As of January 2023 I’ve begun recording my own audiobooks. This page is my reference guide.
# My Equipment
- Audacity software (it’s free!)
- A Blue Yeti USB Microphone
- A Moukey Isolation Shield and Shock Mount
- Generic over-the-ear Headphones
- A tablet (iPad) for scrolling silently through the book as I narrate.
# Why Record my own Audiobooks?
- Professional narrators (rightly) charge more than I can afford to pay.
- I enjoy making my own stuff.
- It’s kinda difficult, and I enjoy doing difficult things sometimes.
- I know my characters better than anyone.
- It makes my books more accessible for visually impaired readers.
- Money can be exchanged for goods and services. 😇
# Limitations & Problems
- Many of my cozy mystery characters have non-American accents. Accent work is beyond my skill level, and rather than butchering a dozen lovely accents I’ve opted to go with my own voice.
# My Recording Location
My tiny urban condo lacks a closet or small room suitable for recording, and cities are noisy, so I use my condo building’s movie room. It has moderate soundproofing and soft walls. Combined with my microphone’s isolation shield, it’s not bad!
Audiobook files need to have a noise floor (silence) of -60DB. When I choose a quiet time of day, I can record at -56DB. That’s pretty close, and I can tweak the noise floor a little when I process the files.
# Recording as Proofing (Workflow Experiment)
To streamline my work I’m combining audio recording with proofreading. Once a chapter is complete and edited (content edits + line edit) I begin recording.
When reading work aloud, proofreading errors stand out clearly. I pause the recording, fix the error in the manuscript file, and re-record that sentence, all on the fly.
# Before Recording (instructions)
- Dress in silent clothing, remove watches, rings, anything that might make noise.
- Set up the microphone, laptop, and tablet at head level. (I prefer to stand! Better voice and energy.)
- Bring a big bottle of water. You’ll need it.
- Open manuscript on tablet. Don’t TAP the tablet because it will put a thud on the microphone. Slide to advance the text. (SSSHHH!)
- Plug headphones into the microphone so you hear yourself as you go.
- Turn off anything you can that makes noise. (HVAC, Phone, Notifications, etc.)
- Warm up the voice!
# When Starting a New Project
- Record and save 10 seconds of “room tone” (silence). You’ll need it when adding pauses during editing. Every room’s “silence” sounds different.
# Useful Commands in Audacity
- SHIFT + R: Record
- Spacebar: STOP/PLAY
- SHIFT + D: Punch and Roll
# Punch and Roll
For backing up and re-starting when you’ve messed up.
Place the marker (line) before your spoken error or flub. Hit SHIFT + D and the previous five seconds will play. You can speak over your own voice to get in the rhythm! At the marker, recording will resume. Keep on narrating from there.
more to come…
# Audiobook Plugins for Audacity
# Audiobook Editing
# Mastering the Audio Files
# Reference Links