In addition to print books and eBooks, offering an audio book edition is another form of reader access. Audio books are one of the fastest growing segments in the market in the 18-44 age range. Why? With the advent of portable devices (smartphones, small tablets etc.) readers ‘on the go’ realize that they no longer have to lug around print copies and they don’t have to deal with the potential eye strain of staring at their device for long periods of time – they have another option! Commuters in particular, but also travelers, or those engaged in other activities (e.g. fitness workouts) can pop in a pair of ear buds and be listening to their favourite novel quickly and easily. It is also a major benefit for those with visual or reading issues. Be guided by your readership demographic and keep in mind this is a fluid target.
The process basically includes three steps:
- finding the voice for your book
- making it available
You might think you can read and record your own book and that is certainly possible. However, this requires a certain skill to do well. There’s a reason professional voice actors spend years with voice coaches and take extreme measures to protect their vocal chords. Reading aloud for long periods of time can take its toll. As Joanna Penn advises, it is prudent, if doing your own recording, to pace yourself.
Making your book interesting includes inflection, clear language, some improvisation, along with other technical requirements – see ‘Recording’.
Another option is to hire talent, which can be sourced externally or through such as Amazon/Audible/ACX (see links below). If you are externally sourcing you need to search online whereas certain platforms have a pool. Cost and terms of contract may be a factor in your decision.
The key is to hear each potential reader read a passage or two from your book. If your book has several ‘voices or tones (humorous/dramatic)’ make sure they provide a sample from each. Then decide which talent is the best fit.
The next step is to have your book recorded. Be sure to discuss any thoughts with your voice/reader, based on what/how you’d like to emphasize, inflections, etc.
They will generally tape your book (or perhaps a part to start) and then you can listen to ensure all content has been included accurately and appropriately (and they are on the right track).
If you are recording your own book, ACX recommends a dynamic, Cardioid mic such as those by Shure or ElctroVoice which only takes in sound from the front of the mic. A less expensive option might be the AUDIO TECHNICA AT2020. Do some research before investing – online or at a reputable electronics retailer (e.g., Long and McQuade).
You’ll also have to use a program to record such as Garageband for MAC; Audacity, Pro Tools or similar on PCs. These allow editing for such as pauses, replacement of content misread, other adjustments. Keep in mind that with advanced capability comes additional learning time. Build this into your plan.
To achieve professional results you will also have to ensure absolute quiet in the recording environment. You may not even realize the sounds that are there – but, for instance, if recording in your home the mic may pick up creaks from the house settling, furnace or air coming on/off, birds chirping outside, pet noises, jewelry, or even your own stomach growling. This is why professionals are often secluded in a small, sound proof booth. (There are also local recording studios that might be able to offer you a sound booth and perhaps mixing services at an hourly rate.) You could also purchase ‘sound walls’ to encase your recording area – but remember, everything adds cost to the production and thereby reducing your profit.
However simple or complex you make your recording – the key is consistency.
As well, although feasible, making changes to the content ‘on the fly’ can cause inconsistencies with your published work (and may cause production issues if audio and eBook files have inconsistencies). Try to keep to the ‘script’ as much as possible.
You can choose to have audio files sold and downloaded from your website, although, depending on your site’s security, it may be possible for people to share the file – meaning loss of financial compensation and control.
Amazon and Kobo provide the facility to make your audio book available. And Amazon/Audible/ACX has the capability to take you from book to audio with various options.
Whichever route you choose, do your research. Know what expenditures (time and financial) are involved before committing. Audio books are a great way to expand your readership but it is essential to take the time and do it right.
Recording talent pool via ACX (division of Amazon/Audible)
Interesting interview with Audible CEO.
As always, it is your responsibility to research options throughly; make sure you read all the fine-print and make an informed decision about what’s right for you.0