Narrating your own Audiobook
Initially, while writing THE NEXUS: SAMHAIN I didn't even consider the option of an audiobook. All I was concerned about was an ebook and print. Personally, I have never listened to an audiobook so it was never on my radar.
Then, I began to notice more people around me mentioning audiobooks they were listening to. So I slowly began to consider the option. I assumed I was going to go the traditionally published route and would just leave it up to my agent or publisher to get the audiobook produced. However, after finishing my novel, I decided to go the self-publsihing route instead. So that meant I was going to have to produce the audiobook myself somehow.
I discussed the idea of doing my own audibook with James and he thought it was a great idea to do one, as he knew several people as well that listened to audiobooks, and it seemed to make good business sense. The more I thought about the idea, the more it appealed to me. Especially, since one of my first loves is Acting, and this would allow me to get some of that energy out.
The most logical choice for my situation was to go with Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX). I have NOT regretted it! There are several options with this company. You can seek out a producer and talent or any combination of such. There are of course all kinds of rules with regards to right holders etc., (Please check out their website for all that information). You can also choose to narrate and produce the audiobook youself, which is what I did. That makes the royalties and rights holder part easy. It's just me!
Now that I know I wanted to do it myself, comes the daunting task of actually DOING IT! This is the NOT SO EASY part with this option.
To start, my novel is 114,653 words. You have to read every single word! I have a full-time job, where would I get the time. This was a task within itself, and I haven't even gotten to technical issues.
I couldn't afford to pay to have my audiobook recorded in a professional studio and with working I wasn't going to be able to schedule time appropriately anyway. So producing this at home was my best choice. I found AUDACITY which is a great free audio editor and recorder! I tried a few others first, and AUDACITY worked the best for me (I even used it for editing the sound and music for my book video). ACX has a list of submission requirements that your audio must match in order for them to process your audiobook. I found that AUDACITY allowed me to set some of these fields easily.
Now that I have my software picked out, I need to get a microphone. I went on AMAZON and found a $20 one that got good reviews. There was this metallic underlying screech through my audio, and no matter what, AUDACITY couldn't filter it out. I was questioning AUDACITY and even my recording setup in my study/Halloween Village room. I went bonkers trying to deduce the culprit. Eventually, I opted to break down and upgrade my microphone to the Blue Microphone Snowball Ice ..and wow, that was it! It was only $60. The screeching sound was gone. I also have a Dragonpad Pop Filter attached to the microphone.
The other thing I did was create my recording studio box! There's all kinds of expensive stuff out there, easily $1000 and up. What I did was buy a $10 foam mattress topper. And then I bought a $10 plastic storage bin. I already had a bottle of Tacky Glue for my Halloween Village hobby. I just cut up the foam and glued it inside the bin, and VOILA! I have a $20 recording "studio."
It really worked. Besides, the Mic, Pop Filter and AUDACITY were doing most of the work. So the Studio just helped out. This might be a good time to mention that ACX will also have their engineers do a processing of your audio once your submission files are approved. So there wasn't a need for me to spend thousands of dollars on making a good quality audiobook.
It was a time consuming process (only 315 days of recording on editing). But I had a ton of fun doing it. It was inspiring and motivating to be recording in my Halloween Village room/Study. I made a Halloween Village (I carved out all the foam and painted it). I keep this up all year round and add-on as I get pieces. Also, I mentioned earlier that this was great opportunity for me to get my acting-bug out, as well as some great use of that Theater Degree.
I was fortunate in Junior College to get my Associates Degree under the tutelage of Michael Kim Frederick (he taugh me everything I know about construction) and Sue Sellors Finley (whom is no longer with us).
I feel strongly that Sue Finley still galavants through the Nexus and serves as a Spirit Guide to me while performing Tai-Chi (when in doubt "Grasp the Sparrows Tail...") as well as during the recording of my audiobook. One of the classes Sue taught was Diction. I can still hear her then... and during my recording as though sitting next to me saying, "E-NUN-CI-ATE!"
Early into my recording it hit me, "I have a lot of characters!" Sure, I kinda realized that while writing the novel, but when you have to try and make each character voice distinctive...WOW it really hits you hard! I decided to go through the entire novel and note every character that had a speaking part so to give me an idea of what exactly was in store for me.
69 speaking characters (I missed one while typing this up)! That was a lot to perform. Many of my main characters speak with an English accent of some sort. I know I can't do a "Proper" British Accent. So I didn't even attempt. Overall, you want your customer to actually sit through the audiobook. If I faked some horrendous accent it would annoy my listener. So I opted out of feigning a British Accent. Now, there were some minor characters that don't speak much and with those I did a cockney. Similarly, I didn't try and do a girly voice for the female characters for the same reasons of not wanting to annoy the listener. You make think that this would go without saying, however, in my research I discovered that many audiobook productions have made this error and have incurred negative reviews for such.
The list of characters I created served more useful than just letting me know how many voices I was getting into. I also made notes for future books, to help me keep track of certain things about characters (I edited the pics above to avoid spoilers)!
So after 315 days of recording and editing and re-recording, I was finally ready to upload the audiofiles to ACX. The cover artwork was a whole timeframe separate from this. So even after following ACX's submission guidelines there were a few things about the audio levels that I wasn't able to control myself (not being in a professional studio). So I was worried that my files would ultimately be rejected...after 315 days of hard work!!!
A few days after submitting my files I received an email that there was an issue. OH NO! I KNEW IT!!!
Turns out, I uploaded one of my chapters twice! ACX caught it, so that was great. Then a couple of more days went by after I corrected that mistake and <drum roll> I got the APPROVED email and my audiobook was in production!
The other thing I discovered about narrating your own audiobook is that it is great for editing. While reading my book aloud I found that some sentences sounded terrible. That's not going to work. Let me re-write that now. Easy to do and fix as your own editor. I heard a story about Stephen Fry narrating J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter. There was the phrase, "Pocketed it." Very hard to say aloud. He called and asked if he could change the phrase. She said no. I can totally relate to this! I had the phrase, "Deposited it," in my book. WHAT A BITCH! That was so damn hard to say. I almost thought about re-writing it (would be easy to do since I didn't have to consult with anyone). But, I chose to leave it in and was able to say it (after a bazillion attempts). Remember, I initially thought I woudn't be doing the audiobook if one was produced...so wow...now I was regretting some of those words and phrases I wrote. I'm into the second book and can't help but think, "Shit! I'm going to actually have to pronounce this later!"
My audiobook sales have been pretty much equal with my ebook sales. I have been happy with the whole process and results. I have been very satisfied on so many levels. Especially, having the chance to act out my own novel! I will continue to record and edit my own audibooks.