Then Maria contacted me last year about her audio books. I was shocked and quite surprised to learn that she was narrating her own books! Now I have listened to enough audio books to know that it can't be easy to read a book (sometimes over 10 hours long) but I hadn't heard of an author doing the job themselves.
So I asked Maria to come on the blog again and tell us the story of how it all happened! Anyone who listens to audio books will find this interesting and people who haven't yet taken the time to try the Blood Lines series may just pick them up!
Make sure you read all the way through and enter the contest! Maria is giving away one of her books to one lucky person!
In the first grade, my teacher and I would work together in a special one-on-one class as I learned to speak English. One of the tools we used was a reel-to-reel tape recorder. I don’t remember much about the lessons, but I do remember that one of the notes on my report card was how much I enjoyed working with the recorder.
Little did I know that my inherent love of technology would eventually lead to me recording my own audiobooks some forty-some-odd years later. Did that early exposure help lead me to it? Who knows. It didn’t hurt that I was equally as fascinated by how entertainment gets made: music, TV shows, movies all throughout school, so much so that my major in college was radio, broadcast and film, with an emphasis on TV/Film production. Hands on classes only helped solidify my love.
So when John Betancourt at Wildside Books talked to me about doing an audiobook contract via the indie arm of Audible.com, ACX, I agreed immediately. Did I know then that I’d end up being the narrator? Not really. I’d envisioned auditioning voices and picking someone out. Only, it didn’t quite work that way.
The project was up at ACX for a while and, though narrators were auditioning, no one was right. Enough so that John didn’t even forward any auditions to me for a long time. A friend of mine offered to audition. She’s got a great voice, but still, not quite what I was looking for. Finally, John sent over an audition that he thought was good. I, however, immediately ran in the other direction. Seems that his internal ear and mine were completely at odds.
I finally realized that the voice I heard in my head for Keira, who is the 1st-person protagonist of the series, was so very clear, so wholly envisioned, that I had to do this myself. I girded my mental loins, did a lot of reading and research on how to use GarageBand, what the specs were for recording for ACX, how to create an at-home studio (since I couldn’t afford to rent a sound studio). There were definitely some hurdles, but none insurmountable.
I quickly signed up as narrator and, working with John, did all the official online paperwork to assign the projects to me.
Then came the hard part. Oh, I knew how to read aloud. In fact, I had some voice-over training during college and am not afraid of the microphone. Only, I didn’t really grok just how much work it was to record it right. You know, with no errors, with the right inflections, etc. Then after that, there’s the QA process: re-listening to what I did and making sure there aren’t any weird, extraneous noises in the background, like the cat sneezing (which seems to happen just when I’m about to finish an emotional paragraph). The file needs to be cleaned up and then mastered, something I was a total n00b at. Sadly, GarageBand doesn’t have mastering capability. Mastering, for the unitiated is basically taking the raw audio and creating the final mix, balancing the high and low sounds.
Thank Google I found a lovely online app that did the work for me. It’s a bit tedious, but it’s simple. Each chapter, which is recorded separately, is mastered, then uploaded to ACX. After this, the publisher reviews and accepts the file. Once the entire book is done and uploaded, then ACX folks review and accept and voila, at some point within 2 to 3 weeks of your finishing, the audio book is for sale.
The main lesson I learned? I knew enough to be dangerous. I didn’t know enough to realize just how much work this was going to be. For every hour of finished audio, there’s probably another 2 to 3 hours of work just on the recording part. This isn’t counting all the hours of research, review, restarting my process.
Is it worth it? Absolutely. I know how the words are supposed to sound. I know the exact inflections, what to emphasize, how to pronounce the Spanish, what the various accents sound like. And, thanks to the lovely Amber, who provided me with the exact pronunciations of the Welsh words and phrases, I can make a darned good attempt at the Welsh.
Matters of the Blood (the first book in the series) is now available via Audible.com and iTunes. I’m nearly done with the initial recording round of Blood Bargain (book 2) and then, it’s on to the rest. My goal is to finish all the books by October. It’s been a blast, even though it’s been hard work. Heck, I’m even considering looking for other books to narrate!
#1 - Matters of the Blood
#2 - Blood Bargain
#3 - Blood Kin
#4 - Blood Heat
#5 - Blood Sacrifice
Maria Lima on Amberkatze's Book Blog
Maria is hosting a reader's choice giveaway. The winner gets to choose any one of her books. So you can start the series, continue where you left off or finally get a copy of the last installment!
How To Enter
Any good audio books you want to recommend? Any you want to try? Do you think authors should read their own books for audio versions? Discuss ;)
No Answer = No Entry
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The contest will stay open until 4pm on Sunday 17th June (Central European Time) and the winner will be picked by a randomizer. Entrants should check back to see if they have won. I do not hunt down winners and will pick new winners for any prizes not claimed within 7 days.