Category: About Writing



Finally heard back from ACX. Two issues came up. I didn’t leave enough “Room Tone” (silence) at beginning and end of every chapter. They want .5 to 1 second of silence before first word spoken, then 1-5 seconds of silence after last word spoken. Easy fix.

The other issue, I included the closing credits and the last chapter in one file. They wanted them separated, another easy fix.

Otherwise, they had no other problems with the files. Volume, clarity, technical requirements of the audios themselves, all of that was fine.

I will be making these corrections, if I haven’t already dealt with them on my own. After that… still going to follow our own path at this point and make CD’s and downloadable MP3’s from our websites.

and

Why?

Because Audible has an “exclusive” clause that says only they get to produce the audios, and they do not make CD’s. They only produce Audible versions, and as we’ve been told by others NOT everyone can afford the monthly Audible charges every month.

Will our path be an easy one? Not really. But we’re hoping that people will spread the word once we have the audios up for sale. We’ll have to promote ourselves, which would still be true if we went with Audible. Oh the books would be in their catalog along with 100’s of others, so what would be the difference?

Reviews? Reviews can be left at our website under the comments section for each product.

A lot of people think that just because they got their book/audio on a big company’s site that they are set and don’t have to do anything else. But that’s the BIGGEST mistake one can make. No matter where your works are for sale, YOU still have to do most if not all the promoting to get the word out. Or hire someone to do your marketing. In this day and age “If you build it they will come…” is seriously overrated. YOU have to put in the work to get people to find out about your work.

And that is exactly what I’m doing here and now. Letting people know the CD’s and MP3’s are coming. I’ll be creating a “Store” button here on this site very soon and populate it with CD’s, downloadable MP3 files, PDF’s, and the option to order a signed print copy of any of our books.

ALSO… I will be continuing the “Adventures in Audio Recording” Series, in order that those who still wish to create audios can succeed in making Audible quality files ready for submission to ACX or other audiobook outlets.

Until next time, take care and keep writing and recording my friends.

After our last entry asking about making other options available such as CD’s and downloadable MP3 files of our books for audio, we’ve learned that if we go with Audible they have the “Exclusive” right to produce the audio. It also clearly states in the agreement that neither we, nor anyone else, can create audios of the books in ANY format.

                                  

And this does not just apply to us. At our local library we found some of Jim Butcher’s “Dresden Files” on CD. However, it seems they were all made before the books were transferred to Audible. Since then no new CD’s have been made. Allan even went as far as to check on Amazon and found the only  CD copies available are used ones for the earlier books. There do not appear to be any CD’s for the more recent installments of that series, only the Audible version.

So what does that mean for us? That is where the tough decision is being made. After much researching, Allan has learned how to make MP3 Files for sale and download from Helen’s web page. She is still in the middle of constructing the store for that website, but we will keep you all appraised of how it is coming along and when things will be available for sale.

Her first novel “Forever’s Too Long” is already recorded and up to ACX/Audible standards. However, we both want to add a few new touches to the files, like adding some intro and closing music, as well as the occasional sound-effect here and there where it just seems appropriate (like someone bumping their head – without giving any of the plot away, it just seems appropriate for the particular scene in question, trust me on this).

The MP3 downloads will be in Zip File format, and if this is a problem for anyone please let us know.  (NOTE: We will be experimenting with non-Zip MP3 Files as well, just in case some people need that style.) 

Payment Options:

-Payments will be accepted at Helen’s on-line store through PayPal (which takes credit cards these days).

-Personal checks will also be accepted in which case the file(s) will be e-mailed to you as soon as the check is received and deposited.

 

What will be available at the online store?

                                   

CD’s

MP3 Downloads 

Signed Trade Paperback Copies

And finally…

PDF’s for those who don’t do Kindle/Nook


*NOTE: Kindle/Nook/Kobo and other e-book versions will still be available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble, Kobo, other online outlets. 

 

But what about the Para-Earths Books?

We will also be slowly setting up a store here on this blog to cover our Para-Earths Series which of course includes: 

            

*NOTE: Signed paperback copies and PDFs will be posted shortly.*

Audiobooks in the forms of CD’s and dowloadable MP3’s are already under way, starting with the our anthology “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At A Time” (of which 5 of the stories have already been recorded and edited) and “The Bridge”. Voices have been lined up for many of the characters, while others have yet to be cast so please bear with us.

And rest assured that all new Para-Earths tales are on the way as well.

As of today “The Door” is weighing in at over 60,000 words and still growing.

We are also pleased to let you all know that “The Vampyre Blogs – Family Ties” novel, is also under way and is currently sitting at 6000 words. This story will be a full-length novel taking up a couple of weeks after the events of “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”.

A third novel “The Misty Mountains” will feature Jonathan Cloudfoot and his girlfriend Michelle (who both made their 1st appearances in “The Ship”) will be teaming up with “The Professor” (aka Otto from “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”) is also in the works. This adventure will be taking place in the hills of Santa Cruz California.

So we have a lot going on here and much more coming your way. As always we thank you for your support and patience while we bring all this and more to you.

Until next time, take care and keep writing everyone!


While waiting for Audible to approve/reject our submission, we have heard back from a number of people who say they don’t do Audible. Some prefer CD’s because they cannot afford Audible’s monthly charges.

So this got me and Helen thinking about offering CD’s, even if Audible accepts our books. We are also considering the fact that some people do not have a convenient CD Player these days, or may prefer audio files for storage. For them, we are thinking about selling MP3 audio files that people can order from this site so they can download the entire book into their own device of choice.

So please take a moment and let us know which of the following options that would be of interest to you. We are simply seeking feedback which would be a huge help to us in deciding what path(s) to take as far as making our audios available to people, so your responses are VERY important to us.

NOTE: you CAN vote for more than one option from the list below:

 
A – Audible?
 
B – Audiobook on CD’s?
 
C – MP3 audio files that you can download to the device(s) of your choice?
 

Please leave your votes in the comment section so we can see your responses, and as always we thank you all for your continued support for this blog and our works.

Keep writing everyone!

 

Audio Options

CAN YOUR HEAR ME NOW?

Everyone knows that typing in all caps means the person is yelling/screaming at you over the internet. Naturally, most folks will tell the user to please lower their volume/tone as no one likes being screamed at. This is even more true when it comes to a person listening to an audiobook. If the narrator telling the tale is too loud or too soft it can really take the listener out of the story and annoy them to no end. And don’t expect good reviews on Audible either. I’ve seen reviews that praise the story but tear into the performance with a vengeance. This in turn can ruin your chances to be hired to do audios of other peoples’ books. 

So today we’re going to get into volume and consistency in our recordings. Now if you’re renting studio space and have someone else doing your editing, you’re probably going to be okay. But if you’re like me and doing your recording in the comfort of your own home/studio, as well as taking care of the editing afterwards, you have your work cut out for you.

Recently I was burning some CD’s (using CD-R discs and Windows Media Player) for my mom who is not a computer user, thus she cannot go the Audible route. But she does love her CD’s, so being the dutiful son I went to work burning her a copy of Helen’s solo novel “Forever’s Too Long” (Available at Amazon at this link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07RSGKTDF). Now this audio is not yet available in Audible because it is still going through Audible’s “Review Process” (a topic for another entry in the “Adventures in Audio Recording Series”).

After making sure all the files were in MP3 format (an Audible Submission Requirement), I burnt (copied) them onto CDs and then began running the discs through my CD player to make sure they were working. To my delight they worked beautifully, to my horror the volume levels between chapters was…

Yeah, the volume levels from one chapter to the next was shall we say NOT exactly even. Mind you I’m not saying they were off the scales or anything. Mind you I wasn’t blowing anyone’s hair back or anything like that.

But the volume was varying enough that at times a listener would need to adjust the volume up or down to hear properly. And let me tell you, if I were the listener I’d be getting damned annoyed if I kept getting caught up in the story and then pulled out to adjust the volume every so often.

So here was a new problem I hadn’t counted on. While technically each chapter met Audible’s technical requirements, this varying volume level from one chapter to the next was definitely going to be a problem. A problem that could easily get the book rejected by Audible. So there was only one thing to do, I had to fix this problem. But how? I’m still quite the newbie when it comes to recording audiobooks. The answer was simple, it was time to hit YouTube once again for advice on how to adjust the volume on each individual chapter so they lined up just right.

TO BE CONTINUED….


New Year’s is a time for reflection and looking ahead… or so I’ve been told. My first thought was “I didn’t really get that much done this year. I don’t have much to say or show for it.” Then at the urging of Helen I pulled out a pen and paper and started making a list. The results surprised me.

                   

I created not one but three book covers. This is the most art I’ve done in one year in I don’t know how long. Two of them were of course for Helen’s new The Forever Detective Series. The other was a new cover for “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” which we re-released as the first Young Adult (YA) installment of our Para-Earth Series.

Speaking of Helen’s new series, we created not one but two book trailers, one for each book.

 

 

This was the first time I’d ever made a book trailer and it was a blast. Helen wrote a short script for each and also found a bunch of images she wanted used in them. I not only supplied the expertise in turning it all into a video, but also the voice-over.

Now all this voice-over work, as brief as it was, led to yet another new project. At the urging of many others, I started looking into creating audiobooks. I spent a couple of months researching equipment and software and how to use it all. Eventually, I finally started recording a couple of our short stories from our anthology “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At a Time” and got some seriously positive feedback, as well as some solid tips.

Here’s one of them:

I’ve recorded several more in the meantime, with the hopes of eventually having the entire anthology recorded in the coming months.

This leads me back to my efforts to get into creating full-scale audiobooks. In spite of all my research and blogging about all the technical aspects of creating an audiobook (there are seven entries in this blog already with a few more to come) I still wasn’t sure I was ready to fully go for it. Then in early November I went to a class about voice-over work and got the reassurance I needed from a pro. As she told me in an e-mail “You’ve got the chords for this…”

With this in mind I’ve been fully throwing myself into completing the audio recordings of Helen’s first solo book “Forever’s Too Long”. To date 20 of the 22 chapters are recorded and edited. I have re-record two more and get them edited. Once their done and meet with her approval (I had recorded them earlier but neither of us were happy with the results hence the do-over) we will be submitting the entire set to Audible. We’re hoping this will happen no later than the end of this month (January 2020). From there I intend to continue recording more stories from the anthology as well as begin turning her second book “Forever Haunted” into an audio, as well as “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” in which Helen will be lending her vocal talents to bringing those characters more to life.

Some of you may be wondering why I haven’t started turning “The Bridge” or “The Ship” into audiobooks, instead of jumping to “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” and “TVB – One Day At a Time”. The answer is simple, length. Both “The Bridge” and “The Ship” are much longer than any of the other books I’m tackling and will take a great deal more time to record. Plus, I still have to come up with voices for all the various characters in those two books. So until I’ve nailed down voices for everyone, those are on the slow track for now, but they will be happening.

But getting back to 2019, with all this artwork and recording, did I get ANY writing done? The answer is of course I did. Some of it was on the long-awaited sequel to “The Bridge” and “The Ship”.

“The Door” is fully under way, and will hopefully finally see the light of day by the end of this year if not sooner. As this book is a major turning point in the Para-Earth Series, I really want to get this book completed as much as people want to read it. However, some of it’s progress will depend on another writing project with my other collaborator Rich Caminiti.

“The Pass” has been one of the most ambitious projects I’ve worked on to date. It is also the only book I’ve worked on as a long-distance collaboration, which has involved trading off chapters and as well many, MANY Skype sessions. But Rich and I are closing in on a finished 1st draft and then the process of creating a 2nd cleaner draft will begin in another month or so. So I will have much to do on that front. After the 2nd draft, it will be sent to beta-readers and an editor for further clean-up. Our hopes is to have the book out by the end of the year, but we will see what happens. We refuse to rush the book without getting it as clean and exciting as possible. And on a side note, the 2nd installment of that tale is also under way as I write. So more on that will be coming in future blog posts.

Also on the writing front I completed 3 brand new short stories for our other site “The Vampyre Blogs – Private Edition”. Two of those tales were rather lengthy and took several months apiece to complete. Yet in spite of their length, they are still considered short stories and not novelettes or novellas.

So that covers most of 2019.

What’s in store for 2020?

Well, I’ve already covered the fact that I’m close to releasing a complete audiobook, which I hope to follow with at least 2 more before year’s end. As I mentioned earlier, one will be “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At a Time” anthology, the other will be Helen’s 2nd book “Forever Haunted”. I’ve got voices prepared for both titles and depending on how things go I may get “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” under way as well.

When it comes to my own writing getting “The Pass” into a finished 2nd draft and sent to beta-readers and an editor are the top demands. Rich and I would like to see it reach readers by the end of the year, but I know from experience that there’s still so much to do before that can happen. But we will see.

I’m already planning several new short stories for “The Vampyre Blogs – Private Edition” as well as beginning preparations to put together and 2nd anthology with several never before seen stories included.

“The Door” of course is another priority for me. I’d really like to see that finished and prepped for release this year. With luck, and patience, I hope to make that actually happen.

And of course, I’ll be making new book trailers as well as helping format Helen’s next two books in her Forever Detective series.

So that’s what’s been and what is coming. There’s a lot on our plates, but we’ll keep bringing you new posts regarding all these projects and more so stay tuned. Please accept this late wish for a HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all and as always keep writing.

Gifting E-books…


This entry may seem to be a repeat but every year I get asked about how to gift e-books to someone. So here you all are and I hope everyone takes advantage since giving someone a tale they will love can be priceless sometimes…

Okay gang, the big day is drawing near and you still want to get a few more gifts but don’t know what to buy, or don’t want to go out into the stores which have already pulled down half of their displays and are lining up Spring stuff. What to do, what to do… how about giving someone a good book to read on their Kindle? It’s fast, easy, and you can have it delivered on Christmas Day and know it will arrive on time…


Didn’t know you could do this? Neither did I for the longest time. I only found out a couple of years ago when we released “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”. I found myself rewarding some of our beta-readers with a free copy of the finished product in whatever form they wished (trade paperback, Kindle, PDF).  Most requested a signed trade paperback, but a couple asked for the Kindle version.

So I headed over to Amazon, got into my account, and pulled up “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”.  Once there I quickly found the “Give As A Gift” button and clicked it.  From there I was taken to another screen which asked me to sign into my Amazon account, which I did.  From there I was taken to a final screen

This screen asked only for the e-mail address of the recipient I was sending this book to AND what day I wanted it delivered.  It was the option of a delivery date that really caught my eye.  Now some of you might be thinking, “Duh, you never noticed this before?”  And the answer is “Obviously, I didn’t.  I rarely gave e-books as gifts to anyone before, even though I’m one of the authors.  Most of my readers buy the books for themselves and hardly anyone in my family owns a Nook or Kindle.”  So yes, this was  new to me and very exciting.

So now I have this huge new avenue for last minute holiday shopping before me, which I thought it important to share these options with all of you. Some of you may have known about all this, but for those (like me) who didn’t you now have more options when it comes to shopping for gifts.  I personally love the idea of having a book to place in someone’s ‘Cyber Stocking’.

So for anyone who didn’t know about this option, now you do.  And the best part is you can do that kind of shopping right now.  The e-book will not arrive before the date you set.

Of course, being an author I’m going to shamelessly promote our books by providing links below so you can visit our author pages on Amazon, where all our books are listed and you can choose whichever one(s) you’d like to gift to the readers in your life.

Here are the links for our Para-Earth Series:

US KINDLE USERS:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07KT9C559?ref=series_rw_dp_labf

UK KINDLE USERS:

CANADA KINDLE USERS:

And for fans of Helen’s new “Forever Detective Series” which blends noir mystery and the supernatural here are the links to those books:

Thanks for tuning in and don’t be afraid to leave suggestions or ideas about gifting books that I overlooked in this post, in the comments section below.  Until next time, take care and keep writing.

Okay, so now that we’ve got all the technical parts of recording covered and how to meet ACX’s requirements, we’re ready to record and submit, right?

Yeah, what the 10th Doctor is saying. There are a number of other non-technical requirements that we have to pay attention to, in order to submit our audio successfully. First off, you need to include opening credits. These are as follows:

-The title of the audiobook

-The subtitle, if there is one

-Written by (Name of the Author)

-Narrated by (Insert your name here)

All of these need to be included in the very first file. Now you can submit this as a separate file, or as part of the first chapter.

Speaking of chapters, each chapter should have its own sound file. When you submit to ACX you’ll be submitting an entire folder of files to them. And each file can only include one chapter, no matter how short. UNLESS… the chapter is so long that the sound file is going to be longer than 120 minutes. In that case, you’ll be breaking that chapter up into more than one file. Remember, no single file can be longer than 120 minutes. ACX is very strict about this.

And since we’re discussing credits, there should also be closing credits at the end of the final chapter or at least the spoken words THE END.  I myself prefer something like this. “The End. You have been listening to “Title of the Book”, written by “Author Name” and narrated by “Your name here”.

You’ll also want to have a separate file to submit that will be a sample of your work so the audience can get a taste of what awaits them inside your audiobook. Do not include anything that contains the opening/closing credits, music, or anything explicit. The sample can be anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes in length. So choose wisely, remember this is part of your ‘hook’ to get listeners to want to hear the entire story from start to finish.

Another requirement ACX asks of submissions is 2-3 seconds of silence or “Room Tone”. Remember where I mentioned having several seconds of silence where we used the “Noise Reduction” function, this is where that section comes into play again. Originally we used it to clean up the entire file. But now we need it as a lead in before any speaking takes place in a file, and they also want another 3-5 seconds at the end of each file. This is a requirement that can and will get you rejected, so make sure each of your files has this 2-3 seconds at the beginning and 3-5 seconds of “Room Tone” at the end.

Be careful of making sure each file is consistent in pacing, vocalization, sound levels, clear speaking, etc. Try to avoid loud mic pops, mouth noises, breathing, etc. (most of which we covered in the previous entries where we covered the technical requirements). Still, try to make sure there is a definite consistency throughout all the files so as not to irritate the listener. People love being drawn into a story and then jarred out of it because of a mistake someone made in the recording. This WILL lead to bad reviews and poor ratings of all your hard work. So take the time to make sure every file is clean and consistent for your own sake.

Next up, Mono or Stereo channel formats. Whichever format you choose ALL the files associated with the audiobook in question must be in the same format. I myself stick to Mono which makes my life so much easier. I personally don’t really know the difference between the two, but Mono is what I use and I keep things consistent that way.

Finally, ACX has one final rule… the narration must be done by an actual human being. Text-to-speech is not allowed. Audible listeners are expecting a performance by a person, so ACX will only accept that and nothing else.

So, we’ve covered technical issues, and the submission requirements for ACX, which means we’re done right…

 

Sorry about that, but there are other things we need to discuss and take into consideration. And all of it falls under “Performance”. How good a narrator are you? Can you bring life to the words and characters or not? How fast should you be reading? What about pauses for the end of a sentence, etc., etc. Are you putting emphasis in the right place for the story?

We’ll go into all that in our next installment. But if you feel you’ve learned all you need, perhaps you’re already an actor or someone who’s just a natural at loud readings. If you are, then best of luck to you and go get ’em!

As for everyone else, I’ll see you in a couple of weeks. Until then keep writing and reading my friends.


Okay, we covered a lot of technical details in the last entry, but there’s still one more thing I want to talk about today, before going on to other details to consider when doing an audio recording. Regretfully, I’m one of those people with asthma so on occasion you can actually hear me taking a deep breath from time to time in the raw recordings. I do try my best to watch my breathing while I’m recording, but occasionally I take one of those deeper ones that the microphone catches. Now, this may not be a huge problem for audiobooks, but if you’re doing recordings of yourself singing it can be a BIG problem. So to keep yourself covered on both fronts let me introduce you to Noise Gate.

Now, in my case Noise Gate was one of those Effects that I needed to add to Audacity. You may want to refer back to this YouTube Video for how to add an effect to your Audacity:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdQq9W6Ot2w

Of course you’ll want to know where do I find the Noise Gate effect so I can upload it?

Here’s the link:

https://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Nyquist_Effect_Plug-ins#Noise_Gate

Just click on (noisegate.ny) Download and follow the instructions in the YouTube video to get it into your Audacity Effects Arsenal.

Okay, now that you have Noise Gate among your Audacity Effects, bring up one of your recordings that you’ve done. Select the entire recording and go to Effects and scroll down the list until you find Noise Gate. Mine looks like this:

From the first three options Select Function, Stereo Linking, and Appy Low-Cut Filter: are already selected in this image so just leave them like this.  The same holds true for Gate Frequencies Above, that 0.00 setting is just fine.

The only things I changed were the following:

 – Level Reduction: -30.0

 – Gate Threshold: -30.0

 – Attack/Decay: 50.0

It will remain at these settings unless you change things. Then I hit the OK button and that’s it. On occasion you might need to hit the Debug button, but that may only be the first time you use it, if at all.

This should take out the breaths and now you will have a very clean recording.

From here select the entire recording (Select All) and go to that Analyze option on your Audacity toolbar and select ACX Check. If I’ve done my job explaining things well you should be meeting ACX’s requirements. If not, the analyzer will tell you where you’re falling short and what areas need to be adjusted.  Remember I’m a NOOB when it comes to technical things so you might want to refer to those videos I listed in the previous entry to get more details and insights.

Okay, now you’ve got all your effects and chains in place and you can clean up any recordings you put together. So what else do we have to watch out for? We’re set, right?

Sorry gang, there’s still more to cover (which is why this series has so many installments).  In the next entry we’ll be covering ACX’s other submission requirements: such as giving title, author, who’s narrating, pacing, silence at the beginning and end, chapters, etc.

That’s going to be a lot of material in and of itself so I’m going to close this entry here for now.  In the meantime, experiment with Audacity, learn its many other tricks and functions that I haven’t even touched on. Watch YouTube videos for tutorials, etc.

But above all, keep reading and recording my friends.


Okay folks today we get down into some of the actual nitty-gritty with the Audacity program.  I’m going to be covering a fair amount of info here, while also supplying you with links to various videos that helped me. This way if my own instructions are not clear, or maybe you work better with  a visual, you’ll have the link to see exactly what’s going on.

Now I’m going to introduce you to what I refer to as “My Best Friend” in Audacity. It’s called the CHAIN. What the chain does is applies several clean-up “Effects” that will improve the quality of your recording in one shot. Mind you, it is possible to do every Effect separately, but you’ll probably need to do it every one at a time, whenever you do a recording. The Chain command will have all the Effects  preset at the levels you already need in order to meet ACX’s requirement guidelines and will save you a LOT of time.

However, we will have to do those presets while creating the Chain. This may take some time, but as I said before, in the future you’ll be able to select the Chain command and it will do it all in one shot.  So let’s get started.

Looking at the image above you’ll see Audacity in all its complicated-looking glory. Don’t worry it’s not that scary really. Clicking on “FILE” you’ll get a drop down menu. Just under the Import Option you’ll see Chains. Bring your cursor over it and it will give you two more options Apply Chain and Edit Chains. You’ll want “Edit Chains” so click on that. This is what should come up:

Of course in your case there may not be any Chain names in that first column, aside from maybe MP3 conversion, that came with mine, but I don’t know if this is true for everyone. Nevertheless, you have to create a new chain command of your own. So down at the bottom you’ll hit the Add button. This will start your new Chain. I gave mine the name ACX so I know exactly what it does.

After you give it a name the next thing you’ll see that you have that name highlighted under your Chain List. In the other box you’ll see 01 End. That will wind up getting pushed down to the bottom of your list as you add each effect, so don’t panic. At the bottom of your screen you’ll click on Insert which will bring this up next:

Now you have a list of Effects to choose from. I started with Equalization so select that one. Once you have it hi-lighted you’ll see at the top of that box a button that says “Select Parameters” hit that. This will bring up another screen that looks like this:

Looks intimidating doesn’t it? But all I want you to do is go to the bottom where it says Select Curve and choose the Low Roll-Off For Speech option. Then you’ll take the Length of Filter arrow just above that line towards the right and move the arrow to about 5000. Then click OK.

Congratulations, you’ve just taken care of your Equalizer Effect. Now we’re back on our Command Select screen with Equalization still chosen. You’ll now hit the OK button on that screen and see that Equalization is now part of your Chain.

Not so bad, right? Now we’re going to hit the Insert to add another Command to the Chain. This time I want you to choose RMS Normalize for your next command.

*NOTE: If this or any of the other options I’m telling you to choose is not among your selections, you’ll need to add it to your options. Should this be the case with you, I recommend watching video which is easy to understand and really helpful visually. I used it and it saved me a lot of aggravation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdQq9W6Ot2w. Mind you you might need to restart Audacity to get it to show up among your Select Command options, so make sure you save the Chain you’ve been creating BEFORE closing Audacity down. That way all you’ve done is already still there when you go under File and hit Edit Chains which will bring up your list again and you can select it to continue inserting the new command/effects.

Now back to RMS Normalize. Now remember to choose RMS Normalize, instead of Normalize. These are two very different functions and ACX is focused on RMS Normalize so choose it. Once again it will be hi-lighted and you’ll choose Set Parameters at the top of that window. Once there you’ll get a small window (which I cannot find an image of online #*@%!!! –those symbols were me cursing under my). However, without the image I can tell you there is very little to do here. You’ll simply enter -20.00 in the box marked Target RMS Level. You’ll also make sure the Normalize Sterio Channels is set at “Independently”. Then hit OK.  This will take you back to Select Command  and you’ll hit OK on that window. Now you have both Equalize and RMS Normalize in your chain.

*ANOTHER NOTE ABOUT RMS NORMALIZE: If after you run your chain and  you go to ACX Analyze and it may come back saying the RMS Normalize did not meet their standards. If this happens go under Effects, choose RMS Normalize and this will in turn take you back to that same screen where you set the Target RMS Level. Don’t change anything. Simply hit the “Debug” button (while having your entire recording selected so it will be applied to the whole thing), and then run the ACX Analyzer again after that. This happened to me the very first time I ran my chain and it fixed the problem. And apparently it has become the default because I’ve never had this problem with the RMS Normalizer ever again. Hopefully, you’ll have the same luck.

Finally, we come to the last command in my Chain and that is Limiter. Once again we are back on the Chain screen and hitting Insert. This time from the Select Command we choose Limiter and go back up to the top and click “Edit Parameters”. This is the screen that should come up:

Here you will choose the following. First you’ll want to choose Soft Limit under Type. Then you’ll choose 0 for both Input Gains (or if that’s already your option just leave it). Then -3.5  for Limit to (dB).  and finally 10 for Hold (ms).  As for Apply Make-up Gain: choose the No option. Then click OK. Then select OK on Select Command and you’ll see it as part of your Chain. From here, you’ll simply hit the OK button at the bottom of the Chain Command screen and you are done. You now have a working Chain that you can apply to your entire recording.

To do this, you’ll got to Select at the top of your Audacity screen and choose All. Then you’ll go to File and choose Chains and this time select Apply Chain. From there you’ll select whatever name you gave the Chain and select “Apply To Current Project” and from there the magic happens. The program will tell you which effect it is working on then go straight to the next one and so on until it finishes. You’ll see a visible difference in the wave-lengths of your recording and when you play it you’ll notice a huge difference in the sound quality. Here’s an example of one of mine, the first selection is BEFORE and the second one is AFTER I applied the Chain command.

RAW RECORDING:

AFTER CHAIN APPLIED:

Again you could have applied all these steps individually, but again the time it took to just set this Chain up would be just as long.  But now that you have that Chain you’ll be done in way less time.

Now if anyone found me sounding condescending in how I wrote this piece, please understand I am a total Novice when it comes to tech and I know I’m not the only one out there. So I tried to keep this in terms I know I would understand if I was a reader with the same lack of knowledge.

And in case I left anything out or didn’t explain the processes correctly here are the video links that cover this same material. It took me hours to find these but they were so worth it in the end.

How to Make Your Voice Sound Like Studio Quality in Audacity:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20DtRBJXWXU&list=PLjgeYVyMyvJxzwyZjepXTyey_gTeGiF2K&index=25&t=97s

Making Your Voice Sound Better In Audacity:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYF5ytMDFpA&list=PLjgeYVyMyvJzrsl94TaEtLVVZts6O10a9&index=3&t=0s

Audacity for ACX:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnutKoBzmpA&list=PLjgeYVyMyvJzrsl94TaEtLVVZts6O10a9&index=6&t=18s

The last video involves adding a Noise Gate, which I will go into in the next installment of this series. I’d do it here, but I’ve probably already overloaded you all with enough info. But watch the video by all means and if you choose to experiment on your own, that’s great.

Until next time keep writing and recording my friends.


Okay, so getting ready to record in the privacy of your own home. Sadly, this will not always be easy. Finding a quiet spot to set up is always tricky at best. But here are a few do’s and don’t’s:

1 – DON’T use your bathroom! It may have great acoustics for singing, but for recording an audio book, not a great choice. Too much echo, unless of course you want that effect for a particular scene where the character is in a cave/tunnel.  But not ideal for an entire book. You’ll drive your listeners crazy.

2 – Do not have any laundry, dishwasher, or loud fans going anywhere nearby. If you’ve got a really good microphone, guess what it will be picked up in the background. Not acceptable to ACX requirements.

3 – Make sure the windows are closed so you don’t pick up outside noises, like traffic or kids playing.

4 – Be prepared to start over… repeatedly! Things happen. You accidentally step on something, or your clothing is crinkly, etc. Where something comfortable and quiet.

5 – Have some water/drink on hand to take a swig between takes (or even sentences). Remember, with Audacity you’ll have the capability to delete sections where something happened you didn’t realize got picked up by the mic.

Some of you are probably wondering, “How do I delete a section in Audacity?” It’s very simple. When you record Audacity not only records but gives you a visual on your computer screen as depicted in the shot below.

You’ll notice how one section of the narration is already hi-lighted. For this discussion let’s say that’s the are you want to delete. Well once you have the area you want to go, simply select it and hit your delete button. It’s that simple. Just be careful you’re selecting just the section you want gone. If you delete too much, you do have the option of “Undoing” the delete by simply moving your cursor over to the Edit on the toolbar line and selecting Undo. Then you can go back and select just the area you had intended to delete. Audacity can be very forgiving. But this only works if you haven’t done another delete already. The Undo is only good for undoing what you just got rid of, not something you removed several deletes back.

The same holds true while you’re recording. If you make a major goof one trick I’ve learned is to snap my fingers near the microphone. This will create a big spike on your Audacity recording so you have a visual which makes it easy to go back and figure out where the error occurred and delete it later on. I will also snap my fingers again when I’m restarting so I can find the dead area between the snaps to delete.

As a rule I DO NOT stop the recording when I make a mistake. I use those snaps and keep recording. I’ll even do this when I’ve recorded a section but wasn’t happy with how it sounded to me. *Remember how I said in the last post that the headphones plug into the Blue Yeti microphone so I hear exactly what the mic is picking up*. Well if I feel I didn’t do a good job on that last section, I’ll snap and redo it. Believe me, those snapping fingers will become your best friend when it comes to editing your recording on Audacity. It makes it so easy to find those sections and delete them and it will save you a lot of time.

Okay, let’s say you’ve finished your recording and have gone through the process of deleting the sections you wanted removed. What comes next?  You’ll probably wind up with a raw version that sounds like this:

You can hear me taking breaths as well as a few noises that the mic still picked up in the background in spite of all my efforts to make things quiet in the room. Furthermore, the decibel levels in some areas will not meet ACX’s requirements. What do we do about those? Well, for sake of length I’m going to cover all of that in our next installment. Sorry if this leaves some of you hanging, but to cover the material properly it will probably be a lengthy entry complete with examples and YouTube links to videos where I learned a lot of what I will be covering.

So stay tuned and keep writing and practice reading aloud my friends.

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