I’m a big fan of the punch and roll method of correcting mistakes, which saves hours when re-recording. I’m delighted when I find that I had the common sense to immediately narrate a section again if I mucked it up, as I sound exactly the same.
Using Punch and Record for audiobooks
Narrating my first audiobook has been a steep learning curve. One is forced to become a geek playing around with effects and spacing of words, sentences and paragraphs. I know my story by heart after twelve weeks of listening to it!
If you decide to narrate your own book and are worried about the ACX quality control check, there’s useful advice on Reddit and Quora:
Audiobook Creation Exchange: ACX.com – Quora
I offer a few thoughts and tips in this post about narrating, mastering and the process of uploading sound files to ACX.
Recording a story is an informative way of learning a lot of things about your writing. When reading to yourself or out loud, your brain plays tricks by adding missing words and ignoring repetition. Audacity is free to use and you could use your computer’s microphone to record. Listening to your work reveals errors and problems in pacing.
I was mortified to discover two major mistakes that I hadn’t noticed in 100 editing trawls, where I’d misnamed the murder victim and then sent a detective to two different locations at the same time in one chapter.
I’m pleased to have completed my first audiobook. A huge weight lifted from my shoulders once I’d uploaded the final sound file to ACX, and they sent me a confirmation email. I adore writing new stories, but while creating an audiobook, I didn’t feel like a writer. Learning how to narrate a book develops an awareness of how you breathe and lots of voice acting techniques, but after you’ve recorded and mastered the same passage nine times you’ll feel trapped.
It’s certainly masochistic.
ACX is the place where your audiobook is assessed to decide if it’s of good enough quality to be admitted to Audible—KDP’s talking book operation.
Your recorded story sound files could pass ACX plugins, but still be rejected after a living person listens to it. You might have to wait a month for that decision, as they have a backlog of work because during lockdown many frustrated writers decided to complete that book they’d abandoned, then recording and uploading it to generate income.
The ACX website looks clear and helpful, but it’s poor at giving information about the audiobook cover. This has to be of a square format, at least 2,400 x 2,400 pixels. I use IrfanView image viewing and manipulating converter, which is basic enough for me to understand without confusion. It’s good at altering the size of an image unless it’s to a square! After much teeth-gnashing, I found a superb app to resize an image to whatever dimensions you need:
Online Image Resizer – Crop, Resize & Compress Images, Photos and Pictures for FREE
How to upload to ACX feels like a secret if you look for information on their site. This video helped allay my confusion:
As George Smolinski explains, to upload your sound files, you have to attach your audiobook to the KDP eBook by claiming the rights to it. Doing this usefully downloads the chapter headings you used in the eBook (NB some may be repeated…don’t know why, but it made me panic, thinking I’d done this in the eBook—I hadn’t!) so you can place your sound file in the right place.
You can’t upload an audiobook without already having the eBook version on KDP.
Remember: each chapter is a separate sound file, and the opening credits (title, place in a series, name of author and name of narrator) and the closing credits (usually just The End) are each in a sound file, as is the Retail Audio Sampler…an up to five-minute snippet used to promote the book. The order I uploaded was as presented to me: Opening Credits, the 50 chapters, Closing Credits, then the Retail Audio Sampler.
It took me about 90 minutes, but that might be affected by how busy the site is. My book was eight hours, thirty-eight minutes duration.
Before doing all of this, you need to provide your financial information, which will likely be the same as you gave when joining KDP. I did everything myself, so it was relatively easy to complete, but if you employed a narrator and a sound engineer, you’ll need their details.
I guess that creating my first audiobook is an achievement, but, as with anything in writing, if no one knows it exists as a product no one is going to buy it.
Thus, I’m returning to self-promotion.
Onwards and…where the hell am I going next?!