I entered the throes of narrating and recording and mastering my first Cornish Detective novel on April 23rd. Who Kills A Nudist is 79,000 words long with 50 chapters, meaning they average 1,580 words. It takes me about twenty minutes to narrate each chapter, but editing/mastering the recording consumes 60 – 70 minutes. The work involved is repetitive and nit-picking, as I remove a sliver of one-tenth of a second between words, then play it back to hear if it sounds more listenable. My wrist soon started to ache from concentrated activity. I use Audacity, which looks complicated, but is easy once a few commands are mastered. It took me a couple of weeks to work out how to do that. :rolleyes:

It would be possible to do a rush job, but it wouldn’t meet ACX criteria and would be riddled with mistakes. I reckon that it’s completely impossible to narrate a chapter without stumbling over pronunciation, mucking up an emphasis on a word or using the wrong voice for a character. That’s without taking into account noises that intrude – brushing the microphone lead with a knee or knocking the table with your knee, and then there are motorcycle exhausts whining away.

Most of the work I do is to remove the sound of me taking a breath. It’s OK to leave breaths in if a character is talking passionately, but the narrator needs to be talking from a quiet place.

The portable recording booth I made cost me about £20 to construct, but I already had a black plastic recycling bin of the right size. A good quality microphone is essential. The Røde microphone cost me £105 and plugs into a USB port. The other essential piece of equipment, to my mind, is a tablet to read the manuscript from; my Android model cost less than £60. It would be possible to use your desk computer or laptop to read from, but there’s a high chance that the cooling fan will come on…you won’t hear it, but the microphone will! Forget reading from paper, as all the rustles will be recorded.

Thus, for about £200, I set myself up as a narrator. An expense that I hope will pay off, as audiobook sales have grown 31% this year.

I long ago decided that everything in life takes longer to do than you think it will—except for spending money and making love! :rolleyes: It’s particularly true of anything to do with writing and publishing. Learning how to narrate and record and edit looks overwhelming when you first think about doing so. Even once you’ve got an idea of what to do, it’s still very time-consuming.

There are scores of helpful and confusing guidance videos on YouTube giving basic and advanced tips. It won’t take you long watching these videos for you to realise that audio experts are total geeks!

NB When watching videos, check the date that they were made. Audacity is regularly updated, meaning advice for one version may not apply to more recent versions. I’m using the latest version 2.4.1

The thing is, you really don’t have to comprehend what terms like compression, normalisation and noise reduction mean. All you have to do is apply these effects in the correct order to make your recording sound as it should—it won’t sound any different to you—but, it will conform to the technical requirements of ACX, which is the vetting procedure that an audiobook has to pass to be allowed onto Audible, the audiobook division of KDP.

There are several plugins that need to be added to Audacity to make things easier, including one called ACX Check which analyses your manuscript.
I’ll write a post about what I’ve done and how to apply the effects.

NB Even if your story passes the ACX Check, it still might be rejected by the Audible team for other transgressions, apparently, one can wait several weeks for a response.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *