When you can't read, listen! Audiobook is an entire book - read out to you in clear language. While Audiobooks are a boon for those who are visually impaired, these are also incredibly useful for anyone else who likes to read but can't find the time. Audiobooks are a great way to relax - to give your eyes a rest from the constant onslaught of digital screens. Yet others can use them to save time. Reading a book can be a challenging task for some and the technology has resolved this issue with the inception of conversational voice overs for Audiobooks. People love listening to audiobooks. That is why the industry of audiobooks is growing rapidly.
The major reason why audiobooks have become widely popular is that they comply with the modern lifestyle. Nowadays, everyone is running out of time. Therefore, it is not possible for many people to sit for hours to read a book. Through Audiobooks, one can listen to their favorite book while running on the jogging track, exercising in the gym, and traveling in a car.
Here are some of the key benefits of listening to audiobooks:
- Enhance Your Linguistic Skills: Listening to audiobooks improves your reading and speaking accuracy and fluency. You can notice and learn the way any narrator pronounces different words. Not only that, but you can also notice their reading speed, pauses, stresses, and intonations, which are very crucial in having a good fluency and command over any language.
- Improve Your Time Managemen: One of the most notable benefits of audiobooks is that you can save a good amount of time by multitasking. You can continue listening to your audiobook if the other tasks do not require much of your attention. Many people love listening to audiobooks in the gym, or while going for a walk, or while carrying out other daily commutes and chores.
- Build Critical Listening Skills: Critical listening involves analysis, critical thinking, and judgment. Listening to audiobooks is a great way of building your critical listening skills. Analyzing different complications in the plots of the story and trying to make certain judgments based on your analysis helps you enhance these skills.
- Improve memory power: There are a lot of things that you need to remember while listening to an audiobook. Name of the characters and their features, name of the places, plots and sub-plots, the sequence of events, important conversations etc. are some of the key information you need to keep in mind while listening to fiction. The ability to retain this information keeps improving with the number of audiobooks you listen to. And as your brain learns to remember the information from the story-line, it also becomes better at remembering other things of your life.
- Beneficial for people with visual impairments: Audiobooks are a blessing for people with visual impairments and other reading disorders such as dyslexia, hyperlexia, etc. In recent years, audiobooks have contributed immensely to the literacy development among differently-abled individuals.
The Benefits of Creating an Audiobook
Audiobooks are one of the fastest growing formats in book publishing. This means that more and more readers are turning to audiobooks over paperback and eBook. If you’re not creating audiobooks, you’re leaving money on the table and not reaching all your potential readers. With a huge portion of the market who wants to listen instead of having their noses stuffed in a book, offering an audio version can be helpful as well as lucrative for you to rejuvenate your marketing campaign through professional voice actors.
- With an audiobook, you’re creating another income stream without actually having to do that much more work. Not only that but creating an audiobook is affordable.
- As many people find listening to a book much easier than reading it, you can easily reach new segments of the market.
- While the eBook and general paperback markets are extremely competitive, there’s less competition in the Audiobook industry as it is relatively new in comparison.
- If you are a self-published author, you need to do everything in your power to make your book listing look professional. By having an audiobook listed and available, your book will look like it’s coming from bigger publishers themselves, which adds credibility and increases trust.
How to Make an Audiobook
The process of audiobook production might take several days or weeks, based on the size of your project. Before starting, the prep work would include preparing the content to be narrated, choice of equipment and voice narrator. Here are the essential things you must follow to make your Aubiobook a success:
Prepare the Content
The first step of the recording process is actually making sure that the book to be narrated is ready for the audio conversion. Some people make the mistake of thinking they can just read the book word for word, but this will result in a clunky audio file. To start, you can read the book aloud to find any sentences that sound weird when spoken, and highlight difficult and atypical words. Think of your book like a script you’re going to transform, so you or your narrator doesn’t get tripped up or confused when reading the text. Marking up the script is simply about using a selection of marks so that you know when to pause, what to emphasise, where to change pace, pronunciation notes, and so on.
Just like professional captioning services in multilingual languages, Audiobook narration needs to be delivered by experts. Thousands of words have to be spoken, and not just recited but presented with a level of emotion and engagement that will keep listeners enthralled for hours. When it comes to narration, Audiobook publishers are mixed on what format works better, as it often varies on audience preferences. Here are some considerations for each:
- Single Narrator: Some publishers believe it doesn’t sound proper to have a full cast of voice actors for an audiobook. They believe it makes the audiobook feel more like a theatrical drama. As people usually grow up listening to a book being read out loud by one voice, they tend to resonate better with a single narrator.
- Full Cast Narration : Other publishers much rather have a full cast of professional voice actors to truly give each character a unique and distinct voice. Millennials have been shown to gravitate more to audiobooks with a cast of multiple voice actors. Much of the popularity of the full cast option derives from its ability to keep the audience fully engaged for 10 plus hours.
Choose Which Recording Route to Take
Now that your book file is ready to be recorded it’s time to determine which recording approach you’re going to take. Overall, the route you take will depend upon how much you’re willing to invest into the creation of your audiobook, your existing skill set, and if you’re willing to learn new software and skills.
When it comes to who will narrate your book, you have two options: Recording your own audiobook (voice of the author) or hire a professional narrator through a reputable voice over agency India.
It can be tricky for an author to decide when they should be narrating the audiobook themselves or hiring someone else for the job. If you’re a public figure, celebrity or thought-leader or have a very large following for your special niche, then you may want to narrate in your own voice, as people will want to hear directly from you. This may be more common for business, self-help and health and fitness audiobooks.
However, you may want to have your book brought to life by another storyteller. This is very common for romance, fantasy, mystery books for example.
There are pros and cons to each option.
- Hiring a Professional Narrator
- They’ll add a level of polish and legitimacy that an untrained voice can’t
- Will bring your characters and audiobook to life
- Technical know-how and familiarity with audiobook process
- Physically and vocally prepared for hours of recording
- Owns professional recording equipment and software
- Credibility and distribution will be impacted, as fans of the particular narrator may discover your audiobook
- Narrating Your Own Audiobook
- No one understands your characters’ voices more
- It will save you money
- Avoiding potential communication breakdown or fallout with voice talent
- Full financial control of your published book assets
Recording Your Own Audiobook Narration
If you’re an independent author who has the skill set and endurance to record your own audiobook, well, hats off to you. But before you start recording, you need to really make sure that you have a strong enough voice to give your audiobook the best shot at success. You’ll need honest feedback from others over whether or not you’re able to provide a believable and engaging listen. To get a sense of whether or not your voice is audiobook appropriate, share a one to two minute passage of your read with friends and family and listen to their feedback. While your audiobook content may be great, your audiobook voicing skills may not, so it’s crucial to be honest with yourself about your capabilities.If your sample read passes the test of others, then you’re good to start recording.
Here are some important elements to know before you start recording your Audiobook:
- Voice Over Equipment: If you want anyone to take your audiobook seriously, it has to be recorded with professional equipment, not your smartphone or a built-in laptop microphone. Low audio quality will be noticed by listeners and your books credibility will completely be jeopardized if you don’t have these three essentials:
- Quality Microphone: It’s important you find a microphone that highlights the best qualities of your voice. And just because the mic is expensive doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for your voice. As different microphones function differently, it is essential to know and search for the right microphone for voice overs to deliver professional narration. The different types are:
- Crystal or ceramic microphones
- Microphone stand: This basic item plays a huge role in the quality of your recorded output. Microphone, ideally should not be handled while recording as it might cause distortions and fluctuations. By having a good and robust mic stand you can expect consistent recordings that will sound even and high quality with no trembles.
- Pop Filter: Also known as a ‘pop screen’ this microphone attachment will reduce plosive sounds that are produced from letters like ‘p’ and ‘b’. Here’s a thorough read on how to pick the right pop filter.
- Headphones: For delivering any recording it is also necessary to listen to it for your own assessment. A good pair of headphones that can be worn for long hours is helpful to provide you better sound without any noise.
- Audio Editing Software: Editing and recording software can be considered as the final stroke to any recorded output. These software’s help you to polish, refine and provide quality audio recordings. It is essential to find the right software as most of them have varying complexity and ease of operation. Some of the popular editing software are Audacity, Logic X Pro and GarageBand
- Setting up Recording Space: Every voice over actor needs to have that quiet sanctuary where they can get in their groove and not be disturbed. While it is important to know the basics while setting up your home voice recording studio, one thing that needs to be prioritized is soundproofing. You can get the most expensive microphone or the best editing software but if the studio does not have a good enough sound blocking, your recording will be filled with some amount of outside noise.
Sound moves in waves and the air vibrates along the same direction as the wave travels. These waves bounce along with the room while hitting the walls and create noise. When you are recording audio your listeners get to hear your direct sound as well as the ones reflected from the walls or hard objects. Before that, you should be familiar with the following terms
- Reflection: Bouncing back of sound waves from a solid surface and usually caused by corners and surfaces mostly flat like windows, doors, tiles
- Absorption: The process by which an object takes in sound energy when sound waves are encountered and usually caused at home by clothing or furniture.
- Diffusion: Refers to the spreading of sound energy in all directions and helps audio to sound better. Usually caused by objects or irregularities already placed in a room.
It is therefore essential that you soundproof your studio to achieve the optimum environment for blocking the outside noise. Soundproofing your home studio helps you to achieve the highest quality recording that you get only in professional studio equipment and will also help to keep the noises and disturbances at bay.
The reality is, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to set up a soundproof studio to begin recording. Do you have a decent-size closet or tiny crawl space? You can quickly and cost-effectively convert that room into your recording space. Here are some tips to keep in mind when setting up your recording space and soundproofing it that will help you to communicate with your audience better:
- Filter External Sound: Take a look at your doors, windows or any other entry points in your recording space. See how much external noise is coming through them. Cracks under doors are most common and can be soundproofed with a plastic sweep.
- Double Up On Insulation: Many studios add another layer of drywall on top of the original layer of drywall to reduce sound transmission. A more cost-effective option is soundproofing your space with bags of insulation and spreading them out around the room.
- Thick Carpet
A thick carpet can make a lot of difference to noise reduction. The thicker the carpet, the better for recording quality. You can also hang up strips of carpet on your walls, windows and doors to dampen noise.
- Warming Up Your Voice: Breathing life into a script is difficult but can be achieved by rigorously following a vocal regime. Here are a few tips that will help you to deliver professional recordings
- Practice Good Vocal Hygiene: Following a good vocal regime is essential to bring out the best in one’s voice. Drinking lots of water, not smoking, and avoiding abuse of the voice such as shrieking, yelling, or excessively clearing your throat, especially when ill are few practices that can lead to an energetic voice. Remember that increasing your vocal loudness can negatively affect your vocal folds and may even turn them swollen and irritable. Following good oral health, reading aloud and singing can help to function your voice better, which is crucial to vocal health.
- Exercise Regularly: Like other muscles in your body, your vocal folds and your respiratory system need exercise to stay fit. Your voice is not only dependent on the vocal folds but it encompasses many other dimensions such as bodily exercises, nutritious diet and a complacent mental health. Some basic singer’s exercises like humming can give you better pitch control and improve the resonance of your voice. Also try to keep the rest of your body in shape. Regular exercise helps increase overall stamina, build muscle tone, and improve posture -- all of which contribute to a healthier voice.
- Preparation before recording: Here are some points to consider to deliver a flawless Audiobook recording and enhance the listener’s experience:
- Get Your Script Ready: In order to record your audiobook, you need to have a script version of your book to actually read from. This is often referred to as the manuscript and will help you to conquer your recordings like a pro. Typically this is just a printed out version of your full book that you can easily read from and begin to mark up with highlighters and pens.
- Character Sheet: Well known audiobook narrators say they make a character cheat sheet that shows each character’s traits and denotes each character by color on their manuscript. If you have a horde of heroes and villains, this will be key.
- Loads Of Preparation Time: Many narrators will take two to three weeks to prepare for an audiobook recording before they step into the booth. You have to make sure you’re ready for countless hours of isolation and ensure you don’t go into autopilot. It’s also key to prepare your voice and body for such a long read, especially if you’ve never professionally voiced an audiobook. The last thing you want to do is strain and lose your voice early on in the recording process. Stretching and vocal exercise breaks need to be planned through the recording process.
- Assessing Last Recording: All great narrators listen to their previous session to make sure they’re in tune with the pace, volume and tone that they were using for the book in the last recording session. Consistency is key to keeping an audiobook believable and engaging. Also there’s nothing worse than having to re-record hours of audiobook recordings to realign tone.
Hiring a professional Voice artist
Recording your entire Audiobook from scratch in-house can be quite an investment. You require to set up your own home studio and invest in the right equipment for clear and professional recordings. Hence, it is always recommended to hire a professional voice over artist who can do justice to your brand image and bring out the nuances of your creations.Here are a few qualities to look for in the audition of the voice artist to increase the success rate of your Audiobook:
- Right Mix Of Clarity And Consistency: A voice actor’s articulation has got to be impeccable. Each word needs to be distinctly understood, not swallowed, mumbled or garbled. An actor needs to make sure that they’re balancing their enunciation between over-articulation and under-articulation. Also, with voice artists having consistency in their volume, energy, pacing, articulation, characterization and eye-brain-mouth coordination, you can be assured to receive quality voice recordings every single time!
- Well Connected To The Read: Being connected to the character and story is vital to the talent’s performance. Professional narrators always sound like they’re intrinsically interested in what they’re talking about. Being connected also means literally being physically connected to the page. Voice actors use a number of different techniques to stay connected: using their hands to make points or gestures; inflecting when and where appropriate; making facial expressions to convey emotion and using their body to physically interpret action into their voice.
- Being Natural With A Conversational Flair: Being conversational in voiceover isn’t as easy as it sounds. It takes an innate ability to lift words off the page effortlessly and speak at conversational speed–the typical pace that we speak in everyday conversations. This skill is the result of not over- or under-articulating, and is key to engaging the listener and maintaining their attention.
- Adding Personality To The Character: Dull and monotone voices can’t represent any story or character the right way, because they tend to push people away instead of growing confidence and identification within them. A professional voice talent adds a strong personality and makes your Audiobook characters stand out every single time.
- Incorporating Credibility: Just like a persuasive Advertisement voice over for TV, potential customers have to trust in the voice talent explanation. Thus, a native voice over (of the same Country of the target audience) is the right choice to make your users feel more comfortable and receptive to the message. Sometimes, a non-native voice artist may generate mistrust, thus you need to pay focus to the accent of the artist before hiring.
- Technical skills: Select the artist who understands the context and intent behind doing the recording. The experienced voice actor should have the right tone and consistency and a clear pronunciation of every word and sentence. The audio must have a high clarity for the customers to understand the story clearly and the pacing should be maintained throughout the script. Experienced voice artists will have:
- In-depth knowledge of types of microphone and their use
- Working knowledge of all equipment used in studio recording
- Knowledge of editing and sound engineering. They know how to use their microphone and other tools to deliver a clean, clear, quality sound.
- Creativity skills: Other aspects to look at when evaluating a voice actor’s demo relate to creativity and professionalism. You may want to convey different emotions in your Audiobook and need a voice actor who can narrate both engagingly and convincingly. Consider pronunciation, clarity, pacing, pitch, and accent as crucial factors that contribute to believability. Your target audience must relate not only to what is being said, but also to who is saying it.
- Interpretative skills
Absolutely essential to an Audiobook’s success is the ability of the professional voice over artist to understand the brief, the target audience and the objective of the campaign. They will need to have the versatility, creativity and talent to bring the right spark into their voice. Understanding the experience of a voice over artist to see how many roles and types of work they’ve undertaken, can ensure that they have the capability to deliver your project with the highest quality possible.
- Creates a ‘lively’ experience: The tone of the voice over artist will help to enliven your characters and reinforce the idea presented. determine how the Audiobook will sound to the listeners. The artist that identifies with the story can keep the audience hooked by the quality of his/her voice narration and a seasoned voice artist can provide an even tone to enliven any story or character.
- Invokes underlying emotions: Use a conversational voice over to enliven your characters and reinforce the idea being presented. An engaging and conversational voice can successfully capture an audience’s attention.
It’s true that veteran artists will help you get the ‘perfect’ recording but getting exactly what you want from a voice over performance, starts way before the voice artist sits down to record. Whether you require a dynamic English-US voice over for Audiobook or a Hindi narration, you need to provide the right instructions while directing a voice artist. Here are a few points that you can do before you get into the session that will help the voice artists to deliver engaging Audiobook performances:
- Clear objective of the role: Providing a clear objective to the voice talents and letting them have an in-depth idea about the role would help them to prepare a back story and enact the scene with conviction.
- Vibe of the Script: Use highly specific descriptive words to indicate how you want your book to sound. Use words and terminologies such as warm, friendly, concerned, emotionless, comic, serious, quirky or aggressive while explaining the overall feel of the script or book. Using general terms such as nice, flat, conversational create confusion as these are open to many differing interpretations.
- Cite Specific Examples: For providing a better reference to the voice artist, try to inculcate sample audios or videos so that the voice artist has a better clarity of flow and pacing during recordings.To provide minimal direction, single out a particular demo of the artist for the vocal delivery you want. This will always ensure that the artist nails the desired delivery.
- Specify Timings: If the voice track needs to fit a specific time frame, make sure you give the voice artist a head’s up in advance. Most professional voice over artists world wide work with stopwatch in hand and are extremely aware of how to fit copy into the desired time frame. But also, make sure that the script is not over-written and can fit into the timeline.
Directing a voice over or a voice actor can be a breeze if the artist is professional and knows how to deliver quality recordings. An experienced voice talent would either own a home recording studio or have access to one, you can be assured of the overall voice quality of the audio. Hence, by getting the best voice artist for your Audiobook, you’re making your investment go further and protecting yourself from costly post production charges.
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Editing Your Audiobook
Once you are done with the voice over recording, you can put on your thinking cap and move towards editing! Voice over editing can add a different dimension to your recordings and give them a ‘quality’ feel and you too can be a professional audio editor with meticulous planning, analysis and research! There are various types of voice over software available and these can be differentiated into four groups:
- Audio Editors
- Multi-Track Recorders
- Miscellaneous Studio Softwares
The first thing you want to do when you master your audio file is to get an audio profile of the ambient noise in the room. Using Audacity, you can record the ambient noise in the room and use that recording to remove the ambient noise from your audiobook.
Practically speaking, there are two ways to go about the mastering process:
- Record your audiobook and fix errors as you go.
You can record the audiobook and fix things as you go. This is the fastest way to narrate an audiobook. It minimizes duplicated effort.
- Record the entire audiobook, then go back and fix errors.
If you don’t want to fix audio errors as you go, you can record the entire project, listen to it when it’s done, and fix any errors that show up all at once.
When you’re going through your completed audio file, you want to pay attention to the little details. You want to imagine that you are the customer who just bought this book.
- Make sure the audio is clean and clear.
- Remove any pops, clicks, or hisses that you hear.
- Listen for narrative structure.
- Insert dramatic pauses where it makes sense to do so.
- Consider speeding up the way some things are narrated to flow better.
Publishing and promoting the audiobook
When you finally edit your professional voice over recordings and create your content file, the next step is to sell it everywhere to ensure your investments can return as soon as possible. There are many ways on how you can do that and there are so many platforms to use, so it’s all about which one suits your needs the best.
Once you are in good terms with your audiobook, you can podcast it, share on YouTube, or upload it at use a service like ACX, a platform owned by Amazon, that allows you to host narrator auditions, work with a narrator, proof the audiobook and publish it.
After publishing your Audiobook, you must not overlook the importance of branding and promoting in this day and age. It’s imperative that you spend time marketing your book, whether you’re making eye-catching Facebook posts or giving out promotional copies of your book. For audiobooks, it’s important to find audiobook enthusiasts who will honestly review your book. If they leave genuinely good reviews, potential readers will become more inclined to purchase your hard work.
Narrating and publishing an audiobook is a great way of serving readers in different ways and even earning more money and fame. All you need is a modest budget for the right equipment, a willingness to practice and some time to get your audiobook just right.
While it may seem like a time consuming job, with proper and meticulous planning and professional voice over recordings, the sky’s the limit!