If you are an author looking for new commercial opportunities, consider distributing your published work as an audio book. Audio book sales have increased four-fold in the past eight years and now represent nearly ten percent of books sold in North America.
Consumers buy audiobooks because the format gives them a chance to add entertainment and information into weeks which never seem to have enough hours. Listeners ﬁnd a compelling story or a fascinating work of non-ﬁction a satisfying addition when walking, exercising, or driving. Just ask anyone with a long commute if listening to a well-produced audiobook helps in coping with trafﬁc delays.
There are several steps in turning your published work into an audio book. The process goes something like this:
Shooting a movie requires a script and so does producing an audio books. So, the ﬁrst step in creating an audio book is turning your print book into a format that is easier to read in the sound booth. Older narrators, especially those who got their start in radio, aren’t comfortable recording from the print copy or from an e-book.
When you choose me as your narrator, I will ask that you provide me with a complete copy of your book in a standard print format like .docx or .pdf. The script will be printed double-space and then marked up for emphasis, breathing spaces, and especially, where dialogue is to be recorded.
As your narrator, I want to know your book well. Before starting production, I’ll read your book several times to understand the story, characters, point-of-view, and dialogue. This last element is vital because it is with dialogue that an audio book can really distinguish itself from the printed formats. Remember the idea that an audio book is good theater? Well, it’s here, with dialogue, that the narrator can bring the story to life. And with the use of sound effects, music, and foley, the story becomes even richer in the mind of the listener. More about music and other effects later.
With a well-marked and thoroughly-reviewed script in-hand, it’s time to head to the sound booth to record. My recording studio was constructed to eliminate reﬂections and other extraneous sounds that would interfere with the listener’s enjoyment of your book. Recording your book is time-consuming and demanding. There will be takes and re-takes — as many as are needed to produce a perfect narration. Each chapter is recorded, saved, and backed-up on a solid-state device.
Editing and Production
With a pristine recording of your book now saved and backed-up, it’s time for editing and processing. Audio book distributors like Audible have strict requirements for how the book is submitted; things like the loudness of the audio book, the digital ﬁle size, silence at the beginning and end of each chapter, and speciﬁc words to denote the title of the book, the author, narrator, and chapters.
Narrators have different preferences for the software used to prepare the audio book. My own voice production suite includes Adobe Audition, and processing plug-ins from iZotope, Polyverse, and Antares.
Music and Effects
Earlier, we talked about the addition of music and sound effects into your audio book. While many books just include the narration, more and more authors want additional music and effects. It’s not necessary to fully-score the book like a motion picture, but sound beds to establish certain moods or effects to enhance scene or dialogue, can help the listener enjoy the book and create a more vivid picture in the mind of the story unfolding.
As with most things in life, a little goes a long way. Don’t worry — you can choose whether to include these special enhancements or not, depending on how you see your book being presented for the audio book marketplace.
Audio book distributors like Amazon have strict requirements for the books they accept. Not only is the quality of narration important, but the audio itself must meet specific requirements. Amazon and others publish these standards for authors to follow.
My audio projects meet the strict standards set by distributors. This ensures that authors who choose me to narrate and engineer their audio books will have their work accepted and will meet the high quality standards required for author success.