VIKKI WARNER applauds change

I have never worked with AudioGo, but they sure do have a fabulous group of go-getter women working there: Michele Cobb and Traci Cothran, and now we get to meet Vikki Warner, from acquisitions.  (To me the most mysterious part of audiobook publishing.)
KW:  What is your job title and what are your responsibilities?
VW:    Acquisitions Editor, AudioGO
I’m one of two editors here at AudioGO who comb through deal announcements, submissions, rights guides, and ye olde Internet, and choose the titles we record and publish. Once I set my sights on a title, I negotiate with the agent or publisher that controls the audio rights—and if the stars align, we settle on a deal. Then our fabulous crew takes over and makes the recording real! Then we do that same thing over and over again.
KW:  Can you tell us about your work zone?

(I love this picture!)

VW:  Figuratively speaking, I work from atop a princess-and-the-pea-style pile of books. It’s a glorious place to be. I am guilty of donning earbuds and disappearing into an iTunes-induced haze while I work, getting way into the zone and appearing lost to the world, I’m sure. I like reading in that state.
KW:  How did you end up working in the audiobook industry?
VW:   I lucked out. I was working as a freelance writer after having left the medical publishing world. Work was not exactly rushing in, so I casually decided to start looking for a job. Where I live, in Rhode Island, is by no means a publishing mecca, so I assumed I’d be moving away from my little dreamland on the sea. But one of the first available jobs I spied was a Managing Editor position at BBC Audiobooks America. I nabbed it, and in the five-plus years since, the company and my position have changed frequently, which makes things hectic but really fun.
KW:  What is your dream job?
VW:  I’m going to be a dork and say I’m pretty close to it at this point. Barring a few pie-in-the-sky options—travel writer, NPR host, renegade farmer, junk-picking antiques dealer—I’m working in an industry I love, at a job that is—mostly—supremely fun.
KW:  Oh, I share the farmer dream.  We almost bought a goat farm six years ago, but I think my husband and I would’ve killed each other by now if we’d gone that route.   What do you love most about the work you do?
VW:   I think it’s pretty great that I sit here and read books for much of the day—and that those books are largely months ahead of publication. Some of them have been life-changing. I love to get into a manuscript, get totally lost in it, and begin hearing an audiobook in my head without even realizing it. That’s when I know I have a book worth pursuing.
KW:  It is pretty special to get paid to read books!  Do you listen to audiobooks while you’re working?

VW:  Not really. It always results in too much cross-story contamination. I start mixing up characters and plot lines between what I’m reading and what I’m listening to. Also, it can be difficult to follow all but the simplest stories (although Go the F**k to Sleep works nicely) while you’re drafting a contract or crafting a publication schedule. I save audiobooks for the car, usually.
KW:  Do you have a favorite audiobook?

VW:  I dig humor. My favorites are The Mighty Boosh: Complete Radio Series from BBC Radio; The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series by Douglas Adams; Bossypants by Tina Fey; I Drink for a Reason by David Cross; and Dan Gets a Minivan by Dan Zevin. On the fiction end of things: Freedom by Jonathan Franzen; Arthur & George by Julian Barnes; The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey; and Stone Arabia by Dana Spiotta are some of my all-time favorites.

KW:  What you think audiobooks will be like in 10 years?
VW:  In general, the profile of the audiobook has been raised. I no longer need to give a full debriefing at the level of “well, we take a paper book, and we record a professional narrator reading it word-for-word, and then you can buy it on CD or put it on your iPod,” when someone asks me what I do for work. Readers are embracing the audiobook concept at a very healthy rate; at the same time, they’ve largely switched to digital media, and so the digital audiobook is being adopted pretty seamlessly. In 10 years, kids probably won’t be able to identify CDs anymore. And that’s OK, because the digital format means that many more titles can be captured on audio, without the high production costs associated with CD materials and packaging. As a champion of the “small” book and the independently-minded author, I can only applaud that change.

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