Blogger: Wendy Lawton
As writers we know how important it is to read the written word but did you know it is equally important to listen to the written word? Yes, read and listen.
I know you’ve heard writing experts tell you that when you get close to your final draft you should read it out loud. Listening engages a different part of the brain than visually reading. When you are listening to your work being read you’ll often catch repetitious words, overused phrases, clunky sentences and jerky rhythm.
It works for pleasure readers as well. Lately I’ve become a fan of Amazon’s WhisperSync technology. When you buy an ebook, you can add the audio version of the book for a few dollars more. Quite a bargain when you consider that an unabridged audio book usually runs about thirty-five dollars.
Or if you have a regular Audible account where you pay $8.99 a month and get one credit toward an audio book, you can connect those to your ebook purchase so you can both read and listen. One credit generally equals one audio book.
Let me tell you why I’m a fan of having both the ebook and audio book. As a professional it lets me experience the book in both modalities– visual and aural. It allows me to read and listen for the cadence and voice of the writer.
But there’s a more practical reason as well. With WhisperSync you can switch back and forth between ebook and audio book. WhisperSync always knows what page you were on whether you were reading or listening. If you do both at the same time you can listen to a beautiful narration of a book while reading the words. WhisperSync even turns the pages for you at the appropriate time.
I found it perfect for my pleasure reading. I generally only have bits of time here and there for non-work reading. If I am using WhisperSync on a Saturday, say, I may set aside an hour to read in the morning but if I just can’t put the book down, I switch to listening as I do housework or cook. I’ve got a great set of Bluetooth earbuds that I can pop in and keep listening while getting groceries or going for a walk. If we’re going for a drive, I can plug my iPad or iPhone into the car and listen to the book over the car speaker system. Right now, Keith and I are listening to Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. I can even listen to a book on my Apple Watch. (Geek alert.)
So, all that to say that Amazon is giving away a free book/audiobook with WhisperSync if you’d like to try it out. It’s a fascinating technology. The bonus is that when a writer will both read and listen to books, his own writing will improve.
So here’s where you find the free offer. I don’t know how long it will be offered: WhisperSync trial offer. Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with Amazon, nor do we receive any remuneration for your signing up. It’s just a no-cost way to try a fascinating new technology.
So, how many of you have used the WhisperSync option? How do you like it? Have you read aloud your own work? Does it help you spot problems? Why do you think that is?
Switching between reading and listening–what an intriguing option, Wendy.
* What if the voices in the audio version don’t match the ones running in my head? (says the gal who didn’t let other kids play with her dolls, because they might make the dolls do something out of character).
* Solution: listen first, then read. Hmmm. I like it.
Usually the voices are amazing. #1 LADIED DETECTIVE AGENCY narrated by South African Lisette Lecat gives voice to Mma Ramotswe. Same with the french accent Ralph Cosham applies to Louise Penny’s Inspector Ganache. The best audio I’ve ever listened to was the multi-voiced THE HELP.
The audio narrators do a far better of interpreting the characters for me than actors in the movie versions of books. If you want to be sold on audio books, I’d recommend you try THE HELP first.
I’ve not heard of this. Thank you. Reading my works aloud helps me greatly. I just read my second work aloud to my daughter. I definitely spot problems when I read it aloud. I was happy with everything except right past the middle … my plot didn’t sag, but my writing did. I had been in a hurry during that part. And I know I need to go back and strengthen it (I’m working on that now). I don’t know exactly how it helps … but when I was reading to my daughter, I felt real good about what I’d written … until I got to the part that caused embarrassment. After that chapter, I said, “Oooh. That needs some work.” 🙂
Reading your whole manuscript out loud is an impressive commitment. And isn’t it interesting what we catch?
Kristen Joy Wilks
I’ve never tried whispersinc, I have read my manuscript out loud into a recording device and then listened with a highlighter in hand. I caught a lot of awkward places that way. I’ve also read my MG manuscript to my sons outloud and caught a lot of stuff that way too, although they were quite annoyed with me for stopping and highlighting parts of the document when they just wanted to hear more of the story. My husband has an audible account and it is a good thing because I don’t think he would ever get anything read otherwise, but this way he can enjoy a good book and work at the same time, plus, he plays back good quotes for me, which is an added bonus.
What a great idea, Kristen, to use a tape recorder.
I love listening to books. Over the years, I’ve purchased a number of books on CD. I haven’t tried WhisperSync yet, though. But the whole idea of only paying a few extra dollars for the audiobook on WhisperSync makes a lot of sense! I listen to books in the car, when I’m cooking, when I’m cleaning . . . and any other chance I can. 🙂
*As for reading my own works out loud, I do this with my blogs and my manuscripts. I find a lot of errors, rough spots and repetitious words. It’s so helpful!
I think you’ll enjoy listening and reading simultaneously. I do. And if you are a fast reader you can up the speed of the audio without changing the art of the reading.
*My husband is a big fan of books on CD because he travels quite a bit, I’ve never thought about listening to a book while doing housework. I love it!
*I often read my MS out loud to catch those awkward spots, but I’m not sure I could record myself doing so. My twangy voice is just too annoying.
So I take it you wouldn’t want to record your own audio books. 🙂 I’ll bet you are too hard on yourself.
Lara, what makes you think twangy is annoying? Sometimes it’s cute. Bet your husband would like the books in your voice better than any other.
Haha, possibly, Carol. Thank you. I know I hate hearing myself on our home videos.
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
On our recent road trip, I listened to Laura Frantz’s The Frontiersman’s Daughter. I may have faked sleep for hours at a time.
I also listened whilst doing housework and driving to Costco. And in Costco. And home from Costco.
I read through my work, and have spotted the occasional syncopation issue in doing so. I usually read aloud as I go along in the editing process. For someone who quite enjoys the sound of her own voice, this does become draining. I’ve had vocal cord issues since a fall I took in 2014, so reading out loud becomes painful after a few thousand words.
So let’s just say, I do the low budget version of WhisperSync.
I hope you weren’t driving on that trip when you faked sleep.
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
Hubs was driving.
I may have faked that I couldn’t understand English when he was discussing work. MAYBE.
I love audiobooks. It’s one of the reasons I have so many books on my “currently reading” list. I’m reading one on my kindle, one paperback, and listening to one on audible. We do a lot of driving, so I like to use that time to listen to audiobooks as well. For this reason, I often get through my audiobooks faster than my reading books.
It really increases reading time, doesn’t it?
I wasn’t familiar with WhisperSync, so I’m really glad you blogged on this, Wendy. I’m going to check into the details.
Checking the flow in audio sounds like a great idea. I’ve got five manuscripts finished now, and my husband keeps reminding me (more accurately, bugging me) that it’s way past time to record them for him to listen to when we drive. He already knows the stories since I try out the male/female differences and conflicts and all the plot twists on him, but he also knows he is the model for key features of the romantic heroes in two of them. Maybe he just wants to check up on how I really see him.
For 100-115K words, I know that’s going to be about 14 hours each. I’ve put it off until they were virtually final form because I want to use the mp3 files in different ways on my author website. Since I do file breaks between each chapter, there shouldn’t be than much that will need to be rerecorded to go live for anyone.
Kathy Boyd Fellure
Thank you for this share, Wendy!
I’ll be checking this out today.
WhisperSync is new to me.
I may have to incorporate it into the marketing class lesson I’m teaching the end of the month.
Happy to pass on valuable information to other writers.
I love audio books however it is usually books on CDs and occasionally tapes. I haven’t tried any audio books on my iPhone or iPad yet. One of these days, I see there are some free books I can try.
When I am writing at home, I have a tendency to read aloud what I have written or currently writing. It just makes sense when I do.
Has anyone heard from Andrew?
Yes. He is not having a good day.
Wendy, I’ve been using Whisper Sync for ages, mostly with classics that I had gleaned years ago from the Amazon free book collection. I really enjoy listening to books like The Three Muskateers and A Little Princess that I read years ago but just can’t find more than a spare few minutes each day to read again. This way I can be busy with my day and still listen to these old favorites; at night just before bed I enjoy reading along with the narration. Thanks for blogging about this great service from Amazon.
I will sometimes read parts of my YA WIP to my 15 year old. I can tell if her attention is wandering and I need to up the action.