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Friday, June 28, 2013

JIAM Interview: Sarah Lieberman with Simon & Schuster

Sarah Lieberman, a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and Director of Marketing for Simon & Schuster Audio, is here today to share her insights on audiobooks and She began her career in the audiobook industry in May of 2000 and has loved every minute of it.

What determines if an audiobook gets a physical format as well as a digital one?
As I mentioned last year – with retail space continuing to shrink deciding what to publish on CD has become a more selective process. All of our titles are published digitally and are available on CD in the library space. It’s worth noting that publishing a title digital only is not a measure of the quality of a title but instead where we believe the opportunity and audience exist. Our goal is always to give each title the best chance of success and some of the considerations involved in deciding whether to publish physically, digitally or both include the genre of the title, the length and therefor the potential cost of a CD edition.

Audio offers the opportunity to let readers hear directly from the author, but how do you select which books get bonus features? 
We love to offer bonus content to tie-in with our audiobooks and that includes going behind the scenes at our recording sessions with both the authors and the narrators to get interviews, photos and video content. Sometimes that content ends up on the audiobook itself, other times it is used as part of the marketing and publicity push that takes place leading up to and at on sale. Often we share this content on author platforms, social media and with bloggers as well as major media outlets. We make every effort to interview and photograph all authors and narrators that come through our studios, sometimes we aren’t able to get content for a variety of reasons but we are actively engaged in creating original content that fans can enjoy to make the audio experience unique. 

When it comes to audio samples, how do select a snippet that will entice  readers? 
It depends on what we are trying to accomplish. Sometimes the snippets come from the first portion of a program to avoid any spoilers or to engage fans the way reading the first few pages of a book would. Other times there might be a scene that is particularly dramatic or racy or exciting so we will choose that. Authors sometimes have strong feelings about what excerpt they want to share and we take that into account. Publicity opportunities like tying in with online serials also play a part so you can see there is no one answer!

What should readers be on the lookout for from Simon & Schuster Audio?
It’s really hard to choose – we have so much great content coming up in the next few months. There a few big names in audio narration that I am dying to share but I have to keep mum on them for now! I can tell you that just last week we announced that Grammy Award-winner Lyle Lovett will be narrating Kathi Appelt’s True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swampwhich is a fun pairing and also Lovette’s first turn as an audiobook narrator. In addition, we have cast a wonderful and beloved reader for Susan Cooper’s Ghost Hawk so stay tuned for that announcement! Next month will be huge with lots of terrific releases. Some of my favorites are Light of the World by James Lee Burke read by his longtime narrator Will Patton, Christina Lauren’s Beautiful Bitch which is fantastic fun, Hidden Order, the newest Scot Harvath thriller from Brad Thor and MacRieve by Kresley Cole (speaking of bonus features fans can get their own Kresley Cole audio widget here: http://kresleycole.com/kcaudiobooks/ ) As we head into fall I think listeners will be really excited for The White Princess by Philippa Gregory which will be available right around the time of the new Starz series The White Queen. For fans of nonfiction we will have The Bully Pulpit, the first presidential history from Doris Kearns Goodwin since Lincoln, the film adaptation of her book Team of Rivals. It will be read by the always stellar Edward Herrmann so that is one I’m really looking forward to. We are also very pleased to be publishing Wilson – a biography from Scott Berg, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Lindbergh. And last but certainly not least, we have a brand new Stephen King recording – called Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining. It’s not cast yet but if you want a sneak peak you can download The Wind Through the Keyhole audiobook to hear King himself narrating the first chapter.
Clearly listeners have a lot to be excited about and I’m looking forward to getting the word out about these and our other great productions in 2013.

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