Tag Archives: audiobook

Knowing when to give up….

Although perseverance is the most important quality that a writer should have, I think that there comes a point in whatever project you’re devoting time and energy to, where you say to yourself: “That’s good enough.”

Perfection is impossible. No publisher in the world has ever said to an author: “You know, your manuscript is perfect, it needed no editing, we’ll publish it as it is.” No matter how many times you trawl through your completed story seeking mistakes, there’ll always be some that you miss.

This dilemma has been brought home to me recently, as I’ve been editing chapters of my first audiobook. As fellow narrators will confirm, fettling an audio file into perfect shape can become an obsessive pursuit. Although I learnt how to apply the required modifications to satisfy Amazon’s ACX scrutiny in one fell swoop, this doesn’t involve such things as intonation, pauses, breathing and applying dramatic effect by varying the speed you narrate a sentence or paragraph. Audiophiles can be fussy about the details of narrating. Take breathing. If a character is arguing about something, then including their gasps adds to the drama. But, what about hearing the narrator breathe? Some experts recommend removing every trace of the narrator reloading their lungs with oxygen, while others permit a certain amount to prevent the audiobook from sounding like it’s read by a cyborg! :robot-face:

I was dealing with this last night, when I recalled an advice book I read in the spring. Seth Godin is a marketing guru. I subscribed to his blog a couple of years ago, in the hope that something he says will inspire me how to market my books. His short book The Dip: the extraordinary benefits of knowing when to quit (and when to stick) offers thought-provoking advice about what to do when you’ve entered a creative cul-de-sac and are faced with a dead end. If you want to be successful, get out of there and try a different route. At the very least, admit that you’ve done all that you can. Refocus your energies.

As Godin says:

Winners quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt”

That doesn’t mean that I’m giving up on mastering the recording of my novel. It’s rather, I’m going to prevent myself getting bogged down on a repetitive task. I could spend the rest of 2020 making the audiobook of my first Cornish Detective novel Who Kills A Nudist? totally perfect, but to what end? Will it sell any more copies? Striving for perfection will hold me back. I’ve four other novels to narrate, as well as novellas and short stories.

The same applies to other tasks to do with writing—editing, formatting, designing book covers, self-publishing and querying literary agents. There’s an awful lot of repetition involved in being an author, isn’t there?

Have you ever reached a point where you’ve decided that what you’ve done is as good as it gets and it’s time to move on?

What was that task?


What to do next?

Prioritising work is fiendishly difficult. How to decide what’s important and needs to be tackled first?

There’s no way of telling what will work in publishing until is does. My original intention as 2020 started was to promote myself as a writer and my Cornish Detective series as crime stories worth reading. I already had a blog about writing, a website devoted to my protagonist and various social media profiles. Adding posts to them might support my publishing career. Last Christmas, I uploaded the first four titles to KDP Select, a commitment I’d previously avoided. Book 5 would appear to coincide with holidaymakers appearing in Cornwall at Easter. I was 50,000 words into completing the sixth story. I had a plan! :rolleyes:

Then, everything went bonkers. While updating my Linux Mint operating system, it somehow gobbled up every document on the desktop. My fault, I think, as I inadvertently had another update running at the same time. Somehow, I’d saved everything to the Cloud except my work in progress! I wasted two months attempting to recover it, without result. As I struggled, the coronavirus took hold of the world. Slowly, I realised that the manuscript would have been unusable, as the story was set in 2020.

Slightly deterred, but not crestfallen, I refocused my energies to add another string to my bow by learning how to narrate and record my novels as audiobooks. The lockdown had further stimulated this sector of publishing which was already growing exponentially.

I chose Audacity as a digital audio workstation (DAW), which is free to use. I spent several hundred quid acquiring equipment. The Olympus LS-P4 Hi-Res Audio Recorder I bought wasn’t needed for home recording, but I intend to use it with a digital SLR camera I got to film videos about the stories out in the field.

I’ve been learning how to record audio files that satisfy Amazon’s ACX vetting procedure. The advice I received from Colony members who preceded me on this mind-blowing obstacle course was invaluable. My audio-files have finally passed ACX. All I have to master now is how to pronounce words perfectly!

Each novel will take at least a month to narrate and master, so that’s most of the rest of the year gone. I record in the evening, as the place where I live is quietest then.

Other activities I could be getting on with, include blogging, writing articles for the Cornish Detective website, making myself known on Twitter, my Facebook business page, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram and LinkedIn. I’m also writing the third novella in a series about an American Civil War veteran. I should be querying literary agents, my least favourite part of being a writer.

There’s always something to do being a writer!

How do you prioritise what to do next?

Do you have a set daily routine?

Or, do you mix and match?