Q&A with Patrice Williams-Marks, The Abduction of Nelly Don
Can you tell me what it was like to turn your book into an audiobook.
This was my first produced audiobook and I was pretty green. I decided to do a revenue share with the producer/narrator and pitched the book on ACX. Prior to that I had struggled with the type of voice to use. Should I use a woman narrator or male? I ultimately decided to find a male with a kind, expressive voice as the story was in past-tense and Nelly was not the main point of view. Clay (my narrator) was the first one to respond and he was exactly what I was looking for. He had the voice, was a professional and knew what the project needed. I was very fortunate.
Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
No, not really. I write both fiction and non-fiction. Even a school textbook would be great in audio form. I narrated my own nonfiction book on crowdfunding and it sells consistently as well.
When you were writing your book, did it automatically come to your mind that this would be an audiobook?
No. This was my first novel. I had written a short story prior to that and have a background in screenwriting. That was not on my mind while writing.
How did you select your narrator?
Clay found the project on ACX and contacted me. He was the first one to do so. I listened to his sample and fell in love with his voice. He is a very spiritual person and that was quite evident from his sample. It was hard to believe that the very first person would be the one, but I knew it right away and closed the project to other submissions a day later.
How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
Clay would send me one chapter at a time. If I thought something needed to be re-recorded, I would let him know at which time mark and give further details. He would also have advice and suggestions that were incorporated. I did not have to give pronunciation tips as he had it covered. I also did not give any further insight into the characters as he read the book beforehand. The Abduction of Nelly Don is a fictionalized account but based on a true story. At the end of the book I introduce the real cast of characters and give an update on what happened to them after the event. I believe that was enough to give Clay the character backgrounds he needed.
Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
Yes, this is based on a true story and real events. Nell Donnelly was kidnapped just before the Lindbergh baby. It was just as sensational; yet not as known. For those who sign up to my newsletter list, I provide original redacted FBI files and newspaper articles on the kidnapping. (Go to patricewilliamsmarks.com and click on red button)
Are you an audiobook listener? What do you like about it?
Yes, I purchase audiobooks, but mostly nonfiction how-to books. Because I’m a Sensitivity Reader, I read tons of fiction books as part of my job. I listen to nonfiction books to grow and learn new skills or enhance the ones I already possess.
Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
The beginning where young Brook is kidnapped. It comes more alive with the audiobook which includes submachine gun sound effects. Makes it more real.
If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
This is a tough one. People always ask this question when they read your screenplay, but not your novel. Natalie Portman maybe, or Evangeline Lilly?
How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
A screenwriter friend of mine was also writing a novel so we meet weekly to read over each other’s chapters and to critique and comment. When we were both done we just went out to dinner. I also celebrated by posting my accomplishment to my social media channels.
In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?
This is a standalone novel so it is much harder to promote. If it were part of a series, I could hook readers and take them on a longer ride/adventure. Series are also more lucrative. But there is something said about writing a standalone because it is a part of you, or you feel so compelled to share it with the world, that you don’t care about the marketing downside.
What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Don’t fall for the, “only write what you know.” That is very limiting. Write what inspires you. If you have no clue about the subject, do your research. If you have no clue about the people, hire a sensitivity reader. It’s that simple.
Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
Decide the type of voice you want for your project before you post. Consider not going exclusive with your audiobook so that you can post on other platforms and reach a larger/different audience. Don’t expect to get rich from the sales as Amazon takes nearly 80% when all is said and done. If you have written a nonfiction book, narrate it yourself, then hire someone to edit it for you. Readers want to hear the voice of the person who wrote the how-to book.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently in production on another audiobook for my thriller, Counter Punch.