An experiment

So.  Uh.  The first day of school was today, and Open House and the first teacher day were yesterday, and Aretha fucking Franklin died today, and all of those things are sort of rattling around in my head and clamoring for my attention and demanding to be blogged about, and those are probably coming, don’t get me wrong, but instead?  This:

Every so often I get asked about whether I’ve got my books available on audio, and I have to say no.  And that’s always sort of stuck in my craw, and a couple of times I’ve tried to get auditions at Audible and not really gotten anywhere– I got a few submissions for Benevolence Archives, Vol. 1 when I tried it the first time, and I think I was probably being a bit too picky about the voice, and at any rate right now I have no one knocking down my door to record my books for me.

But I’ve got this professional-quality microphone right here on my desk, not being used often enough for the money I spent for it, and so screw it, I recorded one of the stories from Balremesh and other stories myself, and I don’t know a thing about audio or audiobooks so maybe you give this a listen and let me know if it sucks or not?  Be as brutal as you like; I’ve got no ego about it.  If I suck, I’d like to be stopped from doing it again.  🙂

(One thing, tho: there is going to be a volume difference between the introduction and the actual story.  I didn’t necessarily put it there on purpose, but once I realized it was there I left it in because I wasn’t sure if people would prefer one recording level over another and I figured that might be useful data.  So if you have a preference, or if one is way too loud or way too quiet, let me know.)

ALSO:  If you were one of my Patrons, you’d have had access to this for a couple of weeks now!  Wanna join the coolest group of Patrons on the planet?  You can, for just a buck a month!

On Patreon

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BEFORE WE GET STARTED: I’m taking a shot at Audible and audiobooks again at the moment; Skylights is currently open for auditions over there.  Are you an audiobook narrator?  Do you want to share revenue 50/50 with me on audio?  Go audition!

I got asked in comments a few days ago if I’d ever considered launching a Patreon.  And the answer is yeah, I have, and until really recently all such considerations were brief and unsystematic at best. I’ve been thinking about the idea a little harder lately and …

… well, I’m probably still not doing a Patreon, but I’m thinking about it a little bit harder.

Here’s the thing, right?  My books sell for crap.  It is true that there are a lot of other books out there that sell even worse than mine, but they sell for crap.  Balremesh and other stories and Tales: The Benevolence Archives, Vol. 3 have been out for months and probably haven’t sold fifty copies yet between the two of them.  A month with a half-dozen digital sales is a good month.  I do okay when I’m selling physical copies to people who are right in front of me, but the fact is the books aren’t moving online.

Well, okay, you say, but there are people who have bought all of those books and don’t have any more to buy right now.  Maybe they might like to have a way to support you in the meantime?

Well, okay.  First, being completely honest (none of this is to elicit sympathy,) I’m not convinced there are all that many of those people, and a lot of them are relatives, and a good chunk of those who aren’t are not, shall we say, Patreon’s typical demographic.

The other problem, of course, is what I can do for my Patrons, were I to actually acquire any.  To wit: in case it’s not clear, I write fiction sporadically at best, and I write slow.  I’m working on a short story right now for an open submissions window that is going to close for good in two weeks.  I have been working on that five thousand word story, a story that essentially sprung into my head fully written from the moment I had the idea, for something like six weeks.  I might get another 400-500 words of it written today.  I might not.  And I know which way I’d bet, were I betting.  It’s an open question as to whether I’ll get it done in time.  I have two more weeks for three thousand words more.

Most authors I’m aware of don’t use a monthly auto-pay model, they use a send me money when I create something and then you can have it sort of model.  But I sell entire books online for a damn dollar; are there people who will send me a dollar every time I send them a 5000 word short story?  Okay, what if it was a 500 word microfiction?  What if it was shorter than that?  How many of those might I be able to crank out in a month?

So, yeah, let’s try an experiment: Would you be willing to support me, at whatever minimal level you want, were I to create a Patreon?  What sorts of reward tiers might be interesting?

I mean, if I don’t get any comments here, before I’ve even created the thing, it sort of answers my question, right?

More on audiobooks

bogart-bacall-on-the-radio-otrcat.com.jpgA few days ago I wrote a post about listening to an audiobook for the first time.  I’ve since completed the two-hour recording, using a combination of listening in the car and listening over headphones before bed.  Of the two, I much prefer the car; listening to headphones with someone next to me is weird and I found that I wanted to be doing something with the rest of me while I was listening.  I just have trouble concentrating on what’s coming through headphones for whatever reason; I want that to be the background while I do something else.

I ended up liking the story more by the end of it; the book started with a rather silly premise but at least investigated the implications of it in a really interesting way.  The book has some interesting theology going on, surprisingly enough, which appealed to the part of me that was working toward a Ph.D in biblical studies eons ago.

What I don’t like, it seems, is audiobooks.  I may have to listen to one more to see if the things I don’t like are specific in some way to Zachary Quinto’s reading or are a thing audiobook narrators always do.  Quinto tries to read each character in a different voice, for example, which is fine in concept but in execution we get “Zachary Quinto doing an old woman” or “Zachary Quinto doing a black woman,” and oftentimes it ends up coming off as at best a little stereotypical and at worst occasionally a bit racist.  I also never really got past the “Zachary Quinto is reading a book at me” part of audiobookery, which, okay, that’s what is supposed to be happening– it’s literally what audiobooks are— but it never stopped weirding me out.

Here’s what I realized: I think I might be interested in listening to old-school radio dramas.  I don’t want Zachary Quinto reading a book at me and doing a black woman voice.  I might be interested in Zachary Quinto acting as the narrator with an actual black woman doing her character’s dialogue, though.  I may need to start investigating podcasts a bit; there’s probably something like what I want out there somewhere, and podcasts are a thing that I know nothing about.  Feel free, if you’re interested, to recommend some good podcasts in the comments, and if you know of any audio dramas out there let me know about them.

On audiobooks

the-dispatcher.jpgI have always suspected that I would not like audiobooks.  There are a number of reasons for this; chief among them are the facts that I read way, way faster than anyone could ever read out loud and don’t have the patience to wait for someone else to take four or five times as long to read something as I would, and the fact that I really enjoy the physicality of reading.  I have drawn this distinction between my wife and I a few times in this space, I think; we both enjoy reading, but I like books.  I have thousands of them.  I think she’d be content with an e-reader for everything for the rest of her life if it weren’t for the fact that I buy so many books that there’s always something for her to read.  I generally only read ebooks if I’m traveling (which doesn’t happen very often) or if I have no other choice, such as when my indie author friends have released new books.  Even then I prefer to get their stuff in print if I have the chance.

All that said, I’ve never actually tried to listen to an audiobook.  Enter John Scalzi.  Scalzi is one of my favorite authors, probably in the top five, and is also a guy who has served as a major influence on my own style.  I get everything he releases immediately, no questions asked, and I’ve never not liked one of his books.

John just released a new novella solely as an audiobook.  There’s a print version coming eventually, but for now, if you want to read The Dispatcher, you have to get the audiobook. At first that sounded kinda shitty, at least for me– John can do what he wants with his work, obviously, but that doesn’t mean that I have to like it– and then I found out that Audible.com was letting everyone download the book for free.  So I did.  And I started listening to it in the car this morning, on my way to work.  A one-way trip to work is 20, maybe 25 minutes, so I figure that’s a decent chunk of time to digest a bit of an audiobook.  That said, the entire thing is about two hours and ten minutes long– even round-trip, that’s several days of driving.  I’m in, like, Chapter Three.

Well, after day one, I still don’t like audiobooks.  In fact, weirdly, I’m finding that I don’t like the book, which I’ve never said about a Scalzi work before, and I’m trying to suss out whether it’s the book itself that’s bad or whether I dislike the format itself so much that it’s bleeding over into the actual story.  Zachary Quinto seems fine as a narrator, I suppose, but what’s getting me is that he’s clearly reading a book as opposed to telling a story, and it all feels really unnatural.  I just discovered that there’s an option to double the speed he’s reading at, and I’m going to enable that tomorrow and see if it helps things.  Because right now, this experiment is a failure.

Do you listen to a lot of audiobooks?  Do you read a lot of John Scalzi?  If so, wanna download this thing right quick and tell me if I’m nuts or not?