This audio-book thing is going to be a huge learning curve.
I’ve been thinking about this since I started the FTDB project. I need an audio book. Since I’m doing pretty much everything on this particular project myself, from the formatting, to the editing, to the block and cover design, I couldn’t possibly outsource the audio version. So here I am, learning yet another skill, and doing really badly at it.
Audio books are ****ing hard! I didn’t realize how much of a pain in the butt it could be. First it was “find a good microphone,” but I didn’t want to go down to the music store for a studio mic and a sound board, I’m on a budget here. I was able to procure the nifty little desk mic in the picture at Best Buy. It was in the gaming section, and marked as an XBox mic, in case you are wondering.
It turns out that it works really well. It was straight plug-n-play, which is a huge bonus for me since I use Linux and I didn’t have to fiddle with drivers. I’m pretty impressed with the little thing.
The next step was downloading audacity. I probably could have saved some money buying it on Amazon, but I wanted it last night, so I could test my recording today. It’s called the Turtle Beach Stream Mic, in case you are interested. I paid $100 for mine.
Then, I needed to find a quiet room. I turned on the mic this morning and cycled through the various channel options while watching my input levels to estimate the noise. Much to my surprise, the omni-directional setting had the least static, so I just ran with that instead of putting it in directional mode. I started recording, and started making mistakes.
I had done some reading, and again, I don’t have cash for studio time (I spent enough on the mic), so I went around the room doing what I could. I taped off the vent register, which made the room cold but seriously cut down on ambient noise. I closed the door. Combined with Audacity’s noise reduction, that seems like it was enough.
I didn’t want to go through editing hell, and chapters in the book are really short, so I figured (after a couple hours of experimenting) that the solution for me was to record until I made a mistake, stop the recorder, and edit out from the last sentence or paragraph break. I could then start fresh from the next section. I used the touchscreen to activate recording, that way I wouldn’t have a click.
After the last pass, I recorded some ambient noise, and used it to filter the structure. I hated the result, but of course I did. It’s my silly voice after all. But I’m happy I was able to cut the noise. bundled it into a little Youtube video and uploaded it to ask for advice. To my luck, someone found my post on twitter and sent me some helpful hints about normalizing the audio and my pacing. I plan to put these tricks to work as I move forward.
Another wonderful benefit, even if you aren’t planning on using your audio files, is that I was catching every single mistake in the text. Even though I’ve edited this chapter several times, sometimes reading aloud, I was still catching errors and fixing them. If you want a thorough edit on your book, I recommend recording an audio version, whether you want to publish it or not.
Here’s the video. If you have any feedback or pointers, I’d love to hear them. Don’t worry about hurting my feelings, right now I think my voice is stupid, so I’m pretty sure there isn’t much you could say to dissuade me further.