Into the World of Audio Books: Fine Tuning

We’re almost there! The book production is complete. All the corrected chapters are uploaded. There are a few final steps before approval.

As soon as the chapters were completed, I started the process of going through the published book, making changes to the text that will match the audio. There aren’t that many and nothing of significant meaning has been changed. Once that’s done, I’ll be announcing that the changes are uploaded and if you’ve already downloaded Chosen from Amazon before, you’ll want to go get the update. This will allow you to get the audio book with whisper-sync and for much less than buying the audio book outright. Once whisper-sync is approved, I’ll let you know about that too. And hopefully, there won’t be any glitches in that system along the way.

Chosen is an 89K word book. It’s a bit over 9 hours long in the audio version. It took a little over a month to record and correct 26 chapters, plus the prologue.

Once all the chapter files were uploaded to ACX, I started at the beginning again and listened to the whole book. I probably could have started doing that earlier to avoid doing it all over the course of two days at the end, but I wanted the entire scope of it at hand. This last step was also to make sure there weren’t any huge, glaring mistakes that might have been overlooked in the course of a month-long charge to get the entire book uploaded.

Don’t skip this step. I discovered that I’d missed a character voice change that neither of us caught in the first wav file or the second mastered ACX file. This goes back to the three baritones I mentioned before. We decided somewhere along the way that one of those voices had to be different and then missed the correction in the first two passes. I only noticed because this character had been speaking in the chapter preceding that I listened to one after the other and the difference stood out in this final pass. Again, Keith was more than willing to go back and re-record the two passages in the alternate voice for me. It’s easy to get in the thick of things and not remember important details when you embark on a project of this magnitude. This final check is important for that reason.

I had to make changes to the cover because ACX has a different size requirement for their audio book covers than Amazon (or anyone else). It’s much wider than the usual book cover size. Not such an ordeal for me since I create my own book covers, but for those who have to hire someone else for that task, you’ll need to do so here too. You can’t take your Amazon book cover and force it into their size requirement. You’ll end up with a stretched and unprofessional image that ACX will reject. Fair warning.

This is also about the time that you decide if you’d like to have music under the opening and closing credits. Keith found some duty free, creative commons music after asking me what I was looking for. This wasn’t something I’d thought about before, again with the listening vs reading issue, so I had to put some thought into what might represent the tone of the book musically. He picked out 5 samples and I ended up liking every one of them! Another choice to be made! I ended up flipping a coin once I narrowed them down to two. I admit it is pretty fantastic hearing that opening credit playing with my book title and my name with this majestic music in the background.

I also had to pick out the 5 minute sample that Audible wants to play for potential listeners. This was also extremely difficult. You don’t want a sample that spoils anything. You want a sample that’s engaging but won’t be confusing. Do you pick the first 5 minutes of the book, taking it from the top? Do you go in a little deeper? The sample ought to convey genre and the overall tone of the book and at the same time I want to highlight the narrator. It’s just about as difficult as writing the blurb. Hopefully, I chose well.

The end result is an audio book that represents as closely as possible how I would read it myself if that were at all possible (which it isn’t). It combines my creative instincts with that of my producer. This is also his interpretation. It’s a unique and fascinating combination of talents, the written word and the spoken word to create an audio version of this story. The personalities of these characters have been captured to near perfection and that is a very cool thing indeed.

And now we wait. ACX has to approve the quality of the recording and they say that can take some time. Having just checked the site, just this minute, it looks like that approval has happened because the heading has changed to ‘headed to retail’ (at Amazon, Audible and iTunes) so ANY day now, I’ll be back to say IT’S LIVE!

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