Last updated 1/22/23
When the obstacle in your way seems to have stopped you in your tracks,
it’s not a failure.
It’s part of what’s calling forth the necessary change
so you can move through, around, over, or under whatever is on your path to success.
— Christian Sørensen
This quote applies to my relationship to public domain books,
Although I started narrating audiobooks in 2002, it wasn’t until ACX launched in 2011 that I really got a foothold in the industry. Prior to that point, the market didn’t exist for a narrator who lived in Atlanta. You either had to be in New York or LA; otherwise, producers didn’t want to talk to you. With ACX, all of the rest of us could have a voice in audiobooks, too.
I soon burned out doing ACX projects since most of them were royalty share books where the rights holder was not promoting the audiobook. (Shameless plug: If you’re interested, I explain how to pick good ACX titles in my webinar Put Yourself in the ACX Drivers Seat, available on my Shop page.)
At the same time, I wasn’t getting traction with publishers. I decided to start recording more public domain books.
Public domain (PD) books are those where the copyright has expired. They belong to all of us, and anybody can do anything they want to with a book that’s in the public domain.
Over time, I’ve kind of become what I think of as the Public Domain Whisperer™️. I regularly search HathiTrust.org for interesting PD books. HathiTrust is a consortium of academic and research libraries with over 17 million digitized items, I often find a book that I think would be a good one for another narrator to do, so I send the link and the suggestion to them.
I’ve been gratified by the enthusiastic and excited responses to my finds. One experienced and award-winning narrator told me I had set them on a new path, and they’ve won a number of awards for their PD productions!
This article will be my Public Domain Narration Headquarters. I’ll start with ten reasons why I love, love, LOVE recording and publishing public domain books. Plus, check out the resources list below as well as the comments, where I answer your questions!