November 4, 2014

How to Create an Audiobook

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How does an author go about creating an audiobook?  Well, before the last AWP conference, I had no idea either.

I was wandering the fabulous and overwhelming floor at the last AWP in Seattle and I saw the booth for ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange).  (To be honest, I was showing off a little, flashing the print and kindle versions I had created next door at the Amazon booth.)  I talked with the nice folks there and they were tremendously helpful, and they gave me a pamphlet to follow up online after the conference.

So what ACX is is a dating service for authors and voice actors.  You put your project up, voice talent offers auditions, you choose each other, you agree on terms (either a flat fee or 50/50, usually), and then the site guides you through the process of creating the work.  It’s also connected with Amazon and Audible and iTunes, so your work automatically has distribution ~ that is linked to the listing you already have.

So I put up my short story collection for voice actors to audition for, and right away ~ within 24 hours ~ P. J. Morgan auditioned.  I was nervous about it.  I mean, I didn’t want someone who was going to have the traditional radio voice.  HEH, YOU OUT THERE, MY VOICE IS ANNOYINGY LOUD AND PERKY!!  That is not the Wyoming sensibility at all.  We’re laid back and laconic and understated.  But P. J. just nailed it right out of the gate.  She’s amazing that way.  When I first heard her voice reading the words I had written, I got tears in my eyes. Not only that, she’s just a really great person and very professional and I am so lucky!

I didn’t wait.  I immediately accepted her five-minute audition and we agreed to work together. I didn’t get any other auditions ~ but I didn’t give anyone time either.  And so over the next couple months I gave P. J. a script with any clarification I thought she might need and she produced the audiobook. And did such an amazing job.  I had to only offer a few pronunciation corrections ~ which she made ~ and she made me realize I’d been pronouncing a few words wrong. Who knew the weed kochia is pronounced “ko-KEE-uh” rather than “ko-CHEE-uh” as I had been doing for years?

I have to tell you: I went down the hole of depression in the middle of the process and I did that horrible thing ~ I was unresponsive for a while.  I apologize now and forever to P. J. for it! She got the production done and I didn’t give her feedback for a couple of months. Sorry, P. J.!!

Let me see if I can describe how I felt.  I’m predisposed to be social phobic when this happens.  For whatever reason, it’s email that gets me.  I think about responding to someone who needs someone from me via email ~ even if it’s just a note saying, “Got your email. Everything’s good.” ~ and I have a bout of emotional anxiety.  So I had that going on, plus hearing your words spoken is a wonderful but also nerve-wracking thing.  I can’t tell you how amazing it was to listen to it, but then, because of my frame of mind, I got very nervous. Something about the concreteness of it all.  I don’t know how to describe it.  It’s as if I don’t deserve to take other people’s time and why would I have anything to say anyway? All that childhood angst came back and heaped upon my head. 

So, in case you had any illusions about my stability …

Anyway, I eventually got past that and P. J. made the changes and here we are!  We have this amazing voicing of the words I set to paper, and I can’t tell you how wonderful that is.  P. J. is such an amazing professional and I am so lucky. Thank you, P. J., and thank you ACX for the service.

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