N is for Narration
Do you have a book out? Have you thought about turning it into an audio book?
If you hire someone to narrate it, you will pay between $200 and $400 per finished hour. Ouch. Or you can cut a deal with a narrator at ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) for 50% of your profits for 10 years. Double Ouch. However, most will not cut a deal with you unless you have at least three books out and they are all selling well. If you bypass the professionals and ask your brother-in-law who knows a guy in a band who has a musician friend who owns a studio AND sweet talk the cute neighbor with the really great voice do it, it could be an ouch to your pocketbook and a big Oh No to your listeners.
So, that leaves you with very limited options, the most obvious being, do it yourself!
You CAN do it yourself with a very limited budget and a great deal of patience. You can buy recording software, a USB converter box, headphones, a microphone, a mic stand, mic cord, and windscreen….and action! Before you hit the record button, there are a few things to keep in mind. I have been a recording profession my whole life, so I know a thing or two about studio production. Besides the obvious task of checking with the site you will upload it to for their specifications, do/don’t do the following:
1. Don’t wear jewelry. Jingle-jangles wreck your story.
2. Don’t wear clothing that rubs. Leather, corduroy, nylon are all no-nos. Tshirts and sweats are good studio clothes.
3. Don’t eat or drink anything that makes your mouth sticky, but do eat something light before you record, so your stomach doesn’t growl in the middle of the best scene.
4. Get a nice level (volume) on your screen, somewhere close to the loudest without going into the red. Red is bad.
5. Sit as close to the microphone as possible and read the script from something silent – try your ipad.
6. Get rid of all animals, ticking clocks (including watches, covered in #1), cell phones, and don’t record while your furnace or air conditioner is running. Florescent light also make a humming noise. Turn them off.
7. Sit up straight so you are breathing well. Posture is everything. In life, too.
8. Read the story as if you’re reading it to a child, with lots of inflection. Monotone is monotonous.
9. THE. MOST. IMPORTANT. ITEM. Read s l o w l y. Even when the climax is coming, read higher and louder, but DO NOT speed up…E V E R.
10. Record each chapter beginning with “Chapter 1, The Beginning.” Add a two second pause then start the chapter. Save the chapters in separate files named ‘chapter1’ ‘chapter2’ etc.
11. Include three additional files: A) The Opening: Title, written by, narrated by. B) The Closing: This has been title, written by, narrated by, copyright year and publisher, production copyright year and publisher. C) The Sample: A sample file consisting of 1-5 minutes of the story. You can choose any part you want, but it should not contain The Opening, Closing, or Chapter Name, just the story. This will be used by Audible, Amazon, or wherever you upload it to to give potential customers a sample of your story and your voice.
12. Pack your patience. You will not be able to read a whole book in one day. Don’t even try. Even professionals will only do a chapter or two per day. Your voice can’t take it, neither can your brain. It’s a lot of work. Take frequent breaks – every 10-15 minutes. Rest your vocal chords for a few minutes, sip water, stand up and stretch. Vocal chords are a muscle. Work them, then let them rest.
13. Be brave and give it a try. No one knows your story like you do. You may not like the sound of your own voice, but everyone else loves it. What are you waiting for? Maybe you will be the BEST narrator ever, and I will see you next year as one of the ‘talents’ on ACX.