Original Dramatic Content on Audible.com

Attended a seminar on e-publishing at the WGA in Los Angeles this past Saturday (a lot of screenwriters, including me, also write books): the e-book ecosystem has grown exponentially in just a few years, and Hollywood has been paying attention! Corroborating my own personal observations, speakers and panelists all agreed that the entertainment industry is ever more interested in setting up pre-existing source material (a book, a graphic novel, a play, etc.).

However, the most interesting development at the half-day seminar was Audible.com‘s announcement that they’re now developing original (non-book) dramatic content. Taking their cue from Netflix and Amazon Studios, they’re looking for edgy, high-concept narratives — but ears-only, of course.

Audible isn’t looking for 10-minute mini-dramas or mini-comedies: they want projects with a minimum 5 hours of running time (which may be a single narrative, or 5-10 episodes of a dramatic series for binge-listening). They’re looking for synopsis and treatment first, and anticipate a full development cycle before going to script (and eventually, greenlighting production with name talent attached).

Who knew radio drama would come back? Will epic poetry be next?

Happily, Audible is also working with the WGA to become a Guild signatory.

Radio drama has continued as a viable genre in the United Kingdom and even in Canada; I suspect we American writers have a lot more catching up to do to get a handle on the rhythms, techniques and uniqueness of audio comedy and drama.

Audible’s bid to join Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Studios may seem like a longshot, but a few years ago, not many people were ready to bet on Amazon: now they’re a serious player in the space (see Alpha House). Naturally, I’m going to root for Audible. It’s another outlet for professional writers, and that can only be good.

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