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Into Deep Waters audio, step 4

September 17, 2015

IntoDeepWatersv3 After delays to bring out my Don’t Read in the Closet free novel, and for narrator Kaleo Griffith to do publicity for his recently released movie, we are in the home stretch of the audio book.

So what comes next?

Kaleo and his sound engineer have delivered the complete audio file of the book to the ACX page, for me to listen to. It ended up running just shy of seven and a half hours, for a 64K story. (Not too far off the estimate of seven hours. That’s important for planning, if you contract to pay an hourly rate to your narrator.)

Now we listen to each chapter, and chart on the script and recording time, any errors we want to fix before release. You are allowed two rounds of edits, but judging by what I’ve gone though so far on mine, one should be enough, barring a problem with one of the fixes. It’s very cleanly recorded.

I’m loving Kaleo’s narration, his voices, and the way he reads my words with the right touches, pauses, and emphasis to make the meaning clear. (Even when my sentences aren’t perfect. The toughest part of listening is wanting to tweak my own story. Again…)

But seriously, I’ve never been able to read my own stuff out loud, even when the audience was limited to the dog. But listening to Kaleo… I actually found myself not wanting to put it aside to do other things. And then I hit a sex scene and… it was… hot?! It was, actually… yeah. *big grin because this audio thing is better than I thought.*

So, audio editing round:

A while ago, after the first 15 minute sample was done, we’d asked another narrator, Sean Crisden, (who was wonderful about answering our newbie questions, and is a great narrator too) about fixing mistakes. I’m going to just copy his answer here, because it was a big help:

“Edits (or “pick-ups” as they’re commonly referred to as in snazzy audiobook lingo) are absolutely to be expected. Unless there is some agreement to the contrary (which I have never seen let alone heard of) stating that the narrator will not do any revisions then it is indeed a given that there will be pick-ups. I’ve only had two books in my entire career that didn’t require at least a handful of pick-ups and even then I felt that the proofers missed something. It’s extremely rare for a narrator not to make an error with hours of text.

“Most typically, pick-ups are for mispronunciations, jumbled word order, stumbling or enunciation. It is also common to see them for mouth noise (those annoying clicks and pops), “gasping” breaths and/or miscellaneous noises (chair squeak, barking dog, lawnmower etc.).

“As for “reading direction” and tone, you have to remember that as a voice-seeker, you select a narrator for their particular style of narration and the choices that that narrator makes. In essence, you hire them for their art and performance which is uniquely theirs. So a bit of trust is involved in the resulting interpretation and expression of the story.

“Micromanagement and handholding can become cumbersome for both parties, akin to a director and screenwriter telling a star actor how to deliver every line. Of course, there are moments when a narrator or actor can make a choice that simply does not work. That’s when tact and teamwork to create the best work possible come into play for everyone.

“It is always best to provide any notes to the narrator prior to the narration beginning. Typically they are few and far between as a well written manuscript will need little external guidance if the narrator reads it and preps appropriately. Similarly, the narrator should pre-read the entire manuscript and create their own prep notes to research for any pronunciation questions or queries in general should they have any. It saves everyone work on the back end and there are fewer pick-ups.

“If your narrator is mispronouncing something, absolutely provide that feedback to him. It will save time to do it early with only 15 minutes of audio rather than hours to comb through and correct later.

“To make it easier, read along with the text as you listen and proof. Make a list or spreadsheet to document errors that you hear. When you hear an error, list the page number of the text where it occurs, the audio file name/number, the time code from the audio where the error occurs (minutes and seconds) and the correction note(s). You may also want to type out the sentence in which the error occurs.

“Technical errors of course should be noted for re-record (mispronunciation, jumbled words, enunciation, etc.) as should glaring noises (creaks, thumps, barking, etc.). However I encourage you to be judicious in your error selection when it involves things like mouth noise, breaths and of course the narrator’s delivery and interpretation of the story.

“Particularly mouth noise and breathing should be noted and removed where they are a noticeable distraction and not simply because they occur as both are tied inextricably to human speech. I’m still surprised at the number of audiobook producers who remove all breaths from the narration. For me it ends up sounding much less organic and human and more like a robot telling me a story which I find highly undesirable. Of course, you may prefer it and the choice is certainly yours. Loud clicks, tongue-slaps and gasping breaths should of course be removed as they can be distracting unless for some reasons used as a part of the story itself.

“To summarize, pick-ups are always to be expected and you are well within normal operating procedure to request them.”

Isn’t that a great answer, from someone who wasn’t even our narrator on this book? So helpful.

Anyway, as I listen to our book, Kaleo Griffith clearly has a very capable sound engineer, so the recording I'm listening to has very few noises, clicks, whatever. Plus it's amazingly error-free. (Not completely, but very clean.)

And again, my producer, Jonathan Penn, makes my project better – I'm catching a rare error, or change of emphasis. Jonathan is diligently classifying his catches into three levels of seriousness and has picked up a couple more. Still very few, but he has a better ear. (Maybe he's not squinting at the tweaks he wishes he could make, as he reads along. 🙂

Once we match and agree on our list of pick-ups, we’ll send it to Kaleo. Then we get back the corrected version.

I’m really excited – the project is almost done, and should be out before GRL.

With luck, my next post will be about the release 🙂 *crosses fingers hoping I didn’t just jinx it*

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