Writing for Audiobook

Readers have asked why I use so many footnotes to house my biblical references, especially in 12 Ways. Without shame I’m a footnote guy. I also drop 90% of my biblical reference citations into the footnotes, using parenthetical verse references in the main text only for the passages I quote verbatim.

My thinking is less driven by the footnote/endnote debate, or page design preferences, and more driven by my concession to audiobooks. Many of my “readers” will be “listeners,” so dropping as much content into the footnotes allows me to script the text in a way that is just that — a script . . . a readable script.

Authors intentionally write for mediums beyond print. For example, it’s very obvious The Hunger Games series was written by an author (Suzanne Collins) with great expertise in video production. She was essentially writing out a movie plot in the form of a novel, all anticipating a series of movies in the end (which she delivered). This also explains why the books and movies are so identical, requiring very little interpretation. Similarly, I think there’s a way to write for the ear, and it simply by writing and editing verbally for script. Christianity of all groups treasures the long-term viability and beauty of the oral tradition, so writing for audiobook seems rather natural for us.

Now, obviously, a professional audiobook reader can read around non-verbal things in the text. But as an author I’m now resolved: anything silent in an audiobook I relegate out of the main body text and into footnotes. Exceptions of course include charts and graphs and images, things that can be easily skipped over by an audiobook reader anyways. Otherwise I want it in the footnotes. It’s there to be seen by the reader, and by me as I write and edit. Again, this helps me as the author of an audiobook more so than a necessity of the reader of the audiobook.

The psychology of authoring an audiobook is a dynamic I have only begun to understand and appreciate. With all this said, I think Tom Parks made fine work in reading of 12 Ways for Christianaudio. I wish I had time to read the book myself, and perhaps in the future I will do so. At this point my aim as a writer is to make books that are readable, whether it’s with me reading them or another reader.

Over the past couple of days I have been subjecting myself to listening to the 12 Ways audiobook, and I can hear things that I would change and improve (for example, I need to find better ways of audibly introducing new voices before quoting them). So my process is far from getting all figured out, but the process is in motion.

All this to say thank you Christianaudio for your work on 12 Ways. Copies of the CDs at my desk on Friday and they look great (save for the misspelt “forward” on the cover). And for those of you who are disappointed that I did not read this book myself — I’m sorry. I will more diligently pursue this in the future, Lord willing.


One thought on “Writing for Audiobook

  1. Wow I never thought about this aspect of writing for audiobooks. I’ve also heard some people say that in general it’s good to try to write a little more like you speak as it reads more naturally. Some people also dictate a lot of their writing.

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