nominated novella “Aurora in Four Voices” as well as the Nebula-award winning story “The Spacetime Pool.”

I considered doing the narration of the book myself. However, after some practice runs, I fast realized three things. The first was that that having a pleasant reading voice isn’t, by itself, enough to make a good narrator. I didn’t feel I had the experience, patience, or versatility to create the best possible audiobook. The second was that I don’t like listening to myself read. I start editing in my mind as soon as I hear myself saying the words. I want to do it over and over. I couldn’t imagine spending 10-20 hours recording myself and then going over the recordings. The book would never be finished! The third reason I decided not to do it myself was that I have no experience producing an audiobook. I have helped produce my own CDs, with oversight by an experienced producer, and that is just enough background for me to know I don’t have the experience to produce an audiobook on my own.

So I decided to find a narrator and producer. Using ACX, I began my search. The possibilities were huge! I had to narrow down the search. Probably the most difficult story in the anthology to narrate is “Ave de Paso,” which has a first person Latina narrator and includes words both in Spanish and Tzotzil Mayan. I narrowed my search to female narrators who could do Latina characters. That still left large pool of potential readers. I next looked for narrators with versatility and familiarity with science fiction. An anthology can be more difficult to narrate than a novel if it contains many stories with a different feel and different characters. For Aurora in Four Voices, I needed someone who could do both, say, the soft-spoken teen-aged Latina and also a hard-boiled PI in her forties who was a retired army major. The other stories had a broad range of characters, both male and female. I found what I was looking for in Sylvia Roldán Dohi, an amazingly talented voice actor with an extensive background in theatre, film, television, music, and audiobook production. (You can read Sylvia’s full bio and hear her do the PI voice on my Kickstarter page.)

Producing an audiobook is not inexpensive, however, so to raise the money I turned to Kickstarter. My project is currently running. At the time of this writing, it is 46% funded and I have about one third of my running time left (June 7 is the last day we can take pledges). Under Kickstarter rules, a project creator only receives the funds if the project reaches its funding goal. If a project doesn’t reach it’s goal, all pledges are canceled and the project creator gets nothing. Kickstarter’s reason for that policy is to protect backers from projects that are unable to complete due to insufficient funds. We are well on our way, and have a chance of making it, but we need more support if we’re going to reach the goal.

After looking through other projects and talking to my advisors (the much appreciated Sheila Ruth), I realized the introductory video is vital to Kickstarter projects. In fact, according to Kickstarter, projects with videos succeed 50% of the time, where only 30% of projects without videos succeed. A video doesn’t have to be elaborate; many are just the project creator talking about their project. For mine, I decided to let the audiobook speak for itself. I had an excerpt of “The City of Cries,” one of the stories in the Aurora in Four Voices anthology, recorded by Sylvia, and I added a series of still pictures to that to create a video. I hope you’ll take a look at the video and listen to Sylvia’s excellent narration.

Figuring out the rewards for the Kickstarter project was fun. In addition to a digital copy of the audiobook, my rewards also include ebooks and signed hardcovers, and an mp3 of my song, “Ancient Ages.” At the higher levels, I’m offering lunch with me or book club visit locally, or a Skype book club visit for long-distance backers, and a few limited rewards of Tuckerization (inclusion as a character in a future book.) One of the Tuckerizations has already been snapped up, so if you’d like one, now is the time to bite! I’m currently finishing my novel Undercity, which will be out soon from Baen, and includes a few possibilities for Tuckerization characters.

I’m excited to have the chance to create an audiobook of Aurora in Four Voices, and share these stories with the world in a new medium. I invite you to take a look, and I hope you will consider helping me out by supporting the project or spreading the news with posts online.

Thank you for your time!

For more information: Aurora in Four Voices Kickstarter Project

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