Category Archives: Writer’s Journey

Audiobook Adventures Ch. 2: If at First

Last time I encouraged you to think about narrating your tales and extending your platform by creating audiobooks. Whenever you’re ready, here’s a little advice about the next steps.

The Tale is Yours

I won’t spend a lot of time talking about how you want to sound, whether this voice or that is better or if you should try on different tones for your characters. These are purely artistic choices–important sure, but who am I to say? The pace of your reading, whether you speed up or drop your voice, and a million other choices are in your hands, like it or not. Listen to what you’re recording– remember, we KNOW you don’t like the sound of your own voice, we covered that. Listen PAST that, think about whether this would be good to hear if you were hearing it for the first time. Other than that, I don’t think I could advise you.

But once you have a piece of it read into the machine, you’ll find yourself in exactly the same situation you were in that moment you finished writing the draft. You got there, wrote the final word, maybe capped it with “The End”.

But it wasn’t, was it?

You. Have. To. Edit.

And now that you’re reading the tale aloud? Same thing.

Editing the Recording

For those who came in late, I’m using the Audacity utility and a nice Pronomic mike to record and edit the second tale in my Shards of Light series entitled “Fencing Reputation”. I’ll record anywhere from a third of one chapter to the whole thing in an early-morning session lasting around an hour.

Look at the Squiggles. No Seriously, Look

Here’s a clip from what I’ve done:

 

The bigger, connected blobs are your voice speaking (or perhaps some other noise happening!) and the thinner, radio-wave squiggles over the center-line are “silence” (but really the background of your studio environment). Rather than another thousand words, let me mark it up for you:

Tips:

  • Don’t worry about making new tracks. You will have to stop, go back and listen, check your sound, etc. And when you come back to record more, the utility creates a new track. But that by itself doesn’t show on the recording.
  • Pause between sentences! Pause between paragraphs, pause for effect. It’s OK to pause! And if you listen to it and discover your pause was, um, too long (ham actors, I’m looking at you) (which means of course, that I’m also looking in a mirror), you can trim it.
  • When you are ready to restart recording, set the cursor with a click a little ways back into your previous track. Then when you hit Record, it will automatically start a new track, and that way 1) there isn’t an obvious “bump” or click between the end of the first track and the start of the new, and 2) you can time the pause better to continue reading just where you left off.

Useful Tools- Just Like Writing

Recording is so much like word processing I almost feel I shouldn’t tarry for these things. Please note as I write:

  • You can click with the mouse to place the cursor anywhere in your recording- just like your WiP
  • You can click-drag to highlight a section for cutting, copying or pasting- just like your WiP
  • You can also click to mark the start of a section, scroll over or down and Shift-Click to highlight a large area at once- and I’m not going to keep saying what this is like, capeesh?
  • Really, this utility is quite Intuitive. And let me emphasize where some of these important tools can be quickly accessed here before continuing:

But, I Mean, It Sucked

You don’t like how it sounded? Of course you can re-record it. There are two methods to use here and I heartily recommend the first one.

  1. By listening to yourself carefully and frequently as you go, you’ll get a good idea whether a take is a “keeper” or not, even as you read. You generally know when you’ve stumbled on a word. Or repeated, or stuttered, or said “s–t”. Take a pause (maybe say distinctly “trying again”) and then begin at the top of the paragraph or sentence. Then you can clip out the bad take rather easily and NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW!!! :: Insert evil laughter here ::
  2. If you somehow miss that this happened until long afterwards– such as when you are finalizing the recording for export– you’re in a bit of a tricky situation. Listen to the “bad” take several times. Then position the cursor maybe a sentence BEFORE what has to go, and hit Record. A new track appears, you listen to the run-up and then calmly read the same bit again right along with yourself. This can be a little unnerving, and you can always Undo, then Record again. Once you have a good second take, highlight that take, Copy it, then highlight the bad take on the track above and hit Paste. Bingo, the good take lays on top of the bad one and completely replaces it. If your new take was longer or shorter it’s fine because the track will bump up or down to fit. Then scroll down to the good-take track and delete the whole thing, you don’t need it anymore. Whew!

Those Darn Clicks

Here, quite honestly, is where I spend almost all my time actually editing a chapter. Little clicks and pops can show up whenever you cut or paste (especially if you’re not careful) and some are just spontaneous. Be sure to listen to the offending section a couple of times to be sure it wasn’t just a figment of your imagination

BTW, Important Point- whenever you click back into your track to listen to something again, you will very likely hear a click or pop, often quite loud. That pop does NOT ACTUALLY EXIST. More later.

As you give the chapter your first full “proofread” (proofhear?), you will likely notice some pop/clicks. I can’t give you a clear rule about what these sounds look like on your track, but you can definitely isolate them by highlighting a small section and playing it to check.

Again, I can’t tell what a click always looks like. But THIS, this here is ALWAYS going to produce a click:

It’s a question of that wave-line touching the center.

That’s the key.

That’s where the mystery-pop comes from when you click back to hear something again, you’re coming into the middle of a wave. But don’t worry about it. Now lining up one of those wavy-thin lines directly on center can be ridiculously tough. Here are some editing tricks I’ve learned that can help, in the order I usually try them.

Tip:

Remember that you can Zoom In on the track with Ctrl + 1 (zoom back out with Ctl + 3, and use Ctl +2 to return to “normal view”).

  • First Method: Half-Rests and Whole-Rests. See those rectangles that lie either just above or just below the line? In music, the top-box is called a half-rest, the lower one a whole-rest. Here endeth the music theory lesson, but the point is this. When you make a cut to get rid of a click, aim to cut from the middle of a “rest” to the middle of an identical rest. Get it? Either from a bottom-facing box to another bottom-facing box, or vice versa:

This works a high percentage of the time for me, the resulting cut plays through without a pop. But if it doesn’t work, if it creates two new pops, try:

  • Second Method: Pure Cut. This doesn’t work as often but it doesn’t take long. Once you’ve isolated the area of the pop, simply highlight it moving from a “space” to a “space”:

If the offending pop is in there, you can sometimes eliminate it and if you fail (creating a new pop) then you haven’t lost much time trying. Undo and try:

  • Third Method: Fade to Ssshh. This is the trickiest and creates a noticeable effect, but in a pinch it will work, especially if you’re taking a “beat” as actors say, a real pause for effect. Locate the pop as closely as you can. Highlight from before it to just after and click on Effect- Fade Out. Then highlight an area from just before the Fade Out ended to a spot close to your next speech, and click on Effect- Fade In. This will create a brief moment of silence but with the ambient noise fading then rising, almost like fade-to-black in a movie.

Slaying the Click-Dragon

As I said, when you’ve done this, including when you’ve realized there are one or two of these fershlugginer clicks you just can’t get rid of, then you will have a nice raw track of your chapter. I reserve the rest for another installment because effects and prep are either a) optional and/or b) lots of fun, or finally c) mandatory and not fun, but easy.

You are getting there! And so am I- as of this writing my files for The Ring and the Flag are accepted, my artwork has been revised and I’m just waiting for the new version to post. More news about that later this summer too.

Reading your tale aloud is the best proofread, and now it’s rehearsal too! Get on it.

Now Hear This: Audiobooks Get Some Hope

In late March 2018 the fine folks at Smashwords announced a remarkable partnership with Findaways, to make distribution of audiobooks as convenient as they did for e-books. I was intrigued because my first effort, “The Ring and the Flag” has languished on a single site for years now. I dove in to see if I could wrangle my way past the metadata-labyrinth and get it listed.

Long answer short, I could.

There are some oddities and extra info that Findaways needs, and I learned to look close for the tiny * that stood for mandatory info. When I saw the massive list of distributors and all the different business models they used, I quailed. TWENTY-NINE OUTLETS!?! How could anyone fix a proper price with all these splits and cuts to consider? But that’s the great strength of this aggregator role, I’d say. Findaways is going to handle all the various slices that these retail partners require: I don’t control how much I get back but I also don’t have to work that end myself. I give my bank account number and just wait for the money to roll in.

The biggest problem is that I only had the chapters recorded. Silly me, just recording, you know, the story. Findaways wants files on the front and back ends, things like an intro. So I cranked up the mike for the first time in an epoch and laid the tracks down in the early morning, in that blessed space of silence between the cats’ breakfast and the humans’. Filled out a tax form– not optimism, just *— and done.

I encourage fellow authors to check out the blog post. Findaways will hook you up with narrators which is crucially important I know. If you’ve got a good book and are willing to invest, you can get this done now. Happy to help if you have questions about the basic posting.

As for me, of course I’m too egotistical to let anyone else read my stories to you except me. I hope now I’ll feel the desire to finish “Fencing Reputation” which is about half-recorded, and it sure is good to know there will be some strong distribution for me whenever I do finish. Search Audible, Apple, Google Play, Nook, Overdrive, maybe your local library and two dozen other places and perhaps you’ll see my work.

Or rather, hear it.

Ar Aralte!