Tag Archives: iTunes

Rebel Chapter Two is live on Sound Cloud


I’ve just posted the second preview chapter here. Have a listen!

https://soundcloud.com/margo-ander

Now, I’ve gotta get back to work!

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Audiobook Sneak Preview & Lessons Learned–Part 1


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:

http://soundcloud.com/margo-ander/
legend-of-the-spider-prince-book-1-rebel-chapter-one

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!

 

 

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Adventures of an Indie Author Update


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 adviceĀ  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…!

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