AudibleMy husband recently took the plunge and decided to sign up for a free trial of Audible. As he had read an early review in The Times of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins which had got us both intrigued, it was an easy choice for our first audiobook. We had decided that we would listen to it together to share our thoughts as we ‘read’ something at the same time. We started it on the plane journey to France in the middle of August, listening on and off during that week and then on the way back. We just finished it, a month and a half later, on a long car journey to Oxfordshire and back.

This was the first shock for me. I am a fast reader. My husband is not. If it had just been me, I would have finished it much more quickly and at first, the slower pace drove me a bit mad. Not only the pace of our ability to listen to it at the same time on any kind of a regular basis but also the pace of the actual narration. There are actually three female narrators in this story and I found at the beginning that I kept forgetting little details that I couldn’t easily go back and check. We did get used to the narrators and the pace though and in time, we came to enjoy the whole experience.

GOTTThis had a lot to do with the quality of the story as well, which was one of the best psychological thrillers I have ever ‘read.’ As a writer myself, I found I was constantly listening to the vocabulary and to certain turns of phrase in a way that maybe I don’t take the time to when I’m reading as quickly as I usually do. The constant twists and turns of the plot kept us guessing until we were almost at the end…when my husband guessed and told me what he thought. Hmmm. We enjoyed listening to the story together though and over the time we were doing so, we listened on a plane, in the car, while making dinner and even in bed…but we both fell asleep! I’m not sure if we did ever listen to it on the train but the options are endless 😉 It is an excellent story and one I wish I could have written 🙂

I have already considered whether to have an audiobook created for From Here to Nashville but not gone any further with it than that. First of all, after your free trial runs out, your subscription costs you £7.99 a month and for this, you have one credit, equal to one book. This is a fair amount of money – for a fair amount of work, I know – but compared to an ebook, it’s a lot more. As I don’t drive anywhere long distance on a regular basis, I don’t think I would prefer it over actually reading a paperback or an ebook. For those who do, I can see it certainly would have its benefits, especially when you’re stuck in traffic, although it could easily be a distraction at times. However, how many people would be prepared to pay that amount of money for an audiobook by an unknown (still!) author? Paula Hawkins was also unknown at the time but she’d already got her book deal and as I said, we read a review of her book in The Times. I’m still waiting for them to get back to me about the one they’re writing for my debut 😉

It was interesting to note that in The Girl on the Train, the male voices are all narrated by the female narrators. This made for an interesting take on the sound of different men’s voices from the different female characters’ perspectives. For me, this would be tricky. I have a British woman and an American man, from Tennessee so I would have to have at least two narrators which would undoubtedly be difficult to find and also would affect the cost dependent on which path I chose – a one-off payment to the narrators or a share of any subsequent profits. As a new author, the cost would be prohibitive to pay them upfront before any sales, so I would probably go with a share of the royalties option. There is a lot more information about this whole process on Joanna Penn’s helpful website, The Creative Penn if you would like to read about all the options in more detail.

So while I enjoyed the experience as a reader, I don’t think it would be my preference in the future. This makes me reluctant to do it for my own books, especially when I am still so new to all this self-publishing lark. This is another job to add to an already very long list of jobs to do as an indie and one that can perhaps wait a while.
How about you? Fan of audiobooks or not? Do leave me a message in the comments. I’d love to hear from you. Thanks for reading.

Picture Credits: Amazon and Doubleday Publishing.


19 Comments on My First Audiobook Experience – The Girl on the Train

  1. Haven’t got time to read all this (train to catch later!) but just wanted to say I love them, but it depends so much on the narrator – a crap narrator can ruin a good book. I also find it a bit slow, so only listen to them if doing something else like ironing, or housework, or in bath – it’s only like Mum used to listen to her plays on the radio.

    • I agree with you about the narrator and the pace. I might have to try one while ironing or doing other housework! Good idea 🙂

  2. Thanks for this Julie, I’ve been going through the same thought process. I rarely listen to audio books but have enjoyed them on long car journeys and at the gym (both experiences where I’m wishing the time away!) I have reached a similar conclusion to you regarding my debut – not yet. Cost and time involved were the main deciders for me but I may well revisit the idea in the future.

    • I would definitely consider it in the future. Joanna Penn even records her own non-fiction books! Now that’s a challenge 🙂

        • Absolutely! I would have all the tech gear on hand too because my husband runs his own business in that field 😉 I’ll let you know if I manage to have it go!

  3. I agree with Terry – it can be a bit of a lottery – if you can’t take to the narrator, you’ve lost the enjoyment already. And as you pointed out, Julie, you can’t go back as easily to check a fact or detail.
    Having said that, I do listen to audiobooks every night as a way to send me to sleep – I don’t mean that in an ‘I’m bored by them’ kind of way! but they are books I now know inside out so it doesn’t matter if I drift off – P.G. Wodehouse books(the Jeeves and Wooster ones read by Simon Callow and the Blandings ones by Martin Jarvis).
    And kids’ audiobooks were invaluable when our children were younger – kept them quiet on long journeys and at bedtime in the tent!

    • And it’s hard to know whether one man’s meat is another’s poison as far as the narrator goes, isn’t it? It definitely worked for sending me to sleep!
      Yes, I remember playing cassettes for my two when they were in the car and they worked a treat. We also used them at bedtimes for a while 🙂

  4. We always acquire an audio book before we go to France but only for the journey. This can be a Godsend since French radio is generally……….!! However this is the only time.
    I’m not sure the financial outlay would be worth it for an indie author.
    This one, ‘ Girl on a Train’ was such a good read and an original premiss. Kept me hooked.

    • Yes, I think we chose well for our first foray into it – an excellent book. I don’t know if we’d do it again for longer journeys – we’re still weighing up the pros and cons but worth a go.

  5. I listen to a lot of audiobooks and love them. I listen to them when I’m driving, ironing, getting dressed and other times when I think about it; mainly driving though. It helps pass the commute and makes use of it too. I don’t mind when the traffic is slow! I probably listen to more non-fiction than fiction, though I have listened to some fiction. Generally they are read by one person. I have rarely been disappointed in the reading but especially enjoy it when the author reads their work. Occasionally I may think, “I wouldn’t have read it that way,” but mostly I am happy. I don’t think it is necessary to have different readers for different characters, or even to ‘put on voices’. A reader of one book did put on voices and I was always asking myself whether she was being consistent. It was more of a distraction than of value.

    • That’s interesting about having the one reader but maybe that works better for non-fiction? It was good to hear the female narrators trying to be the voice of one of the male characters who had an East European accent – one did it with, the other without! And that was a bit distracting.

  6. I’ve been listening to audio books for decades. Back in the 1980s I started listening to books on tape—I checked them out of the library back then—-when I was driving to work in the morning and home in the evening. That drive was usually one hour one way. It made that long drive in heavy traffic seem like no time at all as I was sucked in to the stories.
    And I have never stopped listening to books in the car while I’m driving. Today, instead of tape, I listen to books on CDs—but I buy them now (Half Price books, Costco)—and I probably listen to three to five times as many books compared to how many I read with my eyes.
    The last audio book I finished was “The Murderer’s Daughter” by Jonathan Kellerman. I found it to be a fascinating study of a character who is born in a really dysfunctional home until her parents kill each other and she ends up in foster care at the age of about 5. The story is about this brilliant genus of a little girl and who she becomes as an adult.

    • I think they’re perfect for long car journeys and I can see that you would get through a fair few that way. I haven’t read a Jonathan Kellerman book in many years now but used to enjoy them before having kids of my own…This one sounds interesting though. Thanks for the tip, Lloyd.

  7. I love audiobooks! I mainly listen to them on my iPad while I’m doing boring stuff (housework/cooking) but during my recent vomiting virus they were a lifesaver when I felt too ill to even read. As well as using my monthly Audible credit to access new books I can’t wait to read, I also try to listen outside my comfort zone (crime fiction). This has led me to books like The Girl with all the Gifts which I would never have read. I dream of having my own books made into audiobooks but would have to be very sure my narrator was up to the task. As other commenters have said, the voice is all-important. The best narration is in fact a performance, not just reading.

    • I can see how audiobooks would really come into their own if you were ill, Janet 🙁 It’s so interesting about the narrators and shows how difficult it is for the author to choose well.

  8. I started audiobooks when I decided I needed to read more than one book at a time. So I always have an audiobook for when i am in the car, or on the go (running/cooking/shopping). I totally agree about the pace. Late one night, I was so engrossed in a YA book on audio, but it was just going too slowly for me. I had about 2 hours to go, listening. I snuck into my daughter’s bedroom, found her copy on the shelf, and devoured it in 45 minutes!

    • Ha! Thanks for your comment, Bev. Isn’t it interesting that you turned to a ‘proper’ copy of the book in order to finish it? I read much faster than my husband, as I said, and had I had a digital or paperback copy of the book, I would have read it in a matter of days. When we finally reached the last chapter of ‘The Girl on the Train,’ I felt it was a bit of an anti-climax, possibly because we’d worked it all out by then…

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