Recording Audiobooks on a Budget

I’m Heading INTO the Closet

There have been a couple of running jokes here in our house. The first is that I’m going INTO the closet not coming out. My tween thinks that is very funny.

The other is that this tiny 17″ deep space is not a closet, it’s my recording studio.

The tween loves to rub it in, “So I’ll be sure to be really quiet when you go into your clos…er, recording studio.”

My husband’s only comment? “Well, you had better record in small batches because otherwise you will run out of air.”

Well, there is that.

So, it’s small and my elbows jab into the walls and I fight for space for my mouse to work and strain to see the screen, but I did a test run and I think it will work.

All I need to do now is decide which book I will start with.

Because Audiobooks are EXPENSIVE to Hire Out

Do YOU have $1,500 – $4,000 to spend per book? Because I don’t. Not even close.

I was rather shocked when I researched the cost of audiobooks. It ends up being around 12-20 hours of recorded audio and at a cost of $150-$300 per hour to record, edit, and send the author the full MP3 file.

And don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of work, but as with anything else I weigh what my time is worth versus how much disposable income I have. The answer was simple, I’ll be doing this myself!

A Voice Folks Have Commented On

It might be hard to imagine, but I worked in offices for over 20 years – secretarial work, Admin Assistant, Office Manager, call centers, et cetera.

Heck, it’s hard to imagine I lasted that long. Looking back I realize how much I hated it.

There were some benefits to it. I certainly learned a lot about business – how it can be run, how I prefer to run a business, bookkeeping, and more. One of the many benefits I developed during my time in the corporate world was a well-cultivated phone voice. It was smooth, professional, and warm.

I received many compliments over the years from callers. And my daughter says she loves hearing me read out loud.

And it struck me that I have something other authors might not, a good voice for storytelling. I need to practice reading at a steady pace and learn how to handle mistakes, but other than that, I’m good.

Which is kind of perfect because readers often prefer hearing the books in the author’s voice.

Multiple Formats, Spread Wide

I recently moved from KDP Select, which is an exclusive contract with Amazon, to wide. I now have all of my ebooks available on Draft2Digital, which distributes them to Barnes&Noble, Kobo, iBooks, Scribd, Tolino, 24 Symbols, Playster, Overdrive and Biblioteca. And of course I still have them on Amazon as well.

I have all of my books in multiple formats as well – ebook, paperback, large print paperback, and soon…audio. I will go wide on the audiobooks as well – AuthorRepublic, the equivalent of Draft2Digital, will probably be my choice of host for those.

I’m also working on getting my books available, in ebook (.mobi, .epub, .pdf) and audiobook (MP3) formats that can be uploaded directly from this website. Buy directly from me and I end up getting most of the cut, minus a small amount for a payment processing fee instead of losing 30% or more by going through Amazon and the others.

The Plan

The plan at present is to knuckle down and…

  • Work on the monthly free stories (I need to write at least four more ASAP) and continue to work on my existing book projects
  • Expand to offering the different formats of ebook (.mobi, .epub, and .pdf) for sale directly on my website. This means finding the right payment processing tools (possibly Paypal? hmmm).
  • Record five of my six books into audiobooks
  • Offer the audiobooks for sale on Authors Republic and my website
  • Continue to educate myself on marketing, work on better book blurbs for all of my books, and continue to improve my ads on AMS and Facebook
  • Finish a book – what book, I don’t yet know!

Rinse and repeat.

Re-Assess and Re-Evaluate

As a professional organizer I can tell you that spring and fall are the perfect times for organizing. As the changing of the seasons occur, there are also great changes happening within our homes (children or not). I’m having one of those as I struggle to add homeschooling to my daily regimen. Months of notice notwithstanding, I’m still struggling. It’s hard, and sometimes it feels as if my writing comes last.

I feel as if I’m constantly starting, stopping, and re-assessing. I’d stop to wonder why, but I’m too damned busy doing a half-dozen other things.

That last sentence was a joke, by the way.

The reality is, I’m not sure where I need to proceed or which project needs finishing. So, you get to come along for the ride. Here are my current projects and their status/problems that I need to overcome:

The Hired Gun 

Status: 33,650 words written, 14 out of 29 chapters completed.

Problem: I know where this story is going, I’m just on the fence as to whether to make it an erotic thriller or tone it down to a romantic thriller. (in other words, do I write full sex scenes or just the lead up to them?). Also, this is the first book in The Hired Gun series, so what I decide must hold for the following books. I’m finding myself more on the side of romantic thriller than I am on erotic thriller. This is also uncharted territory for me – so I’m feeling uncertain about each word I put on the page. I’m unwilling to walk away from it, however, because I think it (and the series) could be really good.

Plan for NowFigure it out, move forward, I’ve got a ton more to write.

The Chronicles of Liv Rowan

Status: 37,685 words written, approximately 40% complete.

Problem: There are several. 1) This is the first book in a twelve book series, so I’m concerned about not writing myself into a corner or creating a rule that I can’t live with later on, 2) It feels immature. This is probably due to when I began writing it (around 20 years ago now) and it lacks the full breadth of wording that fantasy books require. 3) I have most of the story mapped out, after all it is the first of twelve, but I need to make sure the plot twists make sense AND that the main plot is well laid out.

Plan for NowRe-visit this story regularly when I’m at an impasse with other projects. Keep working on it!

When God Laughs 

Status: 96,994 words written.

Problem: Most of those words are Facebook posts, which I have diligently copied into the chapter Facebook Posts. Also, I’m unsure where I’m going with this, or whether it has anything to really offer.

Plan for Now: Keep taking notes, this isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

The Kapalaran Chronicles 

Status: 36,035 words written, with 6 1/2 short stories completed so far.

Problem: These stories are first published on my website for my email subscribers only. That means they are limited to one per month. I plan to wait until I have 24 short stories before removing them from the website, editing and then publishing them in a short story anthology.

Plan for Now: Continue to write them. This only helps to flesh out the Kapalaran Universe and will be helpful later for those interested in my fiction works.

Start Your Own Housecleaning Biz

Status: 14,509 words written, about 20% complete

Problem: This is just at the beginning. I’m still trying to flesh out details on this manuscript because I want it to be a little different than the typical books out there. I want the reader to feel supported in those first few days, weeks and months when they start their business and avoid some of the learning pains I experienced.

Plan for Now: Continue to take notes and write when I can in this. Maybe take on a chapter or two per month?

Quit Your Job, Change Your Life

Status: 56,790 words written, around 2/3 completed.

Problem: I still struggle with Imposter Syndrome. I’m questioning who I am to write this book, and why folks should listen to me. I’m also challenged by writing more of an intro, a steady move from “something is wrong” to “let’s do something about it.” I think if I could just knuckle down, I could finish this in a month or so and have it ready for editing.

Plan for NowI really need to knuckle down and GET THIS DONE. I would love to have it done, edited, and available for sale by December 1st. It would be well-timed for New Year’s Resolutions.

Gliese 581: Zarmina’s World

Status: 11,638 words written, story not fleshed out yet, and it is just in the beginning stages.

Problem: I have vague ideas, but not a solid plan for this. A friend was surprised over this admission a few months ago. “I figured you had it all planned out!” Nope. But I have plenty of ideas on what I want to see happen, and the general flow of it.

Plan for NowFind time to focus on this. It’s sitting there, untold, and that’s not helping anyone.

I Wrote a Book, Now What?!

Status: 903 words, just the barest of a plan sketched out

Problem: There is no real hurry on this, mainly because I plan to take notes as I go and write details as I think of them. This is a long-term project.

Plan for NowContinue to take notes and write occasionally on the subject. Mainly, this book is meant for me. You would not believe the number of details that go into self-publishing! I try to write them down as they occur. Hopefully this will help others, but first I hope it will help ME!

There are at least two dozen more ideas/projects, but these are the more fully formed ones.

Where to Focus???

Then there are the other issues and challenges. Like my lack of progress on learning how to write ad copy, market my books, et cetera.

To make money on my books, I must spend money, and choosing where to spend the money seems to be the most difficult decision to make. I dabbled in Facebook ads and lost my shirt, AMS ads yield a tiny trickle of sales and I spend less than I make, so I continue with those. Recently, I made the decision to go wide instead of limiting my book offerings to Amazon – this means I will eventually see the KENP page reads go away, since those all come from KDP Select. I’m hoping to return to Facebook ads once I understand better how it all works, but that means actually taking the training I paid for, which means time away from other things.

Sometimes it all feels like a big round robin. If I didn’t have a foster child, if I didn’t have a homeschooled child, and if I didn’t have an elderly parent to care for – I could be focusing on these tasks better.

But I do have these things. And honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way, not even my dad, pain in the rear that he is. So somehow I need to make it work.

I’ve added Rescue Time to my laptop in order to see where I am spending my time. I highly suspect social media is to blame. The reality is this, if I want to get my books out, I need to write them. Nothing more, nothing less.

Accountability.

Work.

Rinse and repeat.

Say Hello to Dragon

After listening to Joanna Penn’s podcast the other day, in which she discussed dictation techniques and her use of Dragon, I took the plunge.

In fact, this entire post has been written, well dictated, through Dragon.

I am sitting in front of my computer with my headphones on. Not the crappy headphones that the program came with. Unfortunately, those didn’t seem to work. However, my husband was kind enough to rustle up his Skype headphones for me.

I’m still learning the software, it’s difficult to speak out loud the words in my head. I found that surprising, and I know I’ll get used to it with time. One of the interesting parts about using Dragon, is that you have to tell it punctuation. Well I suppose you don’t have to but it makes the finished product look better and require less editing.

So, why dictation?

While listening to Joanna’s podcast I had this sudden daydream of working in my yard, pulling weeds, whatever, and dictating the Great American Novel.

Side note: My daughter just came in, I looked at her, and immediately said the magic words to turn off the microphone. I can’t say the exact words, because then it would turn off and my dictation would end!

I doubt that will happen, dictating the Great American Novel while gardening, but you never know!

It is rather amazing what the software can do. The fact that it can decipher my words, understand the difference between grammar commands and words, and even go back and capitalize certain words, is amazing.

The technology available to us these days is staggering. Think of those people who suffer from Parkinson’s or severe arthritis, hack even those without hands, who could with this technology be able to write.

It isn’t just for writing in blogs, or  manuscripts, you can even use it to send emails or surf the web. How cool is that?!

In any case, this is both practice and evidence for me that it works. I certainly need the practice, it will take some time for it to be fruitful.

Another benefit to this software, is my typical open-door policy in my office. I don’t like to have the door closed but my family tends to just waltz in at any old time and begin talking to me. If I’m in the middle of a thought, or a detailed passage, or even just organizing facts about the story I’m working on, it sends me all a-kilter and I often lose my train of thought. Hopefully, everyone except Little Miss, who is 2 1/2 and doesn’t have the sense to be quiet, will see me talking and enter quietly. It just might give me the buffer that I so desperately need.

I’m going to play went around with this new technology through this weekend. I’ve already dictated several paragraphs in my manuscript When God Laughs. I hope to get a good part of the next chapter in The Hired Gun done as well. I have a new chapter due a week from Monday.

Which reminds me, if you haven’t been reading the chapters posted here on my website, please do. You can find the chapters under  The Hired Gun tab.

I’m going to wrap this up now and continue to experiment using this voice recognition app. I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

p.s. The links take you to the best price on Amazon!