One night, over dinner at Tina Fey's favorite pizza restaurant, I got a DM from my audiobook producer, Katie Robinson. She was asking to call me later that night with some good news, which was this: Crushing on You was a finalist in the romance category of the 2023 Audie Awards!
If you're like me and not very deep in the audiobook world, you might be wondering what that means. Are the Audies a big deal? I asked Katie to contextualize it for me. She told me that:
the Audies are the Oscars of the audiobook world
much like the Oscars, there's a gala where the winners are announced, and where attendees sometimes wear actual ball gowns
only 5-6 titles are nominated per category
Like, seriously though, what? My sexy little debut audiobook was nominated for an award that Viola Davis and Rosamund Pike were also up for? Whatttttt?
Okay, not literally the same award (different categories), but even within the romance category, I'm a tiny indie author, while the rest of them are traditionally published. Think orders of magnitude more in exposure. Within romance, they're practically stars, while I'm an itty bitty lightning bug.
But you know what? The CoY audiobook deserves all the recognition, because Emily Woo Zeller and James Chen performed so beautifully, and Lyric Audiobooks did an incredible job with the production. So as a team, hell yes we deserved the nomination! Which is how this amazing image came to be:
Sadly, James couldn't attend, but he was there in spirit!
If you're curious about what the gala was like, read on! (Or watch the livestream here.)
The 2023 Audies Gala took place at Chelsea Pier 60, on a cold, blustery evening in New York City. After walking through a covered parking lot, we reached the entrance to the event hall, where we were promptly greeted by the coat check station. After a quick peek in the mirror to make sure there was no lipstick on my teeth, we walked through a beige and gold-mirrored hallway and finally hit the crush of people, many of whom where dressed in glittering, sequined gowns or finely tailored suits, or in one person's case, an epic wizard costume complete with beard. To the left sparkled a long table with a huge pile of finalist medals; to the right, a long line of people waiting for their red carpet photos.
There were two red carpet areas: the official Getty Images one, which was only open to finalists, and the unofficial one where anyone could pose and take photos with their phones, like this:
The liquor flowed from the open bar, which was swarmed for cocktail hour. Servers walked through with trays of toasted salmon sandwich bites and mini fish tacos, and all around, likely introverts craned their necks, looking for the few people they knew among the crowd of writers, narrators, and producers.
Eventually, we were asked to sit down at our tables. Lyric Audiobooks was table 57, which was not the last table, and there are ten seats per table, so that gives you a rough sense of how many people were in attendance. It was quite the crowded event! No wonder I got a COVID exposure notification just a few days after (though I didn't get COVID, thankfully).
The host, Michelle Buteau, was hilarious. She spoke about her likewise funny children, how words have power ("Black Lives Matter; Trans Lives Matter; Women Deserve Equal Pay; Short Men Can Get It"), and mocked us for being so un-famous, yet so enthusiastic about celebrating each other's works. And she acted out how we all felt whenever an audio drama had more than a dozen names that needed to be read out loud: sitting down, impatiently snacking from the sad charcuterie boxes we each had, and sipping on a cocktail, wondering when the plodding freight train of names would end. It was all in good fun, of course.
It took about an hour and a half to get through all of the categories. The romance category was in the second half, and I guess because Crushing on You starts with a "C," my book was announced first. It's a strange feeling to have your book and name up on a screen, to have it ever so briefly flashing through the ears and eyes of so many people. Maybe they'll forget about me. Or, maybe they'll see my name again, and remember. We'll see.
Anyway, the Audies gala was a fun and humbling experience. The best part by far was meeting Emily, her mother, and some of the Lyric Audiobooks team. Hopefully, we'll get to meet again. ✨
If you want to make more dreams come true for indie BIPOC authors like me, consider donating to the Audio in Color grant program. My audiobook was only possible because of them.
Thanks for reading, and for all of your support! ♥️ Maybe one day, I'll have enough to turn my other books into audiobooks, too. If so, got any dream narrators?