Guest Chick: Thomas A. Burns, Jr

I’m the author of the Natalie McMasters Mysteries. I want to thank Becky Clark for allowing me space on Chicks on the Case to talk about the growing popularity of audiobooks.

Natalie McMasters—a detective for the new millennium. I finished my first Natalie McMasters novel, Stripper! when I was 65, and after a year of querying agents with no takers, I decided to publish it on Amazon myself, in April 2018. Since then, I’ve released two more novels, Revenge! and Trafficked!, and I’ve just finished writing the first draft of the fourth book, Venom! No way I could have had such a rapid production schedule if I had to deal with an agent and a publisher. The Natalie McMasters Mysteries have done fairly well, with about 11,000 copies in circulation world-wide.

In her first book, Stripper!, Nattie is twenty, short and blonde (OK, it’s bleached!), way cute, and a pre-law student at State. She’s also straight, or at least she thinks so. She’s moonlighting as a private detective trainee at her uncle Amos Murdoch’s 3M Detective Agency to help with living expenses while in school. The job’s not very exciting—she stakes out people who’ve claimed workers’ compensation to be sure they’re hurt as badly as they say. It’s the perfect gig for a college student, because she can study on the job. But one day she directly confronts a subject on a stakeout, and Amos fires her. Then she meets another student who bears an uncanny resemblance to her, and everything in her life changes. When her new best friend is brutally murdered and Amos is critically injured, Nattie immerses herself in the seamy world of web cams and strip clubs to hunt the killer. Her investigation forces her to reassess many of the ideas that she’s lived by her whole life and do things she’s never considered before – strip on a stage, question her sexuality, and rediscover the meaning of love itself. Nattie eventually exposes a drug ring, police corruption, and an assassin-for-hire online. Then she stumbles upon the true face of evil, and her encounter does not leave her unscathed…

Now I’ve decided to enter the audiobook market with Stripper! Audiobooks are currently the fastest growing segment of the publishing industry. IbisWorld puts audiobook revenues at 3 billion dollars in 2018, with an annual growth rate of nearly 15% since 2013. According to one study, 50% of Americans 12 and older listened to an audiobook in 2019. Digital audiobooks are available as downloads and some also as CDs, but by and large, it’s the digital version driving the market. The annual consumer survey by the Audiobook Publishers Association (APA) indicates that 56 percent of audiobook listeners say that they budget time to listen, and are buying more and more books. Edison Research also found that audiobook listeners read or listened to an average of 15 books in the last year.

Part of this popularity stems from the fact that downloaded files can be played on multiple devices and in different places—at home, in the car, at lunch—without losing your place. Some Audible books (Amazon) also have the Whispersync feature, which lets you alternately listen and read your book on Kindle, and updates either the audio or the print file as you switch devices.

It takes at least two people to produce an audiobook The author and a narrator (aka producer). ACX is Audible’s publishing platform. It allows you to sell your book on Audible, Amazon and iTunes. After you register on the website, you make your title available for auditions. Narrators can review available titles and contact you. However, I found it much more effective to survey potential producers myself and invite those I liked to audition by reading an audition script I provided. You can narrow the list of over 100,000 producers by gender, voice style, accent and other parameters. The Natalie McMasters books are written in first person, so I wanted a female narrator with a youthful, hip voice with a slight Southern accent.

The publication of the Stripper! audiobook

I contacted over 100 narrators before finally choosing Lisa Ware, of Voices from Lsware, as the narrator for Stripper! It certainly was a thrill to hear Natalie’s voice for the first time! In a little less than a month, Lisa was able to produce an audiobook over ten hours in length, and it will surely captivate the listener for all of that time. The Stripper! audiobook went live on Audible on November 19, 2019.

Get a FREE copy of Stripper! Readers of Chicks on the Case can get a free copy of the audiobook by emailing me at I’ll send you a promo code that you can redeem on Audible. I do ask that anyone who gets a copy via a code please leave a review when finished.

The Kindle version of Stripper! is available from Amazon.

Thomas A. Burns, Jr. is the author of the Natalie McMasters Mysteries. He was born and grew up in New Jersey, attended Xavier High School in Manhattan, earned B.S. degrees in Zoology and Microbiology at Michigan State University and a M.S. in Microbiology at North Carolina State University. He currently resides in Wendell, North Carolina. As a kid, Tom started reading mysteries with the Hardy Boys, Ken Holt and Rick Brant, and graduated to the classic stories by authors such as A. Conan Doyle, Dorothy Sayers, John Dickson Carr, Erle Stanley Gardner and Rex Stout, to name a few. Tom has written fiction as a hobby all of his life, starting with Man from U.N.C.L.E. stories in marble-backed copybooks in grade school. He built a career as technical, science and medical writer and editor for nearly thirty years in industry and government. Now that he’s truly on his own as a novelist, he’s excited to publish his own mystery series, as well as to contribute stories about his second most favorite detective to the MX Books of New Sherlock Holmes Stories. You can follow Tom on:







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21 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Thomas A. Burns, Jr

  1. Congrats on your audiobook! I’ve never really gotten into audiobooks, but after having one done for one of my own books I can see the appeal. That said, my own book is still the only audiobook I’ve listened to from beginning to end. One of these days I will have to try listening to another.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know what you mean. Mostly, being read to puts me to sleep. I did listen to the 10+ hours of Stripper! To ensure that the narrator faithfully followed the text, but I was reading along on my Kindle at the time. But audiophiles are a completely different audience from that for printed books, so it’s a great way to expand your reach. And they’re a real boon for folks who can’t read anymore.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I haven’t gotten into audio as a consumer because they put me to sleep too! Plus, I don’t do anything that normal people do when they listen: no commute, I don’t garden, I don’t take walks, I exercise to a yoga practice online or on the treadmill in front of the TV, I don’t cook much. But, I’m fixin’ to jump off the audio high dive soon for all those folks who love their audiobooks!

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Audio is such an important market bit sounds so intimidating to step into as a self publisher. What an empowering post on how to create a professional, quality product. Congratulations on your releases!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I’ve always wondered about how the audio book process works, Tom—thanks for filling us in! It sounds so much more “do-able” than I expected. Up until now, I haven’t really been an audio buyer, but the WhisperSync function sounds great. Think I’ll give it a try!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks so much for visiting the Chicks today, Tom, and for the great explanation of how to get your own audiobook produced! Love that you wrote Man From U.N.C.L.E. stories; I was obsessed with that show as a kid.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for some insight into the audio world, Tom. I began my career as an actress and did a lot of voiceover work because I have a low voice. I even did a sound-alike campaign for an auto dealership in Middlesex, NJ, where they capitalized on the sex part of the town name by having me do Marilyn Monroe, Mae West, and Dr. Ruth. Highlight of my career was the producer getting a “cease and desist” from Dr. Ruth’s lawyers because everyone thought she made the commercial!

    Liked by 2 people

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