Here are the first three chapters of my forthcoming audiobook, in a neat, embedded player!
Category Archives: Writing
I’ve just posted the second preview chapter here. Have a listen!
Now, I’ve gotta get back to work!
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!
Wow, no kidding, it really has been an adventure! The past month has been a wild ride. My thanks to the folks at Promotional Book Tours for arranging a phenomenal tour. It was great to get Legend of the Spider-Prince #1: REBEL in front of avid readers and even better to get reader feedback in the form of good reviews. Rebel made it to Amazon’s Top 100 YA Swords & Sorcery list almost as soon as the tour started and is still clinging there two weeks after it ended, despite the start of the school year. (How it ended up in S & S, I don’t know. I love S & S, but I categorized it as Epic Fantasy for a reason! So much about Amazon’s inner workings remains a mystery.)
So, what’s next?
A little bit of irony–one part of my editing process is to read aloud. I like reading aloud, and it was one of my favorite things to do with my kids when they were younger. In my usual, let’s-be-efficient-about-this approach, I did some recording when I was editing, you know, since I was talking anyway. Just used a USB headset and Sound Forge Studio, and I didn’t record the whole thing–I spent about eighteen years in my company’s media production department (on the admin side), which meant I acquired (by osmosis) an unfortunate appreciation for production values, and even I cringed at what I was hearing. I couldn’t justify the time I was spending recording crap and moved on. I didn’t seriously consider doing an audiobook because that meant getting an agent who wanted to spend time selling audio rights for an unknown author to some audiobook producer. Not! And frankly, I didn’t want to get tangled in yet another behemoth food chain. I like being an indie author, and getting into audiobooks (even if I could, without an agent) seemed too much like going the traditional publishing route.
Then I discovered ACX, an indie-author friendly platform for audiobook publishing and distribution that reminded me of Smashwords (can I say that in the same sentence with an Amazon company?) But they distribute to Audible and iTunes, and only for seven years’ commitment. My research hasn’t turned up any similarly-friendly platforms with that kind of distribution reach. So, I’ve looked into the whole thing more seriously and have gotten some great advice from books and practical guidance from pros at my day job, and it’s a whole ‘nother ball game.
So, armed now with a nicely, affordably-professional front end (mic and preamp) for my writing dungeon/home studio, I’m heavily into pre-production of REBEL in audio, waiting on the weekend for my husband to help me build a sound-proof box for my noisy computer so I can cut another test audio clip. I want the audiobook out in time for Christmas, so that means nose-to-the-grindstone time again.
The narration decision was a tough one. I’m not a professional voice actor, but I have two big advantages that a voice actor doesn’t have–the words are my words, and I know all the characters, including what’s not in the book. That, coupled with the quality control that comes from doing my own recording and the tight timeline, means I’ve decided to narrate my own book. I know author-narrators aren’t the most common approach, but I suspect it’s more because production companies that buy audio rights want their own talent doing the talking. There certainly seems to be an interest in hearing an author tell their story in their own words, hence the popularity of author readings. And, of course, the other big advantage to narrating it myself lies in keeping down the overhead costs–there’s a reason so many audiobooks cost a fortune when you have to pay a cast of thousands. I’m thinking I can produce an audiobook worth listening to at a price my audience can afford to pay.
Since I can’t record the way I write (nonstop for hours), this means I’m still able to work on my next book in the series, ROGUE. But I will do one thing differently with the second book–I’ll record the book as part of the final proofread, but before I publish it. How efficient is that?
And maybe I’ll try podcasting…!
This has been an amazing month. While I’ve been dealing with a nasty bout of vertigo for the last three weeks, and have done precious little on my computer to promote Legend of the Spider-Prince: REBEL as a result, it seems to have taken off without me. In its first month, it has smoked the watershed 100 sales that I’m told most indie authors don’t make, and has four great reviews–three 5 stars. and the one 3 star was still a good review and had me ROTFL–if there had been “more stabby stabby,” LotSPR would be a short story rather than a nine book series!
So, before the head-spinning gets worse, here’s the tour schedule:
There will be reviews, interviews (including a character interview that was a lot of fun), and excerpts from the book, as well as a Rafflecopter drawing for a $25 VISA gift card and an autographed 18″ x 24″ poster of the cover art by artist Kirsi Salonen (my autograph, her art!).
Just a short post today–I’m running a little behind. I’m checking out all the features at Smashwords to see how they work, so for the rest of the month, my debut novel, Legend of the Spider-Prince #1: REBEL has a 50% off coupon–just type-in “DU50G” for the coupon at checkout on Smashwords.
A funny thing happened on Monday, July 15th.
I had just received my finished book cover and realized that for my book to be available in time for my blog tour that starts August 16th, I was going to have to get it into the distribution system well before that date. I also figured Murphy’s Law was still in force, so I expected surprise problems when I started uploading on Smashwords. (If I have a mantra, it would be, “it’s always something….”)
I uploaded, and sure enough, there was something wonky in the formatting, despite all my precautions to make sure there wasn’t—the known formatting issues stopped with Word 2007, and I’ve got Word 2010, though I saved the files as Word 97-2003 docs. So, I got rid of some surprise XML and hidden text, and tried again. The only change in the error message was the line numbers where the problems were—somewhere in the front matter and Table of Contents, which looked fine in EPUB. I fussed for a couple hours (it was already past my bedtime when I started) and called it a night, then discovered that while I was fussing and re-uploading, I’d had two of my sample pages downloaded!
That was a shock—but not a bad one!
I’d hoped to have the EPUBCHECK problem worked out before anyone discovered my book was out there. Except for this blog and my web site, and the FB author page and Twitter posts that go out whenever I make a post here, no one really knows about my book, so I figure the wonderful cover Kirsi made, and my blurb, were doing their job in those few hours when my book was at the top of the home page of Smashwords.
Long story short, I’d made my first sale on Smashwords in twelve hours, and three more in the next twenty-four hours! Not one for the record books, I’m sure, but I still take it as an encouraging sign.
Since then, I’ve uploaded Legend of the Spider-Prince #1: REBEL on Amazon as an ebook, and in the first twenty-four hours there, I also made four sales!
The score now sits at five sales on Smashwords and four sales on Amazon, with nineteen additional samples downloaded on Smashwords!
As for the mystery error, I rooted it out today, so my ebook is now set to go out to Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc. I also finished my paperback edition’s layout and ordered my proof, so it also should be ready to go when the blog tour kicks off in August. I also posted Chapter 4 on my web site.
After so many years of writing in total obscurity, it has been an amazing week, the more so for this all being completely unexpected. So, a HUGE THANK-YOU to those brave souls who took a chance on a completely unknown author—I hope my book delivered on its promise, and left you entertained and wanting more.
Well, at last a nice, quiet weekend to catch up with myself.
Self-publishing continues to be a learning experience. Whole books have been written about what I don’t know about graphic design and printing–fortunately, my cover artist has the patience of a saint.
Caught up with my email and social media, and even had a chance to plunge back into writing Book 2, ROGUE, though getting out of the edit/proofing mindset may take a little doing. My Inner Editor has had free rein for so long, I hope it can do with a little rest!
I’ve put Chapter 3 of Legend of the Spider-Prince: REBEL up on my website http://www.margoander.com
The book will be officially released August 15, 2013, with a blog tour starting on August 16th. More to follow.
Last night I posted Chapter Two of Legend of the Spider-Prince: REBEL on my web site: http://www.MargoAnder.com, but I was too tired to let anyone know about it!
Synchronicity…sometimes a good thing, sometimes not so. I’m still burned out by the latest concatenation of events (I love that word), but at least it ended on a good note–my 86 y.o. mother-in-law is home from the hospital feeling and looking better; I got to see my elder daughter and the grandkitties over the holiday while breaking up only one mild cat-fight with 15 y.o. Cookie Monster (who doesn’t think they’re cute, but decided not to brood over the intruders this visit); finally found allergy meds that worked for Amber (who can’t understand why a 50 lb dog and 4 lb kittens can’t play laser-dot together!); Circe (Firebrand’s inspiration) has gotten over whatever happened on July 5th while we were at the hospital that made her refuse to go near the barn even to eat (we hope it was nothing worse than the new neighbors using up their fireworks, though Circe generally weathers New Years and the Fourth with aplomb, thanks to four years in Tucson, where the base stables were across the road from the firing range!); I finished my last proof and got REBEL out as an ARC; I received the final sketch for my cover; and I finally got some decent sleep. (My semicolons have gotten a workout this morning!)