6 Tips for Recording an Audiobook

Venomous is in the process of being beta-read. I’m hoping for an August release, but I don’t want to rush it. In the meanwhile, I’ve been working on the audiobook for Vessels. I’ve already recorded all of Part One, and at this pace, I should be done by the beginning of May.

Now, editing it all together is a different story. But I’ve learned some things about narrating that I’d like to share with you all.

Pictured: completely not my studio

Pictured: completely not my studio

1. Warm Up Your Voice

Your vocal cords are muscles too. Just like you wouldn’t wake up and perform a super-heavy deadlift right then and there, you shouldn’t go into a recording without warming up your voice. I take some deep breaths and then say this weird stream-of-consciousness.

Eat each green pea. Aim straight at the game. Ed said get ready.
It is in Italy. I tried my kite. Oaks grow slowly.
Father was calm as he threw the bomb on the dock.
An awed audience applauded Claude.
Go slow Joe, you're stepping on my toe.
Sauce makes the goose more succulent.
Up the bluff, Bud runs with the cup of love.
Red led men to the heifer that fell in the dell.
Maimed animals may become mean.
It's time to buy a nice limeade for a dime.
Oil soils doilies.
Flip a coin, Roy, you have a choice of oysters or poi.
Sheep shears should be sharp.
At her leisure, she used rouge to camouflage her features.
There's your cue, the curfew is due.
It was the student's duty to deliver the Tuesday newspaper.
He feels keen as he schemes and dreams.
Much of the flood comes under the hutch.
Boots and shoes lose newness soon.
Ruth was rude to the youthful recruit.
Vivid, livid, vivifying. Vivid experiences were lived vicariously.
Oddly, the ominous octopus remained calm.
The pod will rot if left on the rock.
Look, you could put your foot on the hood and push.
Nat nailed the new sign on the door of the diner.
Dale's dad died in the stampede for gold.
Thoughtful thinkers think things through.
Engineer Ethelbert wrecked the express at the end of Elm Street.

2. Do a Dry Run

I would advise reading the paragraph once before you even record. That way, sudden instances of alliteration or a weird word doesn’t trip you up. You’ll have a better understanding of what’s coming up if you just read the passage out loud without bothering to record yet.

3. Work Small

Don’t think you can do a whole chapter in one take. They’re just too long. Break up your chapter recording into paragraphs and save after each one. You can cut out any long pauses between sentences and paragraphs easily enough in any recording software (I use Audacity. It’s free!)

4. Go Slow

You can’t clearly enunciate if you’re too busy trying to be a lyrical rapper. Take your time and speak as if you’re saying a prayer or giving a speech. You want everyone to understand you. After all, they paid to hear your words!

5. Take Breaks

Audiobooks are marathons, not sprints. Yeah, I know it’s just reading out loud, but you’re putting on a performance with every word. You have to put verve and vigor into it, and that can get downright exhausting. And then you become hyper-aware of how clumsy your stupid mouth is and that’s the point where you just need to walk away.

6. Sample Your Background Noise

So you’re ready to go, but when you hit ‘Record’ your levels are spiking! And you haven’t started speaking! Sometimes the microphone can pick up unexpected and unwanted sounds. A noisy computer, a passing car with a crappy muffler, or a neighbor mowing his lawn can all mess up your recording. If you don’t have a super decked-out studio with audio foam on all the walls, there’s not a whole lot you can do but wait.

GMCFOSHO has ruined my recording and he doesn’t even live anywhere near me. #swag.

Projects and Planning

Venomous is finally complete! I’ve sent it out to the beta-readers and I look forward (dread) to what they have to say. I don’t want to rush anybody, so I have to be content to wait.

In the meantime, I have plenty of things to work on. From various book fairs and festivals, to making a book trailer and putting together the new cover, I can keep plenty busy while I wait.

Also, this.

behold its shiny magnificence

behold its shiny magnificence

I got this bad boy in the mail the other day and I’m proud to finally say that production of the audiobook of Vessels is underway. I’ve worked with narration and editing audio, so this is actually possible for me. The hardest part is going to be working around my hyper-alert dogs and my incredibly noisy neighborhood. Still, I’m excited for the future.