Tue
Sep 3 2013 5:00pm

Tor Tour: The Audio-Book Department Explained

So, thinking about describing a normal day as an Audio Publishing Manager at Pan Macmillan UK… Um. Is there such a thing as a “normal day”?! For a start, I might be in the office or at the studio. The huge variety in my job is one of the things I love most about it.

When I start working on an audiobook (whether for Tor UK or another Pan Macmillan imprint), I will read the book, decide on a shortlist of potential readers, discuss the readers with Editorial and then the author before arranging the recording. This might be two days or (my personal record so far) twelve... the latter refers to the wonder of Space Opera and Peter F. HamiltonGreat North Road was an epic book at 1,087 pages—or three hundred and forty-six THOUSAND words! The sheer size of the book meant the recording had to be that long!

Deciding on the reader can take anything from a month to a week. It all depends on whether there’s a series narrator already established, for example. Sometimes it can be wonderfully straight-forward, when either the author or I have someone in mind straight away. At other times further discussion is needed, which can include lots of back and forth with numerous people—before we finally decide on someone who then isn’t available for months. We then have to go back to the drawing board!

Once the recording is organised, I then have to work with the Producer, the reader and sometimes the author on pronunciations of names and places. Tor books can throw us some curveballs in this field, with invented worlds (and words) and names created from the author’s imagination. Close discussion with the author is always key here as it’s their world we are bringing to life and we wouldn’t want to distort their vision—for example by calling someone Zap-hod when it should be Za-phod!

mixing boardThe extra-special days are the days in the studio. Helping with the last-minute—“how did we decide to say that?” queries, and listening to the amazing performances of our incredible readers. Sometimes, with US-based books for example, the audios are recorded in the States. I then, sadly, leave these recordings to our friends at Macmillan Audio US.

Once the recording is finished, my job becomes very administration based. Making sure all the metadata (detail such as title, blurb, price, praise for the book etc.) is correct, working with our art department to get the cover ready, ensuring the retailers have this metadata and know when they can expect the audio files. And then, once the audiobook is published, I create extracts and add them to the Pan Macmillan UK soundcloud page so that everyone can have a listen to our latest books.

Here are some releases you might like to check out:

Reviver by Seth Patrick, read by Ari Fliakos, which has added creepiness and shudder factor on the audio—not to be listened to in the dark! Free audio snippet here.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, read by Stephen Fry. This timeless classic is read sensationally by the legend that is Mr Fry. Free audio snippet here.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (again) by Douglas Adams, read by Martin Freeman—this contains one of my favourite ever audiobook moments. Ford Prefect—obscenely drunk, trying to talk to Hotblack Desiato. Makes me laugh every time. Free audio snippet here.

Great North Road—the latest book by Peter F. Hamilton, read by Toby Longworth. The aforementioned twelve day recording. Space Opera meets Crime Drama. Free audio snippet here.

This post was originally published on Torbooks.co.uk and the Tor Tour is part of a series of regular posts covering the varied publishing roles within the Tor imprint and across Pan Macmillan UK as a whole.


Becky Lloyd is Audio Publishing Manager for Pan Macmillan UK. Usually found hidden in the corner of the office with earphones on. Currently loving REVIVER by Seth Patrick and trying to read things that aren’t by George R. R. Martin after reading the Song of Ice and Fire books back to back.

1 comment
Tom Smith
1. phuzz
I think it was Jasper Fford who mentioned how he'd thought himself extremly clever and ammusing for giving a character in one of his books an unpronouncable name (such as Qzltpple or something, I forget). Right up until his publisher rang him up to say "we're just recording the audiobook, and was wondering how you pronouce X?".
Not such a clever pants author now! ;)

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