Audiobook Part 2

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I negotiated an agreement with Cherry Hills Publishing to produce an Audiobook version of INCENTIVIZE.

Unfortunately, neither the economics nor the control of pricing are as simple to manage with this approach as they are with self-published paper and ebooks.  In an effort to increase the percentage I earn, I opted to narrate the novel myself.  This necessitated the purchase of a few items (audio recording software -- I selected "Propaganda," which has been extremely easy for both recording and editing, and a good quality USB microphone  -- here I picked the "Blue Yeti" mic), and the setting up of an "audio studio" in the spare room over our garage.  Cherry Hills provided a mic stand, and a sound barrier to help reduce echo.

Then I began recording the book.

I learned by making a number of mistakes along the way.  The first of which was to record five chapters without getting a sound check by the Cherry Hills engineers.  Those first five chapters had a technical problem, and couldn't be used.  I lost about ten hours of work there, but learned a few valuable lessons in the process.

Other than that, the process has been pretty smooth sailing.  A few lessons for the next time (if there is one) would include the following....

  1. Plan a minimum of an hour per 10 page chapter.  It took me about 20 minutes to record each one on average, and another 40 to edit out the "do-overs," coughs, excessively long gaps, and the like.
  2. This is intense.  The most I could manage to do in any given day was three chapters.  Space it out -- the entire project is a marathon, and you'll need endurance.
  3. Make a list of voices and accents.  I found this to be important particularly with the minor characters, especially those making several short appearances in the novel.  By the time a minor character re-entered the story, I often couldn't remember what "voice" I'd used for their dialog.  That had me perpetually going back into the already completed files and listening to remind myself how to speak that character's dialog -- a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack.
  4. Try to avoid heavy accents.  While it's easy to write in characters with accents, it isn't necessarily easy to speak that way.  I found myself struggling a few times with this problem.
  5. Practicing before recording is not necessary, and it isn't necessary to get the reading perfect.  I found myself repeatedly stopping and re-reading a sentence or even a paragraph during the "take," rather than practicing the chapters ahead of time, and trying to get it perfect.  This turned out to be much more time efficient, as I could easily cut the bad material out of the final product.

While the project was interesting, and I learned a lot by doing it, I need a break before attempting another novel.  And the audio recordings could only be done at the time of day that is my most productive for writing new material -- a definite reduction in my writing productivity.

Next time, I'll have to consider whether I'm willing to share some of the revenue with a professional narrator.