After writing the first three books in my ‘Clarice’ series, I was beginning to feel more comfortable with self-publishing. I had an editor who worked with me and gave me some great advice. The storyline was beginning to come together, and the main character was taking shape.
But something was missing. Although I had an image of my main character in mind, I had never actually met her. Sure, I would fill in the gaps in my head and turn her into anything I wanted. When she said “Yes, Master”, I knew what tone she used to express some hesitation. But what would others ‘hear’?
I began looking around for narrators who would work with erotica, and in my case narrate fairly intense, adult BDSM scenes from the perspective of my female main character. That was a tall order and, frankly, I didn’t think I would find anyone.
Searching through various narration services, it almost always drew the line at BDSM. Finding narrators who would do erotica, as long as it didn’t involve what some would consider pornography, was not the problem, but hard-core stuff was for most off limits.
Then I searched around the Audible narrators. I wasn’t very hopeful, considering that it is part of Amazon, and I cannot even advertise my books, because they violate Amazon’s community standards for advertisement. So what narrator would be willing to work with me?
I posted my books on the Audible site to get offers from potential narrators. Of course, it would have been great to have some famous person, the Charlize Theron-type, narrate my character, but that wasn’t going to happen. In fact, nothing happened at all for several days.
Then I got a message that a narrator was interested. Devie LaRue. She had been an avid Audible consumer, but was only now beginning to look into narration. It turned out to be a stroke of luck. We hit if off right away. I gave her a pretty intense sample and she was totally OK with it, and the narration she sent back was great.
The way the arrangement works with Audible is that you sign a contract with either a fixed fee for the narration – typically by the hour of actual recorded time – or you split the royalties. We decided to do a split.
Beginning the narration process is quite demanding on the narrator. I still feel that I was lucky Devie was willing to invest the time and money in the project. The quality demands on the audio recording are exceptionally high and Devie needed to upgrade her equipment several times. But the result was worth it.
By the time we got to the second book, there were some pretty intense scenes, and I really wasn’t sure whether the narration would capture the intensity. Boy was I surprise!
I loved the writing and of course, everyone has their own image in mind, but ‘meeting’ my character, hearing how she endures rough discipline session, what goes on in her head, that’s something altogether different. For me, even though I knew the character inside out, it was a completely new experience.
Was I picky? Absolutely. When I thought that the tone wasn’t right, Devie re-recorded it. If the emphasis wasn’t on the right word, she had the patience to work with me to get it right. In the end, and we have now the first two books out, the narrator really gets the essence of the character. It goes beyond ‘reading a book out loud’, it is what we do in our heads when we read – characters come to life and we imagine them as if they were real. When we get into books, it’s like watching a movie that we created in our own head. It’s different for everyone, but they are no longer just words on paper.
By the second book, Devie was totally into Clarice.
” The next blow was infinitely worse than the first. It hit harder and the same spot as the first one. My muscles had not yet recovered from the first blow and here they were punished again. Now the blows kept coming at a steady rhythm and I was beginning to black out from pain. I could no longer tell where each blow landed. My entire bottom felt like it was burning. “
Not many narrators can pull off expressing a passage like the one above, but Devie did it. She became ‘Clarice’.
We’re now working on the third book and it only gets better with every joint endeavor. It also gets easier — she knows the character, and having read ahead, she knows why my character at times hesitates, or is enthusiastic. Why she comes to life the way she does.
Does it make money?
Well, Audible is clearly on the rise and if you’re searching for ‘fetish’ you will find quite a bit of foot-fetish (one of the fetishes I actually don’t care for very much, sorry to disappoint you!) and a few other books. So, for those who search, it’s relatively easy to find. But the market is small, and we’re still in the start-up phase. Audiobooks that sell well, have 10 hours of recording. We’ll get there, but the pricing is determined by Amazon and the production costs are not insignificant.
Nevertheless, people buy the audiobooks. Not everyone is a reader, or, with whispersynch, you can switch back and forth between the ebook and the audio version. Something that can come in very handy. And let’s be honest, readers of erotica don’t just listen to the books for their educational value…. Putting in some earplugs while listening to your favorite audiobook, gives you a lot more freedom to do with your hands anything you want. 🙂