Here’s an interview we did with Trond Knutsen, Audio Sales Director at L.A. Theatre Works, a non-profit media arts organization whose mission is to present, preserve, and disseminate classic and contemporary plays. Learn more about L.A. Theatre Works!
1. What distinguishes your company and makes you proud to work there?
Our dedication to recorded drama I believe is unsurpassed in the industry – and I am particularly proud of our recent Shakespeare recordings.
2. What excites you about the world of digital publishing?
For a small company like us with fairly niche titles (we pretty much only do full-cast recordings of classic and contemporary plays, with 15+ new releases per year), digital publishing has allowed us to reach a much wider audience, and have our titles available in markets that we used to be more or less cut off from, for instance, internationally.
3. What advice would you give to a new publisher or agent in this space?
The recipe that seems to have worked for us is to remain devoted to creating high-quality content – in terms of performances, production value, the whole package – and then try to be imaginative in terms of how we present and disseminate these works.
4. How did you approach the conversion process?
We decided to start off with a small batch of plays we knew would do well. When it comes to theatre manuscripts, conversion can be quite time-consuming, in order to get the formatting correct, and make sure it looks great across the many different devices, operating systems, platforms, what have you. There would have been very little savings by doing more volume, and the technology moves so quickly that cost of conversion is rapidly going down, while quality is only getting better. It’s a good time to be shopping for solutions, whether you want do it in-house or have someone else take on the full job.
5. What services have you utilized through INscribe?
INscribe hooked us up with Red Staple and Aerbook for our conversions, and they have been outstanding every step of the way.
6. How has your workflow changed with eBooks?
We now try to think ahead, from very early on, to accommodate the fact that the manuscript (as well as the audio) needs to fit a certain format for delivery both through eBooks and apps, so that we don’t have to go back and correct things that could have been sorted out right from the start. We have become much more conscious of our work-flow and whole production process. It has been a sometimes arduous learning process, but we are getting better at it with every new title.
7. What are some the characteristics that you value most about the INscribe team?
That they apparently all wear capes to work or come equipped with some other form of superhero attire. Not only have their enthusiasm, expertise, guidance, support, advice, professionalism etc been invaluable, but perhaps most notably their responsiveness and level of personal service. I am still waiting to hear back from some of the other ebook distributors I contacted more than six months ago now. Even the ones who did (respond), mostly sent a form letter saying thanks for your interest, a human may or may not be in touch shortly to assist you. INscribe was on the phone with me the first day I made contact.
8. Tell us about the titles that you have distributed through INscribe. What exciting books are on the horizon?
Our eBook editions of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and “Macbeth”, with embedded audio (where) you can listen to a full-cast, sound-rich, and pretty stellar performance by truly superb actors while you read the text, have made these works come to life in a manner I don’t think is possible for the text or audio on their own. To me, the customer review on iTunes (see below) for our “Hamlet” really says it all:
Pairing the audio and the text together really helped me understand the play much better and I actually enjoyed it. My grade in English thanks you. Love this edition.”
It is such a simple concept, but it works so beautifully. So I obviously very much look forward to our next eBook with audio release, which will be “Romeo and Juliet”.
9. What are you looking forward to the most in the next few years of digital publishing?
More stringent industry standards, and more devices allowing audio embedded in their eBooks (yes, Kindle Fire, I’m talking to you!)