~~~AUDIO BOOK GIVEAWAY CONTEST!~~~
If you don't care about the process of making an audio book, scroll to the bottom of this blog post to see how you can enter to win a FREE COPY of the audio book on Audible.com!
Last year, the good folks at Audible.com did a little workshop on the SUNY Purchase campus to talk about creating audio books. I was intrigued, and since I didn't have any classes at that time (and it looked like there might be punch and cookies), I stopped in.
What I learned in that workshop surprised me a little. I knew that Audible was the internet's biggest provider of audio books, and that they were affiliated with Amazon; what I didn't know was that most of that content was created in small home studios by ordinary people like me. For some reason I had an image of a sprawling labyrinth of studios, mile after mile of wire carrying audio signals from a thousand reading people into a giant control room full of people editing audio in shifts 24 hours a day... Turns out that's not exactly how it works.
How it actually works is, you go to the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX.com), and wander through listings of audio books that need readers. You submit a short audition, and if the rights holder likes what they hear, they give you the contract. Choosing a book is tricky, since there are so many of them, in every genre imaginable. We're talking everything from CIA memoirs to romantic comedies, poetry collections to how-to manuals, political satire to gay vampire erotica... The list goes on and on, and it's a little overwhelming at first. Eventually I settled on a simple rule: I'm only going to pick something that looks like a blast to read. I'm not going to look for the project that looks really easy or super lucrative; I'm going to read a book that I would probably buy and read on my own time anyway.
Enter "Murder, Sometimes" - a book by Patricia Lee Macomber. I was pleasantly surprised by what I read - this was clearly the "gruff cop with a heart of gold" kind of story, but was also a romantic comedy with some clever supernatural stuff thrown in for spice. I identified with Jason Callahan, the male lead, and was highly amused by the colorful Trina Dane, psychic-turned-consultant for his private investigation firm... I auditioned, and I got the contract. Excellent! On to production...
Once you land the contract, your job seems simple on the surface: produce a quality recording of the book in question, and turn it in through the ACX system. Sounds easy, right? Just stand in front of a microphone and read. I am here to tell you that there's really nothing simple about it. I've done little commercials before; I've done a puppet show that was really fun; I figured I knew what voice over was like, and that this was going to be an easy project. I was wrong. Reading thirty seconds of copy is easy; interacting with other people doing silly voices is a little bit harder; standing in a room and doing all the characters yourself and lacing it together with the narration in between without slipping on words or getting the giggles or becoming too frustrated to speak? That's tough. And that's before you even get to the editing.
The completed project turned out to be about four hours long. It would be foolish to think that it's possible to do the whole book in one big four-hour take, or that any given take is going to be free of mistakes. So once you're done recording, you edit. And you edit. And you edit. And this isn't the fun, happy-go-lucky kind of editing that goes by quickly and easily. It's fiddly. Every time you breathe funny, every time you miss a word or have to double back to correct a mistake, you have to make a cut and stitch the parts together, making sure you don't wreck the cadence of the speech as you go. Here's a picture that sums it up...
Eventually, hours later, you have a finished product. The good folks at Crossroad Press were good enough to do the mastering for me, for which I am deeply grateful; and then we're off to the races! A few days later, ACX approves the book, and we're good to go. If you'd like a taste of the finished product, here's the first five minutes for free!
So, here's the deal: the folks at Audible were good enough to give me some free copies of the "Murder, Sometimes" audio book to help with promotion. Of course we have to have a contest! If you want to win one of these spiffy FREE audio books, read on.
HOW TO ENTER:
There you have it, folks! Post your stuff, and we'll get this thing underway. If you don't feel like waiting for me to review your stuff, you can always buy your own copy right now. Thanks for reading!