Happy Monday, WG2E-Land!!!
Any day now, my first Audio Book Release – BOOTSCOOTIN’ BLAHNIKS – will be available on Audible, Amazon and Apple iTunes!!!
To say I’m over the moon is a big-time understatement! LOL!
My A-mazing Narrator – who I discovered using Audible’s wonderful ACX Platform – is…
I had sooo many questions for Christine as we began our Audio Book Production Journey, and I knew y’all would too as you consider adding Audio Books to your Epublishing Empires.
Christine has all the scoop, and here she is on all-things Audio Book Narration:
1. Tell us about yourself (and how you got into recording and producing Audio Books)…
I actually fell into narrating audiobooks. I’ve been doing voiceovers
for commercials, tv/radio announcing type projects since 2007, and some
film/commercial acting as well. A voiceover colleague, John Grove was
my mentor for a marketing class in October 2011. He introduced me to
his narration coach, Vanessa Hart. She immediately told me to put a
profile on ACX.com with my then Narration demo and other voice samples.
In a little over a week, I had a publisher approach me to audition for
one of his books; then another book I chose to audition for liked my
Within a week apart, I had two audiobook contracts – and all before the
end of October 2011! Then with those two book samples, I attracted more
authors and publishers, asking me to either audition for them, or give
me a book deal based on my voice samples – guess my voice is geared to
2. How do you find and choose the books you’d like to audition for?
This is hard because I now have so many authors and publishers
approaching me, that I don’t have time to look myself at the different
book titles on-line. I did at the end of 2011, look through the
different genres to see the types of books that fit my vocal style and
to audition for. I love all kinds of books – fiction or nonfiction. I
lean towards the books that are fantasy, thriller or romance/comedy – I
enjoy stories that are unique but are entertaining and/or have a special
message to impart.
3. Can you walk us through how you prepare for an Audition? For example, how do you figure out how to make each character sound? (You mentioned to me, for instance, that you use You Tube to study certain voices.)
Yes, YouTube is an amazing tool I’ve found for voice talent. When you
don’t know what a particular accent sounds like, you can basically find
an example of it on YouTube. In choosing voices for different
characters, I was taught to imagine a certain actor or known personality
for that character – then use that actor’s or person’s voice tones for
the character. This makes it easier for the narrator having an
association for how to do the character’s voice. So I read through the
copy, make my voice choices, then do a recording.
Of course, my vocal choices may not be what the author and/or publisher
have in mind, and sometimes I will be given feedback to change a vocal
choice. Or just not be given the book because I may be told they like
my voice but feel I’m not the best fit for their publication.
4. Once you’ve been hired to record and produce an Audio Book, what’s the process of actually making it happen? For example, could you walk us through a typical recording session?
I currently have a home studio where my ‘booth’ is a square walk-in
closet with special acoustic insulation on the walls and still has my
clothes on either side – it is a perfect ‘dead’ space for recording.
There is room for a chair where I sit in front of my microphone off the
boomstand – it’s a comfortable, cozy setting.
I typically record starting at 4:00am in the morning till about 6:30am
(getting up around 3:30am to hydrate my vocal cords with water and chew
on some green apple slices to reduce mouth clicks), then have another
quiet period for recording from 9:00am till about noontime. Because I’m
currently in a condo building, I have to be aware of when there is
running water through the walls, and not record when that is going on
(my Rode NT1-A microphone is super sensitive!!) When doing a book of
about 8-9 hours of listening time, the goal is to record at least 4
chapters a day, 5 days a week with two days rest for the voice. Some
chapters are longer than others, so that also determines how much I
record per day without taxing my voice. It takes me about 2 weeks to
record a 10 hour book – sometimes a week and a half if there is a rushed
Obviously, if the book is shorter, the recording time is shorter too
A novella of 40 pages that I am doing now only takes a day to do.
5. At the time of this interview (early April 2012), my first Audio Book – BOOTSCOOTIN’ BLAHNIKS – was in what is called the “Engineering and Editing Phase”…what happens at this point and how and where is it done?
Once you finish recording the chapters of a book, you now have to use
high quality audio speakers or headphones to listen to the recordings
while reading along with the manuscript. You have to check and be sure
you recorded every word exactly as the author wrote it. Of course, you
correctly record for typos or misspellings and check with the author or
publisher if there is a question on a particular word or phrase. At the
same time, you are also checking for errant mouth clicks or heavy
breathing, or any other sound that doesn’t belong in the recording
(airplane overhead; loud garbage truck in the distance, etc.)
Editing can be done at home with quality audio software and equipment,
or given to a professional audio engineer. I do my own takes – I put
all the correct cuts together of the chapter recordings, edit the
spacing and take out anything that should not be in the final file.
Then because I am currently so busy with other projects, I then email
the files to an audio engineer to master the files. Meaning he takes my
raw WAV files and masters them to a compressed, equalized quality and
puts them into what most people know as an MP3 file format. This is the
format the publisher will need to put the book onto Audible, iTunes and
6. How do you then Upload the Audio Files for each book to Audible ACX? And you, as the producer, do that, right, not the author?
Yes, it is the narrator’s responsibility as also being the Producer to
upload all the completed chapter files onto ACX – for the author’s
and/or publisher’s review. I normally receive the MP3 mastered chapter
files from the engineer via an FTP website or YouSendIt.com or DropBox
method. A profile page for the book was already created within my ACX
profile once I was awarded the book – I login to my profile and click
the book tab, and its production page opens up. I then give a heading
for each chapter – for examples, ‘BootscootinBlahniks – Chapter 1′, then
copy the file to that title. Once that is finished, it gives me a new
field to put another chapter title in.
Then the Intro and Outro files are uploaded, and a 5 minute (or less)
retail sample of the book. I let the author or publisher know the files
are uploaded for their review. Once they give me the O.K., I click
‘Done’, then the files are released to ACX for their quality control
review. It takes between 7 to 10 days for ACX to review and post the
book on Audible.com, iTunes.com and Amazon.com for listeners to purchase
and enjoy .
7. Do you prefer to contract with authors for the Royalty Split Option or the Per Finished Hour Fee?
That is an interesting question as most of the self-published authors
and small to midsize publishers prefer to do Royalty Share (split the
profits 50/50 with the Narrator/Producer). So far, all the books I have
done have been Royalty Share. Currently, I have one author offering
straight Per Finished Hour (PFH) pay.
I actually like the Royalty Split because if it is a popular book with
many fans, it means I can be earning money off that book for several
years (or as long as the copyright holds out )
8. How long on average does it take you to record and produce a novel (standard length 65,000 to 85,000 words)?
Basically, 85,000 to 95,000 is 2 to 3 weeks of recording time. So far,
it is 2 weeks of 5 day a week recording to do a 90,000 work book. With
65,000 words, probably 1.5 weeks. For it to be fully produced, another
2-3 weeks – I would say 5 weeks in total from start to finish.
9. What current projects are you working on for which authors?
For you, D.D. – Stompin’ on Stetsons and Buckles Me Baby, the other two
Bootscootin’ books. Annie Bellet – her fantasy novella, ‘Witch Hunt:
The Gryphonpike Chronicles’; Amanda Ashley – her vampire/romance novel,
‘A Darker Dream’. I was asked by author, Karen Cantwell to audition for
her book, ‘Take the Monkeys and Run’ so we’ll see if I get that one too
10. What’s the toughest part of recording and producing an Audio Book?
The toughest part is prepping the book – marking any difficult words
where pronunciations need to be looked up and sounded off. For a 90,000
word book, it takes about 3 days (sometimes 4-5) to fully read through,
mark and write down separately all the characters, their qualities and
quirks and choosing their voices. Then if needed, listening to
different inflections and accents on YouTube to make sure you get it
right for a certain character. Also, deciding on what tonal quality the
narrator’s voice as just the narrator should be for the book.
11. What part of the process do you enjoy most?
The recording part! That is the most fun
12. What can the authors do to make y’all’s job easier?
If authors can produce a formatted file of the manuscript where all the
chapters start at the top of the page and include page numbering, that
would make the job much easier. When a book is printed out on 8.5×11
pages, I want to be able to paperclip each chapter together as a
standalone chapter. This way, a recording is for one completed chapter
and makes editing easier as well. Eventually, a future Droid or iPad
will take the place of paper but still, having the manuscript formatted
ahead of time saves the narrator a lot of time in getting the book ready
Great scoop here, right, Y’All?!
Recording in a closet…luuuvvv it!!! And wow!!! What a complex process!!!
I can tell you there’s NOTHING like hearing that first chapter come alive through your Narrator’s voice!!! It’s one moment in life I’ll never forget!
Thanks Bunches, Christine, for doing this terrific interview and for making my dreams of doing Audio Books come true!!!
U rock!!! As does our entire Production Team (so thank all our Vegas Crew for me too)!
It’s Your Turn, WG2E-Land: What Audio Book Narration questions do you have for Christine? Or if you have any questions on using ACX, I can try and answer those for you too…
The Best of Audio Book Wishes — D. D. Scott
P.S. I’ll let y’all know as soon as BOOTSCOOTIN’ BLAHNIKS is live on Audible, Amazon and iTunes!!!