This edition of the Storytellers Channel’s newsletter we are releasing our first audio book since our original recording of The Tell-Tale Heart.
I share the journey of how we got here.
It’s been a learning experience.
The Storytellers Channel
Story of a Creative Journey
Let’s start by dancing in the street. We’re celebrating the release of Tales of Deadly Matrimony by Edgar Allan Poe as an ebook on Amazon and audio book on Audible book.
Spoiler Alert: The story is about a few of our adventures bringing this project to fruition. So, if you couldn’t care less, and just want to get your ears on the long-awaited recording feel free to click on the graphic above. Our feelings will not be hurt.
But if you’re interested in the behind-the-scenes drama and maybe even considering attempting this sort of artistic endeavor yourself, you might find this of value. If not you can always just cut to the chase and listen to the finished product.
From the beginning the team at Storytellers Channel has been creating digital content. We began creating videos at our earliest Showcase performances. Our Storytellers’ page has grown with each subsequent Stories Matter! Workshop/Showcase.
In January 2017, at a Culture Works event encouraging collaboration between local arts organizations, I met The Poe Museum’s Director of Programs, Debbie Phillips. She invited me to visit. Storyteller Lelia Pendleton, and I met with Phillips and Tyler Minks, the Museum’s Communications Director exploring opportunities to play together. I was also introduced to Jaime Robinson Fawcett, Poe Museum’s Executive Director.
We met a couple of times into the spring. The staff was gracious and open. Everyone wanted to find a way to make something happen. Both organizations had a lot on their plate and then, another delay. I took a sabbatical to serve as the Director of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia’s MAD Camp, aka the Music and Drama Camp at Shrine Mont in Orkney Springs, VA.
Right before I left, Charles George, our fractional head of digital marketing, recommended I read MaryEllen Tribby’s Reinventing the Entrepreneur.
Shortly after my return in August, 2017Debbie asked Lelia and me to participate in the Sunday Reading in the Garden at the museum. During warm weather, Dean Knight, Education Director, does dramatic readings of Poe’s work in the Shrine in the Garden. Dean scheduled Lelia for a Sunday in August and me for the following week. I recorded my performance, and something clicked. In light of having just finished Tribby’s book, the audience’s response, and my joy in reading the story, I went to Jaime and suggested we collaborate on producing and distributing Poe’s canon. She agreed.
At first Charles was hesitant, but then once again a light went on. Charles looked at me and said, “These are audio books!” Charles has a lot of experience helping authors promote and distribute their digital books. He said, “Let’s do it.”
I then went to Overcoast Recording Studio’s Matthew Whitworth, an extraordinary recording engineer, and pitched the idea of a strategic alliance. Matt asked to think it over and talk with his partners. He came back and said, “Let’s do it.”
And I went back to Charles and said, “Let’s do it.”
The first story we recorded was The Tell-Tale Heart. If you’re reading this, you took advantage of our free offer of the recording and have become a subscriber to this E-newsletter.
That was Spring of 2018. So far, so good. The going had been slow, but we were rolling now and we announced the first three stories we would record and offer for sale would be what the Museum’s Curator, Chris Semtner, called The Dead Bride Stories.
Part of our collaboration on the project was that Chris would contribute content to the newsletter. He would write about the story and do a spotlight an artifact in the Museum’s collection.
We began publishing the newsletter with Chris’ articles and we kept promoting the newsletter with the freemium of The Tell-Tale Heart and the newsletter was gaining new subscribers at a rate of 20+ a day.
We were having difficulty finding time in the studio (Overcoast is a hot shop) but we managed. Charles was elated at the growth trajectory of our subscribers. We decided to post our audio books on Audible.com.
We began the process and immediately hit a glitch.
In my experience, whenever someone says, “All you have to do is…” They are not the ones who have to do it.
We reached out to Audible’s help desk and they said we had to connect the book to a book on Amazon.com.
So, I called Chris at the museum and he directed me to an edition of Poe’s work that he felt was truest to Poe. We attempted to connect our recording to that book. It didn’t work.
We called the help desk and they said, “That’s not your book.”
And I said, “No, it’s a work in the Public Domain.”
She said, politely, “That’s not your book.”
After repeating this apparently nonsensical round a couple of more times I asked,
“Are you telling me we have to publish our own edition of this Public Domain work.”
She replied, “Yes.”
This entire exchange was handled very calmly. As incredible as I found the entire situation I remained calm. After all, it’s never wise to get upset with people who can scuttle your enterprise and obviously the Audible Help Desk lady had been well-trained to deal with dunces like me.
It took me several days to start working on the book for Amazon. And this was definitely a case of something not being the highest and best use of my talent.
I got on the phone with Jaime to alert her to the delay. I thought I was doing my best not to whine, but she said,
“You know Tyler would really like to do that. Would you mind?”
I’m telling you I heard choirs of angels.
We decided to package Chris’ articles along with the texts of the three stories and during this new chapter we decided to rename the collection:
The Poe Museum EditionTales of Deadly Matrimonyby Edgar Allan Poe
Shelli Jost Brady, Storytellers Channel’s Chief Operating Officer who has an astounding background in design had created our cover for the Dead Brides audio book. She was busy on other projects and so Tyler created a cover design for the e-book and we used that design as the new cover for the audio book, as well.
We registered the book with the Copyright office and secured an ISBN. Tyler uploaded the book to Amazon. Then began the wait for it to go live. Amazon came back to us needing confirmation that Poe was actually dead and Chris’ date of birth before they could activate the book at Amazon. I wanted to cry, but I decided to laugh. We gave them the info: a Wikipedia link confirming when Poe has shuffled off his mortal coil and Chris’ DOB and we were live within days.
We then began the process of uploading our newly rechristened Tales of Deadly Matrimony by Edgar Allan Poe.
We thought everything had gone well. We sat back and waited. And waited. And…
Finally, we called the help desk again. The lady (we always seem to reach a woman, a calm, patient woman) said,
“We have no record of your audio book.”
Calmly I said, “I uploaded it.”
She asked if I had internet access and I said yes.
She said, “Go to the upload page.
There’s a button in the upper right-hand side that says I’m Done. What color is it?”
“There’s the problem. Click the button.”
I did. It changed colors.
In a moment she said, “There it is. You have to click that button. We’ll get back to you in a few days if there are any problems.”
Three weeks ago, on Christmas Eve, we were notified our audio book was available for purchase on Audible.
Between the holidays and getting ready for our 3rd Annual Hearts Afire Storytelling Festival I’ve been busy. But it snowed here in Richmond last night and we’re all staying inside, so I thought I can’t procrastinate writing this story any more.
Celebrate With Us!
We think we’ve learned how to do this now. I hope you enjoy the three tales as much as I enjoyed recording them.
We’d appreciate if you’d drop us a line with your reaction.
In conclusion, if you’d like to learn more about producing and distributing audio books, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll be happy to share what we’ve learned.
After all, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
Wishing you a Happy New Year.