A reference guide for recording and publishing my own audiobooks.
- 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.
# 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.
- Fix: Include a brief authors note/forward explaining that I will not be doing accents.
- Audiobook sales are a near-monopoly situation, and there are only a handful of distributors, most of whom have really shitty contract terms.
- Fix: Unknown. (I’m still considering my options)
# My Recording Location
My tiny urban condo lacks a closet or small room suitable for recording, and cities are noisy, so I use my 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
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.
Update 4/23: This works really well! In my first complete recording of an audiobook I found 10 small errors that had slipped through despite editing and beta reading, across 62,000 words.
# Preparing the Manuscript for Recording
# Pre-Record Checklist
- Dress in quiet clothing, remove watches, rings, anything that might make noise.
- Set up the microphone, laptop, and tablet at head level.
- Bring a big bottle of water.
- 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! ( how to)
# 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 into the correct rhythm. At the marker, recording will resume.
# Audiobook Plugins for Audacity
# Audiobook Editing
# Mastering the Audio Files