How Did We Get Hear? (BookMachine Unplugged Live! 2023)

How did we get hear? A guide to getting a book from author to listener

We all have our favourite go-to authors, and there is so much choice in how you can read – or experience – their stories. But how does a book become something you listen to?

The UK achieved sales of over £150 million in 2021, up from £133 million the previous year (source). And this huge growth in audio has seen different categories of spoken word develop, from audiobooks to podcasts, live streaming and more.

This lively, accessible and publishing-specific conversation is all about producing show-stopping audio content. Hear from our panel, including an author, narrator, publisher, platform expert and event partner Publishing Scotland, as we uncover the magic behind making an audio experience happen. The speakers will demystify what goes on behind the scenes, from page to AirPods.

The speakers


Vikki Reilly (host), Business Development Manager, Publishing Scotland

Vikki Reilly has over 20 years of experience in the book industry, first as a bookseller, then in the sales and marketing departments of Scottish independent publishers Mainstream Publishing, Mercat Press and Birlinn Ltd, where she was also on the editorial board. She currently works in Publishing Scotland, Scottish publishing’s trade and network body, and is responsible for developing and overseeing trade relationships for our member publishers, as well as offering training and guidance on best sales and marketing practice. In 2020, she published her first book, Beatles 101: A Pocket Guide in 101 Moments, Songs, People and Places.


Laurence Howell, Audio Industry Consultant

Laurence Howell is a freelance consultant with over 30 years experience managing and leading teams in bookselling and audiobooks. He has worked for Waterstones, WHSmith, Amazon and most recently Audible where he was VP of UK Content.

Iain McKinna

Iain McKinna, Director of Audiobooks, Offbeat Audio Ltd. (Offbeat Studio)

Audio Producer Iain McKinna has run Offbeat Recording Studio in Edinburgh’s Royal Mile since 1994 and has been involved in many award winning Film & TV productions as well as being a Producer and Director of Audiobooks for all the main book publishers through Offbeat Audio Ltd. He has been in the Recording Studio business since 1976 and worked for Major and Indie record labels as a Session Musician and Music Producer. He recorded Spirit Of The Glen which won a Classical Brit Award in 2009 for best album and The Eyes Of Orson Welles which was runner up for Best Documentary at Cannes Film Festival in 2018. With Director Mark Cousins he was part of the Story Of Film, An Odyssey production team.


James Crawford, Writer and Broadcaster

James’ first major book, Fallen Glory: The Lives and Deaths of History’s Greatest Buildings was shortlisted for the Saltire Literary Award for best non-fiction. His other books include Who Built Scotland: 25 Journeys in Search of a Nation, Scotland’s Landscapes and The Edge of the Plain: How Borders Make and Break Our World. His most recent book is Wild History: Journeys into Lost Scotland. He has written and presented three series of the BBC documentary ‘Scotland From the Sky’ and in 2019 he was named as the Archive and Records Association’s first-ever ‘Explore Your Archives’ Ambassador. He lives in Edinburgh.


Sara Hunt, Founder & Director, Saraband

Sara is the founder and director of award-winning independent publisher Saraband, now approaching its 30th birthday. Sara worked in London and New York for both large corporate and smaller publishers before founding Saraband in 1994. Saraband publishes literary fiction and narrative non-fiction, particularly in nature, place, environment, and memoir. The company has also been an innovator, embracing new formats and platforms early, and recorded its first audiobooks in 2013. Saraband’s authors have won or been shortlisted for prestigious literary prizes, from the Booker to the Wainwright, Desmond Elliott and Rathbones Folio awards, as well as many regional prizes.

Thank you to our partners: Publishing Scotland, Zebralution Audio and Ingram Content Group

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