I’m in the final stages of getting my first audiobook ready to upload to ACX, the vetting arm of Audible.
The pervading sensation of narrating, mastering and preparing the project to fit ACX’s requirements is of seemingly endless repetition. I haven’t felt like a writer for the last four months, more a slave to the process. Fine-tuning a short paragraph that can be read in 90 seconds might take ten minutes initially, then another ten minutes weeks later when I realised that, for some reason, I’d speeded up my narration and it sounds wrong.
Yesterday, I finally completed re-recording ten sections where my voice altered. These were all parts in which I’d re-recorded a sentence and spliced it into a paragraph. This doesn’t work! Re-recording the whole paragraph and maybe those before and after it is the way to go if you want to maintain continuity as a narrator. It takes more time, but it works.
Last night, I spent a dispiriting couple of hours converting the sound files for 50 chapters from Audacity’s aup format to MP3. Fortunately, it’s easy to do, as the latest version of Audacity includes a converter that exports the files in MP3. But, it’s repetitive and time-consuming. Those words again!
ACX only accepts audiobooks in separate sound files for each chapter, with separate files for the opening credits—title, place in a series and author and narrator (these should be the same as the eBook)—and end credits, which are simply The End. I’ll be uploading them today. Although my sound files passed an Audacity ACX plugin check, this is no guarantee they’ll be acceptable after being listened to by their robot or even a living and breathing human being. It might take them a month to get back to me.
To add to the fun, ACX requires an audiobook cover in a square size of no less than 2,400 x 2,400 pixels….similar to how a CD cover looks. The cover that I designed for the eBook is paperback-shaped, so unacceptable. For continuity, I wanted to use the same seagull I’d used for the eBook and POD paperback. I found those designs straight away, but it took me an hour to track down the original photograph, which I had the presence of mind (thanks, brain!) to save on Google’s Drive.
Faffing about with IrfanView, I made a couple of versions for the audiobook.
Since returning to creative writing in 2013, I’ve done every aspect of the work involved to produce and publish a book myself. This was partly down to my cantankerous nature and poverty.
It costs a small fortune to hire experts to create an audiobook. Unless you’re wealthy, forget hiring famous actors or voice actors (who might do voice-overs for commercials as well) or experienced narrators with a good track record of sales.
It’s advised that debut narrators charge a minimum of $80/£61 an hour, meaning my eight and a half hour novel would have cost me $680/£518 to be told by someone as unknown as me! Once more experienced at narrating, audio experts suggest a rate of $225/£174 per 10,000 words, meaning my 80,000-word book would cost $1,800/1,392.
Well-known narrators charge much more.
But, what would you do if you hated the end result?
There are ways of saving money, by sharing the profits with the narrator:
Then, you’ve got the expense of mastering your recorded sound files by an experienced audio engineer. That would be a minimum of $1,000/£772…likely two or three times more for 80,000 words.
As you can see, the expenses mount up, but paying experts will save you a lot of heartache and time. I’m proud of my first audiobook, but it’s taken me four months to reach a point where I think it’s ready to publish. I’ve done no creative writing since April.
If you’re interested in creating an audiobook, take a look at this:
Should you venture down this rocky trail remember to back up your work! You will devote hundreds of hours to narrating and mastering the recordings. Do you really want to do it all again?