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Audio Books and my journey- The Research

So I was listening to some blogs by some of my favourite self-published authors and they mentioned audio books and how that helped to draw in some fans. It got me thinking about audio books. So I've actually started writing this post in Aug 2016 and it will chronicle my journey into Audio books. I might cut it up into bits.

The Researching- Argh this was frustrating as everything out there is aimed at US citizens. Amazon have a company that self-publishes Audio books much the same way their Createspace company does but it does this by having a network of narrators and studios and anything else you can think of that you would need to publish an Audio book. Unfortunately they won't offer this option to people outside of their network area for two reasons. One they don't advertise but is clear from a little research and that there really isn't a lot of audio book people outside of the major metropolitan areas and the ones in foreign cities are a kind of unknown and so aren't on their list so they would look like they have nothing if they offered the deal to people outside the US. The other reason is taxes. This is the one they mainly state. That because they can't pay people outside the US without jumping through hoops they just don't. This is a crock. I sell my ebooks on Amazon and I know the hoops that you have to jump through before they will pay you for your ebooks. None really. I wonder if they have a side deal as everyone else I've dealt with in selling my ebooks all require me to fill in the proper forms that I never had to for KDP or Createspace.

So I mostly came across "Sorry not for you." kind of attitude everywhere I looked. There is some hope as there are companies opening up to publishers outside of the US but you have to do the audio yourself.

Audio- Most people can't hear the difference between a $200 mic and a $3000 mic. I can't. The professionals can but then I think they have the same range as dogs. I did some research and found out that a decent mic is just as good as anything else out there for making the recordings and there are even free software. (side note- be careful of what you download. I crashed my notebook because of dodgy downloads.) I got one for just over $100 NZ dollars. So not super expensive but not cheap. I still haven't tried it out but of course I'm still in the research stage.

Studio- Now most people say you have to have a studio because of ambient noise, yada yada and more yada. Actually if you really listen to the experts they tell you that with certain microphones you will need a studio. The one I have won't be an issue. You pretty much have to eat the microphone for it to pick up your voice. But to keep the audio clean I will need to get rid of as much noise as possible. My lounge is home to two fish tanks and the other rooms are on the side of the road. So I really did need something to dampen the noise. Turning off the electronics that I can and top the tanks up with as much water as possible so they are at their quietest then basically make a blanket fort in the middle of the lounge with my couches. The couches will absorb most of the sound and echo and the blankets over the top will do the rest. It isn't fancy but according to some research should do what I need. But also a little awkward for the next part.

Narrators- I hate my voice but actually I sound all right. I sing and a teach so my voice is an essential part of both of those so I knew I wanted to at least give it a go. Authors reading their own stuff is usually the best. But I also wanted male voices to be reading the male parts and maybe other female voices to read the other female parts. Particularly when I have two women talking to each other. But how do you invite people to your blanket fort to record their parts. I'm thinking to get my niece to do one of the parts and she is five so I think she will embrace the whole thing but what about the others. At least this kind of studio is portable- that was sarcasm if you didn't get that.

SFX- So when I did my book trailer you can use sound effects from sites that give them away free. I've seen film students use them and I have used them in class with the kids. But most of those have disclaimers that if you are making money out of it you can't use A, B and C. Since I am specifically making money out of something that you are listening to I can't use the equivalent of stock images in sounds. Yeah, there are some out there that I can but I got excited about making my own sounds. Especially as there is a fight scene and I can see those old radio shows and the monty python movie with the coconuts for horses and I want to try that. But first I'd need to see what I needed and if I could actually do it myself.

Script writing- This was the hardest as I don't actually listen to audio books so I'm not familiar with the format and so I had to find out exactly what is needed at the start of the book and at the end and in between. The rest was really just common sense like you don't have to read out he said when you have voice actors as people can tell who is speaking. More along the lines of Rinse the blood off my Toga than anything else. Once I found out what was needed the rest is just time consuming. Breaking it up and indicating the different speakers. Putting in the places for the SFX. I enjoyed the highlighting to make it clear the parts. Remember I'm going to be working with a five year old and I'll only have one shot before she gets bored so I don't want to miss a line.

So that is the start of my journey. I will keep people updated. It looks to be a fun journey. And worth it. There were only 43,000 audiobooks done in 2014 and you can add on a zero just for self published books let alone the whole industry.

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