In this installment in our ongoing series of Q&As with audiobook publishers, LJ talks to Mary Beth Roche, VP and publisher at Macmillan Audio.
Since you’re attached to a print publisher, do you only release audio versions of Macmillan titles, or is it a mix from a variety of houses?
Most of our list comes from the best-selling and critically acclaimed titles published across Macmillan’s different publishing companies, but we do also pursue the rights to quality titles published elsewhere. And we occasionally produce original audio programs as well.
Do you specialize in one genre, or do you release titles across the board?
From best-selling fantasy like Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series to Orson Scott Card’s sf classic Ender’s Game to literary fiction like Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Marriage Plot or Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, from Rob Lowe’s Stories I Only Tell My Friends to Bill O’Reilly’s take on the Lincoln assassination, we do just about every genre. We also publish both narrative and prescriptive nonfiction as well.
Our recent feature Audiobooks: A Multitasker’s Dream discussed the challenges facing audio publishers. What’s your take on how to move the industry forward?
We know that audiobook listeners are also avid readers, so we need to continue to find new ways to have readers sample audiobooks. Once most people have tried audiobooks, they see how the format can enhance their reading lives. We are also focused on continuing to produce high-quality programs while controlling expenses so that our pricing can be as consumer-friendly as possible.
The year is half over. What special Macmillan productions are still to come?
We’ve just released a really special audio production, Etgar Keret’s Suddenly, a Knock on the Door. It is read by an all-star cast of writers and actors, including Ira Glass, Dave Eggers, Stanley Tucci, Jonathan Safran Foer, Michael Chabon, and Willem Dafoe. Keret did not have a previous personal connection with most of these authors and actors, so it was especially exciting to have them step forward to participate in this project.
Another in-house favorite is Matthew Dicks’s Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, which debuts in August 2012. Jodi Picoult has described this book as a novel as creative, brave, and pitch-perfect as its narrator, an imaginary friend named Budo, who reminds us that bravery comes in the most unlikely forms. It has been a long time since I read a book that has captured me so completely and has wowed me with its unique vision. We completely agree and have cast Matthew Brown to give voice to this amazing story. We’re also including a bonus interview with the author and the real-life teacher who was the inspiration for one of the characters.
We’re also thrilled to have blockbuster summer listening from Jeffrey Archer (Sins of the Father), Mary Kay Andrews (Spring Fever), and Emily Giffin (Where We Belong). Thrillers and mysteries with returning characters like Lars Kepler’s The Nightmare and Louise Penny’s Beautiful Mystery as well as the introduction of a fascinating new hero in Rogue by Mark Sullivan.
And we have two new audiobooks written and narrated by Bill O’Reilly: Lincoln’s Last Days, an adaptation for children of his best-selling Killing Lincoln, will be released in August, and Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot follows in October. We’ll end 2012 with the conclusion of Robert Jordan’s epic Wheel of Time series with A Memory of Light by Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. Michael Kramer and Kate Reading have brilliantly narrated the entire series, and this final production will include a bonus conversation with them.