Into the World of Audio Books: An Author’s Perspective

I’ve wanted to make my series of The Guardians of the Word, into audio books for quite some time now. I never set aside the time to really delve into it though and a lot of time slipped by. I finally got my act together a couple months ago and got the ball rolling. I thought it might be helpful to share the entire process from start to finish for any authors also thinking about stepping into the audio book world.

So you want to turn your book into an audio book? How on earth do you do that? What’s involved? How much will it cost? How long will it take?

These are just a few of the questions I had along the long road toward tackling an audio books for my first book, Chosen, the First Chronicle of the Guardians of the Word – an eight book epic fantasy adventure. It seemed like a crazy complicated process from an outsider perspective. I write books. I’m not a narrator. I don’t have the recording equipment necessary to produce a high quality product. I took a look at the technical requirements for ACX/Audible and immediately knew I couldn’t do this myself.

On top of lacking the technical know-how, I also don’t have the voice for it. Have you ever tried reading your words out loud for any length of time? I can manage a chapter usually, but after that? My voice starts to sound like sandpaper. Even if I did have the voice for narrating, it’s so much more than that. It’s a performance all to itself.

To get things rolling, I headed off into the ACX/Audible website to find someone who knew what they were doing. I read the site carefully after setting up my account, following the instructions on how to get started. I discovered along the way, after the audition and my book was in production, that I’d skipped a few important steps that should have happened before even putting up an audition script.

Step one: Read your book out loud. Seriously, if you’re not doing this already, you should. File that under advice I’d heard before but willfully decided to ignore. Never again. Many authors already do this during editing so they’re ahead of the game in audio book creation. It feels weird if you’re not used to it, but it’s a vital step. Reading out loud helps you hear where the wording is difficult. If you’re stumbling over words, so will your narrator. Change them. Reading out loud will also help you find repetitive words and phrases. Fix them. Read your book out loud before you even publish. One day you might want to make an audio book and doing this will help.

Reading aloud also helps point out those places in your work where the listener will have trouble identifying who is speaking. If you have a lot of dialogue and more than two people speaking at a time, you have to put identifiers into the words for the listener. The listener doesn’t have the benefit of a new paragraph that for a reader shows a new person is speaking. A listener will have no idea, so write your book with listeners in mind.

Of course, you’ll have a narrator who can alter his or her voice per character to help with making the distinction between your characters. Sounds easy and not so complicated, but ends up being not easy and very complicated. More on selecting character voices later. Do yourself, your narrator, and your listener a favor; make sure your words clearly indicate who is speaking. It’ll save you some headaches later on if you decide to go down the audio book route.

My main takeaway is to keep both the reader and the listener in mind while writing. Reading is visual. Listening is auditory. The two can coexist without detracting from either.

Next post preview: Proper, prior, preparation…

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Filed under Audio books, Tools of writing

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