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November 6, 2019

Announcing The First Audio Excerpt of The UnicornProject! (…it’s when I finally stopped worrying, because it’s when I learned that I really love this book!!)

By Gene Kim

To my surprise, among the top questions I’ve been asked about The Unicorn Project is, “When will the audiobook be available?”

I’ve been so excited that the audiobook version of The Unicorn Project will be launched at the same time as the hardcover and ebook—and it’s been soooo difficult to not tell everyone about something cool that we were planning, just because there were sooooo many things that could go wrong…

But, thanks to the hard work of the amazing IT Revolution publishing team, I can finally share some exciting news!

We just posted the first of several free audio excerpts of The Unicorn Project on SoundCloud! And we’ll be posting two chapters every week leading up to launch day: Tuesday, November 26.

Current running time for the entire audiobook is 12 hours, 23 minutes, and 41 seconds, and again, it will be available at the same time as the hardcover and ebook. (Audible pre-orders are currently available.)

Making the Audiobook

When we started the process of converting The Unicorn Project into an audiobook, the first order of business was to find a narrator. It was so much fun listening to the submitted auditions from five different performers, each reading the same scene from the first chapter and each giving their interpretations of what we presented them. The editors and I went through them all, and we were having some problems coming to agreement on what factors we wanted.

This problem reminded me of the various UX techniques of generating personas, so this is what I wrote:

  • Maxine is in her late forties. 
  • She has swagger, is extremely confident in her skills, and capable of being fiery when her technical sensibilities have been offended.
  • I’m looking for a cross between an older Veronica Mars (I’ve only seen a few episodes of the original series, but I loved her critical analysis skills and her sense that she knows exactly what is going on), the Michelle Obama audiobook, and Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr (my favorite Space Marine—the 20-year career marine, whose job it is to keep her teammates from being killed, through skill, experience, and competence—from Tanya Huff’s great “Valor” SF book series).
  • I’d like less tonal variation between male and female characters. (This is what made me think of Michelle Obama—I loved her audiobook, and she didn’t bother impersonating other people’s voices. Although maybe audiobook narration has different norms, I’d like it to be less conspicuous).
  • I’d like a faster cadence where appropriate, especially when she is being confident.

This is the closest I’ve ever been to what I believe the casting process is like in a movie—I had great fun trying to describe this in a Twitter conversation with Tanya Janca here.


I Really, Really Love the Audiobook!!!  

For anyone who has shipped something (a book, a product, a feature, anything!), you can probably relate to this diagram: 

I am sure that almost all of you can relate to hard, immoveable deadlines and the feeling of remorse you feel about all the things you couldn’t fix because of time limitations. You keep thinking about all the things you wanted to do, but didn’t have time to complete. Sometimes it feels like frustration, guilt, remorse, and, at times, even self-flagellation and loathing. (Welcome to writing, I hear all you authors saying. 🙂 )

For weeks, I had been carrying around these feelings, hoping and praying that the book was as good as I hoped it would be at the very beginning of the project. I hoped that readers would overlook the flaws, omissions, the unfixed mistakes, and accept my apologies that it was the best I could do given the time constraints.

Two months after the book went to print, I started listening to the audiobook to help with the QA process (e.g., primarily to catch errors which would need to be re-recorded). And to my immense surprise, I LOVED LISTENING TO IT!!!

I found myself laughing out loud many, many, many times, chortling at the absurdities that Maxine is faced with, unable to do things she knows every developer should be able to do, as if she were stranded on a desert island, like in the movie Castaway or the book Robinson Crusoe. 

I love the cast of characters she is surrounded by, who become the core of the Rebellion, out to overthrow the ancient powerful order, dedicated to bringing joy and productivity back to every engineer in the company. I love the villains they had to compete with and the very real business problems they sought to solve.

I actually enjoyed listening the story, and it was the first time in months that I felt great about The Unicorn Project, and I’m so grateful to everyone who helped me shape this book.

And I honestly feel like it’s the best book I’ve written, and that it’s a better book than The Phoenix Project, on so many dimensions that I care about.

I genuinely hope you enjoy the audiobook as much as I do!!!

Listen to the first audiobook excerpt here! Please let me know what you think on Twitter: I’m @realgenekim.



P.S. The first audiobook we did here at IT Revolution was The Phoenix Project—you can read about some of the lessons learned from making that here

- About The Authors
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Gene Kim

Award winning CTO, researcher, and author.

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