22 June 2010

Audiobook Week: How to Write a Audiobook Review

Today is the second day of Audiobook Week 2010. This fabulous event is the dream child of Jen of Devourer of Books. Be sure to read her Audiobook Week information post and the post listing the great prizes available for participants! (I'll be offering one of those prizes on Friday, so be sure to come back!)

For the first four days of Audiobook Week, I plan to post on the daily topic. On Friday, I am going take a different path. I hope you take the time to visit all the participating blogs; you can find them by checking out Jen's blog and clicking on the Mr. Linkys.

How to Write an Audiobook Review

Today's topic is all about writing an audiobook review. As with any book review, there is, of course, no right or wrong way, and individual style will play a role.

My personal approach is to write my review in exactly the same manner as I would have had I read the book in print. That is, I start with a summary and then get into the particulars. Finally, add a paragraph about the audio production.

Okay, so that wasn't exactly helpful. Here are some details, listed in random order.

While listening:
  • If I hear a quote that I think I might want to use in my review, I make a note of a couple of keywords.
  • I pay attention to how the narrator does accents, if they are needed for the book.
  • I listen for sound effects, music, and other aspects of the audio production.
  • I pay attention to the narrator's pronunciation of place names and other words.
When writing the general review:
  • I use the "look inside" feature found on many bookstore and publisher's sites to check spellings and other details.
  • If I want to quote the author, I use the look inside feature to search for keywords so I can find the passage.
When writing the audiobook paragraph, I always mention the narrator's name. When evaluating the reading, I think about these factors:
  • Whether the emotional tones (or lack thereof) of the narrator's voice fit the plot.
  • Whether the narrator's pacing was right for the story.
  • Whether the narrator's characterizations added to or took away from the experience.
  • Whether the narrator and/or production allowed me to get lost the book or whether there were problems that pulled me out of the story.
I also decide if I want to mention any of the items I noted under "while listening." The lists here are not all-inclusive, and I don't always address each of the issues individually. However, I've given you an idea of the factors that are important to my overall take on the audio production.

I rarely separate my experience with the audiobook from the book itself; unless I've read the book in both print and audio, I wouldn't know how to make such a distinction. On the other hand, if the audio edition is poor and/or distracting I encourage my readers to read the book in print.

Audiobook Week Extra

The narrator of today's review book, Charm City by Laura Lippman, is Deborah Hazlett. Because I know her only from the first book (Baltimore Blues) in Lippman's Tess Monaghan mystery series, I have now linked Hazlett's voice with the main character. I am happy to see that Hazlett continues with Tess (at least for the next two books). I'm am not a fan of changing narrators partway through a series. It is a disconcerting thing to hear one of your favorite characters speak in a new voice.

Be sure to visit Jen's blog, Devourer of Books, for other posts on today's Audiobook Week topic.

21 comments:

Lenore 6/22/10, 6:21 AM  

I know what you mean about changing character voices - I started watching House on German TV and got so used to the German voices, it was strange to watch an episode in English.

Diane 6/22/10, 6:48 AM  

Excellent overview on writing audio book reviews. I love when there is a full cast of readers.

Kelly J. 6/22/10, 7:05 AM  

The music is so important, I agree. It can either really enhance or kill the entire experience.

Sandy Nawrot 6/22/10, 7:56 AM  

I'm just following you around and agreeing with you today. Maybe I treat audios the same as you becuase I learned from you? Anyway, I agree whole-heartedly about not being able to separate the audio from the book. They go together and for me is nearly impossible to see the beauty of a book with a bad narrator.

Serena 6/22/10, 8:52 AM  

I find that some sound effects are distracting and there is a difference between those narrators that read the book to you and those that act the book!

Jenn's Bookshelves 6/22/10, 9:12 AM  

Very informative! I think I'll use some of your suggestions in my future audio reviews!

Heather J. 6/22/10, 9:17 AM  

"It is a disconcerting thing to hear one of your favorite characters speak in a new voice." That is the exact problem I had with a Bernard Cornwell book recently (my review goes up tomorrow).

I keep most of the same things in mind as I listen to a book that you do. And now that I have the ability to listen on my phone, I'm breezing through a record number of audiobooks!

Heather 6/22/10, 9:49 AM  

I'm glad to finally know how you quote audiobooks! I had pictured you writing, rewinding, writing, rewinding... your way sounds so much easier!!

I like readers to certain characters, especially if that is the only "character" I've heard them read. I had a hard time listening to Carolyn McCormick read the Gretchen Lowell series by Chelsea Cain, because she read The Hunger Games. She was Katniss for me! And Davida Porter will always be Claire and Jamie Frazer!

Jen - Devourer of Books 6/22/10, 10:27 AM  

You're so smart to write down keywords and then use the 'search inside' feature! What a great tip.

Tea 6/22/10, 10:31 AM  

Very helpful, thanx.

bermudaonion 6/22/10, 10:45 AM  

Great post! I learned the "Look Inside" trick from you a while back and use it regularly now.

Margot at Joyfully Retired 6/22/10, 11:15 AM  

This was very helpful and I've bookmarked it for the next time I review an audiobook. I remember your "look inside" tip from past Teaser Tuesday posts.

Literate Housewife 6/22/10, 12:00 PM  

I didn't think to mention the one disadvantage of the audio book - correctly spelling names and places.

I'm with you on approaching these the same way as print books.

These are great tips!

Lisa Brown 6/22/10, 12:30 PM  

Wow! Thanks for such a great article! I've recently become obsessed with audiobooks, and have started to review them on my site. It's good to get an idea of what's nice to include. Thanks again! (Oh - and I'm LOVING your Audiobook Week extravaganza!!!)

Chris 6/22/10, 1:07 PM  

Those are great tips! I'll have to keep them in mind.

The voice can make or break an audiobook for me. One of the great things about classics is there are so many free audio versions. I keep downloading the book I want until I find the narrator I like!

Shelley (Book Clutter) 6/22/10, 4:09 PM  

I love the details in this post! I usually end up checking the book out from the library to check on spellings or look for quotes, but sometimes it's not available.
There are times when I wish the narrator wouldn't even try the accents! It gets silly sometimes if there are a lot.

nat @book, line, and sinker 6/22/10, 7:19 PM  

i'm in love with audio books and it's almost to the point where i can't drive unless i have one in the player and a few more in the car in case i finish my current book!

as for accents and voice changes, i just finished listening to a book that was off-putting for a few reasons. i didn't realize i was jumping into the middle of a series and had no back story. the writing was pretty poor and the dialog was stilted. but worse of all were voice changes. the narrator changed voices for each of the many characters and i just couldn't get on board with it. for the asian characters, she used a 1950s-style Asian accent like a parody.

i didn't post the book on my blog's sidebar and won't be listening to any of the others in this series.

that said, i have loved most of the audio books i've listened to and found that listening sometimes enhances my enjoyment of a novel.

audio book week is a great idea!

Nise' 6/22/10, 9:54 PM  

There have been a few times that I have checked out an audio book to hear how names and places are pronunced. I am going to have to check out the "look inside" feature.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 6/26/10, 6:04 PM  

Oh, your secret of finding audio quotes is out!

I generally don't include them. At one point we had a whiteboard right near our treadmill, and I'll jot down a point or two (after walking, not while on it!). I haven't kept up the habit though, so most of my audio reviews are general thoughts, not specifics.

Thanks for sharing your tips.

Kris 7/1/10, 5:51 PM  

Thanks for the tips. I never event thought to mention the narrator's name, but they do deserve to be mentioned too. Hopefully I'll remember to do that from now on.

christina 6/26/12, 12:48 PM  

This is so helpful. Thanks for spending the time to write this.:)

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