IHS: Welcome, Aaron! Thank you for being with us today. I’m really excited to have you here! Would you please tell our followers who you are, what city you're from?
Aaron: I am Aaron Zook. I live in Holly Lake Ranch, Texas.
IHS: Okay, Great! What is the title of the book you just completed with us?
Aaron: The Secrets of the Castle
IHS: Wonderful title! What was your favorite part about bringing this book to audiobook life?
Aaron: I’ve listened to hundreds of audio-books and wanted to find a narrator that could truly bring justice to my characters. Hearing the narrator I chose, Jax Russell, vocally act out the story I had written helped me understand what an incredible story it tells. As each chapter was completed, my excitement grew. An outstanding experience!
IHS: Glad to hear! Now, switching gears, whether fiction or non-fiction, books are truly inspired work from authors. What was your inspiration for this book?
Aaron: My inspiration for this book, and the entire Thunder and Lightning series, is my two sons, now adults. I told them the original Thunder and Lightning stories as we traveled in our van around Germany for various swimming events and castle trips.
IHS: That's so cool! Is your primary business writing? If so, what do you do for fun? If not, what do you do “in real life”?
Aaron: Yes – writing is my primary business. For fun, I enjoy singing and playing guitar on our church’s praise and worship team, playing golf, enjoying family gatherings, helping out the youth at our church, and relaxing with my wife.
IH: Many authors are not audiobook listeners by nature. Are you? Have you ever listened to an audiobook before your own?
Aaron: Yes, I’ve listened to hundreds of audiobooks because I drive quite frequently to books sales, book signings, speaking events, and writing conferences. I love listening to other authors stories and the superb narrators they have found for their books.
IHS: When you were listening to your narrator auditions, what was it like to hear your book get voiced by different people?
Aaron: Listening to my own book was a terrific experience. I could tell when people would put me to sleep, when people were energized, when they could do different voices and accents, and when they really GOT my characters. I had several terrific choices from those who were able to do justice to my book, and hopefully, to my series.
IHS: What were you most worried about when starting out with this audiobook process? Did the worry happen or was it unjustified?
Aaron: I was concerned at the beginning that the process would be so complex and time-consuming that I might not be able to keep up with the details and the requirements. However, I’m Hearing Stories made the process simple, affordable, and a delight. Kimberly Hobscheid is an incredible teacher and host!
IHS: Thank you! Was there anything that you probably ACTUALLY should have been worried about instead?
Aaron: The only thing I didn’t do well is screen the background of my readers in enough depth. Certain backgrounds don’t fit my reader audience, so I found out that it takes additional effort to undo a contract that has already been started instead of screening out those who wouldn’t work out before I made my final decision.
IHS: Interesting! Okay, let’s talk reviews. Do you read your reviews and will you read your listener comments? What do you most like to see in the comments?
Aaron: I do read reviews posted by my readers of my paper/ebooks and will do the same for those who listen to my audio books. I’m writing to create an exciting adventure/mystery for my readers and I’m excited to hear what they have to say.
IHS: Okay, once a book is finished, then the work of marketing begins. What do you do to spread the word about a new release?
Aaron: At this point in time, most of my marketing is by social media and my newsletter. I put out information at all of the book signings/sales and writing conferences I attend. I tell my writer friends of the good news as well. I’m planning to have other professionals such as I’m Hearing Stories help me get the word out with my Audio Book.
IHS: Social media and newsletters are indeed great marketing tools. What advice would you give those who are thinking about becoming an author?
Aaron: I tell those I know that are interested in becoming an author that there are a variety of avenues to success. If they have a story but can’t write or package it well, they should find a ghost-writer who will help them put their book together. For first-time authors, I recommend they get a coach to assist them with the complex details surrounding getting published. But mostly, I tell them to get their story down on paper and start joining writing groups and online writing groups. There are several professional writing organizations that can help beginning writers onto the right path.
IHS: That's some good advice there! So for our audience who hasn't begun the process yet, what advice would you give authors who are thinking about doing an audiobook from their published book?
Aaron: In order to understand and publish an audiobook, you can learn from Audible how to put it all together. It can be a complex process, however, so I went to I’m Hearing Stories, a company that is seasoned in the business and understands how to navigate the waters of audiobook publishing. That is my first recommendation.
IHS: Thank you for that! So, what was the best part for you about working with I’m Hearing Stories.
Aaron: I’m Hearing Stories has been flexible with my schedule, has been interested in making me successful, and provided all the details I needed even when I found myself in a contract that needed to be cancelled. They walked me through every step by providing classes and personal help whenever I needed it. I’m Hearing Stories gets my highest recommendation for authors desiring to create an audiobook. My rating is 5-Stars Plus out of Five.
IHS: Wow! High praise from such an accomplished author! What a fun time we've had chatting with you today and getting your input! Okay, just for fun now, why don't you give us your Top Ten Craziest Accomplishments....
Aaron's Top 10 Craziest Accomplishments:
(Not necessarily in any priority order)
President, Penn State Choirs
President, Central Texas MOAA
Vice President, Officers’ Christian Fellowship Council
Licensed Southern Baptist Preacher
Pastor, Goeppingen Baptist Church
Multiple Award-winning Author
Publisher for Our Dad, the Hero
Colonel, U.S. Army
Producer of The Lightwalkers (Musical CD with five of my original songs)
Contemporary Praise and Worship Leader for over twenty years
Why? I’m driven to love God, love people, and to excel.
IHS: Thank you! That's very impressive - and inspiring!! So, how can our followers learn more about you?
Aaron M. Zook, Jr.—an award-winning author and speaker—entertains with a purpose in his books and presentations. He’s thrilled thousands of readers through his YA Christian mystery/adventure Thunder and Lightning series about two inquisitive boys and their dogs who solve one crisis after another around the world. Aaron’s books include The Secrets of the Castle, The Salt Mines Mystery, The Phantom of the Fortress (award winner 2016), and The Isle of Intrigue (award winner 2018). He has also produced one book as a ghost-writer called Our Dad The Hero. Aaron is a retired U.S. Army Colonel and lives with his wife, Joyce, in Holly Lake Ranch, TX. He loves being a husband, father, and grandpa to their two married sons and four wonderful grandchildren.
Okay, folks, there you have it! Aaron Zook, author of The Secrets of the Castle.