Independent and small press authors are breaking into the audiobook market like never before through programs like ACX, which connects authors and publishers with professional narrators and producers, and makes the work available on Audible and iTunes. Now, Amazon and Audible have introduced Whispersync, a technology that links the Kindle version of a book with its audio counterpart. So, I could sit in bed at night and read a book on my Kindle app and, in the morning, hop in the car, plug in my iPod, and the audio version of the same book will pick up where I left off reading. It’s a cool feature and, coupled with some special promotions by Amazon and Audible, will potentially lead to more sales, particularly on the audio side. Great news, right? Mostly, but there’s an important wrinkle to consider.
One of the great things about digital publishing is the ability to easily and quickly correct our mistakes. Yes, we do make mistakes. Perhaps it’s the occasional punctuation error that slipped past the proofreader, or maybe we gave the wrong character name in a particular sentence. I even know authors who added in a few clarifying lines to a previously-published work in response to reader feedback. But what happens when you discover an error after the audiobook has been published?
A few excerpts from ACX’s information on Whispersync:
“We need the narrated words to perfectly mirror the words in the Kindle book… Do not add audio content that isn’t in the Kindle version… Furthermore, if you make changes to your Kindle book, such changes may cause the two products to be unsyncable (inside the book, this includes inserting or rewriting sentences, paragraphs, or chapters). If you make any significant changes, the two products will not be syncable.”
I don’t know what constitutes a “significant” change. I assume punctuation corrections are a non-issue, but anything that causes the text to not match with the audiobook is potentially problematic.
What does this mean for the indie writer? If you’re going the audio route, now more than ever, it’s important to get it right the first time. Make sure your manuscript is as clean as it can be and the story is written just the way you want it before you put it into print.