Category Archives: Uncategorized

This Week in Links: July 3 – 7

For Rights Holders:

Do You Have a Platform? – via The Book Designer – “The problem is that most authors focus on where they will build their platform and how they will build their platform. They fail to identify what their platform is and whom they intend to reach.”

How to Go On Vacation & Write While You’re Not Writing – via Writer Unboxed – Learn some ways to involve your brain in tasks that will set you up to write when you finally sit back down at the keyboard, this is something that has worked a lot for me lately, last time I rented my vacation home from outer banks rentals I was able to sit down, relax, and just write about many things that just came up to my mind.

How to Ace the First Act in Your Sequel – via Helping Writers Become Authors – Want to hook listeners with multi-part series? Find out how to kick off successive books with a bang.

Start Your Own Think Tank – via CreateSpace – Might starting a group of like-minded authors be beneficial to your writing and marketing efforts?

For Producers:

How To Attract and Keep New Clients – via Paul Strikwerda – Even though you and I are likely to have different clients with different needs, there are three factors that always play a role in every purchase decision: price, benefits, and perception.

Who Said Goofing Off Is a Waste of Time? – via Dr. Ann Utterback – “Think of the constant onslaught of information coming from the Internet, email, news stories, conversation, and our own busy thoughts. We’re asking our brains to digest all of this every second of every day. We need to shut this off for a time if we want to recharge.”

How Acting Ability Helps in Voiceover Work and Ways to Improve It – via Victoria DeAnda – “If you’re having a hard time turning yourself into a character required in a voice recording project, maybe it’s time you try acting classes on the side.”

Five Things To Do After a Voiceover Conference – via Rob Marley – The action doesn’t end when you return from a voiceover event. Take a look at how to continue the momentum once you return home.

 

Celebrating Five Years of Audiobook Creation

Way back in 2011, Audible launched ACX with a threefold vision: to help Rights Holders get their books into audio; to provide work for talented audiobook Producers; and to get more audiobooks into the ears of Audible’s listeners. Here in 2016, we’re thrilled to celebrate five fantastic years of fulfilling those promises made possible by you, the authors, actors, studios, and publishers that have created over 60,000 audiobooks through ACX.

Watch as ACX team members, past and present, take a trip down memory lane. Then head on over to ACX.com to see what we got ourselves for our birthday.

Share your favorite ACX stories in the comments below.

This Week in Links: May 23 – 27

For Producers:

Five Alternate Streams of Income as a Voiceover Artist – via Victoria DeAnda – “While this business can be quite lucrative and exciting at times, many voiceover artists want more from their talent.”

Zip Through Your Day, Get Everything Done Seriously! Six Tips For Boosting Productivity – via Voice-Over Xtra – Learn how to manage the limited hours in your day to get the most out of your VO career.

Why You Need To Set A Deadline – via Marc Scott – When setting a goal, you’ll go a long way towards successful completion by setting a deadline.

For Rights Holders:

How to Host a Facebook Launch of Your Self-published Book – via ALLi – Learn 10 steps to successfully host a virtual book (or audiobook!) launch party on the popular social network.

5 Things Most Self-Publishing Authors Overlook – via Book Marketing Tools – “To avoid making the common mistakes, review the following 5 things you should always check off your pre-publishing list.”

Do Writers Offer A Dialogue Or A Rant? – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – “The good author…tries to think like the reader and understands the assumptions, standards, and knowledge that such readers operate under.”

 

 

This Week in Links: February 15 – 19

For Producers:

How to Create a Business Plan for Your Voiceover Business – via Victoria DeAnda – “You cannot achieve success without a plan. It’s just like trying to reach a destination without a map.”

Improving Home Studio Acoustics [INFOGRAPHIC] – via Bobbin Beam – “A great quick-reference guide to help improve the sound of the home studio for recording.”

3 Tricks to Turn No into Yes – via J. Christopher Dunn – Learn when to use “no, but” rather than just “no.”

How Drug Ad Narrators Take the Scariness Out of Side Effects – via Stat – An interesting perspective on how the human voice can be used to very specific intentions.

For Rights Holders:

How to Get Traffic to Your Author Website: 30+ Tips for Discouraged Writers – via Your Writer Platform – “Consider changing your goal from quickly growing your traffic, to focusing on ensuring that the traffic you are attracting is right for your author blog. ”

9 Author Website Trends You Need to Know About – via BookBub – Check out this handful of author website enhancements to maximize your marketing efforts.

6 Low-Cost Avenues for Greater Audiobook Sales – via Ind’tale Magazine – Audible Approved ACX producer Karen Commins offers 6 audiobook specific marketing tactics.

How to Connect on Twitter Without Selling Out Your Community – via Writer’s Digest – Learn how to build an authentic social media presence without shouting “buy my book!”

How to Put Together a Marketing Plan for Your Book – via Mediashift – “This marketing plan will help you decide whether you’ll blog and have a presence on social media, and it’ll help you organize your outreach strategy for reviews.”

This Week in Links: November 9 – 13

For Producers:

Let’s Get Serious About Breath Support – via Dr. Ann Utterback – Breathing is the energy for speech, and not having good breath support is like driving a car with watered down gasoline.”

7 Things (And A Bonus) You Can’t Overlook Before Sending Your Voice Over Auditions via Voice-over Xtra – “[T]hese 7 points cannot be overlooked. They are the Holy Grail of “must-do” actions on the pre-flight list – a “basic necessities” list of pertinent reminders.

How to Effectively Deal with Customer Dissatisfaction in Voiceover – via Victoria DeAnda – “It is never easy to hear criticism. The first step in dealing with it is to understand that this happens to everyone. The next step is to help the client.”

Audiobook Narrator Tavia Gilbert Shares Her Secret to a Riveting Read – via Writer’s Digest – Learn from this short Q and A with a seasoned audiobook narrator.

From Amateur to All-Star: Everything I Wish I’d Known About Audiobook VO – via That’s Voiceover – Join ACX at That’s Voiceover in Los Angeles on November 14th to learn audiobook production from three Audible Approved Producers.

For Rights Holders:

Book Marketing on Facebook – via Book Marketing Tools – Learn why Facebook may be better for brand building than direct sales.

From Casting to A Narrator to Happily Ever After – via Karen Commins – The Audible Approved Producer offers pro tips on casting your audiobook from an actors’ perspective (check out Karen’s companion article here).

Book Marketing: How Authors Can Use Periscope’s Video Streaming Service – via ALLi – Author Chris Syme takes a look at how the emerging social video platform can work for book promotion.

How to Write Funny Dialogue – via Helping Writers Become Authors – Give your narrator something fun to voice.

Mastering Audiobooks with Alex the Audio Scientist

Welcome back to Audio Science class!ADBLCRE-ACX_Character_Icon

Today’s lesson is going to be a little different from my others. Since I’m lucky enough to have such eager students, I often get questions about one of the more mystifying aspects of audiobook production: mastering. Today, I’ll answer the most common questions and give you a breakdown of the basics steps of the mastering process. But first, let’s review ACX’s Audio Submission Requirements:

Your submitted audiobook must:

Each uploaded audio file must:

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get to those questions.

Q: Why do I need to master my audiobook productions?

A: Mastering is the the final step of post-production and the glue that brings the entire audiobook together. All chapters/sections are brought up to matching levels, which provides a smooth listening experience. Additionally, removing unwanted high and low frequencies can help reduce any hum or hiss that may be in a recording.

Q: Why do I need to follow all of these mastering requirements?

A: Audible offers each audiobook in a range of different audio formats to accommodate listeners on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. This means that audio quality will range from very high fidelity to lesser fidelities that equate to smaller file sizes and quicker downloads. Basically, if your RMS is between -18dB and -23dB RMS, with peaks at -3dB, you’ll achieve the optimal sound across all formats.

Q: What is RMS?

A: RMS has many functions, but for audiobooks it’s the value assigned to the overall volume level of an audio file. Audible will apply light dynamics processing once your audiobooks are submitted, so your production’s overall levels should not be too high or too low. For example, a production with a low RMS but loud peaks could end up with technical issues within the file, such as uneven narration levels, a high noise floor, etc.

Q: What is peaking?

ACX Peaks

Examples of peaks in an audiobook recording.

A: Peaks are the loudest part or parts of an audio file. If the script calls for a change from calm to excited, or from speaking to yelling, those excited or loud parts will most likely have the highest peaks. Our Audio Submission Requirements call for peaks to be under -3dB, which helps prevent distortion. If you have any 0dB peaks after mastering, you’ll need to adjust your limiter or normalizer settings and try again on your edited audio. If you have 0dB peaks before mastering, you’ll need to find out whether those peaks occurred during recording or after. If it happened during recording, you’ll need to lower your pre-amp’s level and re-record those lines of narration.

Q: What is an EQ?

A: An EQ (short for “equalizer”) is a tool that allows you to adjust the level of any frequency in an audio file. The typical frequency range that the human ear can detect is 20Hz to 20,000 kHz. The lower frequencies in this range are the bass/low range, while the middle is the mid-range, and high frequencies are the high range. Most EQ plug-ins will have high pass filter and a low pass filter. Using the high pass will remove any unwanted bass (low) frequencies that could have occurred during recording, such as the hum of your computer. A low pass will remove high frequency noises in your audio, like an air conditioner or microphone hiss. I strongly recommend applying EQ before you master, as unwanted high or low frequencies can have an impact on the next step in your mastering process – applying a limiter. Removing a low frequency hum allows the limiter to more easily adjust to the narration at hand.

Q: What is a limiter?

A: A limiter is a dynamics processor. Applying a limiter lowers any high peaks in your audio, which allows the volume of the narration to be more even throughout. This lets you bring up the overall volume of your audio, which may be necessary to meet ACX’s RMS requirement (-18dB RMS to -23dB RMS). For example, if your max peak level is -4dB but your overall RMS level is -27dB RMS, your audio will look similar to the image below:

(Click images to expand)

ACX Screenshot 1 (Highlights) - 10.15.16

In this case, you can use a limiter to lower all peaks by -3dB. Your max peak level would now be -7dB, as illustrated below.

ACX Screenshot 2

Since ACX’s peaks requirement is -3dB, you can now raise the overall level of the audio by +4dB. That would bring your RMS to -23dB RMS, which is within our required range. Your mastered audio would then look something like this:

ACX Screenshot 3

Now that we’ve gone over mastering as a concept, I think you’re ready to take a look at my Mastering Breakdown. It’s a great checklist to mark off each time you master an audiobook.

ALEX’S MASTERING BREAKDOWN

  • Assess all audio files to ensure no peaks or clipping exist in the audio.
  • Group all similar files together during the assessment so they can be processed at the same time.
  • Apply your “Mastering Chain” by using the following processes, in order:
    • Remove all unnecessary low and high frequencies by applying EQ to clean up the sound of your recordings and provide more headroom in order to boost your files levels effectively. This is a great way to minimize hum and hiss in an otherwise good recording!
    • Bring all files up to the proper dynamic levels as specified by the ACX Audio Submission Requirements page by using normalization, compression and/or limiting, and, if necessary, a final volume adjustment.
  • Listen to your audio after mastering to ensure the operation did not over-process or under-process the recordings. If the resultant audio is at one consistent volume with no change in dynamic level, you’ve likely over- If your audio has sudden spikes and drop offs (indicating it is too dynamic), you’ve under-processed.

That wraps up today’s lesson. I hope you all have a stronger understanding of audiobook mastering than when we started. Mastering your productions can seem daunting and technical, but once you know which aspects of your voice and recording space need to be accounted for, you’ll be able to apply the same processes over and over again with minimal changes. You’ll take your audiobook productions from good to great, and your listeners will appreciate the subtle improvements in sound quality you’ve achieved.

Want audiobook production tips in your inbox? Subscribe to The ACX Blog for the latest from Alex the Audio Scientist.

This Week in Links: September 28 – October 2

For Rights Holders:

To Promote, Or Not Promote: The Hamlet Complex – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – Should you hire someone to promote your book? Here are 8 questions to ask yourself to find out.

2015 October Platform Challenge – via Writer’s Digest – “This challenge will help writers through the process of improving their writing platforms by providing one task to complete for each day of the month in October.”

How to Be Interesting Enough to Be a Brand – via CreateSpace – Author Richard Ridley looks at brand building through the lens of dating.

Book Marketing 201 – via Publishers Weekly – “Marketing self-published books requires leveraging both new tools and tried-and-true strategies.”

For Producers:

You Landed Your First VO Gig – Now Nail It! – via Mike Lenz – Good advice for VO’s just beginning to work with pro studios.

Voice Over Mistakes – via Abbe Holmes – Abbe shares five common mistakes VO’s make and how to avoid them.

Sick Happens – via Rob Marley – Five ways to avoid putting VO work on hold because of a cold.

Why Some Voiceover Artists Never Make It – via Victoria DeAnda – Learn how not to sabotage your chances for success as a VO.

This Week in Links: August 10 – 14

For Producers:

How to Promote Yourself as a Voice-Over Actor Online – via Voice Over Herald – Promote your audiobooks to gain sales, or promote yourself to book gigs.

Who Needs a Voice Over Coach? How To Get Training For Free! – via Gary Terzza – “It is possible to break into the industry without spending too much, but you will certainly need to invest plenty of effort.”

[VIDEO] Marketing Persistence – via Marc Scott – This week, Marc offers thoughts and encouragement, to help you develop persistence in your marketing efforts.

5 Ways to Get Hired in Voice Acting – via Backstage – Here are five ways to ensure your land solid, quality jobs that pay good money.

For Rights Holders:

Free Newswires Help Promote Books & Author Brands – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – Learn how to promote your audiobook for free via press releases.

4 Methods to Invigorate Your Prose With Surprising Sentences – via Helping Weiters Become Authors – Give your narrator something cool to say in the booth.

Simple Promo Tip: Nailing Your Email Subject Line – via Writer Unboxed – Sometimes, it only takes a few words to sell an audiobook. Find out which will have the biggest impact on your potential listeners.

11 Ways to Ask for Writing Advice (And 10 Major Mistakes to Avoid) – via The Write Life – “Connecting with other writers — who are at your experience level or above it — is a great way to learn, grow and expand your career.”

This Week in Links: May 11 – 15

For Producers:

The Art, Commerce and Science of VO – via vo2gogo – “If you don’t master the skills in all three areas, your chances for success rapidly evaporate.”

Increase Your Voice-over Income Potential: One Simple Action – via J. Christopher Dunn – Learn the art of the followup, and how it can boost your VO business.

Sleep and Diet with Voice Over Work – via Victoria DeAnda – Two of your favorite pastimes are also two important aspects of in-booth success.

A Little Girl Asked For My Autograph, But I Learned: It’s Not About Us – via Voice-Over Xtra – Learn from one VO’s lesson in humility.

For Rights Holders:

Marketing Your Book – via Author Marketing 101 – Get six helpful questions to ask yourself for book marketing success.

How to Create Instantly (& Instinctively) Recognizable Characters – via Writer’s Digest – “Your job as a writer is to create that town and populate it with characters that live their lives before our eyes.”

Self-Publishing in Audio – via Kate Tilton – Last week, we joined Kate’s weekly #K8Chat to talk audiobooks with some fantastic authors. If you missed the fun, check out the transcript here.

Ten Authors Who Had Wildly Different Day Jobs – via Quirk Books – George Orwell was once a police officer?!?

This Week in Links: April 20 – 24

For Rights Holders:

Book Marketing from Your Epicenter – via Book Marketing Tools – Tips on how to create waves beyond your circle of friends and associates.

How to Accomplish Twice the Writing in Half the Time – via The Write Practice – Can having less time to write actually make you more productive?

Get Your Blog Found with Proper Labels & Tags – via The Write Conversation – “Today, I’m going to give you the tools that make labeling/tagging a breeze and immediately help your blog come up in the search engine rankings.”

Get It Done or Get It Right?– via The Writer’s Alley – Learn how earning a degree in architecture taught this author a lesson in writing.

For Producers:

Voiceover Websites Part 1 of 2 – via Voiceover Mechanic – Your neighborhood mechanic covers the basics of setting up your VO homepage.

Do You Have Some Demolition To Do? – via Marc Scott Voice Over – “When you’re an entrepreneur, often, the only limits in place are the ones we put on ourselves.”

The Elements of a Well-Reviewed Audiobook – via The ACX Blog – Robin Whitten of AudioFIle Magazine joins us to share what her reviewers listen for in a great performance.

Will Computers Ever Replace Human Voice Actors? – via Voice Over Herald – Are the robots coming for your gigs?