I spent about four hours yesterday in a recording studio, recording an audiobook of Space Magic.
Although I’ve read my own work in public many times, and recorded podcasts before, this is my first time in a professional recording studio, working with an experienced engineer. It’s been a very interesting process. Apparently I have a tendency to read much too fast, and to “pop” my P’s and B’s, so I get corrected once every couple of paragraphs — and occasionally several times per sentence — and have to back up and re-do a lot. I’ve learned to turn my head slightly to the side before a “plosive” sound to prevent it from hitting the microphone too hard. The engineer has also helped me keep my character voices consistent and get my Mexican accent right (it keeps coming out more like Russian).
It’s hard work — harder on the brain than the voice — and after several hours of it I begin to feel as though I am nothing but a conduit, turning the words on the page into sound. But I trust that my own knowledge of the story and the engineer’s experience will keep the performance top-notch. We’ve done four of the 15 stories so far, so there are at least three more recording sessions to go.
The studio I am working with is Oregon Translation, a Portland company that performs language translations. They have recently branched out into voice-over work and installed a small recording studio, and are now looking to get into the business of recording audiobooks. To this end they are offering to produce a few audiobooks for local authors and publishers at a substantial discount, in exchange for the right to use the completed audiobook as a portfolio piece. If you’d like to contact them yourself, let me know and I’ll put you in touch. They have a stable of professional narrators as well as the studio and engineer.
I’m acting as my own narrator here, so all I’m paying for is studio and post-production time, but even at a very steep discount it’s still hundreds of dollars. On the other hand, when we’re through I’ll have a professionally produced audiobook that I can sell through acx.com and keep all the proceeds. I don’t know if I will ever sell enough audiobooks to recoup the investment, but even if I don’t, this is a learning experience and PR opportunity for me (I will be able to use these recordings of my stories for publicity for years to come).
I’m also beginning to offer myself as a reader for podcasts. One nice thing about this gig is that they had a few squares of acoustic foam left over after they finished the studio, which they graciously let me have for free (this stuff is surprisingly expensive, and hard to get in small quantities). I will use these to set up a small recording box for improved sound when I record at home.
This is an exciting new adventure for me! I’ll let you know as soon as the audiobook is available.