Those of you who know me know that I am a self-published author, which means I run a very small business. So small that it’s just me. And while that can be daunting sometimes, I find it exhilarating as well.
My Small Business is Fun
There’s always something new to learn, and if I get bored with whatever I’m doing, there are at least ten tasks behind it I can switch to. The task I switched to most recently, is producing an audiobook of In Deep, the first book in the Fin Fleming Scuba Diving Mystery Series.
My Thinking Process
I thought about doing the narration myself, but I quickly realized I’m not a skilled enough actor to be able to create and sustain a different voice for every character, including all the incidental characters.
Plus, the files must all be absolutely perfect, with no barking dogs in the background. The ‘no barking dogs’ thing is highly unlikely at my house, and the sound of a dog scratching at the door of my soundproof booth is also frowned upon.
And when I compared the cost of buying all the equipment and software to the cost of paying an actor, it was pretty much a wash.
Writing is My Preferred Pastime
The next thing I considered was that I’d rather be writing.
When I was ready to publish In Deep, I was convinced I could design a cover myself. Two long, miserable frustrating weeks later, I had a cover. It was nowhere near as good as the cover the graphic artist I eventually hired created. I lost two weeks of writing time and spent a small pile of cash on software and images.
I believe I could do anything if I try hard enough, but now I’m a convert. I don’t believe I should do everything.
Step one was choosing a production company, which was easy. (I picked Findaway Voices.)
Then I had to audition actors. I needed to find a voice that sounds young but mature. Fin is 24 when the series starts, but she has a lot of responsibility and, of course, she ages a tiny bit with each book.
I found a great actress. Findaway did the negotiations for me, and we agreed on a price.
Then I waited, which as you may recall, is not my strong suit. But soon, the files were uploaded for me to review.
The Review Process
Audiobooks are actually a series of separate files. Each chapter is its own file. Front and back matter are each their own files. There has to be a sample file, which is roughly equivalent to the back cover copy on a hard copy book. Lotsa files to keep track of.
My actor did a great job, as I know, because it took me several days to listen to the files. What ran through my mind as I listened?
Two Things I Discovered
- Dang, that’s a good book!
- Wow, am I glad I didn’t try to record that myself.
And I developed a deep admiration for my narrator. (By the way, narrators are usually called producers when creating an audiobook. (See all the cool stuff I learned!)
I learned a lot and I had a blast. The audiobook is in editing/production now. I can’t wait for it to come out. I’ll keep you posted.
Sharon Ward is the author of the traditional mysteries In Deep, Sunken Death, Dark Tide, and Killer Storm, all part of the Fin Fleming Scuba Diving series. Hidden Depths, the next book in the series, will be out in spring, 2023 Sharon was a marketing executive at prominent software companies Oracle and Microsoft before becoming a writer. She was also a PADI certified divemaster who has hundreds of dives under her weight belt. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, MWA, ITW, Grub Street, and the Cape Cod Writers Center. She lives near Cape Cod with her husband Jack and their miniature long-haired dachshund Molly, who is the actual head of the Ward household.
Congratulations on your audiobook!
That actually sounds much harder than I realized. Thank you for being a trailblazer.
I use a royalty share with Audible and have that same chapter-by-chapter listening/editing process you describe.
I have my voiceover artists nailed down now and use each for the two series I write. Since the Nora Tierney are set in the UK and all the other characters except American Nora are British, I use a UK artist for those who tones down her accent a bit for Nora.
No idea what I’ll do if either of these women retire!
I’m dying to listen to this, Sharon, since I loved reading it with my eyes. You are so brave and smart about venturing into unknown territory that I’m thrilled to follow you. Let us know when it’s out!