How Do You Choose A Narrator To Develop Your Audiobook? by Karen

JacketandhandI delved into the project of developing some of my novels into audiobooks, never realizing what type of challenge the project could be.  I listened to hundreds of narrator samples on, attempting to decide which voice would best convey my hero or heroine, emotion and multiple characters.  This can be a difficult decision to make from a ten minute audition sample.  I developed a set of guidelines that helped me.


  1. Choose an audition sample with multiple characters.


I usually upload an audition script that includes three characters so I can tell if I can distinguish voices with the narrator.  I also upload a scene containing dialogue, narrative, and emotion.  This is a true test of a narrator in a short script.


  1. When you listen to an audition, listen on several levels.


First, listen for tone and cadence of voice.  Could this person be your hero?  Could this narrator be your heroine?


Second, listen to the story itself to see if you’re distracted by the voice or propelled into the plot by it.  Does the narrator have an accent?  Does that add to or detract from the telling?  (Example.  My narrator for ALWAYS HER COWBOY is Australian.  His accent is somewhat evident.  However, his voice and his talent for reading the exact emotion into scenes made the accent irrelevant.  He was my hero.)


Third, listen for pacing.  Some narrators read too fast for a listener to absorb the words.  Listening should be an easy experience, not a struggle to keep up.


Fourth, listen for natural conversation.  Can you tell the dialogue from the narration?  Does conversation flow easily as if you were overhearing it at your favorite fast food restaurant?  Can you tell who is speaking?


Fifth—think about the style of the production.  Do you want to feel as if you’re watching a play?  Or would you rather have a narrator read to you?


  1. Listen several times.


You can probably do all of the above on the first listen-through.  But you’re not finished there.  Adjust your earphones again and listen for any strange noises…any background noises.  Some narrators leave natural breath sounds in.  Others take them out.  Figure out if leaving them in is distracting to you or a listener.


What I’ve discovered wearing earphones are the noises you won’t hear if you are trying to analyze a voice from your desktop computer.  Automatically the hum of your computer will cover noise someone using ear buds or earphones might hear.  One of the noises I’ve picked up with earphones is the hum of the recorder when it starts and when it goes off.  If I can hear it, a listener with ear buds in a quiet setting will hear it.  You want a nothingness vacuum in back of the voice that acts as a cushion for it.  You don’t want to hear pages turning, static, or any type of hum or echo.


You need to choose a narrator with a level of expertise as the producer.  (Some use outside studios to edit but many edit and upload the chapters themselves.)


  1. Male or female narrator?


I examine my opening scene, check the book for point of view shifts, then decide whose story is being told the most—my hero’s or my heroine’s.  If it’s a toss up, I ask both to audition.   I’ve found I enjoy listening to a male narrator reading with a higher voice for my heroine more than listening to a female narrator reading a male voice I often can’t distinguish from the heroine’s.  Choosing a narrator who captures the essence of your novel is the best way to help a reader get lost in your story.


  1.  Royalty share or finished hour production fee?  


I’ve used both.  Again, this depends on whether or not I can find a narrator who fits the book.  I start out listening to royalty share narrators.  But I’ve paid production fees on half of my sixteen projects.  There again, listen for the voice.  A higher production fee doesn’t always mean a better finished product.


I’ve enjoyed the process of developing my novels into audiobooks.  Be aware it is a time consuming process.  Also, be aware that marketing Gilt By Association Mech.inddaudiobooks isn’t easy.  One of the huge problems with marketing them is the lack of promotional opportunities other than social media.  I developed these books for the long tail of promotion.  I believe this market is set to take off because of smart phones, iPads, etc.  However, just as with e-books, this market is becoming glutted too.  Just something to consider when starting this process.
It’s been a wonderful experience hearing my books come alive.  As I write more indie projects, I will continue to develop them into audiobooks.


USA Today best-selling author Karen Rose Smith will see her 87th novel published in 2015.  An only child, Karen delved into books at an early age. She learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew, and wished she could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though she escaped often into story worlds, she had many aunts, uncles and cousins around her on weekends. Her sense of family and relationships began there.  Maybe that’s why families are a strong theme in her novels, whether mysteries or romances.

Readers often ask her about her pastimes. She has herb, flower and vegetable gardens that help her relax. In the winter, she cooks rather than gardens. And year round she spends most of her time with her husband, as well as her four rescued cats who are her constant companions. They chase rainbows from sun catchers, reminding her life isn’t all about work, awards and Bestseller lists. Everyone needs that rainbow to chase.

Karen hopes each and every one of her books brings you reading pleasure and warm feelings to surround your heart.


GILT BY ASSOCIATION, Book 3 in Karen Rose Smith’s Caprice De Luca Home-Staging mystery series.  When hearts are involved, passion and
murder aren’t far behind.


“Smith pulls out all the stops in her latest mystery featuring Caprice De Luca.  Murder surrounds her latest home-staging job as a dear family friend is killed.  With two possible love interests, it is time for her to make a choice.  The story is quick and exciting to the end.  Another winner from this talented author.”  RT Book Reviews



Barnes and Noble


Mystery Webpage 

Romance Webpage







Marketing from the Middle by Karen Hall

WebHalfFigureI write environmental thrillers.  Exciting?  You bet!

I’m an environmental engineer with an English lit degree, so I have the platform and the credentials, but here’s the problem:  I live in South Dakota.  The geographic middle of North America is less than 60 miles from here.  People?  Not so many.

I published my first book, Unreasonable Risk, a thriller about sabotage in an oil refinery, in 2006.  My publisher advised me to set up two book signings a week for the first ten weeks, just to get my name out there.  I smiled.  There were three bookstores in Rapid City (two sold only used books), one in Hot Springs and one in Pierre.  For a radius of 300 miles, that was it.  In those days Facebook had just been opened to the world and Twitter, launched the month before my book was published, was in its infancy.  Social media and its distant relative, on-line marketing, had not reached the Mount Rushmore state.

By the time I published the second in the series, Through Dark Spaces—you guessed it, a thriller again, this one about the environmental impacts of mining—I’d learned a thing or two.  I did lots of guest blogs, radio interviews and giveaways, launched a website and dipped my toes into the Facebook waters.  I also published e-versions of both books.  But for me, the most sales resulted from niche marketing.

My books feature Hannah Morrison, a young environmental engineer who’s capable, intelligent and intuitive, and although she finds herself in jams pretty regularly, Hannah rarely needs to be rescued.  Who, I thought, would like to read about a character like that?  Duh:  women engineers.  So I didUnreasonableRiskCover my research and bought an ad in the journal published by the Society of Women Engineers.  Double duh:  environmental engineers.  They have journals, too.  Though these ads weren’t as cheap as some on-line book marketing opportunities, they targeted a very specific audience.  And they resulted not only in sales directly from the ads, but by word of mouth they brought in many secondary sales.  I also used my local library’s searchable business database to send flyers about my book directly to mines all over the country with the request that they be posted on the change room bulletin boards.  And what do you know!  More sales.

I’m working on the third book in the series, as yet untitled (though I’d welcome any suggestions), this one set in the wild and absolutely crazy boom-town world of the Bakken Oilfields in western North Dakota.  It concerns not only environmental issues surrounding the practice of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), but also the social issues that follow the enormous amount of money to be made from an oil boom, especially the issues of human trafficking and rape in a society where men outnumber women by nearly 50 to 1.

In addition to mainstream marketing, this time I’ll market not only to engineers, but to the rest of the oil and gas industry:  companies that produce well casing, drill bits, compressors, pumps and drilling rigs; companies that build railcars and trucks specifically for oilfield applications; refineries and pipeline companies.  I’ll send flyers to the mancamps in the Bakken—those guys have nothing to do but work, drink and watch TV, so why not give them the opportunity to read about the craziness of their own world?  And I’ll also send flyers to bookstores and citizen groups in other parts of the country where fracking fields have been controversial, especially to eastern Pennsylvania and southern New York, where the Marcellus Shale has TDSCoverSmallcaused terrible friction between neighbors.

So my advice to other writers out there is this:  if your protagonist has a specialty, whether she’s a psychologist, a cop, a hair stylist or a firefighter, mine that specialty.  If you don’t know how to find out where to send your promotional material, ask your local librarian.  She’ll know, or she’ll be able to direct you to somebody who does, because librarians are very capable heroes themselves.

Why does it work?  Because people love to read about themselves, especially if you make them valiant, courageous.  If you make mistakes in portraying your hero/heroine, you’ll hear from them, but for the most part they’ll thank you for giving their profession a protagonist worth reading about.


Karen E. Hall, an environmental engineer and writer, earned a B.A. in English Literature at the University of Minnesota and went back to school years later for degrees in chemistry and chemical engineering. She spent many years working in Minnesota’s oil industry as an environmental engineer.  She left to start her own environmental consulting business—and to devote more time to writing.  She’s published two thrillers, Unreasonable Risk and Through Dark Spaces, both featuring environmental engineer Hannah Morrison.  Karen is currently finishing a novel about infertility and working on her third Hannah Morrison thriller.


Karen is also a member of the Pennington County Planning Commission where she works on issues of water protection.  She and her husband Jeff Nelsen live outside Rapid City, in the Black Hills of South Dakota.




To purchase e-books (amazon):

Unreasonable Risk

Through Dark Spaces



eesmith revised(from Not Born Yesterday on Psychology Today) 

The technology in today’s world would have seemed “Buck Roger-ish” back in the day when telephones plugged into the wall, and a “text” was a schoolbook. Think of all the new terms that have come into the language since then, too:  Internet, laptop, e-mail, upload, download, website, I-Pad, Wi-Fi, SmartPhone, and e-book, to name a few.



An article on the latter — e-books — appeared in our newspaper a while ago. It was a pro and con debate, two views on the subject, written by a couple of spunky high school kids. The Pro side called e-books “an eco-friendly approach to reading,” the Con took the position that “e-books provide readers with limited options.”



The Pro argument went like this:



(1) E-books are eco-friendly because they save on the number of trees being cut down for paper. Statistics show that the world consumption of that commodity has grown 400 percent in the last 40 years. What’s not to like about slowing down tree genocide?



(2) An e-reader, such as a Kindle from Amazon or a Nook from Barnes & Noble, weighs less than the average printed book and can hold 100 times more material. Think of carrying all that around in your backpack!



(3) The condition of the books on an e-reader remain the same no matter how many times you read them. Your dog can’t chew them up, you can’t ruin them by spilling coffee on them or leaving them out in the rain.



(4) Despite the initial cost of an e-reader, they are economical, too, because books are cheaper to purchase — a fraction of the cost of a print edition — and many websites give away books as bundle discounts or simply for free. Try asking your local bookstore for that kind of a deal!



Conclusion: E-books make more sense, ecologically and economically, in modern times.



The Con side of the debate had this to say:



(1) It’s true that e-readers are one of the must-haves in the world of “techno-gadgets,” but there are a few facts to consider before going digital.



(2) Want to share a favorite book with a friend? With a printed copy you simply hand it over and hope to get it back someday. Unless you are willing to part with your pricey Kindle or Nook for the time it takes him to read it, you can’t do it.



(3) Although there are people who buy books as investments, the average person only wants to read them a single time. This means that borrowing from the library or buying used is a better deal than paying up to $9.99 to view them once on your Kindle. Add in the initial price of the e-reader and it’s costly, especially If you read a lot.



(4) There is no limit to where, or how long, you can read a printed book. E-readers can only be used so long before their batteries need recharging. And some have screens that can’t be used in direct sunlight. For people who like to read at the pool or the beach, an e-reader just won’t cut it.



(5) And then there’s the look, and the feel  of a printed book with a hard cover, a shiny dust jacket, and real paper pages that you turn yourself. E-readers may look flashy, but they can’t compete with all that.



Conclusion:  E-books limit your options, compared to “real” books.



I agree with the “Con” position, preferring the look and feel of a “real” book to reading one off a screen, but times change.  Now all my own books, BoardinghouseStewcoverincluding those originally in hard cover, are available only in digital.  Grudgingly, I bought a Kindle “Fire” and put them all on it, including the latest, a new edition of Boardinghouse Stew It contains dozens of photographs, many in color, and that’s where I notice an advantage over the print edition. The backlighting on the Kindle seems to lift them right off the page.



Who says you can’t teach old dogs new tricks?






E.E. (Evelyn Eileen) Smith lives close to her native San Francisco, in the “Wine Country” of northern California. She became a professional writer after retiring from earlier careers as an architectural designer and a litigation paralegal. Known primarily as a playwright at first — her plays have been produced in Massachusetts, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and both northern and southern California — she later became a novelist. A New Edition of the first novel, Boardinghouse Stew, along with the sequel, Times Like These, was published in 2011. In Love and War, A Memoir, followed in 2012. A series of murder mysteries will debut on November 29th of this year. The first in the series is titled Death by Misadventure. Three more will follow in 2014.  


She is a regular contributor to Psychology Today. To see her blog, go to

Her website is

Also follow her on Facebook.

Managing Your Time to Promote by Jan Christensen

Jan-in-Beach-Hat-800-pix-300x159I’ve been struggling with promotion for a couple of years now. I want to do it all. But I really don’t like doing it all. I enjoy Facebook. I like writing blog posts, and I don’t mind signings and personal appearances. I also like Pinterest, but frankly, I don’t see how it can be made to sell very many books and be worth the time invested.


So, that leaves a lot of things I don’t particularly enjoy doing. They’re like housework for me. Necessary, but I’d rather do something else. These include:


  • Tweet two or three times a day.
  • Ask for reviews.
  • Ask for guest blogging gigs. (I like writing the posts—I just don’t particularly like asking to do them.)
  • Ask libraries to stock my books.
  • Run a contest, then distribute the books to the winner(s).
  • Run a free offer.
  • Run a countdown.
  • Produce my newsletter.
  • Make changes to my website.
  • Keep track of everything on spreadsheets.


The only way I’ve found to handle all this is to set aside a specific amount of time every day and use it to do what’s most important at that time. And schedule the things I’ll do every week. Those things are write and edit blog posts (Tuesdays) for myself and for others. Wednesday, I request a review and contact a library. I take Thursdays off and work on Saturday instead. So, Friday I update the spreadsheets, and make any changes needed to my website. Saturday I finish anything from the other days left hanging, and pick something else to do to fill up the time. You’re wondering what I do on Mondays? I work on short stories. First thing I do is send one out. If I have time left over or they’re all out (never happens), I work on another one. I hope getting short stories published increases my platform as a writer.


You’ll notice, too, that Facebook and Twitter are not included in the specific time I’ve set aside for other marketing. I work them in during the day. I try to Tweet something every morning, again around four, and sometimes in the evening. I try to look at Facebook late afternoon, but often don’t get to it.


I’ve been using the schedule for a while now, and I allot one hour, five days a week. This is all just marketing—not getting the book ready with cover, editing and so on. The things I really, really dislike doing, often, I admit, do not get done. But I haven’t given up. I keep at it, I keep trying.


Here is what I’d accomplish in one year by sticking to this schedule religiously:


  • 780 tweets (52 weeks times 5 days a week, times 3 times a day)
  • 52 short stories submitted
  • 52 requests for reviews
  • 52 library requests
  • 12 or more guest blog post requests (I aim for one post a month)
  • 12 promotions (countdown, free offer, contest in conjunction with a guest post)
  • 4 newsletters sent out
  • Website always up-to-date
  • Spreadsheets always up-to-date


I believe that writing this down, seeing it in black and white, can help us better realize how doing something five times a week or even once a month can help us achieve our goals. Try this yourself and see how it goes.


But I do the most important thing almost every week for six days (yes I do this on Thursday, too). I write for about an hour, or until I have one thousand new words written. I also usually get in another hour five evenings a week editing another project. Now, if I could just get on with this marketing plan every single day, I might be doing better with sales. Which is why I still keep trying. Anyone have any shortcuts to all of this? I’d love to hear them!


Jan Christensen grew up in New Jersey. She bounced around the world as an Army wife, and in Texas when her husband retired. After traveling for ABrokenLife_200x300eleven years in a motorhome, she settled down in the Texas Coastal Bend.

Published novels are: Sara’s Search, Revelations, Organized to Death, Perfect Victim, Blackout, and most recently, A Broken Life. She’s had over sixty short stories appear in various places over the last dozen years. She also writes a series of short stories about Artie, a NY burglar who gets into some very strange situations while on the job. Learn more at her website:


Twitter @JanSChristensen

Happy New Year! Are you ready?



2014 was a very full year. Not all of it was good, but as far as I can see, there was a lot more good than bad. I’ve truly enjoyed crossing paths with you all here and continue to love, LOVE what I do for authors all year. It makes my job a joy and introduces me almost daily to new authors and new books that need to be read. I work regularly with journalists, broadcasters, reviewers, store and library personnel – all who share the same passion for books that I have. It really doesn’t seem like work most of the time.

So thank you for being a part of my life and my work. Thank you for sharing and for writing. As we move into a new year, put the past behind and let’s work toward the absolute best year we’ve had so far!

Be safe and be blessed!

PJ and posse

Cozy Mystery EBooks for the Holidays by Connie Knight

Connie Knight

Connie Knight


Long ago, old-fashioned stockings hanging on the mantel above the fireplace were filled with wonderful holiday gifts like candy canes, oranges, walnuts and ribbons—or, if you were naughty, filled with lumps of coal. Books in the old days seldom appeared in anyone’s stocking. They were too precious and rare. Today, more books are written and published than ever before. EBooks can fill a stocking called Kindle or Nook with gifts that satisfy the Christmas lists of everyone you know.

Another advantage: eBooks are inexpensive compared to hardbacks or paperbacks. Also, some are $.99, or free, when ambitious authors want to distribute their books. Readers are more important than dollars and dimes. If you have friends who love to read, you’ll fill their holiday stockings in no time at all. And you’ll fill their free time with eBooks to read, curling up with a cup of hot chocolate near the Christmas tree.

What particular genre do your friends love? My friends love cozy mysteries, the kind of novel I love to read and also to write. Cozy mysteries feature women sleuths who find clues to bloodless murders and solve the puzzles involving greed, jealousy or revenge. They’re set in a small town or neighborhood, like Agatha Christie’s novels starring Miss Marple. A little romance adds to the story, too.

What setting do your friends enjoy? The small towns for cozy mysteries can spring up anywhere. Agatha Christie moved Hercule Poirot from English manors to Paris to the Orient Express in Egypt. My Texas ranch land setting sheltered the Hargrove Family Cemetery, the center of Cemetery Whites, the beginning of the Caroline Hargrove Hamilton Mystery Series. Caroline Hargrove Hamilton and her cousin Janet become amateur sleuths when they decided to find whoever murdered Professor Harrison. They found his body when they visited the family cemetery; then they set off on a trail of clues. Detective work put Caroline and Constable Bob Bennett together; they became friends–and romantic, too.

A cozy mystery series, set in a small town surrounded by ranch land, develops a group of family and friends who live in certain houses and see each other predictably. In my second novel, Chances Choices Changes Death, Caroline’s cousins and friends solved the death of a single mother and found her young son who disappeared. This story is set on a large ranch where Caroline and Janet took Western riding lessons and their cousins, Donny and Danny, worked for the summer. There’s a murder to solve, bad men to find, good men to love, weddings on the way, engagement rings encountered, and adoptions of two boys without parents. Lots of things happen in a small town!

Novels may offer some specific items that interest your friends. In Cemetery Whites, genealogy of the Hargrove family and Texas history are explored. In Chances Choices Changes Death, trail riding takes Caroline and Janet to a run-down small adjacent ranch that seems threatening. They’re also introduced to Marilyn’s Steel Dust horses, ancestors of the quarterback horses. Marilyn is working on restoring the old breed.

Do you know of an author with a series of books that your friend enjoys? Some well-established authors may have new books on the market; see what your friend thinks about this book or that. New, independent authors—indieauthors—may offer eBooks that your friend knows about, or would like to find out about. See what you can find. Amazon listings include reviews, author pages, excerpts of the book, comparisons—you should be able to find eBooks that your friend will enjoy.

And while you’re shopping for eBook gifts, keep yourself in mind—especially if you like cozy mysteries. There must be a list of special books just right for you.


Connie Knight’s interest in Texas history is reflected in Cemetery Whites. Murders in 1875 and 2010 are solved, with the detective’s family history unraveling to reveal information. Knight’s hobby of gardening produced the title Cemetery Whites. The victim’s body is found sprawled in a patch of white irises in an old family cemetery. The flowers with that name still exist today, at old homesteads and in current gardens, including Connie Knight’s.

Connie Knight now lives in Houston and has just finished a second mystery, Chances Choices Changes Death, a sequel to Cemetery Whites. Chances Changes Choices Death Cover (1)She is now working on her third mystery novel in the Caroline Hargrove Hamilton Mystery series.


Twitter @conniejs59

Buy links:

Chances Choices Changes Death

Cemetery Whites Cover1611Cemetery Whites

My Promotion Tips by Marilyn Meredith

MeatLompoclibraryThis is what has worked for me:

I’ve had a website since the beginning. I keep it up to date with each new book that comes out, along with a buy link and the first chapter where I’m appearing, and what I’ve posted on Twitter, which usually links to my latest blog posts.

My personal blog is and I usually have something new every two days. I have guest blogs and also tell about what I’m up to both in my writing life and personal life.

On the first and third Tuesdays, I blog on the following blogs:


I comment on other people’s blogs.

I have a monthly newsletter, and when I’m making a personal appearance I have a guest book for people to leave their email addresses if interested in subscribing. If anyone would like to subscribe, all you have to do is email me:  My newsletter always tells what I’ve been doing and some promo for my latest book, and a bit of personal news. I often get replies from my subscribers.

And of course there’s Facebook. I love Facebook. I never ever put anything political on my status. What I do put is stuff about my writing, promotion including my stops when I’m on a blog tour, and personal stuff that I do. That’s what I like on other people’s status posts.

I belong to several groups and mostly promote on them when I have a new book—and definitely when I’m doing a blog tour like this one.

I love doing blog tours but they are very labor intensive to set-up, writing the posts that people might like to read, and promoting each stop.

I’ve done the freebie or cheap book offer and besides many down loads, I’ve sold a lot of books too.

The in-person events I like best are library talks, either by myself or being on a panel. I always give a copy of my book or books to the library.

We have no bookstores nearby. I have three independent bookstores I like to give presentations in but I must drive quite a ways to get to them. Sometimes the event is successful and I sell lots of books, sometimes not. I always have fun.

I love giving presentations at writers’ conferences.

Book fairs and craft fairs are fun to do, and I usually do two or three a year.

And that’s what I do for promotion.




Blurb for River Spirits:

RiverSpiritsWhile filming a movie on the Bear Creek Indian Reservation, the film crew trespasses on sacred ground, threats are made against the female stars, a missing woman is found by the Hairy Man, an actor is murdered and Deputy Tempe Crabtree has no idea who is guilty. Once again, the elusive and legendary Hairy Man plays an important role in this newest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery.


Marilyn Meredith is the author of over thirty-five published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest River Spirits from Mundania Press. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She lives in the foothills of the Sierra. Visit her at and her blog at



Contest: The winner will be the person who comments on the most blog posts during the tour.

He or she can either have a character in my next book named after them, or choose an earlier book in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series—either a paper book or e-book.


Tomorrow you’ll find me at Morgan Mandel’s Book Beat Babes  Topic: Where do the Minor Characters Come From?


Links for RiverSpirit blog tour


From the publisher, all formats:

For Kindle:

Amazon paperback:

For Nook




Visit me at