Born and brought up in Leeds, UK Maggie Cobbett (www.maggiecobbett.co.uk) crossed the Pennines at eighteen to enrol at the University of Manchester. Five years later, she emerged with a BA in French and a PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education), both of which she has put to very good use. As well as German, which she took at university as as a subsidiary subject, she has also taught EFL (English as a Foreign Language) in the UK and abroad.
Work and travel have taken her to many parts of the world and she continues to exploit a wealth of memories in her writing. In recent years she has added another string to her bow, working as a television & film ‘extra’, which has provided a valuable source of inspiration. Widely published in magazines and newspapers, Maggie has also won several prizes, including a full weekend pass to the Harrogate Crime Writers’ Festival and two free places at the Writers’ Summer School in Swanwick. Now based in North Yorkshire, Maggie is the Chair of Ripon Writers’ Group and also a keen member of both York Writers and Promoting Yorkshire Authors.
To date, Maggie has published four works of fiction and one work of non-fiction, all available as paperbacks or ebooks. Details can be found on her website or on Amazon.
Written with young readers in mind, although its appeal has proved considerably wider, Workhouse Orphan has short chapters and seemed the best choice for a first attempt at creating an audiobook. Having sought advice from fellow writers with experience in the field of audiobook production, I made two decisions.
- First of all, I would be my own narrator, as my accent would be authentic for a story set largely in the former West Riding of Yorkshire.
- Secondly, I would not attempt to make the recording at home. Without high quality equipment and a soundproof space in which to work, both of which I lack, the result would have been substandard to say the least.
On the recommendation of a friend, I approached Melrose Yard Studios in York and was guided through the process by Sam Holdstock. Sensing how nervous I was, Sam was at pains to put me at ease and gave me ample time to rehearse, stop and start where either he or I thought it necessary and to re-record words or phrases that I’d stumbled over. To avoid the hurdle of turning over pages, I gave Sam a copy of the paperback for his reference but read aloud from my Kindle. It took me a while to become accustomed to sitting in the soundproof booth, but I could always see Sam through the window, so claustrophobia never set in.
Sam Holdstock at Melrose Yard Studios, York, UK.
Working steadily through the chapters and taking regular breaks, I was able to complete the recording in three sessions, around five to six hours in all. Sam sent me his edited audio files to approve after each session and also sorted out an audio sample for me for advertising purposes.
The next step was to upload them to Audible with the cover design in the required format, for which I enlisted the help of my son Richard (www.richardcobbett.com). It’s worth noting that an audiobook cover will always differ from that of an ebook or paperback, in that it has to be square. That done, it was a question of awaiting approval from ACX, which also set the retail price, and providing bank details for the payment of my royalties.
This has not been a cheap undertaking – around £600 all in all – and I’m still to see a profit, but I did find the experience interesting. As a writer, I’m always up for a new challenge.
While audiobooks are clearly increasing in popularity, and there are several options on how to approach their production, they are still often more time consuming and costly than print publishing. This can especially true for authors seeking authentic accents or certain degrees of control over the production.
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