Tag Archive: #audiobook


Blooper Reel Time


As you all know, I’ve been busy recording audiobooks at home. I’ve already gotten “Forever’s Too Long”, my wife Helen’s first solo novel, published on Audible where it received a 5-star review. So of course I was eager to turn another of her books into audio as well.  So I began recording her second book “Forever Haunted”. 

Now having shared on this blog all the technical aspects that I use to record the books, I thought it might be fun to share one or two… um… a few? Oh hell, I make a LOT of mistakes and I run into some other ‘obstacles’ that I thought might help prepare you all for some of what you might encounter. 

So, here’s the first (of what I suspect will be a growing library) of my blooper outtakes…

Now remember folks, “We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical…” Sorry, I’m slipping into the “Outer Limits” show.

Anyway, you get the idea. We control how we edit our work. We can re-record, adjust the quality of the recording, cut out the ‘oops’ moments, etc. You can make a hundred mistakes, and yet still end up with a really clean product that people will enjoy.

And remember, “Never give up and never surrender….” oh, great now I’ve slipped into “Galaxy Quest”.

Keep writing and recording my friends. And yes, there will be more about the technical aspects of recording will be coming soon.


5 out of 5 stars
06-25-20
OVERALL – 5 Stars
PERFORMANCE – 5 Stars
STORY – 5 Stars
 

 

Good plot with smart characters

Nice to have a story that isn’t based on the inattention or inability of the protagonists. Please continue releasing the series!
 
 

                                

And so it has finally happened, after months and months of researching how to make an audiobook, getting the equipment, rehearsing, learning how to control one’s voice for quality, pacing yourself, being sure of clarity when you speak, consistency in volume, learning how to edit the recordings and meet ACX’s requirements, and finally getting your work made available on Audible. This in and of itself is a huge achievement. But no one tells you about what comes next…

Waiting to see the audience’s reaction to your work.

I don’t mind telling you all that I was a nervous wreck. It’s one thing to have friends, family telling you that it sounded good to them. But what about strangers, people who listen to Audible books all the time who have become ‘experts’ on how an audiobook should sound and make them feel? That is the moment of truth for any voice actor. So seeing this review sent my spirits soaring. I’m still well past the moon and coming close to Mars… ooo, I think I can see the Mars Rover’s from here. Thank goodness their not aiming up with their cameras, God only knows what the techs down at mission control would think.

Now, I just want to say a few things about reviews over on Audible. As you can see in the top of this post, Audible has not just one but three review criteria, allowing the reviewer to cover not just the story but other aspects of the audiobook, including Performance. This of course is the big one for voice actor/actresses. Seeing what the listener thought of how good a job I did narrating/performing the piece meant the world to me.

Now, I’ve listened to a number of audiobooks, many done by professionals like Benedict Cumberbatch, Sir Derek Jacobi, James Marsters, as well as others whose names I had never heard before. And many of them were excellent. I really got caught up in the story. However, I’ve also run across one or two where the performer did a great job in enunciation, volume, clarity, etc. yet felt very ‘flat’ at the same time. They had used a monotone voice throughout the piece which was unfortunate because the story itself was very good. But I never got swept up in it, even in the more exciting dramatic moments.

I’ve covered bringing life to your performance in my previous entry about my “Adventures In Audio Recording” (Link: Adventures In Audio Recording Part VII). So I really did my best to make sure that I avoided those pitfalls in my recording, and it feels great to know I succeeded. I’m already hearing back from another listener who is still enjoying the audiobook and kept complimenting me on the different ‘voices’ I created for the various characters and (like the reviewer shown here) is eager for the upcoming audio installments of this book series. (My wife has two more books for me to record already, and is working on a fourth book in her as I write this entry).

So where do I go from here? Well, I’m doing more research to fine tune my recordings to an even higher level. I take the quality of my performances very seriously and want them to be as good as they can be, not only for myself but for my wife Helen. These books are her creation and I want to make sure I give them the kind of performance they deserve. I also hope to make my vocal talents available to others in time, and I want to give their works the same level of professionalism I give hers. But first I want to get a few more books under my ‘vocal’ belt so to speak.

Of course, as many of you know I have several books that I wrote with her in our Para-Earth Series, that are slowly being recorded as well. With luck (and a lot of hard work) I hope to have one of them ready for release on Audible just in time for the holiday season. Or at least, I hope it will work out that way. Life tends to get in the way sometimes, especially with this Covid-19 business (more about that in a separate entry).

In the meantime, I already have 1/3rd of her next book “Forever Haunted” already recorded and hope to have it completed by the end of the month. At which point I’ll start the editing process and get it submitted to ACX to be released in late September/early October. With a name like “Forever Haunted” you just know something ghostly is involved and Halloween is just the perfect time of year to release such a piece.

In the meantime, you can expect more installments in my “Adventures in Audio Recording” to be showing up on this blog. I’m also preparing a blooper video of my recording efforts for your enjoyment.

The phrase “Practice makes perfect” really comes to light when you see this video. Hopefully, some of you who are making your own audiobooks for the first time will find that it’s okay to have a mishap or a dozen. It’s just part of the process.

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

UltimateFinalCoverForeversTooLongGIMP

Well, after all these months of posting about making an audiobook, it’s finally happened… I am now the newest voice actor over on Audible!

To be honest, the reality of it is still kind of sinking in for me. We got the word on Tuesday, the day before Helen’s and my 31st wedding anniversary. And it just seemed so perfect in so many ways. As you all know Helen wrote “Forever’s Too Long” as her first solo novel, and she had me do the artwork for the cover. We’ve always been a team and we’ve always support each other in so many ways, so seeing this culmination of her writing skills, combined with my penchant for voices become a reality on the eve of our wedding anniversary just seemed so appropriate.

To be honest, I’m still in shock over here. The idea of being the voice for an audiobook had been simmering in my mind for about a year or two before I actually tried it. A co-worker of mine who knew and loved our Para-Earth books kept telling me I’d be a great reader for audiobooks. Then about a year later, just before Helen completed “Forever’s Too Long” we put together a trailer for her book (which you can see by clicking the link just below) where I supplied the voice of the lead character.

 

This trailer got even more people enthused and asking for an audio version of the book. I was still hesitant though, but then we held an online book release party where I went into character again (because the entire book is told from the protagonist’s point of view) and did some live reading from the book. The result was everyone insisting we should turn it into and audiobook and that I should supply the voice(s) for the entire thing. Helen was already keen on the idea, but this was the final tipping point for me.

 
From there I did a LOT of research about how to create an audiobook (which you can all read on this blog site). Just type the words “Adventures In Audio Recording” (don’t use the parenthesis) in the search function at the top of the blog and you will be given the entire list of all the entries covering equipment, technical requirements, etc. I’ll also be creating a separate page just for those entries here on the blog sometime soon. 
 

I’ve still got more tips and learning experiences about creating the audiobook to share with you all. But just knowing that I did things right and that I “made the cut” with Audible, has been a real achievement and a thrill for me.

You can listen to a sample of the book both at Amazon and at Audible. The cost is 1 credit for Audible members, or $14.95.

AMAZON LINK: Forever’s Too Long – Audiobook

AUDIBLE LINK: Forever’s Too Long – Audible


UltimateFinalCoverForeversTooLongGIMP

My first ‘Voice Actor’ performance “Forever’s Too Long” is now available as an unabridged audiobook, exclusively through the author’s webstore.

You have a choice between MP3 Downloadable Zip File for $12.99, or if you prefer  available as a 4 CD set for $20.00 (which includes shipping).

                  mp3logoFTLCDS1262

This book has already been earning rave 5 Star reviews both locally and internationally in audio, paperback, and e-book forms:

 

5.0 out of 5 stars – Well-crafted and hard to put down

Reviewed in Canada on November 12, 2019

Format: Paperback

“Relatable characters, evocative scenery, and engaging dialogue make this book a lot of fun to read…”

 

5.0 out of 5 stars – A Great Twist

Reviewed in the United States on July 3, 2019

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

“This is an interesting take on both hard-boiled mysteries and urban fantasy…”

 

Diane Bouse rated it 5.0 out of 5 stars – It was amazing

“I listened to this on audio and loved it. Helen has done a superb job with her characters and story… Allan did the reading and it was wonderful. Voices spot on, all the time and such a variety.”

Just click on the link below and you can hear a sample as well as order your own copy.

https://www.theforeverdetective.com/p/store.html

BlueYetiandHeadphones


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.


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.

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