Jonestown Survivor Becomes an Audio Book

I am delighted that the audio version of my book Jonestown Survivor: An Insider’s Look is now available. After writing my book in 2008-09, I self-published it in March 2010. At that time, it was available in print and as an eBook. In 2011, I published it in kindle. This past year, I have worked through ACX to produce the book in audio.

At first, I thought I could record it myself, and I really wanted to do that. It turned out to be a lot more complicated than I first thought. You need a certain kind of microphone; I borrowed that. You need a certain kind of recorder, to set outside the room with a long cord attached to the mike inside the room; I bought that. You need a soft room where you could record with no echo; my bathroom, with towels draped all around seemed to work ok. I was set. I sat down to record the first chapter… but when I played it back, it was boring. Was I thought I was a normal reading voice just came across as deadpan. I had also skipped some words and mispronounced others. It wasn’t just a straight read. And that was on Chapter 1, before I got to the hard parts of telling about living through my Jonestown experience.

I decided I needed to explore an alternative.

I am a member both of ReadLocal San Diego and of Publishers & Writers of San Diego (PWSD). Each month, I attend great seminars for authors and potential authors. When I sat in on the one entitled “Turning your book into an audio book,” I came away with the information I needed to do the job correctly.

I opted to work with ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) to hire a narrator who auditioned for my book, to listen to the complete audio and make changes in pronunciation, etc., to use ACX to organize matters, and then to distribute the book. In exchange for the work, ACX takes 60% of the profit, while the narrator and I share the other 40%.

The narrator I chose, Sarah Van Sweden, is an East Coast actress who has relocated to the West Coast. She said that as soon as she began reading the book into audio format, she had to sit and read it all, she was so fascinated. I took that as a good sign. She did an awesome job reading it. After over six hours of careful reading, there were only a handful of corrections. The only thing to do afterwards was to create my cover to ACX specs, which my good friend and genius techie, Kerwin Flowers, did.

The result is, Jonestown Survivor is being distributed to the wider audio book world!

(Laura Johnston Kohl, who had lived in Jonestown but was working in Georgetown on 18 November, died on 19 November 2019 after a long battle with cancer. She was 72. Her writings for this website appear here.)