Describe your role
I project manage the creation of our audiobooks by a wide range of fiction and non-fiction authors. This involves reading manuscripts and identifying books to record, acquiring audio rights if necessary, casting the right voices to bring stories to life and arranging recordings at studios, including The Penguin Studio at our 80 Strand office.
What do you like best about your role?
Casting the voices is fascinating. To ensure the right fit, I think about whether the book is fiction or non-fiction, what the characters are like, the tone I want to convey and who our listeners will be. I also love attending recordings and seeing the actors at work in the studio, bringing a book to life. Audiobook narration is a serious skill: recordings usually take several days. I’m always impressed by narrators doing dialogue between characters, changing their tone to convey different personalities. Mary Portas did an amazing job voicing all the different people in her memoir, Shop Girl.
Which great new titles or brands are you working on?
We started the year with The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins which became a runaway hit in audio as well as print and ebook. Grey by E L James is massive, of course! Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee is incredibly exciting; it’s a piece of literary history and with Reese Witherspoon as narrator the audiobook is going to be very special. I recently worked on a new recording of Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, narrated by actor Tom Hollander, where we integrated music and quality sound effects to the audiobook to create a really immersive experience. One of the best things about my role is I specialise in a format rather than a genre, so I work on a huge range of titles.
What developments has the audio format seen in the digital age?
Access to digital audiobooks has completely changed the market. While we still publish titles in physical CD format – certain listeners prefer this - some of our list is now digital only. People enjoy the ease of downloading a book onto their smartphones - and most recordings are now unabridged. Audio is fast becoming a mainstream form of entertainment and that means that we can publish many more titles than we used to: we will release more than one audiobook per day in 2015. It also means we can market our audiobooks in innovative new ways: we’ve just launched The Penguin Podcast: Author Notes, which sees Richard E Grant interviewing some of our fantastic authors to get an insight into their creative process. It’s an exciting time to be working in audio.
What advice would you give to those looking to work in the industry?
Look for opportunities across all areas of the business. I always wanted to be an editor but an opportunity came up in the audio team and I’m so pleased I went for it! I get to read manuscripts within a very creative environment and work closely with our authors and production talent to turn them into award-winning spoken word. For every new format or channel that makes our stories accessible to readers and listeners, there are opportunities for creative people to make or reimagine content. It’s incredibly rewarding. There are so many ways to be creative in this industry.
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