I always try to get a little out of my comfort zone each year with either my writing (trying new genres or tropes, writing shorter or longer for example), my business (learning how to format paperback books myself, for example, or how to run ads on Facebook and Amazon), or my personal life (re-learning the guitar, learning the ukulele, trying a new creative hobby, etc).
This year, it seems, I’m willing to get a little more out of my comfort zone than usual.
I’m going to learn how to narrate my own audiobooks.
I’ve been asked by readers for a few years now whether I’d consider getting my books into audio format, but it’s a huge investment to make when I’m still building my backlist and my income.
Contracting a professional narrator is expensive (for good reason!) but I just don’t have the money to invest in professional audio narration right now, even though I’d love to.
However, I’ve been following a number of authors who have been narrating their own books and decided to have a crack at it myself.
(How hard can it be, right? Pfft!)
So I bought myself an extremely cheap microphone set-up (a Neewer 8000 usb microphone plus boom arm and tripod desk stand from Amazon, which cost me around AU$100 all up) to practice and learn and test this new skill.
Like a lot of other people, I’m a bit skeevy about listening to the sound of my own voice, so it’s going to take some getting used to.
So far, I’ve done some test recordings in different parts of my house to gauge the background noise and to play around with the software I’m going to use, which is Audacity.
I’ve even recorded a test of a full chapter from Written in the Stars and have run through an editing and mastering sequence with it to see how it sounds in raw format (base recording with no editing/mastering) and how it sounds after.
Hint: the quality difference is amazing!
So, I’ve settled on using my walk-in wardrobe as a recording booth for the moment, as that’s the quietest part of the house. I rigged up some thick blankets on stools, held up with a couple of mops (pic to come once I get the process down pat) in order to dampen the sound inside and outside, which seemed to work.
Although it makes it extremely hot in there with no ventilation, so my recording sessions will have to be short so I don’t melt.
So, what’s the plan, then?
I’ll spend the next couple of months testing and practicing my reading and editing and mastering skills, and if you’re on my mailing list, I’ll drop some teasers and examples for you to listen to (you can sign up for my list here, if you haven’t already).
And then I’ll tackle a short story and one of my novellas (Three Wishes and/or Written in the Stars).
Then I’ll need to make a decision about where to sell the completed audiobook.
At the moment, I’m looking at Findaway Voices because it seems to give authors a lot more flexibility than Audible, and I’ll also be selling direct from my Payhip storefront as well.
And if I REALLY enjoy doing audiobooks, then I’ll invest in a better microphone set-up and maybe even a homemade sound booth.
But what happens if I don’t want to keep narrating my own books?
Learning the basics will allow me to understand the process a professional narrator goes through, so I’ll be better able to understand when something doesn’t sound or feel right, and how to explain exactly what I want or what changes I think need to be made.
I’m hoping I enjoy the process, though, because the thought of being able to narrate my own audiobooks, and use the skills for other things, excites me.
I’ll keep you posted on my progress.
Edited to add: since writing this post, my handy dandy wife built me a small audio tent in my study. Here’s what it looks like:
In case you’re interested, here are some links to my current set-up, as well as books and youtube channels I’ve been watching, and the equipment I’d like to upgrade to eventually.
And if you have experience in narration or voiceovers or audio engineering, feel free to drop me a line with advice. I can use all the help I can get!
Links to the resources and equipment I currently have/use
- Neewer 8000 usb microphone kit
- Audacity (free software)
- Audio for Authors – Joanna Penn (ebook)
- Narrate and Record Your Own Audio Book – M.L Buchman (ebook)
- Narrated by the Author – Renee Conoulty (ebook)
- Josh Meyer – VoiceOverMaster (Youtube)
- Susan Berkley (Youtube)
My upgrade wishlist and other suggested equipment
- Focusrite Scarlett Solo Studio (microphone kit)
- Audio-Technica AT2020 (microphone)
- Blue Yeti (microphone – popular with podcasters)
- DIY soundproof booth (Youtube)
- Adobe Audition (software)