Working in Audio with Dominic Gribben

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Dominic Gribben is an Audio Publisher at Hachette UK and Chair of the Publishers Association’s Audio Publishers Group. In addition to traditional audiobook publishing, Dominic and his team oversee the development of audio original projects, audio partnerships and podcasts.

For Love Audio Week 2020, we asked Dominic some questions about audio publishing.

First question! Why do you #LoveAudio?

A nice easy one to warm up! I #LoveAudio because it’s a great way to experience books differently. The right book and the right narrator can really draw you in and provide a completely engrossing experience that’s just as special as getting lost in a great read.  

How did you get into audio publishing?

I started my publishing career as a temp eBook assistant. That role broadened out into general digital publishing, including audio. Digital publishing experience certainly helped me get started in audio publishing but I leaned quite a lot on the job!

What are the top skills an audio publisher has to have?

Audio publishing has a mix of editorial and production dept skills. Project management, a knack for systems and processes, and the ability to adapt and do things differently are all essential, as is an ear for great storytelling (by narrators as well as authors).

We’ve had a great question from @BexMarkwick on Twitter: How do you make the decision to abridge or not? Is it purely down to time?

It’s primarily due to the rise of digital audiobooks. Abridgement was a common practice when publishers wanted to condense books to fit on tape and CD. Listeners these days expect the audio top be unabridged because they can carry them around on a smartphone regardless of length.

Another excellent question from @isnotanotter on Twitter who has asked for recommendations for audiobooks to really hook you in. Do you have suggestions for particularly gripping audiobooks?

Nobody writes quite like Stephen King and his prose style is particular well suited to audiobooks. Listening to a Stephen King audiobook is like being told a great campfire story, especially in the hands of a narrator like Frank Muller or Will Patton. Highly recommended!  

What’s your favourite part of the audio publishing process?

Great question. There’s nothing quite like that first listen when you hear a narrator who just “gets” the book and reads it exactly like you heard it in your head. Nobber by Oisin Fagan, read by Niall Buggy is a recent example of that for me.  

Great question from @cosmoloz on Twitter: Do you have any idea of some transferable skills I can gain from outside of the industry in order to get my foot in the door of audio publishing? I’ve done some work experience – now what?

I think any kind of organisation/planning skills are incredibly useful and definitely transferrable. A working knowledge of digital audio formats and audio editing skills (which can be honed on free programs like Audacity) are also good things to have in your arsenal.

A final question from us! What are your top three audiobooks?

I’ve got too many favourites to pick a top three, but here are three really great ones:

The Neon Rain by James Lee Burke
Burke is one of the finest prose stylists in crime fiction, and Will Patton’s delivery is absolutely flawless.

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
A truly epic listen at over 45 hours. Sanderson’s world building is second to none, and the longstanding partnership of Michael Kramer and Kate Reading (they narrated Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series too) was a great bit of casting. You’ll get lost in this and the sequels for days, literally.

The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan
I’ve always found audiobooks to be a great way to tackle big non-fiction books and this is no exception. An enlightening listen!

(I love a long listen!)

Love Audio Week

#LoveAudio returns for a fourth year and will run from Monday 21 to Friday 25 September 2020.

The week-long digital celebration of audiobooks is designed to showcase the accessibility, innovation and creativity of the format. Audio Publishers across the UK join forces to raise the profile of audiobook publishing amongst the publishing industry, early career professionals, and jobseekers.

Details of this years campaign can be found here.