I write military science fiction, as do many of my friends.
What else do you need to know about me? Well, I love audiobooks. I’ve even had a few of my books made into audiobooks by professionals. But that is not what this blog article is about.
Once upon a time, I woke at an absurd hour one Thanksgiving morning and thought nothing would be better than to read my books live on YouTube. So I gave it a try, but defaulted to the path of least resistance, which was "video by cell phone". To get the best quality, and not to wake up the entire family, I went out to my car in the garage which was turned off for safety reasons obviously, and proceeded to read into the camera.
There were problems to this approach, although it wasn't too bad. The sound quality was pretty decent and it was a straightforward process to upload the video. But let's be honest, I've always wanted to create my own audiobook. If you follow along with this project I've started, you'll see that I'm reading pretty neutrally. Not a lot of voice acting going on here, but I plan to improve. (More on that later.)
So even though I will never have time to become a full-time voice narrator, or the skill, I think I have the ability to become a pretty serious hobbyist in this regard.
If you are an author who has considered audiobooks, which you should because they are the biggest growth industry we have available to us right now, then you may have gone to ACX and read the terms of publication. One thing will jump out at you right away. The ACX contract is for seven years. So if you are an enthusiast like myself, it might be best not to lock in a decent but not professional project for that period of time. Especially if you want to charge money for it. (Be patient, young Padawan!)
My YouTube audiobook is a happy medium--my reasonable and totally unpretentious compromise (I hope). By the time I'm finished with this book, I should have mastered most of the technology needed to produce a basic audiobook and improve my skill as a voice narrator also. (I really love audiobooks and admire my favorite audiobook narrators like they are rock stars. I couldn't tell you the name of the lead singer of my favorite bands like I could back in highschool, but I can list the best narrators out there right now. I listen to a lot of audiobooks...have I mentioned this?)
What should an author do to start creating audiobooks? The title of this blog is “easy first steps”, so let's get to that part right now.
1) Listen to audiobooks. Listen to a lot of audiobooks. You may find that some voice narrators are so talented you would listen to the book regardless of what the book was about. Keep this in mind for later when you are hiring your own narrator.
2) Check out ACX.com. This is the audiobook equivalent of Kindle direct publishing. It's not as easy to navigate but it's not impossible. There are two ways to hire a voice narrator through this system. You can pay someone or you can sign up for a royalty share. I've done both, and they each have their pros and cons. (Also, there are other audiobook alternatives to ACX that should be researched. I haven’t used them yet.)
3) Read your books aloud. If you are serious writer, you should be doing this already to help catch typos and get a feel for the flow of the language.
4) Try out a simple and inexpensive program such as audacity or GarageBand. Read your book and edit it. Keep it simple. At this stage in my audiobook journey, I am basically taking out obvious mistakes and places where I clear my throat or take a breath that the mic picks up. The most useful thing I've learned recently, is to delete the unwanted sound bite but keep the gap in the audio file. This will make more sense if you're looking at your editing program (Audacity, GarageBand, Adobe, ect…). What this does, is maintain the rhythm of the speech without all the heavy breathing.
That's about all I have for today. I've included links to the first three chapters of Bayonet Dawn. If you could do me an awesome favor and give them a listen, that would be fantastic. You might even consider liking and subscribing to my YouTube channel.
Thanks for checking out my blog. I hope you have a fantastic day.