The Making of an Audiobook: From Newbie to Narrator

The Making of an Audiobook: From Newbie to Narrator

TrueSurrender_AudioBook_COVOn the first day of a New Year, I’m very excited to share that True Surrender, my military romance novel, is now available in audiobook format!

To get more information about Army officer Aaron Bricewick’s struggle with PTSD and the amputation of his leg (and the woman who helped him through both), click here.

To experience a free sample – set to photos from the story – click here!

When I first started thinking about True Surrender as an audiobook, I nearly choked on the cost – for narrator, studio and editing it was $1800-$2000 for a full-length novel just about everywhere I checked. (Now I understand why, but I’ll get to that in a minute.)

It was simply out of my reach – especially since I had no idea how to sell an audiobook (heck, I still don’t know how to sell my print/ebooks either!) or if this particular story would appeal to the typical audiobook buyer/listener.

So I shelved the idea until one day I overhead an acquaintance who’s a voracious reader gushing about how she much prefers to hear a story/book directly from the writer’s mouth.

This was a bit of a revelation… narrate my own book?

I googled it (naturally). There were many sites showing steps to narrating your own book, complete with equipment you’d need, etc. So, apparently, it was entirely acceptable to narrate your own book!

Well, heck, I thought, I could do that. I’ve sung vocals for multiple albums, even my own cover songs. I have friends with studios in their homes.

I didn’t want to mess with audio equipment, but if those friends were amenable to helping…Yes, I could be my own narrator. But should I?

To answer that one, I conducted an informal poll of my readers and other authors. I asked them how they felt about the narrator’s voice. And though some preferred an ultra-polished ‘performance,’ many said that since the writer knows her story the best, she would be the best to read it aloud, with emphasis where she’d intended it.

So, in my typical I’ll-try-anything-once attitude, I talked my friend Tim into recording at his studio (I still owe him some help with a video), and we got started.

We did the whole book, stopping to backtrack and re-record if I flubbed, or if we got outside sound (just our luck, the street sweepers were on his street that week!), in a week’s time.

Thanks to a crazy travel schedule, it took me almost 12 weeks to listen to every minute (which turned out to be over 300!) of it, flagging the errors. I went back to his studio and re-recorded the problem areas.

I sent it off to Karen, ‘scrubber extraordinaire,’ to clean up the diction and any low-level humming or background noise we’d missed. She found some that were bad enough I couldn’t let them go, so back to the studio I went. The new files made their way to Karen, who dropped them into the recording and cleaned them up.

The last step was the final ‘mastering’ and upload to Amazon et al. And then – to my surprise – I found I have NO control over the price! (That’s quite a shock after the craziness of the ebook market.) It is apparently set using length guidelines (and True Surrender comes in just over five hours). I’m still on the fence as to whether this is a good thing or not!

So back to the original issue of cost… I completely understand why the costs I encountered were in the $2000 range. It’s almost painful to think of all the hours I could have spent writing a new story instead of making this audiobook. But I prefer to value the recording process for what it was: a new learning experience. And frankly, it’s pretty neat to have yet another way for readers to get to know Aaron and Holly’s story.

You can download True Surrender at Amazon, Audible or iTunes (coming any day now). Or, if you prefer a physical CD, contact me directly (tracey (at) traceycramerkelly.com).

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