It has always been my intention to start releasing my stories in audiobook format but I didn’t think I would get around to it as soon as I have done. Originally, I was thinking it would be when I started releasing the new books that I am working from, and that the older titles would not be converted over.
As you might know I am currently doing re-releases of all my back catalog titles. I publish direct to Kindle, but use Draft2Digital to get my titles on the other stores. I like D2D because I can upload everything once and they handle all the distribution and that makes it a lot easier. They are also really good at trialling new services.
When I was loading up the new version of Unhallowed Ground I got a pop-up suggesting I start an audiobook version. As well as the Findaway Voices option, there was a new option to create an audiobook on Apple Books using A.I. voice generation.
The process couldn’t have been more straightforward and I set everything up. But I did feel conflicted about it.
As a writer, I am keeping an eye on the A.I. business, because one of the things it does is write. There have been whole books created using ChatGPT. So I was worried that I was contributing to the problem by using A.I. rather than a human narrator.
A few months ago, I remember reading about a guy who used A.I. to create the images for a children’s book and there was a lot of backlash about that because he was taking work away from an actual artist. Which I can sympathise with. I didn’t want to go down that route, not only because I didn’t want to deal with the hate, but because I respect the art of audiobook narration.
I was close to pulling the title from audio, but then I had a conversation with Tamzin and she helped me realise that I’m not taking work away from a human narrator by doing this. First of all, I had no intention of creating audiobooks for these stories. So this wasn’t a case of choosing an A.I. narrator over a human one, it was choosing an A.I. narrator over no narrator at all.
Secondly, and this is something that rarely gets spoken about, there is a whole group of people who enjoy reading, but because of vision problems, can’t. When you think about it like that, creating audiobooks is creating an accessibility tool.
Thinking about it that way helped and I have created a couple more audiobooks the same way.
Once I start releasing new stories, I fully intend to use human narrators. However, having done a couple of audiobooks this way now, I’ve got to say, I’m really impressed by the quality of them. There are some rough edges that you wouldn’t get with a person, but for what they are, they’re really good. Certainly something you could comfortably listen to.
If you’re interested in checking them out you can find my current releases here: