LESLIE KRUEGER: Running with it
JIAM2012 Behind the Scenes Interview #9
I have not actually met nor worked with Leslie, but after this interview I’m hoping for a bake-off :0)
KW: What is your job title and what are your responsibilities?
LK: I am the production manager and “graphic designer” at Oasis Audio. Primarily, I take all of our acquired audio titles and run with them! I assign and hire all our narrators (in-house at our two studios, or in home studios or outside studios), schedule the narrations, oversee the progress or as I call it “nag about our deadlines” J, then ensure they are edited, mastered and ready to go into manufacturing on time.
I also run all the titles through Gracenotes (title information that syncs with iTunes), acquire all manuscripts and edit out PDF material, schedule author interviews on certain titles, and other smaller tasks like work-for-hires, payment to readers and studios, data entry, etc…
November 2010 I took on another role as our in-house graphic designer for our audio book covers and CD art. It is a work in progress as I have zero art experience but I love it so much and the added challenge it gives me in my position at Oasis.
Our team is pretty small considering we publish up to 250+ titles a year. Our publisher is Tammy Faxel, contracts/acquisitions coordinator is Lisa Smith, customer service is Toni Summers, marketing and sales manager is Steve Smith, and web & digital manager is Jordan Smith.
KW: How did you end up working in the audiobook industry?
LK: I graduated from Wheaton College back in December 2007 and was pretty green coming out of college, pretty desperate for income, and stumbled across the Production Coordinator position at Oasis on the Wheaton College job boards. The publisher at the time, Dan Balow, met with me, hired me shortly after I interviewed, and I’ve been with Oasis for 4 ½ years now.
My major was Psychology but as most Psych majors know, you can’t get a job in your field unless you go back to school. Publishing has its teeth in me and now I foresee my next role (in a few years) as a stay-at-home mom and hopefully, continuing my work for Oasis on some level. My dream job would be to open up a small bakery with my mom and sister-in-law. I love to bake, especially cupcakes, just ask anyone in the office!
KW: I love to bake, too! What do you love most about the work you do?
LK: I truly love the challenge of producing. It’s a daily challenge to have patience because a lot of my job is juggling 20 balls (or titles) at one time and making sure I have a pulse on every single one. I’m a one-woman team, which means if I don’t manage the titles and maintain relationships within the industry, they simply wouldn’t get finished.
KW: Do you have a pet peeve?
LK: I wish I had more experience in studio and learning the ins and outs of what our narrators are learning as they morph from narrators into one-stop-shops so that I could empathize a bit more, so I suppose that is a pet peeve of mine. I have zero time to learn more, right now, but maybe down the line I will find myself with more time to learn about what our voices are doing to make themselves more accessible and budget-friendly, which I greatly appreciate as the one with the budgets.
KW: Do you have a favorite audiobook/genre/author?
LK: You might have to tread carefully here, but while I do love to cast and I know what I am looking for and what it sounds like, I am extremely visual and always have my head buried in a book. I normally listen to our audio books on road trips up to my in-laws but even then, I will read while listening to it in the background.
My husband shakes his head when I say this, but I just love a good fiction story. My greatest regret in life is that I struggle reading non-fiction. With fiction, it’s a form of escapism — you become the character, you share in their battles and love stories — which after a long day of pesky details, I truly enjoy.
My favorite author is harder to peg down. As a teen I would have said Wally Lamb,…weird, but I love a good Nora Roberts, James Patterson, Veronica Roth and Suzanne Collins. Couldn’t resist plugging The Hunger Games!
KW: What inspires you?
LK: Inspiration, for me, lies in my parents. More specifically, in my mother. I grew up on a farm in Northwest Indiana, and as a stay-at-home mom, she was always busy outside gardening or working on the farm as the accountant, or raising us kids in a loving and firm way that was so uniquely her. My parents have had a rough go of life the past four years and her vibrancy and optimism has not dimmed even in the face of such hardship. Every day when I am faced with so many difficulties, set-backs and hiccups on the job, I try to remind myself to handle each scenario with humility and grace that I see every single day in my mom’s actions. My greatest hope for the future is that when I become a mother, I hope to raise my kids as she raised us in our family.