Update to my last post–ah, ignorance IS bliss! (I admit, I spent a few minutes ROFLMAO after re-reading that post.) I knew there would be a learning curve to travel in producing and narrating an audiobook, but failed to comprehend how MUCH of a learning curve–which is why the audiobook will be out in August rather than last Christmas.
In honor of June being Audiobook Month, I’ve decided, with the blessing of my distributor, to post the first three chapters on Sound Cloud. I’ll be posting one chapter a week for the rest of the month. You can hear Legend of the Spider-Prince #1–Rebel, Chapter One here:
The first thing I learned was that the time estimates I was reading applied just to the narration–the post-production (editing, engineering, mastering) isn’t included in those “4 hrs per one recorded hour” estimates I was reading about. While I have become faster at all the various functions, my mileage was–and still is–significantly longer. That was the first lesson I learned–stop worrying about production stats and just pay attention to how it sounds. As an author, it is laughable to write a book and then break it down into “hours per finished chapter.” No one would ever start if they honestly logged everything in time and effort that went into writing a book, let alone boil it down into productivity stats! The same thing goes for an author narrating her own book–a listener doesn’t care how long it took (though, yes, I know a lot of people care how long it takes until the next book comes out!).
The next thing I learned was that long-form narration affected me much like when I took up madrigal singing, after not having done serious singing in decades, and went from singing to croaking in about four practice sessions. Everyone’s writing process is different, but it’s probably safe to say that few of us writers talk as we type. When I read an interview with an author about narrating her own book in a professional studio for nearly a week of ten-hour days, I was horrified. With my day job, ten-hour recording sessions don’t even exist except on weekends and holidays, when I record as much as humanly possible–or until my family revolts and begs to turn on the AC! Those marathons take my voice to its limit. To ask an untrained voice to do such a thing for days on end not only guarantees physical misery, but would require a sound wizard to make the result worth hearing. I know when I’m tired, I can hear it in a recording, and I don’t know of any technology that can fix it, except to re-record. It seemed to me that the studio was setting the author up to fail–and to leave her convinced that hiring a “professional voice actor” was the only way to proceed. My own experiences have given me great appreciation for the professionals, especially actors who can do a “one man show.” For an author narrating and producing her own material, the workflow–and mindset–may be very different from that used by professional voice actors whose time is money. What matters is that the LISTENER’S time investment is rewarded. People’s tastes vary, but an audiobook’s production values should be transparent, allowing the material to find its audience.
Despite the challenges, the overall production experience has been exciting, and–dare I say it?–the actual recording has been fun. Channeling my cast of characters has sharpened them and given me deeper insights into their futures over the course of the series–and made me resolve that, in the future, if a character doesn’t warrant a name, they probably don’t need dialogue, either!