Audiobooks—the WHO

Grabbing a slice of the audio book pie through a recorded version of your book is a great strategy for increasing overall book sales and revenue. But is it as easy as grabbing a mic and turning the pages? In this post, we’ll explore what types of skills and talents it takes to get your audio book recorded, and who has them.

In our last post, Audio Books–The WHY, we shared how audio books have become increasingly popular, that they are the fasted growing segment of the market and that they help drive sales of your print and Kindle book versions. There are several steps to getting an audio book produced. It is not a matter of simply picking up a mic or (worse) your smartphone and starting to record.  A ten hour audio book, narrated, edited, proofed, and mastered, will take anywhere from 50 to 100 hours to complete, depending on its complexity and the quality of the original recording.

Let’s talk about who is involved in bringing an audio book to market

First, you, as an author may need to work with whoever owns the rights (ie, the Rights Holder or RH), as only the RH can make agreements with the parties who produce and publish the audiobook and how to distribute it. Some publishing houses prefer to publish audiobooks in house. Others choose to outsource this.

If you, the author, are also the RH, then you decide who will narrate, direct, edit, proof and master the audiobook and what channels to distribute the audiobook through.

Who else is involved in producing an audio book?

  • The narrator voices the book, recording into a microphone in a studio that has sound treatment to minimize or eliminate outside noises (such as passing cars or planes, the hum of an air conditioner or furnace) and prevent noise from within the studio from occurring (such as computer noise, keyboard clicks and so forth). The narrator uses a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) which is basically software that has been developed to facilitate studio recording and editing). The narrator also will agree to make necessary corrections (referred to as “punches”) to the recorded audio, such as mispronounced words and words or phrases that are left out.
  • The director may be hired to give guidance to the narrator on the proper pitch, intonation and accuracy of their narration
  • The editor or sound engineer will then edit the recorded audio to remove mouth or background noises, breaths that are too harsh or too long or short. After the editing and proofing is done and the narrator has made the final punches, a sound engineer or editor then ‘Masters” the audiobook to the specifications of the distributor. This includes making sure that the overall sound quality is consistent, is at the appropriate volume and bit rate and is in the correct format.
  • The proofreader reviews the recorded audio to look for mistakes in phrasing or pronunciation and for noises that the editor may have missed
  • The finished audio file is then sent to the audiobook distributor’s quality assurance department to make sure that its specs have been met. If it has not, it will be sent back for corrections. If it has, it will be put out for distribution.

You might think “My goodness, there are a lot of people involved. This must be a difficult and cumbersome process!” And it used to be that way. But now, because of the magic of technology and the speed of the internet, this is no longer the case. These people need not all be in the same building or locale to be able to work together. They may be in different parts of the country or even different parts of the world. Additionally, many of these audio professionals have more than one skill. Sometimes the narrator also acts as the editor, proofer and sound engineer. Sometimes the editing and mastering are outsourced to sound engineers who specialize in doing that and the proofing to editors who are trained to do that.

We will learn more about the actual process of recording an audio book in the next blog, AUDIO BOOKS–THE HOW, and we will also discuss the pros and cons of narrating your book yourself vs hiring a professional narrator.

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©2018, Becky White, The Voicing Expert, all rights reserved




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