It’s Friday. It’s time for a guest author – and this week I welcome Isobel Starling, who is talking about the 2018 Audiobook Reviewer Awards. For me, this is a timely topic, since a) it’s hayfever season and b) I need to get fit again, and so I’ve started to listen to audiobooks a lot more than I have over the recent months. And I find the idea of a reward just for audiobooks very interesting. So let’s see what it’s all about, shall we?
Hello, M/M Readers and Audiobook listeners.
I was amazed to discover that my audiobook of “As You Wish” (Shatterproof Bond #1) narrated by Gary Furlong, was been selected as a finalist in the 2018 Audiobook Reviewer Awards in the Romance Category. The ABR AudioBook Listener Awards focus on work by Indie authors and small presses, so they are giving recognition to authors and narrators who would otherwise be ignored by the wider audio industry.
The growth of self-publishing and the fact the ACX.com site enables authors to produce audiobooks means that a whole new wave of LGBT authors can get their audiobooks to the masses. The audiobook industry is hard work for independent producers and discoverability is always a problem without big marketing budgets to push a new release. I’m sure that if you listen to M/M audiobooks, you are aware of the amazing talents of the narrators whose work is primarily in our genre. Gary Furlong, Greg Tremblay, Joel Leslie, Gomez Pugh, Tristan James, Derrick McClane, the list goes on! These narrators are just the tip of the iceberg, and they don’t get the recognition they deserve because they work in a genre that isn’t represented by any of the organizations who run audiobook awards. I would like all awards to be inclusive. LGBT authors and narrators shouldn’t need to have a separate event to be celebrated.
The Romance category for the ABR awards is fiercely competitive. M/F titles always dominate the category and so it’s quite a coup that “As You Wish” made it through the sea of M/F titles. Gary and I are really grateful to have already had lots of support from fellow authors, readers, and narrators. Audiobook narrator Derrick McClain even made a Facebook post encouraging readers to vote for us, which was really touching:
“First, I get the attitude that some have about fan-based voting for awards. In this case, the FINALISTS have been decided by a panel of reviewers, and so being a finalist is a significant award in and of itself. I find this a great balance between open voting and closed judging.
Second, this is a fairly respected awards program in the audiobook world. We don’t have a whole lot of audiobook awards. The ABR Awards are specifically focused on Indie and small press audiobooks, which is great.
FINALLY – there is no separate category for LGBT content. So it’s pretty awesome for this to have made it as a finalist for romance (My M/M authors know the struggle of competing for awards in general Romance categories). Being a finalist is a win in itself. Now it’s about showing that M/M is beloved by listeners. Go vote. Prove our spot at the Romance table.”
Derrick is correct; there are only a handful of awards for audiobooks. The AUDIES is the equivalent of the Oscars in audiobook terms and dominated by major mainstream publishers and producers. It’s very much a ‘closed shop,’ it’s expensive to join the Audio Publishers Association, and you can only join if you are a producer, educator, or voice talent, so indie authors are not eligible to have their books nominated. There is no LGBT category on their awards list—and this award event has been running since 1996. Then, we have the Earphones Awards from AudioFile Magazine, which gives website prominence to winners, but, again, search for LGBT and Gay Romance on that site, and you get zip, nada, nothing. So, even though we know there are amazingly talented narrators working in the M/M Romance and LGBTQI genres, they have to step out of the genre to be seen.
Gary Furlong narrates The Shatterproof Bond series for me, and I honestly could not ask for a better voice actor. I love how he embodies my characters Sam and Declan and has no qualms about voicing some very kinky scenes in my books. He has recorded an exclusive sample of love letters by my characters Sam and Declan. You can listen to it here.
One of the reasons I’m happy about this nomination is that Gary works so hard, delivers each story so beautifully and has a remarkable range of accents. It’s great to see that talent recognized. Here’s what Gary thinks about our nomination:
“It’s great to see an M/M title featured in the Audiobook Reviewer Awards ‘Romance’ category and not a subsection of romance. Romance is romance no matter your orientation. Homosexuality doesn’t have to be seen as “the other” or a strange thing that we can’t understand. With this nomination we are right there, in your face, saying “These two dudes love each other, and it’s bloody romantic dammit,” and that’s great to see. Let’s try to keep this trend going with a win!”
While I agree with Gary that it’s great we are in a category dominated by M/F romance; I do believe that there needs to be an LGBT category for an audiobook award event. It is unlikely that either the Audies or Earphone Awards will add the category, so the ABR Awards is our best shot at being included in a respected award event. The reality is that other subgenres like historical, thriller, sci-fi, paranormal titles with LGBT main characters don’t get a look in with mainstream awards, which is why the community has the LAMIES. I do hope that one of the ramifications of “As You Wish” as the only M/M title of the five finalists in the Romance Category is that romance listeners who have never tried M/M will give it a try. We have a responsibility to represent M/M Romance here. Gary and I would be grateful if readers, listeners, and authors could vote for us—not just because we obviously would like to win, but to prove that there is an audience for LGBT titles and encourage the organizers to break the mold and be the first Audiobook Awards to add an LGBT category.
Voting closes on 31st May 2018. You can vote once a day. The awards will be announced on Friday 8th June.
Gary Furlong is the featured guest on Talking Audiobooks Podcast going live on 25th May. You can listen to it here.
You can find Isobel Starling on her website and at Decent Fellows Press.