Tag Archives: audiobook

Microphones and Mic Technique with Alex the Audio Scientist

Welcome, students! For my first lesson of the new year, I’ll be focusing on a key piece of equipment in your studio – your microphone. The video below is chock full of helpful info, but before we get to that I want to give a quick shout-out to J.L. Rebeor, who was first to comment with all of the correct answers to my quiz last fall. You can check out her ACX profile here. Congrats, J.L.!

Now, on to the lesson. And be sure to stick around for today’s quiz, as I’ll once again honor the first commenter to earn a 100% in my next post.

Pencils down! It’s time for our quiz. Leave your answers in the comments below for a chance at a mention in a future blog post.

  1. A microphone’s polar pattern indicates _______.
  2. What are the three basic polar patterns a microphone can have?
    1. _______
    2. _______
    3. _______
  3. What polar pattern is preferred for audiobook recording?
  4. If your microphone is positioned too close to your mouth, you may end up with excessive _______ and _______ in your recording.

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File Management with Alex the Audio Scientist

ADBLCRE-ACX_Character_IconWe’re less than three weeks away from this year’s December 4th deadline to submit your audiobook productions for the best chance of being on sale this holiday season.

With that in mind, today’s lesson is about the file submission process. Being so close to the goal can lead to tunnel vision, but following the steps below, along with my other lessons, will  ensure that you don’t stumble at the finish line.

To set yourself up for success when submitting your finished audio, I suggest the following:

  • Export your entire audiobook to its own folder.
  • Name each file with its section number first, then the section name.
    • Ex: 00_Opening Credits, 01_Introduction, 02_Chapter-01, 03__Chapter-02, etc.
    • Stick to alphanumeric characters, dashes, and underscores. File names with other characters might cause upload issues on ACX.
  • After using this file naming convention, you should:
    • Drop all of your files into your audio player of choice (Winamp, VLC, iTunes, etc.)
    • Listen to the beginning of each file to ensure it has the correct credits and/or section header.
    • Listen to the end of each file to ensure it includes proper spacing and contains no narration from the next section.

Now that we’ve covered best practices, let’s look at some common issues that cause productions to be returned to the producer by our QA team, and how to rectify them.

Duplicate Audio

Your ACX audiobooks should match the text editions exactly, without repeated sections. Duplicate audio can happen for a few main reasons:

  • Part of a chapter/section is repeated in another section.
    • For example, an audiobook production contains opening credits at the start of both the first and second file. To avoid this, make sure each audio chapter/section matches the text exactly during the Edit/QC process. I also recommend checking the head and tail of each file after editing and mastering your audiobook to make sure they don’t contain duplicated audio, and to confirm that each starts with a section header and ends with the last sentence of that section.
  • A chapter/section is named properly, but uploaded twice to the production manager.
    • Consider a checklist for your production that lists all of the files, and checking off each file when it’s uploaded.
  • A chapter or section is named improperly, resulting in duplicate uploads with different file names.
    • This third issue occurs during the exporting process, when you output each chapter or section from your DAW as an MP3. Before you export each chapter/section, double-check that you are exporting the correct one. If you’ve got multiple sections in one project file, don’t forget to isolate the correct section for export, and be sure to select the next section after exporting the previous.
    • My favorite solution is to create a separate project/session file for each chapter/section within your DAW of choice. If you have a work folder that contains a project file for each section, your workflow will be smoother and easier when accessing/re-accessing an audiobook’s production. Having a separate project file for each section all but guarantees a section will be exported as two separate files.

Combined Chapters/Sections

App

Listening to an audiobook in the Audible app.

This is when two or more entire sections are combined into one file. ACX’s Audio Submission Requirements state: Each uploaded file must contain only one chapter or section. This requirement is in place for the sake of the listening experience. Navigation within an audiobook should be simple. If chapters one and two are combined in the same file, the listener won’t be able to skip to the latter on their device; they would be forced to navigate manually through one file in hopes of finding it.

This can also be solved during the export process.  As I noted previously, creating a separate project/session file for each chapter/section will ensure you’re not combining two separate pieces of audio.

Incorrect or Missing Chapter/Section Headers

Once again, this is about the best navigational experience for the listener. Having a section header for each chapter/section clearly marks its position within the audiobook. ACX’s Audio Submission Requirements make it clear: Each uploaded file must contain the section header, if contained within the text (e.g., “Prologue”, “Chapter 1”, “Chapter 2”). Making sure each file contains its correct header is as easy as checking it before and after you export the audio. I would also suggest checking it again before you upload each file, just to be safe.

Retail Audio Sample Errors

The retail audio sample for each audiobook has a great deal of influence on the purchasing decisions of Audible’s listeners. They should be instantly captivated by the performance and impressed with the production. Work with your Rights Holder to select a portion that highlights your performance and their storytelling. ACX’s requirements call for “a retail audio sample that is between one and five minutes long.

File_Submission_Sample_02

A red box highlights Huntress Moon’s retail audio sample.

Additionally, I strongly advise against including opening credits and/or music in your sample. This content is secondary to your actual performance, and potential listeners may not make it through to hear your narration.

Finally, make sure the sample includes no explicit language or material, as listeners of every age and sensibility can preview samples on Audible.

That’s today’s lesson. Following each of the tips above should result in a seamless upload and submission process, which means fewer headaches for you, your Rights Holder, and your potential listeners.

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

This Week in Links: October 19 – 23

For Producers:

Passion, Persistence And Planning Will Make Your Voice Over Dreams A Reality – via Voice-Over Xtra – “The VO industry is flooded with talented people. What can you do to make yourself stand out and ensure your success in one of the most competitive industries out there?”

Five Voice Over Lessons Learned From Elon Musk – via Marc Scott – “If you want to be great at a “thing”, one of the easiest ways to help you get there is to study those that have come before you.”

What is Marketing – via Joe’s Dump – “Is it your brand? How about mass emails? SEO? Blogs? Cold calling? These may be pieces of an overall marketing strategy, but they are too often mistaken for all of marketing.”

Nasality Unwrapped – via Dr. Ann Utterback – “In most cases, nasality is either a learned behavior or the result of a lazy soft palate.”

For Rights Holders:

[PODCAST] How to Sell Books and Build Your Email List Through Facebook Ads -via Book Marketing Tools – “Books don’t just appear on Amazon from out of nowhere and sell. You’ve got to be there to push them. No one else is going to do it.”

How To Promote Books In The 21st Century – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – “It’s a great time to promote a book, considering the number of opportunities and tools available, but it’s also the worst time, as publicists and authors feel overwhelmed by how man outlets they need to contact in order to do a lot of activity that may not necessarily yield a lot of book sales.”

World Building 101 – via The Write Practice – If you write fiction, you need world building. It’s the skeleton of your story: though unseen, those bones determine the shape of the beast.

Book Marketing: 6 Top Tips on How to Make LinkedIn Work for Authors – via ALLi – [E]ven here, your objective should be to build great connections, and not generate sales.

Want the week’s best audiobook links in your inbox? Subscribe to the ACX blog today!

This Week in Links: October 12 – 16

For Rights Holders:

How to Be Retweetable – via CreateSpace – “The trick is writing something in 140 characters that moves your followers and their followers to retweet your content.”

Why You Should Use Video Media to Market your Self-published Books – via ALLi – “The written word will never be replaced, but video can be a creative way of delivering information and reaping the rewards.”

10 Useful Resources for Writers – via Book Marketing Tools – Writing may be a solitary task but that does not mean you should be doing it in isolation.

A 12-Month Strategic Plan for Marketing Your Book before Release – via LiveWriteThrive – “The key is to think of your book the way Ford thinks of a new car. It’s a product, and you’re a business owner.”

For Producers:

11 Sites Explaining Mic Pick-up Patterns via Dave Courvoisier – “Why should you know or care about microphone pickup patterns?  Because the mic you use has a unique way of “hearing” you, which effects the way you’re going to want to “address” the mic.”

Don’t Worry About Those Dreaded “How’s” …Focus On Success – Where You Want To Be – via Voice-Over Xtra – “If you don’t have a picture in your head of what your success will look like, you may never get there.”

Getting Ready for the Colder Weather as a Voiceover Artist – via Victoria DeAnda – “The more you do to make sure you do not get sick, the more likely you will be able to get through these next few months being just as productive as you are the rest of the year.”

This Week in Links: October 5 – 9

For Producers:

Vocal Exercises To Expand Emotional Range – via Dr. Ann S. Utterback – “One aspect of reading copy that must be correct is the em0tion. Even though most of us would agree this is true, I know plenty of professionals who have a tough time getting emotion across with their voices.”

Why Confidence Means a Lot to Your Voiceover Business’ Success – via Victoria DeAnda – “Confidence is everything to your business. Without it, the chances of your business succeeding are slim.”

Be Phenomenal – via Rob Marley – “From the cold call to the thank you note, do as much as you possibly can to make the client feel that they are getting an incredible value for the amount of service you provide.”

Why Good is Never Good Enough in Voiceovers – via Gary Terzza – “How good are you at voice overs? Can you get away with being ‘ok’, ‘not bad at all’ or ‘above average’?”

For Rights Holders:

7 Tips for Making Search Engines Work for Marketing Your Book – via MediaShift – “After all, what’s the point of having a webpage if potential readers can’t find it in search?”

Growing and Cultivating Your Online Community – via CreateSpace – “Essentially, your goal is to grow your community to the point that it’s so large it can’t be handled by one person. That’s when you’ll have one of those problems that’s nice to have.”

7 Habits of Highly Effective Voice Seekers – via Mike Cooper – “Using the Seven Habits outlined below will show your Voiceover Artist you know what you’re talking about, and help you to avoid some of the common pitfalls.”

Book Logline: What It Is & How To Write It – via Book Marketing Tools – “Some authors use the term logline, a story summary, interchangeably with tagline, a marketing term, but the two concepts really are different.”

Now On ACX: “Offer Pending” Banner

Have you searched for an audition-ready project on ACX recently? You may have noticed a new banner labeled “Offer Pending” in your results. And if you’ve seen this new feature, you might have a few questions about it. Lucky for you, we’ve got all the answers.

Offer Pending_01

Q: What does “Offer Pending” mean?

A: “Offer Pending” means the rights holder of that title has made an offer to produce it to another ACX producer.

Q: What if the offer was made to me? Will I still see the flag?

A: Nope, but others will.

Q: I’d really like to produce this book. How long does the other producer have to accept the offer?

A: Depending on the offer, the producer who received it has from 24 – 72 hours to accept or decline the offer.

Q: So can I still submit an audition even if a title has the “Offer Pending” banner?

A: Yep, you can.

Q: Is that a good idea?

A: That depends. Preparing, producing, and uploading an audition takes time. If the rights holder is negotiating with another producer, you might do that work only to find the book has gone into production. We suggest you message the rights holder to introduce yourself and request more information if you’re dead set on auditioning.

Offer Pending_02Want to stay up to date on new ACX features? Subscribe to The ACX Blog!

This Week in Links: September 21 – 25

For Rights Holders:

Speaking To Promote Your Book – via Book Marketing Tools – “One great way to promote your book, especially for authors of nonfiction books, is to do speaking gigs. Not only can this be another income source, but it will also help to drive book sales and grow your reading audience and mailing list.”

How to Edit Fiction: Watch Me Correct My Own Story in Real Time – via Helping Writers Become Authors – If you’re going to self-edit, you’d better do it right. Learn from the real life edits of author K. M. Weiland.

Learning From Others & Building Buzz – via Author Marketing 101 – Take a trip to your local bookstore to learn how successful authors are marketing their books.

Five Self-publishing Lessons Learned Between Debut and Second Book – via ALLi – “Lorna Sixsmith reflects on some mistakes she made first time around – so she won’t make them again!”

For Producers:

“USB” is NOT a Type of Microphone: A Guide for Podcasting and Home Recording – via Some Audio Guy – “If you’re looking at podcasting, spoken word, interviews, or voice over recording, here’s a quick primer on some of the microphones you might want to consider!”

Regarding Room Tone with Alex the Audio Scientist – via The ACX Blog – Alex is back, with a new lesson to help you save valuable time in the editing stage of post-production.

10 Tips For Social Networking in Person – via Rob Marley – In-person networking is an important skill for actors, even in the digital age. Learn the do’s and don’ts here.

The Best Way to Grow Your Voiceover Business – via Victoria De Anda – Victoria offers five ways to expand your client base and land more VO work.

Vicious Cycle of Vocal Abuse – via Dr. Ann Utterback – Learn how to recognize vocal fatigue and what to do about it.

Regarding Room Tone with Alex the Audio Scientist

Class is back in session! I hope you learned a lot from my previous video, All About Noise Floor. Today, I’ve got a lesson on Room Tone, including a neat trick to save you some valuable time in the editing stage. Watch the video below closely; there will be a quiz afterward, and the first person to get all four questions correct will get an honorable mention (including a link to their ACX profile) in my next post.

Did you get all that? I hope so, because it’s time for that quiz I mentioned. Leave your answers in the comments to show how much you learned.

  1. Audiobook room tone is defined as the _____ sound in your studio, and should be as close to perfect _____ as possible.
  2. Room tone has three uses in your audiobook production:
    1. __________
    2. __________
    3. __________
  3. The most effective way to utilize room tone in an efficient manner is to use your DAW’s _____ or _____ feature.
  4. When using Pro Tools, the paste special feature is _____ on a Mac and _____ on a PC.

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

ACX University Presents: Finding Your Voice: Part 2

Last week, we shared part 1 of ACX University’s performance intensive, Finding Your Voice, featuring advice from Audible Studios’ Senior Director Mike Charzuk and Production Manager Kat Lambrix, as well as Audie-winning narrator Ellen Archer. Today we’re back with Part 2, which covers navigating the ins and outs of the source material. Watch the video below, then scroll down for the high-level takeaways.

Top Tips From Part 2

  • Staying True to the Material
    • Collaborating with your rights holder.
    • Handling material you don’t agree with.
    • Acting out uncomfortable scenes delicately.
  • Challenges in Narration
    • Pronunciations.
    • Dialogue.
    • Difficult accents.
    • Getting the giggles.
  • Key Takeaways
    • Take a hard look at your demographics, accents, and preferences to find your vocal strength.
    • Seek professional training when possible.
    • Honor the material despite personal challenges.
    • Have fun!

Thanks for watching! Check back next week for more audiobook production advice for actors. In the meantime, learn from ACX University’s other video lessons on our YouTube channel.

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ACX University Presents: Finding Your Voice: Part 1

In May, we invited 70 ACX producers to our offices in Newark, NJ for ACX University, a day of audiobook production and performance education and networking. Among the highlights, the day featured outstanding presentations from Audible Studio’s pros and Audie-Award winning actors.

Today, we’re featuring part one of the performance intensive Finding Your Voice, featuring Mike Charzuk and Kat Lambrix of Audible Studios, as well as Audie-winning narrator Ellen Archer. Watch the video below, then scroll down for our top takeaways.

Tops Tips From Part One

  • Know Your Voice. Learn:
    • The demographic you fall into.
    • The genres that are right for you.
    • The content that’s right for you.
    • The accents you’ve mastered.
  • Seek Professional Training.
    • Professional training can help you refine your demo and ACX samples.
    • The two main types of professional training:
      • Group classes.
      • Private lessons/coaching.
  • Learn about top-selling audiobook categories.
    • Mysteries and thrillers.
    • Business and self-help.
    • Romance and erotica.
      • Learn the differences between romance, erotica, and new adult.

Join us next week for the second part of this session. You can check out other informative sessions from ACX University on our YouTube channel.

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