Tag Archives: audiobook production

This Week in Links: February 12 – 16

For Producers:

The Difference Between ‘Urgent’ & ‘Important’ Makes A Difference In Your VO Career – via Voice-Over Xtra – Casting director Hugh Klitzke offers a lesson in emotional recognition and how it can help your VO business.

You Can Pick Your Nose, But You Can’t Pick Their Brain – via Dave Courvoisier – Get a lesson on the etiquette of  seeking free advice from a VO mentor and the topics that are and aren’t recommended for discussion.

Do You Really Need a Bio? – via Natasha Marchewka – As a freelance professional, you’re constantly on the hunt for that next gig, which makes a compelling, up-to-date bio a must-have.

Voice-Over Is a Fun Business. Listen to These Hilarious Clips – via Edge Studio – Give yourself a breather with these entertaining outtakes.

For Rights Holders:

Use Quirky Holidays in March for Book Marketing – via BuildBookBuzz – Learn about some truly wild holidays coming up and how to leverage them for your audiobook marketing.

Writing Tip: Make It Clear Who Is Talking…but Not Too Clear – via CreateSpace – Bestselling author Maria Murnane has great advice on writing vocal tags that’s especially helpful when writing with your audio edition in mind.

Writing A Book Marketing Plan: 7 Ways That Will Guarantee Success – via BookBuzzr – Spelling out your book marketing goals at the start can give you a reliable map to follow to achieve success.

ACX U Presents: The Elements of a Well-Reviewed Audiobook – via ACX – Listener reviews are a critical part of the sales ecosystem for your audiobook, with many listeners basing their purchasing decision on critical commentary. In this video, the editors of Audiofile and Audio Book Reviewer reveal how they choose which audiobooks make their listen lists.

This Week in Links: February 5 – 9

For Rights Holders:

Five Marketing Tools for Authors Who Hate Marketing – via Writer Unboxed – “If you’re a writer and you’re on social media, have a website, blog, or even just talk about your work with friends, you’re already marketing. So here are five inexpensive and relatively easy-to-use tools to help optimize the marketing you’re already doing.”

How to Collaborate Effectively with Other Indie Authors In Your Genre – via ALLi – Find out what happened when one author decided to stop competing with his fellow writers and start building a shared fan base.

Book Marketing (and Publicity) is not About Book Sales – via Author Marketing Experts – Learn why “exposure,” while harder to measure than unit sales, can be just as important an area of focus as the number of (audio)books you sell.

15 Ways to Strengthen Writer Courage – via Live Write Thrive – Do you suffer from Imposter Syndrome? Are there steps you’d like to take in your career, if only they didn’t seem so daunting? Read on to find ways to overcome your fears and access your inner strength.

For Producers:

Who Are Finalists For The Coveted 2018 Audio Publishers Association Audie Awards? – via Voice-Over Xtra – Audible has racked up 28 nominations, including 6 titles published by ACX Producers and Rights Holders! Check out the full list of nominees.

3 Things to Consider Before You Build Your Voice Over Studio – via Marc Scott – Follow along as the VO pro and coach shares lessons (and photos) from his own home studio construction process.

The Superbowl’s 3 Big Lessons for Voice Actors – via Dave Courvoisier – “It’s not often I find inspiration in professional sports…but there is much to be noted in the successful portrayal of the truly deserving individual who masters spectacle, excellence, and legacy.”

ACX U Presents: Beyond the Booth: Monetizing Your Voice – via ACX – Find out how to make sure the time you spend off-mic is just as lucrative as the time you spend on it.

 

This Week in Links: January 29 – February 2

For Producers:

3 Reasons Why You Need a VO Accountability Partner – via Dave Courvoisier – Learn the benefits of an honest relationship with a trusted colleague and how to select the right person for you.

Three Characteristics Of Successful Voice Actors: What Keeps Them On Top? – via Voice-Over Xtra – “I think we all know well-educated people with great skills and a nice set-up who can barely make ends meet. So, there must be other factors at play that determine the difference between success and failure.”

The Voice Actor’s Law of Diminishing Returns – via Backstage – “I was willing to buy into the lie rather than face the truth that the marathon path to success in VO requires persistence, savvy, patience, hard work, facing your demons, and overcoming your fears.”

Is Your Portfolio Demonstrating the Best You? – via Natasha Marchewka – Are you highlighting the full breadth of your abilities on your ACX profile, your website, and elsewhere? Natasha’s got tips to make the most out of your promotional real estate.

For Rights Holders:

Why Focused Goals Can Help You Sell More Books – via a marketing expert – “If you have no direction other than “book sales” you’ll often make bad decisions, spend money you shouldn’t have, and end up nowhere near the final, end goal of selling more books.”

Submit Your Book to Holiday Gift Guides – via The Book Designer – Getting your audiobook listed in a book guide can be a great way to expose your work to tons of potential listeners. Note that you needn’t wait for the year-end holidays to take action on this tip.

What Your Brand Needs – via CreateSpace – What’s the one simple trick that will make your author brand more interesting to your fans? CreateSpace’s Richard Ridley offers his answer.

How to Get Kicked Out of a Facebook Group – via Build Book Buzz Facebook groups are a hotbed of fan activity and a great place to connect with listeners. Make sure you conduct yourself appropriately by checking out this list of “don’ts.”

This Week in Links: January 7 – 12

For Producers:

When You Don’t Know What To Do – via Natasha Marchewka – Now is a great time to jump on board with Natasha’s 2018 series teaching you to “pull your business together, get on track, and keep your ducks in a row.”

Stop Talking for a Better Voice – via Dr. Ann Utterback – This counterintuitive advice makes sense once you read when you’re recommended to abstain from speaking.

Voiceovers And The New Tax Code – vi Tom Dheere – If you have questions about how the new tax code will affect your VO business, Tom’s got you covered. Part two can be read here.

Talk British To Me!’ … A Desirable Talent  For Voice Actors – Here’s What To Practice – via Voice-Over Xtra – Add another accent to your repertoire with this advice from VO  Sarah Mitchell.

For Rights Holders:

How to Build Your Brand in 2018 – via CreateSpace – Author Richard Ridey has three quick tips to improve your promotions in 2018.

Jump-Start Your Writing: 3 Myths That Hinder Creativity—and How to Conquer Them – via Writer’s Digest – If you’re battling writer’s block, it may be time to unlearn some of the less helpful pieces of wisdom you’ve come to believe.

10 Critical Author Marketing Lessons We Can Learn from Apple – via where writers win – From keeping it simple to developing an aura of mystery, this fun infographic has a number of helpful ideas.

Masterful Narrative Scenes in Novel – via C.S.Lakin – The more compelling the book, the more appealing it will be to narrator and listeners alike.

This Year in Links: 2017

All year long, we’ve been sharing audiobook production, publishing, and marketing links from around the web. Today, we’ve gathered your favorites from the past year, along with a look at the creators who published them. Read on for some great advice, and you just might find your new favorite site to bookmark.

For Producers:

Karen Commins is an Audible Approved ACX Producer, and has been a professional voiceover talent since 1999. She’s produced and recorded over 50 titles in her custom-built home studio, in addition to writing articles on audiobook production and publishing on her blog.

Dave Courvoisier is a voice actor, blogger and Emmy-winning TV news anchor. His blog features a variety of topics for VO’s, and his experience in the industry makes them worth your attention.

Paul Strikwerda is a Dutch-English voiceover pro, coach, and writer. His lengthy posts are often philosophical in nature, and tackle VO theory more than specific technical advice.

Dr. Ann Utterback is a voice specialist with more than 40 years experience working with broadcasters, voice over artists and podcasters around the world. Her blog is a great place to learn how to take care of your instrument.

For Rights Holders:

ALLi is the Alliance of Independent Authors, a non-profit professional association for authors who self-publish. Their blog focuses on teaching publishing and marketing skills to authors who don’t have the backing of a major publisher.

The Book Designer is Joel Friedlander, a man with a 40-year history in printing, graphic design, typography, book design, and advertising. His blog focuses on “researching new ways for you to get your books into print, to make them more apt to sell, and be a source of pride to both author and publisher.”

BookMarketingBuzzBlog is written by Brian Feinblum, a veteran of two decades in the industry of book publishing publicity and marketing. On his blog, you’ll discover savvy but entertaining insights on book marketing, public relations, branding, and advertising.

Our partners in publishing, CreateSpace  is the one stop shop for your print on demand needs. Their blog features bite-sized pieces of publishing and marketing wisdom, with a bit of beginner’s slant.

A Critical Ear: The ACX Reference Sample Pack

Hi! This is Brendan from the ACX QA Team. I’m here today to introduce our Reference Sample Pack, a new tool we’ve developed to illustrate how your audiobook should—and should not—sound during the various stages of production.

This tool will help you spot problems in your audio and give you an idea of the audio quality your listeners will be expecting from productions on Audible. We’ve also included files that can be used to calibrate your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) for recording. Mastering level specifications, especially RMS, can be difficult to understand via text alone. What better way to learn what kind of audio “passes” ACX QA than to have passable files at hand for you to refer to and test on your own setup?

Getting Started

To use the Reference Sample Pack, download the zip file onto your computer. Unzip this folder and you will find nine WAV files that can be loaded into your DAW of choice. We processed, and in some cases distorted, the same raw file for each example, then divided the samples into two categories: files that can be used as good production targets, and files containing issues you should try to avoid.

What’s Inside

Start with our PDF guide, which contains exact details on what you should listen for while playing.

 

The “Good Production” Files

File 1: A Raw, Unedited File (good-production_01_raw-recording.wav)

This file has a few issues that need to be resolved before it can pass QA, the mouse clicks and excessive spacing at the start of the file for example, but nothing you hear can’t be resolved during the editing and mastering stages.

File 2: An Edited File (good-production_02_edited-recording.wav)

This next file contains the same performance, edited properly.

 

Notice the edits made between “Step 1” and “Step 2.” We trimmed the spacing (circled in purple) at the top of the file to half a second, and removed the mouse clicks and deep intake breaths (circled in yellow), replacing them with clean room tone.

Learning proper editing techniques can take some time, but I’ve found that the Alex the Audio Scientist blog post on editing and spacing is a helpful starting point. I even use the same QC sheet referenced in Alex’s post when I work on my own projects.

File 3: An Edited Master, Pre-Encoding (good-production_03_edited-mastered-recording.wav)

Ever wonder what a file that meets our Audio Submission Requirements, with peaks around -3dB and RMS levels between -18 and -23dB RMS, would look like in your DAW? This is it! Observe how consistent the peaks in this file are, then check where this file peaks on your meters. If your file is too dynamic or sounds a little muddy, you may need to utilize mastering tools like those detailed in Alex the Audio Scientist’s Mastering Audiobooks blog post

The “Avoid” Files

The “Avoid” files contain common problems you should steer clear of during production. Included here are:

  • A file that has been recorded at levels that are too low,
  • A file that’s been heavily gated,
  • A recording processed with heavy noise reduction, and
  • Files with Peak or RMS levels that do not meet our requirements.

You should not use these files to calibrate your system for recording. Rather, train your ears to notice these sounds as you work on your own files, and use these examples to understand the most common issues you may run into during production.

Try It Yourself

The sample pack also includes the script used during the recording of the samples. If you are testing out your levels before you begin a new project and want to compare your recordings to the “target” files in this pack, we recommend you use this script, which can be found on the last page of the file “ACX—Sample Guide.pdf.” Record your read of the script and compare your noise floor and peak level to the “Step 2” file. The closer you can get to matching the samples, the more confident you can be that you will pass QA inspection later on in the process.

Final Thoughts

It can be easy to get caught up in post-production, using too many plugins or tools when trying to meet specifications, or trying to fix poorly recorded audio that is beyond repair. At ACX, we believe the best time to address audio issues is before they make their way onto your recording. Training your ears to know when problems are occurring will be far more beneficial than having the latest noise removal or EQ plugins will ever be. The better you get at listening to yourself, the better your productions will sound to others.

Did you find the QA Team’s Reference Sample Pack helpful? Tell us in the comments below.

This Week in Links: December 4 – 8

For Rights Holders:

Increase Engagement in Your Marketing with Visuals – via The Book Designer – “You know the saying that a picture is worth 1,000 words? It may be true but what’s proven is that a photo is better than text when it comes to social media engagement.”

How Ordinary Authors Can Promote a Book Like a Great Author – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – The difference between an “ordinary” author and a “great” author is often a simple change in your perspective. Find out how to elevate your attitude to get to great.

10 Critical Author Marketing Lessons We Can Learn from Apple – via where writers win – This handy infographic should give you some ideas for ways to successfully market your audiobook.

20 Best Songs for Writers and About Writing: The Ultimate Writing Mixtape – via Writers Digest – Set the tone in your writer’s room with this snappy mix of literary-focused tunes.

For Producers:

Marketing Seasons & Rhythms: When Are Best Times For The Voice Over Biz? – via Voice-Over Xtra – “All effective marketers in every business field know the calendar year and what they should do (OR NOT DO) for maximum effect each month.”

The Turning Point – via Paul Strikwerda – Are you working towards you own success, or just hoping good things will happen to you?

Don’t Let a Cold Wreck Your Holiday or Your Voice – via Dr. Ann Utterback – Crowds and confined spaces are breeding grounds for cold-causing germs. Learn how to combat them this holiday season, and spare yourself the literal headache of missed workdays.

Audiobook Advice from Hall of Fame Narrators – via ACX – Learn from your peers as they share their reflections on a successful career in audiobook narration.

This Week in Links: October 16 – 20

It’s that time of year again. While you’re prepping for Halloween, we’re prepping for the upcoming December audiobook sales season. For the best chance for your book to be on sale in time for the 2017 holidays, we recommend your titles are approved and submitted to ACX by Friday, December 1, 2017.

Please also ensure your audiobook meets all of our Audio Submission Requirements before submitting, as your title may be delayed going on-sale if our QA team needs to reach out to you with questions. Watch our recent video on passing ACX QA, then check out our favorite links from the past week below.

For Producers:

Study Peter Coyote’s Compelling Narration In Ken Burns’ ‘The Vietnam War’ PBS Series – via Voice-Over Xtra – Listening to the narrator’s documentary and contrasting it against his audiobook performance can be an enlightening exercise.

Voiceovers, Napping, and Meditation – via Tom Dheere – “Whether it’s napping, mediating, exercise, yoga, or reading a book with a warm beverage, at some point during the day you should find time to recharge.”

The One Surefire Way to Find New Clients – via Dave Courvoisier – CourVO offers a surprisingly simple directive, for those willing to put in the effort.

The Agony Of Ignorance – via Paul Strikwerda – Read Paul’s advice for achieving “unconscious competence,” and why it’s better in the long run not to get spoon-fed easy answers.

For Rights Holders:

Book Promotion: Do This, Not That – October 2017 – via The Book Designer – Instead of hoping your friends will leave glowing reviews of your (audio)book, learn how to earn reviews from motivated readers and listeners.

Opinion: How Indie Authors Can Stop Worrying and Learn to Love Book Marketing – via Alli – “You wrote the story you needed to tell – now you need to ensure the people who need to hear it have the opportunity to do so.”

Utilize Your Blog as a Powerful Marketing Tool – via The Write Conversation – “A blog post infused with personality, well-written content, and benefit to the readers can cause them to follow your blog or explore your website. But first, you have to get them interested in your post.”

Using Physicality to Bring Your Characters (And Your Fiction) to Life – via Writer’s Digest – Add this one to the “give your narrator something awesome to say” folder.

This Week in Links: ACX University Edition

Yesterday, we wrapped up the 2017 semester of ACX University. This year’s event featured audiobook production, publishing, and marketing advice for ACX authors and actors. We broadcast enlightening conversations with bestselling authors, Audible Approved Producers, and the top minds from ACX and Audible Studios. You can watch all episodes below, and subscribe to our YouTube channel to get notified about future ACX videos.

For Producers:

Performance Perfection: Go Behind the Mic – via ACX – In this episode, Sarah Mollo – Christensen performs passages and receive corrections from award-winning director Kat Lambrix.

How to Pass ACX QA Every Time! – via ACX – In this episode, David and Brendan from the ACX QA team discuss editing, mastering, and spacing issues, causes and treatments for each issue, and some fixes for after the fact.

Ahead of the Curve: Prospecting for Pros – via ACX – Audible Approved Producers Steven Jay Cohen and Neil Hellegers share their secrets for how to maximize their profit and time by finding great projects both on and off the ACX platform.

Beyond the Booth: Monetizing Your Voice – via ACX – Join us for a discussion featuring Andi Arndt and Carin Gilfry on how conferences, voiceover coaching, and performance awards can help you boost your bottom line.

For Rights Holders:

Peace, Love, & Understanding Your Audio Partner – via ACX –  Join us as we talk to publishing duo Piers Platt and James Fouhey, an author and narrator who’ve created eight audiobooks together.

The Life of an Audiobook Publisher – via ACX – Follow bestseller Kym Grosso through the process of creating an audiobook from scratch, all the way to completing the finished audiobook.

If You Market, They Will Listen: Marketing 101 – via ACX – In this session featuring bestselling author Lauren Blakely and author marketing consultant Kate Tilton, you’ll learn audiobook-specific marketing tactics to attract reviews and sell more copies.

The Elements of a Well-Reviewed Audiobook – via ACX – Paul Stokes of AudiobookReviewer.com and Robin Whitten of AudioFile Magazine discuss  how they choose which audiobooks make their listen lists. From the performance to the cover art, they’ll share how to improve your submission and improve your chances of receiving reader and professional reviews.

 

Check Your Production Before You Wreck Your Production

Did you tune in last night for How to Pass QA Every Time, the fourth episode of ACX University 2017? David and Brendan from the ACX QA team joined us to discuss the top reasons your audiobook productions may get flagged during our QA process, how to avoid these errors, and what you can do to fix them after the fact. You can watch the full episode below, then check out our QA checklist that you can use to finalize your productions before hitting “I’m Done!”

The ACX QA “Top Five” Checklist

1. Properly Edit Your Audiobook

Here are some ways to set yourself up for success in the editing stage of your audiobook production:

Record in a quiet, non-reverberant room to minimize background noise.

Make sure there’s enough distance between your voice and the microphone to prevent pops, loud breaths, and unwanted vocal artifacts.

Use a dynamic microphone as opposed to a condenser when recording in a noisy environment. Some popular mic choices in this category include the Electro Voice RE20 and the Shure SM7B.

Use a pop filter placed in front of the microphone to help tame plosives and sibilance.

Learn and use the punch ‘n’ roll recording technique. Recording through an entire chapter in one take will often result in the file containing repeated lines, noises, and breaths that need to be edited out.

Record and save 30–60 seconds of clean room tone to use when editing out noises.

Utilize a QC sheet to identify and resolve any editing issues.

Sounds in your recording that should always be edited out include:

  • Narration with excessive mouth noise and vocal artifacts.
  • Clicks and pops located at the beginning of a file before the performance begins and at the end of a file after you’ve finished recording a chapter.
  • Long gaps of audio silence within the middle of a file.
  • Heavy background noise.

2. Encode Your Files According to ACX Guidelines

Make sure all of your audiobook files meet the following requirements before uploading them to ACX:

No files exceed 120 minutes in length or 170 mb in size.

All files must be recorded at a 44.1khkz sampling rate.

All files must be 192 kbs or higher MP3s, encoded at a constant bit rate (CBR), not variable bit rate (VBR).

All files within a given production must be either all stereo or all mono files.

3. Adhere to ACX’s RMS Requirements

Some tips to help you avoid RMS issues include:

During Recording:

Record at the proper volume. Your voice should peak around -12dB to -8dB. Adjust your pre-amp so that your voice peaks at this level, then keep it at that level. Set it and forget it.

If you need to adjust the level at which you’re hearing yourself while recording, adjust your monitor level, not your preamp.

Use proper mic technique to ensure your performance is within the appropriate volume range.

During Mastering:

Check file level statistics within your DAW to ensure you are meeting the ACX requirements. Group like files together in larger books to make mastering easier.

Use normalization and compression to even out your files. Don’t EQ after compression, as this could affect your final levels.

Keep your monitor level consistent during mastering.

4. Adequately Space Your Audio Files

Make sure you are editing with both fidelity to the manuscript and the listening experience in mind.

During the edit/QC stage, keep room tone handy to use when structuring files.

Leave one half second to 1 second of clean room tone at the beginning and between 1 and 5 seconds of clean room tone at the end of each file.

5. Correctly Order and Structure Audio Files

Ensure that all of your audiobook project’s files have been uploaded to ACX only once each, and in the proper order.

Make sure you’ve included the appropriate chapter/section headers at the start of each file.

Record each section or chapter in a separate track in your project file within your DAW.

Include the file order number along with the section name in your file name. This will help you keep track during upload. Example: 01_Tom Sawyer_Opening Credits.mp3, 02_Tom Sawyer_Acknowledgements.mp3, 03_Tom Sayer_Ch01.mp3, etc.

Print this blog post out and use it as a checklist to ensure you hit all of our QA team’s recommendations. Following the QA team’s advice will put you on the right path to speeding your production to “on-sale,” and will help ensure a satisfied Rights Holder and happy listeners for your audiobook.