Audiobook opens new market for local author

A former Royal Navy bomb disposal expert who spent time working alongside Prince Charles has launched his first audiobook.

With 19 novels and e-books already under his belt, Paul Henke, from Balfron, released the recording of his hit novel, ‘A Million Tears’ at the end of January to rave reviews.

The 67-year-old has also just published his latest paperback, ‘Retribution’, an action packed thriller which sees the main character try to break a human trafficking ring.

Now, the author is set to use advice from Business Gateway Stirling to help market the 20-hour audio download that he recorded himself to an international audience, before turning two further novels into audiobooks for release later his year.

He said: “I love the fact that people can be anywhere in the world and as long as they can get internet access they can download any of the e-books I have available on Amazon. Last year, one reader emailed me from his yacht in the Indian Ocean to say he’d just downloaded and read my action thriller ‘Mayhem’, which was amazing.

“With audiobooks now the fastest growing sector of publishing, I decided – after much persuasion from my brother-in-law and producer, Philip Marno - to record ‘A Million Tears’ in my own voice. I have to admit, it is peculiar hearing my Welsh accent reading the book aloud, but people have told me I come across very well, although I’m certainly not Richard Burton! The whole process was quite labour intensive, and surprisingly tiring, but I’m very proud of the results.”

He added: “The publishing sector is constantly changing. I’m a successful author but not a best seller so it takes a lot of hard work and time to increase my profile. A few years back, Business Gateway highlighted that I needed to embrace social media and update my online presence to raise my profile. Since then, I’ve attended their free workshops to keep up to speed with new digital marketing tools which I will use to help maximise the international potential of my work.”

Sandy Slater, Business Gateway Stirling adviser, said: “All businesses need to promote their services to generate sales, and being an author is no different. Paul has worked hard to promote his work over the years with great success. By recording an audiobook, he not only moves into a new area of publishing, he targets a new audience. Our workshops have helped him keep abreast of changes in the marketing and digital world, arming him with knowledge and practical skills, as well as the confidence to use different channels to increase his profile and sales.”

Having trained at Dartmouth Royal Naval College, Paul qualified as a bomb and mine disposal expert, specialising in diving and handling explosives. He went on to lead a crack team of underwater bomb disposal specialists and also became the Commanding Officer of various minesweeping and mine hunting ships. It was during his time in the Royal Navy that he worked alongside The Prince of Wales.

On leaving the Royal Navy in 1978, Paul worked on an American oil rig 100 miles off Nigeria before returning to the UK where he set up his own insurance firm. Eighteen years ago he sold the business to concentrate on writing action, thriller and adventure novels.

He said: “I love writing but being an author full time is tougher than I expected. They say it takes 10 books and, on average, 15 years to get established and you are just one man in a thousand looking to be promoted by your publisher. Early on I realised I needed to push my work and have used my sales knowledge to drive interest. That hard work started paying off in the mid-00s and I’ve amassed fans across the world who have been delighted by with my audiobook.”

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