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I am an author of short stories and poetry. I have been publishing ebooks and now I am also considering turning some of them into audiobook format. I confess I have only listened to one or two audiobooks, so I am not sure about what is the current "audiobook etiquette".

Is it a good idea to add other sound besides the narrator voice in a fiction audiobook, like the ambient noise in a children playground or a rainy day. Or should the narrador be always speaking in a simple, silent, neutral sound environment?

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I don't think they are any rules, but the important thing is that the effects sound professional and not too distracting. The problem is that if you commit to one sound effect, you are implicitly agreeing to produce other sound effects as well -- which may or may not be easy.

Not that I'm into sci fi but when teaching overseas I happened to hear a Star Trek novel narrated by one of the actors who was in the series. One thing that really made the audio novel was that it included all kinds of sound effects from the original series. (They were great!). I actually think I heard a Louis L'Amour book which included limited sound effects. Also nice.

I think sound effects (or music) work particularly well as intros or outros to a scene. Also, I can imagine certain sound effects can enhance the mood (drops of water, a heart beat, etc).

Sound effects definitely add to the story, and if you have the chops to self-produce, all the better. But don't get caught in the trap into thinking that because your audiobook has sound effects that it must be better (and sell better) than non-enhanced titles. The story is the most important thing.

I have heard so many examples of well-produced enhanced audio books (especially sci fi books like Philip K Dick); practically, the reason it isn't done more often is simply because of lack of money or technical skill.

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When creating audio books other than children's books it's typically best to only have the audio for the content. If it were a children's book then the audio effects would enhance their attention and experience. When considering audio you should as yourself what you want your reader to experience, the effect or the story?

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  • I was wondering if some subtle ambience and sound effects could contribute to a more immersive experience. I am thinking specifically about short stories, that seem to me a bit harder to create that kind of experience in audio. Commented May 20, 2016 at 13:34

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