Making a Music Soundtrack for a Novel

Since I announced that my new ebook release, At Last, will have its own music soundtrack, I’ve had so many authors tell me they’ve longed to do the same thing. I’ve also had a lot of questions about how I managed to pull it off. Answer? Serendipity!

The Challenge

Many authors mention songs in their stories and would love to offer those songs in a collection for readers to enrich the story experience. The obstacle that stands in the way is that little thing called a copyright. Creating a collection of already recorded songs would be cost prohibitive for most authors because of all the royalties. So, how did I solve that?

My Stroke of Luck

While writing At Last, I became friends with a local singer, Barbara Calderaro, who happens to sing the kind of music I wanted my heroine to sing: American standards like Unforgettable, Them There Eyes, Sunday Kind of Love. Going to hear her sing inspired many of my song choices for several scenes. Since Barb and I became friends, and mutual fans of each other’s work, she agreed to go into the studio and cut a CD featuring the songs I mention in my novel.

That’s the key. I had a singer willing to take on the task of copyright payment, plus the expense of studio time, and having physical CDs created. This was an enormous investment on her part, but it worked for her because she needed a CD to sell at gigs, so my novel provided the incentive. Howard T. Levine, who plays guitar on the CD, wrote some brilliant arrangements to give the old standards a fresh new sound. That, combined with Barbara’s amazing voice makes for a wonderful collection of romantic songs.

It did not, however, fulfill our dream of bundling the paperback and the CD.

Obstacles in the Physical World

The problem with a romance novel about a singer, and a real life singer willing to cut a CD as a companion to that novel back in 2007 (the original release date for both) is that they were physical entities. Romance novels and music CDs are distributed and shelved by completely different departments in brick and mortar stores. Bundling them was impossible.

The Magic of the Digital Age

The explosive popularity of ereaders that play music and smart phones has obliterated those obstacles. Now readers can easily buy an ebook with a digital soundtrack on their multi-media device such as the new Kindle Fire or iPad. When I signed with Montlake (an Amazon imprint) for the re-release of  At Last as an ebook, they were very exited about the idea of bundling the ebook with a digital soundtrack.

Repackaging the CD

Here’s another difference in the physical world and the digital world. When Barbara recorded the CD, it had to be packaged as a “CD by Barbara Calderaro,” not as a soundtrack to my novel, because she planned to sell copies at gigs. It also needed to have more songs than just the ones my character sings in the story. The full CD is still available in its entirety with it’s original cover.

But when Amazon decided to release my novel as an ebook and bundle it with the music, that gave us the chance to truly make it a digital soundtrack to the novel. The new version has a cover that coordinates with the ebook cover and includes the eight songs from the original CD that are specific to my story. Rather than a photo of Barbara, we opted for an image that looks like my heroine, Riley Stone, the sexy singer who goes toe-to-toe with a straight-laced lawyer to save a historic dance hall in Texas.

Bundling the Ebook and Soundtrack

Right now, as I’m writing this, the soundtrack has not gone live yet at Amazon. This is Saturday (January 14), and my ebook goes live next Tuesday, so we’re scrambling to get everything in order so the soundtrack will also go live on Tuesday. Barbara is uploading the new cover at CD Baby. They will then distribute it to Amazon. Amazon is standing by to add the soundtrack to my detail page for the ebook as soon as they receive it.

It’s going to be a race to the finish line, but if all goes well, we’ll make it. In the meantime, you can Click Here to read my interview with Amazon and preorder the ebook so you get it as soon as it goes on sale. Or Click Here if you want to learn more about the story and read Chapter One free.


  1. Thanks for much for all your comments. I was debating about going the conventional publishing route again after having a non-fiction book designated as one of the “Best Books of 2009” by the “Library Journal.” I have three more books–one other non-fiction manuscript ready to go, as well as two manuscripts which require final edits. The latter would fall into the women’s fiction category. Well, I also have what could be considered an allegory for adults. I’d almost forgotten about it! Anyway, I am quite energized after feeling rather depressed and stuck for awhile there—unsure as to which direction to go. But then, two days ago, I’d come to the decision to definitely pursue the Amazon route. Perhaps I was led to your website to quell any lingering doubts I still had regarding this decision? That said, I plan to go merely digital.

  2. Diane, I’m so glad you found inspiration and became rejuvenated here. You go! I’d love to hear your progress.

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