Writing a fictional story is an adventure all on its own. You get to create your own world, your own universe. In a way, a very odd way, you become like a God. You have characters whose lives are completely in your hands and at your mercy. Will they find love, friendship, an adventure of a lifetime, or will they meet an untimely demise? It’s all up to you. Every detail of your story, every scene you describe, it’s all yours – or so we like to think.

Suddenly, this world no longer belongs to just you – well, maybe as far as copyrights are concerned. As far as fictional rights though, your story belongs to the very characters you created. Your story becomes their story.

Almost every author will agree, these characters have minds of their own. You might set out to write an extraordinary love story, but right before your very eyes, your story can turn into something so much more. Maybe your main characters start to take different paths, maybe they find themselves captivated by a sub-character that you only intended to be nothing more than a boost to your word count. Maybe you found yourself writing a scene that unbeknownst to you was a scene without a pleasant outcome.

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You can have your outline, you can even make it as far as a first draft before your characters take hold of your story and twist it into the story they want to live in. But, without a shadow of a doubt, they will take over.

Honestly, this is good. If you end up creating characters so realistic that they start to tear away at your own concept of how your story will go, then just imagine how realistic they come off to the readers. I would rather my characters take off on their own, becoming chaotic in whatever way they see fit, than to have them just playing the roll I created them to play. You want to make your readers feel when your characters feel. You want the readers to cry when your characters cry. You want the readers to sympathize, relate, love, and hate all at the exact moments they should.

By giving your characters freedom, or free will, they will accomplish precisely that. This is their story and they deserve to have that story told.

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As of August 2019, I submitted my fourth publication. A twisted tale that was inspired by a true event that happened to me when I was a child. It wasn’t just my encounter that inspired this story. Oh no. It was several similar experiences from all around the world. Some people have dubbed this creature of darkness the ‘Shadow Man’ some have referred to him as the ‘Hat Man’. Regardless of his differing title, the experience his presence comes with is so close to the same. There is just one thing that has been left to the imagination. What is this creature’s origin?

When I set out to write The Schatten (‘Schatten’ being the German word for ‘Shadow’) that was exactly what I wanted to give this terror of the night.

Once my book started to gain notice, I couldn’t help but think about how amazing it would be to have my story told. I wanted it to be heard just as badly as I wanted it to be read. Lisa Rowher is a complicated character after all. She comes in with a haunting past, one that she allows to motivate herself so she can have a second chance at happiness, and I wanted to give her a voice. No, she needed a voice.

Author John Coon was my inspiration for my next huge step in the author world. He has weaved together a tasteful masterpiece titled Under a Fallen Sun. This book could very well fall under so many different genres; Sci-Fi, Thriller, Horror… You would have to read it for yourself to decide what category you would place it under, but any lover of books would find enjoyment out of this entrancing tale. John’s astonishing talent helped him in the creation of his audiobook, as well as the breathtaking narration done by Tristin Rutherford. 

This gave me hope. Maybe it was possible to give Lisa a voice, along with the other characters I created.

With help from members of the amazing #WritingCommunity, I was pointed in the direction of ACX.com

This brought me another adventure with my pursuit in self-publishing. By using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) it made this audiobook venture of mine so much simpler than I had imagined it would be. My only doubting thought was if my work would even be considered worthy of narrating.

Self-publishing is not as simple as just writing a story that contains relatable characters. Believe it or not, that’s the easy part.

The hard part of self-publishing is facing your fear of rejection. Will your story be liked? How many mistakes slipped past your countless editing sessions? Should you just take out a loan, sell of few organs, and decide to go with a professional editor? What if they find your story not worth their time and reject it? Your mind will be consumed by the negative what ifs. You have to ignore them.

Maybe your mistakes aren’t as big of a deal as you think they are. Maybe you do decide that paying for a second pair of eyes is an investment worth making – if nothing else, you have their name listed as the editor, so those mistakes become their mistakes just as much as yours. Sharing is caring, right?

Well, putting your book out there for open auditions unleashes those insecurities you had when it came to publishing all over again. ACX has a wide range of narrators, some being well established and some who are just starting out. That doesn’t even begin to cover the amount of books that are just waiting to find the perfect narrator.

Thankfully, ACX gives you the option to produce your own audiobook. So, if you are completely traumatized by the thought of waiting for your work to be auditioned for, or maybe you have your own vision of how the story should be told, then you can complete your own narration.

I can’t promise that everyone will have the same luck I had when it comes to getting your book produced into an audiobook. The Schatten only waited for three days before I received my first audition and Michelle Sobeski blew my mind.

Listening to her audition, I had goosebumps! Her voice brought my story to life in ways I couldn’t have imagined. A lot like my writing process and giving my characters freedom, I directed my audiobook the same way. Michelle had complete freedom when it came to reading my story. Pronouncing names, places, and the way she spoke in character, that was 100% her and the way she perceived my story.

I feel that by giving her the freedom to put her own artistic talents at work just made my story that much more realistic and relatable. Michelle has made me so proud and I hope this phenomenal performance opens up so many doors for her.

I am still in the process of reviewing the completed production, but I doubt there will be a need for a revision. Did she act out part of the story differently than I intended? Yes, but that only made me admire her skill so much more! If anything, I believe she corrected and perfected my story by making it her own.

Creator to creator, if you plan on taking this path and allow your story to become an audiobook, you should give these voice actors the freedom to tell your story the way your story speaks to them. When it’s all said and done, it’s really not your story anyway. The story belongs to your characters and they deserve to have their story told.

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