Monday, June 6, 2011

Recording an Audio Book

I've never talked so much in my life.

I'm planning to release an audio version of "The Gold Cat's Daughter" to coincide with the print and e-release, and let me tell you, it's a lot of work. I have a new respect for anyone who has to read lines before a microphone or camera. I've flubbed at least two lines per page, and it's my own words I'm reading. You'd think I'd get it right.

I had the good fortune to meet a guy at work who had lots of audio equipment and experience using it. He offered to record my book, but I don't think either of us knew what we were getting in to. He doesn't have a professional studio and I'm not a professional voice actor, so we can only go as long as the ambient noise is at a minimum and my voice holds up. It's a challenge for us both to make this work but he has the harder job by far: that of sound-proofing the room and dealing with all the technical aspects. I just have to show up with my bag of voices and healthy throat.

Each chapter takes an average of 1 1/2 hours to read through, retakes and all. I was delighted to learn after taking a few weeks off that we were on chapter nine, three more than I remembered. There are fourteen total in this book, so it is almost done. That's a good thing too because the summer months are coming and that little room will get warmer and warmer.

Todd, my sound guy, once remarked that I have a lot of "shit" in my book. This is because after each mistake I mutter "shit" into the mic. It's his cue to pause. It's a system we developed naturally with no forethought and it seems to work out fine. Any curse words not in the book will of course be edited out. We do a technique called 'punching in' which means recording over the mistakes, so the editing process should mostly be all about timing.

The real unknown quantity is my voice. I don't know if it's the kind of voice someone would want to listen to for hours on end. I've been told it's low-key and monotonous; maybe my book will be recommended for insomniacs? I hope not. Anyway, I plan to have a portion of the audio book available for free on my eventual website so buyers can make up their own minds.

I really wanted to read it all with a British accent, but I felt that would be dishonest somehow...


  1. Thank you for your kind words Mark.
    by the time we are done the book the room will be much more geared towards audio book recordings and voice over work. It seems others have taken notice to our Saturday night recordings.
    I feel the book is going to be great. after edit and mastering has been completed and I am sure a few more punch ins.
    please remember the word shit in the recording world means cut.

    Todd Callahan