Laura Smith is a Senior Acquisitions Editor at W.F.Howes.
For Love Audio Week 2020, we asked Laura some questions about her career in audio publishing and which audiobooks she would recommend.
First question! Why do you #LoveAudio?
Audiobooks allow me to squeeze books into every part of my day! We all spend a lot of time sitting in front of screens, but you can take an audiobook on walks, cooking, etc. A great audiobook can turn a boring task into something you look forward to doing.
How did you get into audio publishing?
I joined W.F.Howes ten years ago as Rights and Marketing assistant. Before that I worked for Leicester libraries. Being in direct contact with readers and listeners every day gave me a good understanding of what books people love, and why books need to be accessible to everyone.
What does an Acquisitions Editor do?
Finding a brilliant manuscript is the first step. Then negotiating for the audio rights with literary agents or publishers and finding the perfect voice for the book. It is a balance of project management, budgets, marketing, publicity, and a healthy does of problem-solving.
What makes audio publishing different from print book publishing?
For me it is the freedom to find a great story without being limited to a specific genre. I am searching for books that come to life when read aloud – that could be a dark mystery, experimental prose or someone’s account of their life as a prison warden…
Audiobook listeners aren’t necessarily book readers; the audiences are slightly different, but everyone wants to be hooked in.
What is your favourite audiobook that you’ve acquired and why?
I’ve acquired over 1,000 books so this is a really tough question! I will name a couple: the first is Normal People by Sally Rooney. It is such an intimate book that it really lends itself to the format, and the narrator Aoife McMahon is extraordinary.
The other is Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It is one of my all-time favourite books, so being able to publish the audiobook narrated by Adjoa Andoh was a huge honour.
A final question from us! What are your top three audiobooks?
This is impossible to answer! But here are three suggestions:
The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas
The Power by Naomi Alderman
La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman
All three of these stand out for their brilliant voice performances.
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.