Posted by Jamie Watson
Highlights #2 from the YALSA Preconference.
Presented by Daniel Bostick and Bruce Coville, Full Cast Audio; Tim Ditlow, Random House/Listening Library; and Eileen Hutton, Brilliance Audio.
Q: How do producers determine what to publish?
A: It must be a good book! Random House gets thousands of manuscripts a year with potential to become just a small list of audiobooks. For Full Cast, a book must be driven by dialogue since, they are read by a "full cast" of characters. All publishers agree that a good review in a review journal can alert them to something they may want for audio. Publishers also look for a balanced list - a variety of age groups, genres, etc.
Q: Is having a cd that releases simulteously with the print book important?
A: For Brilliance, since they are predominantly a retail publisher, it is very important. Now that Listening Library is a part of Random House, there can be a simulatenous release, taking advantage of joint publicity. Often, in retail situations, when a book sells out, retailers will handsell the audiobook.
Q: In terms of young adult material, how do you deal with challenging, potentially controversial material?
A: Full Cast mentions controversial language (ie. the "f" word!) They made the decision to include a "strong language" note on the package. Listening Library mentions that at one time they had the Top 10 Challenged books all on audio. Both agree that if the "controversial" contact is organic and true to the book, not gratuitious, that is a valid reason for publishing the material. Brilliance publishes predominantly adult material, and they label them as such ( ex. Adult Fiction.)
Q: How are casting decisions made?
A: Full Cast has a stable of readers (think theater troup!) They use actual teen readers to narrate the teen characters. Authors are not always (and usually not!) the best choice to read their own works - trained actors and narrators are the true professionals. Sometimes accents drive the decision - Full Cast doesn't record works that require British or Southern accents, since their stable is from upstate New York. Listening Library hunted far and wide for an authentic midwestern accent for their recent "Dairy Queen."
Q: How about format? Cassettes, cds, downloadable?
A: Cassettes are over! Retailers are not buying them at all - libraries and schools still are to a point, but it is on a life support. The retail side of Listening Library's offerings via Audible is now 15% of their total sales.
And now for lunch! Back this afternoon.