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Sharon Hamilton: WHAT MAKES A GOOD AUDIO BOOK? (Contest)
Monday, March 31st, 2014
J.D. Hart as Pirate!

J.D. Hart as Pirate!

I’m sure all of us have heard an audio book we could hardly wait to get, only to be disappointed with the narrator. Choosing the right one is so important. Although I think I just got lucky in choosing J.D. Hart to narrate my books, I went through a learning curve. Here are some of the things I’ve learned:

  1. As a reader, you know you can search Audible by narrator, right? That means, if you find a voice you love, you can go online and see all the other books he/she has narrated and listen to them as well. This is not something I knew when I first started out, nor did I know that loyal listeners would travel to one author from another when a good narrator is found.
  2. As an author, chose a narrator with an already existing following of some kind. Perhaps this person is an actor with fans, or is involved in the music industry and has fans. Or chose a narrator who is willing to or knows how to promote you as the      author. Many will do this, but not all of them will. It is so helpful when your narrator can bring fans to your listening audience.
  3. Make sure you take into account the number of characters, accents and special voices you will need for your books, and make sure your sample narration covers some of these. That way, you get an audition of the narrator’s true skills, not just a portion. If you are sensitive how women’s voices sound, for instance, with a male narrator, make sure they read a part where you have the H/H (two most important parts of the romance novel) speaking in dialogue. Or an action scene, or a little of both (a tip from Bella Andre). You’re going to have to get used to a stranger reading your sex scenes aloud. Get over it. You’ll pick yourself up off the floor and learn to actually like it. Honest.
  4. Make sure you      allow proper time (usually 1.5 hours for every hour of narration) to properly proof, listen and assist the narrator in giving the kind of command performance you want.
  5. Do you want one narrator or two? It can be difficult to edit if there are two parties, but some authors feel having two voices helps readers get a flavor of their story. In my case, I didn’t want that. I wanted the listener to fall in love with the voice I’d chosen, just as I had. I thought they’d be annoyed having to listen to anyone else’s.
  6. You can ask      questions about timing and how the narrator handles edits. In this way, you will find out how easy he/she is to work with. Remember, this is an intimate partnership. If you haven’t done one before, you will be excited and nervous as heck when you hire your first and you hear your words translated into the spoken word. Almost like a first date. Your narrator will see the flaws in your story, your writing, errors in grammar and diction, as well as reveal very personal things about your story as he/she tells it—again, the narrator becomes a character in your book, and the reader/listener hears it through his/her interpretation.
  7. Don’t be afraid to be frank if you don’t like some thing. Make sure you listen to chapters slowly at first to make sure you are on the same page about things. You don’t want to have to ask for several chapters of re-do. In the end, it is your story, and you are paying the bills, in most cases. You deserve to get what you want.
  8. No matter how good a narrator is, some readers/listeners will not be comfortable with that voice. They may have read the character a different way. I have some people that won’t listen to an audio book because they want the experience of the character they created in their own mind.

WHAT IS AMAZING ABOUT THE AUDIO BOOK is that we aren’t duplicating the experience of reading, WE’RE ENHANCING it. It is a different art form. We’re deepening the experience for the reader/listener.

  1. At Tucson Festival of Books earlier this month, I asked readers what they liked to use. Last year, people were split 50/50 over using an eReader and a paperback book. This year, I was told over and over again, “I use them all. I read on my smart phone, I read on my computer, on my tablet as well as the print book. If I like the book, I buy the print, eBook AND the Audio Book.

THIS FACT WAS HUGE FOR ME. If not than for any other reason, authors who are not doing audio books are missing the boat.

In short, I just plain lucked out. It could have been a horrible experience and I just jumped in. But I found the most kind and talented guy in the world to do my stories. I’ve learned to ask for what I need, which took some getting used to on my part. I’ve learned to trust him, to allow him to take the lead where he knows best, and to just shut up and let him work.

It has been one of the highlights of my career to get involved with the six audio books I’ve done with J.D. Hart. And the fact that they are selling well, is only testament to how good he is at what he does.

Here’s a little treat for you, a sample reading and a book trailer with his voice. Enjoy!! Leave a comment here and one lucky person will win an audio book of their choice from the six we have recorded. Tell me something you either like or don’t like about audio books, or reveal if you are an audio virgin. We’ll see if we can do something to take care of that right away.

Book Trailer, Cruisin For A SEAL.

Sample Narration, Honeymoon Bite (Marcus/Anne)

Books 1-4 of the SEAL Brotherhood are on Audible now. Books 1 & 2 of the Golden Vampires of Tuscany series also out on Audible.

shCrusinforaSEAL600x900 shhoneymoonbite_600x900

Sharon Hamilton
Life is one fool thing after another.
Love is two fool things after each other.
Author Page ** Sharon’s Blog ** Sharon’s Website ** Facebook**Twitter

Smiling Sharon in RedNYT and USA/Today and top 100 Amazon bestselling author Sharon Hamilton’s award-winning Navy SEAL Brotherhood series have been fan favorites since they were first released. They’ve earned her the coveted Amazon author ranking of #1 in Romantic Suspense, Military Romance and Contemporary Romance, as well as Gothic Romance for her Vampires of Tuscany and guardian angels. Her characters follow a sometimes rocky road to redemption through passion and true love.

Her Golden Vampires of Tuscany are not like any vamps you’ve read about before, since they don’t go to ground and can walk around in the full light of the sun.

Her Guardian Angels struggle with the human charges they are sent to save, often escaping their vanilla world of Heaven for the brief human one. You won’t find any of these beings in any Sunday school class.

36 comments to “Sharon Hamilton: WHAT MAKES A GOOD AUDIO BOOK? (Contest)”

  1. Toni Whitmire
    · March 31st, 2014 at 8:07 am · Link

    I just love the picture of J.D especially his eyes and I am an audio virgin I have only one book

  2. Sharon Hamilton
    · March 31st, 2014 at 9:28 am · Link

    We’ll have to get that fixed, won’t we. PM me, Tony on my FB page. 😈

  3. Diana Huffer
    · March 31st, 2014 at 10:01 am · Link

    I LOVE audio books! I got hooked on them when I was commuting over 2 hours a day. The love affair started with the Harry Potter books and blew up after I finished the last one! My audio book library doesn’t come close to my paper library, but it is in it’s infancy! 🙂 Thanks for the opportunity to win one! 🙂

  4. Sharon Hamilton
    · March 31st, 2014 at 10:02 am · Link

    Thanks, Diana Huffer! I’m hoping you win one too. Did you like the sample narration? 😆

  5. Karen Henderson
    · March 31st, 2014 at 10:12 am · Link

    Just wanted to say Hi Sharon

    If you haven’t listened to one of her audio books you are missing out JD does an outstanding job on them
    I’m listening to Fallen Seal and it made me fall in love with the book again

  6. Sharon Hamilton
    · March 31st, 2014 at 10:30 am · Link

    Thanks, Karen! This is why doing audio books is so great for a writer. Just what we want to hear. 😛

  7. maabraham
    · March 31st, 2014 at 10:43 am · Link

    Just finished listening to Fallen Seal. I have to admit I had listened to a few in the past and thought audio books hookey… didn’t like them at all… rolling eyes through half the book, it was like … whatever. I didn’t find that with Sharon’s book loved the voice and the delivery as well as the written version. Would I do this again? What do you think? 😀 A great time saver.

  8. J.D. Hart
    · March 31st, 2014 at 11:31 am · Link

    Ahoy Matey’s! Just wanted to say hello and thank you for the wonderful comments regarding Sharon’s books. Having the privilege of being her storyteller/Narrator is total love for me. It is indeed a dream come true for an actor such as myself to work so closely with not only such an acclaimed author but a wonderful person. Sharon writes the kind of stories that pulls at our hearts, puts wind beneath our wings, ignites our sex life and gives purpose to the meaning of life.

  9. Anne
    · March 31st, 2014 at 1:13 pm · Link

    I listen to a lot of audio books in the car and at work. One thing I noticed is that I get used to a narrator doing one series, like Lorelei King doing the Stephanie Plum books by Evanovich, and get used to those voices being those characters. Then I got The Mercy Thompson series by Briggs and she uses the same voices for the new characters and it’s like fingers nails on a black board for me because I associate those voices with the other characters. Joe Morelli should not have the same voice as Adam Hauptman, the same with Stephanie Plum and Mercy. Not that it’s Lorelei’s fault, how many really distinct voices can one person do?!?

  10. Louisa Cornell
    · March 31st, 2014 at 2:05 pm · Link

    I actually haven’t listened to audio books, which is something I hope to change in the future. I did, however, attend a luncheon where the featured speaker brought her audio book reader with her and she actually did some excerpt reading for us. It was way cool ! And with readers embracing their favorite novels in all forms it is definitely something I need to try.

  11. julie
    · March 31st, 2014 at 3:10 pm · Link

    l popped in to say hello and say i’ve listened to all Sharon’s audio books and loved everyone JD Harts different accents is amazing.
    I loved his Italian accent so much in Honeymoon Bite i found myself going back to listen again. Listening to an audio book is a wonderful experience for me whether it is travelling or just doing the housework

  12. Sharon Hamilton
    · March 31st, 2014 at 4:04 pm · Link

    Thank you for those kind words! I’m with you. In fact, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to do audio my previous listening experience was so bad. That’s when I found J.D. I stuck to him like glue. We’re on opposites of the US, but I’m stuck to him anyway!! Hope you’ll continue with the other books!

  13. Sharon Hamilton
    · March 31st, 2014 at 4:07 pm · Link

    J.D. Your damsel is still in fantasyland with the dark pirate who stole her ears, not to mention her heart!! Nice to see you here, as it should be.

    See how great he is? It isn’t a job for him. It’s a calling. 😳

  14. Sharon Hamilton
    · March 31st, 2014 at 4:09 pm · Link

    Anne, all I can say is listen to one of J.D.s narration if you want someone who can do multiple voices. He’s a master. I agree with you on the others. Lots of people made early mistakes. I’d look for authors to re-record their works as the industry standards rise for readers.

  15. Sharon Hamilton
    · March 31st, 2014 at 4:10 pm · Link

    Louisa, hmmmm. You’ve given me an idea! What a great idea. Who was the author and who was the narrator? Just curious.

  16. Sharon Hamilton
    · March 31st, 2014 at 4:11 pm · Link

    Julie – you are always a welcome ray of sunshine whenever I blog. We had to name a heroine Julie so she could get her fix of J.D. saying, “Julie. I love you.” LOL. One of the most fun things about being a writer.

  17. julie
    · March 31st, 2014 at 6:00 pm · Link

    *laughing* havent been right since Sharon my poor ipod went to the spot automatically id been there so often still gives me the shivers thinking about it

  18. Sharon Hamilton
    · March 31st, 2014 at 6:04 pm · Link

    Julie, lol. You deserve it! 😆

  19. Dawn Marie Bates-Buchanan
    · March 31st, 2014 at 7:24 pm · Link

    I love your choice, luck or not! I have listened to over 300 audiobooks and have been forced a few times to give up and go back to reading just the text because the audio has been awful. I read a few of your books and the listened to the same in audio and got a different feel from it and enjoyed it even more. Thanks for all you share. I have been writing a novel for 15 years – hope to finish and publish one day. I am family and elder law attorney in FL if you ever need to chat for research email me anytime.

  20. Kathy O
    · March 31st, 2014 at 7:51 pm · Link

    Love the sample. Thank you for the chance. I only have 4 audio books right now, but hope to get more. Koala571 at msn dot com

  21. Lisa J
    · April 1st, 2014 at 8:33 am · Link

    My boss swears by audio books, but I haven’t tried one. I can’t decide if I would like it or not. He calls me a fool since I have a 45 minute commute (each way).

  22. Kathy Lewis
    · April 1st, 2014 at 9:43 am · Link

    I just audio books. They bring out the story more. I listen to them to and from work and sometimes during. IF the narrator is good, then the story is awesome. If the narrator is bad, I’ll finish but won’t listen to it again. Did not know you can find books by narrator. Great tip.

    coach4kat at gmail dot com

  23. Debi
    · April 1st, 2014 at 1:50 pm · Link

    I am currently listening to Lost Souls. I bought the kindle version from Amazon & it offered me a discount on the audio so I can switch back and forth…I totally love it! I recently listened to a book that one character’s “southern” accent drove me nuts…ugh.
    JD Hart sounds as good as he looks…you always wonder.

  24. Conchita
    · April 1st, 2014 at 3:26 pm · Link

    Before I knew who Sharon Hamilton was I heard the sample of “Accidental SEAL” on Audible and it was JD’s voice that made me purchase it! Once that audiobook was finished (on the same day I might add), I had to get the next one. I started on the 18th Dec 2013 and by 28th Jan 2014 I had already listened to all four SEAL Books. Yes it was JD’s voice that drew me to the books but once the stories started to unfold, I was hooked on the Brotherhood. I love Sharon’s books. She pulls at my heart strings, gives me the right amount of action and at times makes me laugh especially with “Fredo”. Sharon has the ability to make you fall in love with her SEALS in such a way that even when the story is over you find yourself reminiscing about what happened to them and maybe even secretly pretending your own husband is an Top Secret SEAL who is going to have to rescue you too… I’m not saying I do that… But you know it could happen 😳 . In my personal opinion I feel that Sharon’s ability to weave a web of action packed, passionate desire coupled with JD’s versatile voice and acting ability you have an explosive combination which is a match made in Heaven. I think that her writing ability which never fails to captivate is completmented and completed with JD as her narrator. I consider myself an audiobook princess because I just can’t get enough of them and fully endorse them, especially Sharon’s books. As soon as they become available I don’t hesitate, I just download and listen. I also fall under the category of those Sharon mentioned above in that I also have the Kindle versions, so that if audio is not possible at that point in time or place I can continue to be amazed by reading on my Smartphone or Tablet. Then, I can go back to audio continuing where I left off on the Kindle because the writing and narration are so perfect for each other that the transition just flows. Sorry for the long comment but as you can see I am a big fan of both the author and the narrator and it is my obligation to share so no-one misses out on one of the greatest pleasures in life. 😉

  25. Sharon Hamilton
    · April 1st, 2014 at 5:16 pm · Link

    DAWN Marie, Thank you so much for your comments. And thank you for the referral – I might take you up on it, too!! I have a cousin who does forensic medicine in Florida I want to visit some day soon, so you’ll be on my list.

    I agree with you (unfortunately) there are many more bad recordings than good ones, at least with the ones I’ve found. Don’t know why this is, but I suspect we are on the cusp of the birth of a new art form. This isn’t “old time radio” where things would be acted on air. This isn’t “reading or narrating” where books are just read, this is a PERFORMANCE. I think authors should demand it, I think readers love it. That’s the difference between what we’ve seen in the past and what is going on today. Love your comments. Means a lot to me. Thank you.

  26. Sharon Hamilton
    · April 1st, 2014 at 5:17 pm · Link

    Kathy O, well, maybe today will be your lucky day. I think you will see a huge difference between my audios done by J.D. and others.

  27. Sharon Hamilton
    · April 1st, 2014 at 5:18 pm · Link

    Lisa J, far be it from me to call you a fool! But I think, like Conchita said so eloquently, you’re missing out on one of the great pleasures of life. 🙂

  28. Sharon Hamilton
    · April 1st, 2014 at 5:23 pm · Link

    Kathy, thank you. Yes, you search up at the top and instead of the author, you search the narrator. Having said that, I am I believe the first romance books J.D. has narrated. I couldn’t believe it, with his talent. But I’m sure I won’t be the last as other authors are noticing. Wished I owned him, but alas, he is a free agent.
    I’m working hard to keep him “tied up” in the authorly sort of way…te he… 😈

  29. Sharon Hamilton
    · April 1st, 2014 at 5:24 pm · Link

    Debi, He is. And I’ve never met him in person. But everything I need to know I can hear with my own ears. Best I’ve heard. Hope you think so too.

  30. Sharon Hamilton
    · April 1st, 2014 at 5:27 pm · Link

    I absolutely love your comment. Thank you for taking the time to write such a long, detailed comment. I’ve given it to ACX because they need to hear from fans like you.

    Your trust and enjoyment of the shared work J.D. and I have done is so wonderful on so many levels. Very inspiring for an artist to have someone “get” their work, and you clearly do. It is for people like you we write/perform. Two sides of the same coin, but, like you said, the combination of the both of them brings the reader/listeners more depth than could possibly be done by one medium alone.

    Thank you again, straight from my heart.

  31. Toni Whitmire
    · April 4th, 2014 at 8:57 am · Link

    I sent you a message.

  32. Sharon Hamilton
    · April 5th, 2014 at 8:44 am · Link

    WINNER ALERTS!!!! A little behind in the weather department with a neck that looks like a walrus and me trying to finish my next book. Not an excuse, a fact.

    BUT because all of you had to wait, I’m giving all of you your choice: audio book, print book or Kindle version of any of my books. I encourage you to try the audios. You’ll be hooked.

    My email address is: sharonhamilton2001 (at) gmail (dot) com. You know how to figure it out and convert it, right? Send me an email with the subject tag: Delilah’s Winner, so it will flag and I’ll get these out to you today, or Monday if the print book. I’ll ship anywhere. If you want it for a friend, give me your friend’s information, but specify. LOVE YOU ALL!!! Please respond within 24 hours so I can get this off my desk this week!!! 😛

  33. Conchita
    · April 5th, 2014 at 11:47 am · Link

    Hi Sharon,

    Oh poor you! Try “Arnica” cream it works wonders and is natural. I don’t know if I understood correctly, but I’m guessing we can all send you the email??? Well, I’ll send it to you and if I’m mistaken you can enlighten me 😆

  34. Judy-Ree
    · April 5th, 2014 at 9:45 pm · Link

    I recently got a new job and with it an hour and half commute to work. That time is a great way to catch up on my TBR pile via audiobooks. I have found with a good narrator, I don’t miss not having the book in my hand. As a matter of fact, there has been several times that I have gotten home and been hard pressed to leave the car because I was at a “good part” in the story. 🙂

  35. Jennifer Lowery
    · April 18th, 2014 at 4:39 pm · Link

    Audio books are next on my list! So be expecting an email soon, Sharon, lol. JD, you too 🙂 Great post-definitely taking notes.

  36. Sharon Hamilton
    · April 18th, 2014 at 6:08 pm · Link

    Thanks, Jennifer. Yes, audios are fun (and crazy scary) but mostly fun.

Comments are closed.