So, once you have self-published, perhaps after getting a print edition, you wonder about getting an audio version. The more versions of the book, the better, as you will hear from many quarters. So, you google ‘audio book production’. I did, and I was rather surprised at the cost.
My book, Power’s Wrath is around 140,000 words. The costing for narrations is done in two ways. You can price by thousand words, or by finished hour of audio. Either way, it is not cheap. The price per hour will be based on the accents you require and the difficulty. Given that my book has numerous characters, and if I want them all voiced by the narrator distinctly, the cost is higher. There can also be editing fees, studio and production costs that are added on. When asked how much it costs, it depends how much money you have. For my 148000 words, ten thousand could easily be spent.
So, given this price, I decided to give ACX a go. This is a website that sets narrators and/or producers up with authors. You put up a script with notes, requesting a given accent, tone, gender and you say how much per hour you are willing to pay. You then will start to receive auditions. Trust me, you will. However unknown you might think your book, you will likely be inundated with auditions. I was, receiving fifty-five auditions in around three weeks. I now see that the sheer amount was partly my own fault.
I left the criteria quite wide open. I did not know what accent I wanted, nor what age I wished the narrator to be. In the notes I said that I was open to anything and that I would figure it out afterward.
If you are about to start this process, here are a few things I learned:
- You may not like people ‘acting’ out the book. I have learned that having men voicing women comes across a little childish at times and takes away from the narrative, rather than adding to it. Or it does in my view. I have learned that I simply want someone to read it.
- I would prefer a British accent. I love listening to audiobooks on Audible, of many different accents. There was however something in the pronunciation of my own words that annoyed me a little. I am assuming that many American narrators, to pick one notable English-speaking accent, would be able to modify their pronunciations as needed, professionals as they surely are, but it seemed easier to find a narrator that has the preferred pronunciation naturally. One example of this is in the use of the letter ‘a’ in words. A British man would go to Iraq, while an American would go to Irawq. Inconsequential, I know, but when you start down this path you may find your own little things that will irritate and worry you. It is, after all, your work.
- It is possible to take the audition down. It took me a very long time to find how, but it is. If you have enough, take it down and listen to them. Afterwards, you can open auditions again.
- People who send auditions are very eager to work for you. While, like me, you may feel bad for them having failed to get the gig, remember that this is the process. It is important to be respectful and to respond to each email. I left things unanswered for far too long, rudely long.
I will admit a bit of a guilty pleasure at this point, that of reading aloud. I also love hearing the author of a piece reading his or her work. I have a recording of TS Eliot reading the Waste Land. I am not an award winning 20th century poet, but I believe the author likely knows the intonation here that is the most suitable, knows the unstated reason why that character says such a thing, therefore naturally giving a more accurate representation of the character and the emotions behind.
So, in short, I have acquired the accoutrements necessary to begin recording myself, a little hampered by an Irish midlands accents as I am, a tone not known for its incredible beauty or mellifluous qualities. Still, I mean to try. I have downloaded Audacity, free software. I borrowed a microphone, then bought a pop filter and a stand on Amazon. So, now I need a tent of blankets for better acoustics and an openness to trial and error.
My auditions have now all been listened to, the short list to be considered further down the line, all auditions told where they stand. I could have jumped to narrating the book myself at the beginning and would have cut out a significant amount of stress and worry in the process. However, the path of self-publishing is beset with hard lessons and frustrating inefficiency.