Adventures in Audiobooks

June 4, 2014

I hadn’t planned on doing an audiobook. I hadn’t really planned on much of anything.

When I first decided I was going to self-publish Tattered Heart it was just going to be an ebook for who knows how long. Then, maybe, something hard copy. And that was it.

But I got a request through goodreads to record an audiobook. By then I’d figured out that print on demand was going to make the whole hard copy thing super simple. And I was (admittedly) pretty confident in my ability to format the ebook. Not to mention, I already had a trip to LA planned where there are facilities for that sort of thing, some of which I have access to. So, I thought I’d give it a whirl. ha. hahahaha (as I laugh manically and mock myself).

First things first, I asked a friend to score it. Yes, before I had the audio files. Yes, before I’d worked out all the logistics of recording it. I had space. I had time (ha!). I wanted a score. And I also happen to have a friend who is a great musician and agreed to write said score. Annie 1 – Audiobook 0

Next, I needed to get the narration worked out. So, I started reading it out loud to practice. It’d been a while since I performed but I’ve had this book in my head for years. And my editors always told me they had to try to get my voice out of their heads when they were reading so I kind of liked the idea that everyone else would be able to get my voice into their heads. And then I got to chapter 1 and…

Callen: Do we look like we’re covered in blood?

I dropped my voice and tried to sound like a guy and burst out laughing at how ridiculous I sounded. Annie 1 – Audiobook 1

But I’d lived in LA and you know what? I know actors. I sent an email to an old friend and before you knew it I had a Bion. And 38 speaking roles. I knew I couldn’t do all the different girls voices myself even though I was still going to do all the narration and one thought led to another and I started casting my audiobook. Annie 2 – Audiobook 1

This was admittedly a really fun part of the process. All of it was fun but this was one of the especially fun parts. Because I got to meet all sorts of new actors. And I got to connect to old friends. And I got to hear all these different voices over the phone and imagine how they’d sound reading the dialog from my novel. I got really excited.

The boring parts were the days spent converting the whole novel to screenplay format and then piecing out all the different roles to send to the actors then narrowing down the pages even further to cut out any narration or unnecessary dialog so they could focus on just their dialog. The administration stuff is only ever fun to the person sitting at the computer clicking the keys and then not for 2 weekends in a row. seriously.

But then I got to LA! The recording space was awesome and I learned Pro Tools in 15 minutes (score 1 for the Audiobook). And my actors started showing up and and they were amazing! I was totally short of guys so some of my friends came by and lent me their voices and they were fantastic too. I cannot describe how awesome it was to hear these words read by such talented people.

Tattered Heart audiobook recording

Most of the time they didn’t sound quite like how I’d heard things in my head. They sounded better. Because they got the personality I’d written for the characters and brought so much of that to their performance, but really made their own choices and gave it their own spin and it was wonderful and surprising and a lot of fun.

And 2 and a half days long. Being an audiobook novice, I was not expecting that. I naively thought I could record the whole thing in a single day (ha!). Then I thought maybe I’d need a day and a half. Which turned into two full days. Plus seven hours split across three different sessions. Annie 2 – Audiobook 16

Thankfully, I’m a morning person and I could get up and go to the studio and record for a while before my friend woke up and then we could go about our day and have some other fun. And also I asked my friends to record voices for me which was only a couple of hours one night before dinner and such a blast.

If you’re going to do something like this (and especially if it’s going to unexpectedly kick your ass) then the best way to do it is with your friends. And I have the best friends. They were so supportive and encouraging when I really needed it and gave awesome performances and we laughed and it was really special to have them be a part of it.

So, now I have 14 hours of recorded audio I need to edit. A new program I need to learn in order to do said editing. And not nearly enough pictures of the whole thing. I totally meant to take at least one picture of all my actors and tweet about it more and everything but I got so focused on the actual recording I kind of forgot. Annie 2 – Audiobook 17

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12 responses to “adventures in audiobooks

  1. Annie! I had such a blast working on this. Congrats on accomplishing a dream and making it reality! So amazing 🙂

    • Annie

      thank you! I’m so glad you had fun because I’ve loved the different ways people have been able to enjoy my novel. It’s great that it’s not just me having a good time with it all 🙂

  2. Wow, so interesting to read the process of recording an audiobook! I think it’s great to that you will have a full cast – those are really fun to listen to! I can’t imagine sitting in a room reading out loud for so many hours- kudos to everyone involved!

    • Annie

      Thanks 🙂 I actually tried to build up to being able to read aloud for hours before I went to LA (halfheartedly but I knew I should) and still I wasn’t ready for how your vocal cords can just get tired. There were so many things in the process I wasn’t expecting, but I think that always happens when you try something new.

  3. Wow… seriously this was a fun and interesting post. I never really thought about what it takes to make an audiobook. I think.. someone sits down reads and that’s that. Honestly .. I am very intrigued to listen to it too.. be sure to post when it is ready to be bought!

    • Annie

      I totally will! I will also have a few more stories of the whole experience and what I learned through the process. I didn’t know what to expect either – I totally thought the same thing 🙂 But it’s been such a great learning experience.

  4. Sam @ Realm of Fiction

    This is so interesting! I don’t think I have never once thought about what is involved in the recording of an audio book, and especially when a lot of that is down to organising it yourself, so this is a really cool post. It’s great that you were able to get several actors involved. I hope the editing all goes smoothly! 🙂

    • Annie

      The organization was crazy, but I think it was a lot more because I cast other actors than it would have been if I’d only had one narrator. Because then I had to isolate out each character’s dialog from the text instead of having them wade through the whole thing to find their lines.
      The surprising thing in that was characters are present and active in the story, even when they’re not talking. I was surprised how many of my significant characters had so few pages of dialog.

  5. Megan (Adrift on Vulcan)

    I’ve never listened to an audiobook in my life (but I’m hoping to change that soon), so it was definitely cool to see the whole process of creating one! And LOL, male voices are so hard and ridiculous to do for us girls. I used to think I sounded pretty good as a male, but when I recorded it to actually hear how I sounded, it was probably the most embarrassing moments of my life… So yeah, you made a great decision getting actors to do all the voice-acting for you! 😛
    Whew, I never realized how much work it takes to create a single audiobook — no wonder they’re so pricey! But anyway, all the best with the editing, though I’m sure you’ll do just fine. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing, Annie!

    • Annie

      Honestly, I’ve only ever listened to 1 audiobook before. So, perhaps a bit belatedly, I’m going to have to go to the library and check a few out to see how things like chapter headings or section breaks are handled. Do people put acknowledgements in the audiobook? Or copyright? How’s that all done?
      And yes, I sounded so ridiculous trying to sound like a boy – especially compared to the actors I ended up getting to work with! Such a good decision 🙂