Writer. Warning: opinions. My lawyer advised a disclaimer, but didn't include any jokes to go with. Damned if I can think of any either.

How I Recorded an Audiobook and got my book “How To Mount Aconcagua” onto Audible

Click to buy this amazing audio book
Click to buy this amazing audio book

If it weren’t for audiobooks I would never read as many books as I do, and it’s not just me. Audiobooks are now outselling print, according to some.

I need a constant stream of incoming books, both for my own personal enjoyment and to help prime my own creative pump. But last year I realized something: there was a dramatic mismatch between the way I consumed work like mine and the way my work is available. I’m no Seth Godin but I know that ain’t gonna work.

If I’m loosely exemplary of my target readership, and I don’t read much actual fiction in print, all my print/e-reader work amounts to a hill of dog squeeze. What if Vonnegut had submitted Slaughterhouse-Five as a series of flank steaks with the words branded into them?

Well, it’d still be a great book, but you take my point.

All I Had To Do was Record It

Luckily (in some ways), I have an abandoned career as a professional musician behind me. I know some things about recording, and I have some mics, cables, and software to facilitate such.

Shure_SM57I just plugged my mic (a Rode NT2 I bought years ago), into my audio interface (an Alesis Multimix 4) adjusted the pop filter, and began recording into Garageband. I used the included presets to help with dynamics. Easy right?

Well, yes and no. I didn’t really like the results with the NT2, even though it’s a large diaphragm mic, so I ended up just using an old SM57 I had laying around. And I didn’t really like the echoey sound of the audio. In the parlance of recording, it had too much “room.”

So I threw a blanket over my head and my monitor, and that seemed to work. It was uncomfortable, irritating, and a little humiliating, but that’s low budget authorship for you.

Work was comfortable when I was doing computer stuff for a living. The only problem was I hated everything. Yeah. Everything.

Me during my IT years. PHOTO: Gage Skidmore
Me during my IT years. PHOTO: Gage Skidmore

Next, Just Upload the Files to ACX

Once my files were uploaded, ACX sent me an email to let me know that my files were all shit and they didn’t accept them. My careful work with the compressor presets to make sure my audio was as near to 0(zero)db as possible without clipping was abhorrent to ACX. They prefer -3db or less.

And I’d foolishly thought an audiobook was a single large file of the book read start to finish. Nay. They want it all split up into chapters. And each chapter must have audio that announces it as a chapter, or else no go.

I got frustrated with the project at this point and forgot about it for a few months. Then a friend of mine who is a pro audio guy for the movie industry offered to help. At his house, we re-recorded the audio, this time with someone who knew what they were doing at the controls.

Adobe_Addition_CS6

Eventually I met all the requirements ACX places on home producers of audiobooks, which, it seems to me, might be just a touch draconian. I had to do a lot of post-processing work in Audition to make the audio acceptable to ACX, but at long last I got the thing done.

A few days later, I got an email to let me know the title was live on Audible.com. And there was much rejoicing.

Now all I have to do is audio-ize my other six titles (and growing). Next time I’m going to a studio, dang it.

I wonder if some day authors will be skipping the intermediate print step altogether.