Some people just aren’t good at reading aloud. They read at too fast a pace (like I do!) or they trip over important words, or they just aren’t interested in the sound of their own voice. If you’re one of those people but you still want to have an audiobook of your published work, then you might want to hire someone else to record the book for you. ACX has a program by which you can create a profile for your book and hire producers to put together your audiobook for you. In return they receive a share of the royalties from all sales of the audiobook, and you get a quality recording from someone who has experience in the audio recording field.
If you are interested in recording your own voice, however, then it’s both easier and harder than you think. Getting all the materials you need together is the easy part – it’s sitting still and learning how to make your words sound the best they can that’s hard! But we’ll focus on that next week – for now, let’s go over how you should set up your recording space and what you’ll need to get the job done.
Obviously this is the most important part of recording an audiobook, since this is the tool that actually “records.” The large diaphragm dynamic microphone is an industry favorite – they cancel out a lot of excess sound, which makes them perfect for the hobbyist that lives in a louder area or who can’t completely soundproof their recording space.
The website Open Book Audio put together an amazing comparison video for microphones that voiceover artists and podcasters prefer.
The Rode Podcaster is especially great because it plugs directly into your computer with a USB cable – it’ll run you about $229, which is fairly inexpensive given the sound quality you get from it. If you want to go more lo-tech, you can do so, but making sure that there’s no sound pollution in your room is much more important.
A pop filter or shield will deflect sounds that can distort the recording and annoy your listener. Do you hit your T’s or P’s in an odd way when you’re reading out loud? This will minimize those noises so that everything sounds more even. They generally cost around $40, but you can also make your own if you’re so inclined.
If you have a Mac computer, Garageband is a surprisingly decent program for producing and editing your book. If you don’t have a mac or want something different, a lot of podcasters also really like Audacity, which is an open source audio editing tool that’s free to download.
You might also want a separate drive to store your work so that it doesn’t slow down your computer. You wouldn’t believe how much space eight hours of voice recording can take up – and don’t forget to back up your work obsessively. Maybe two drives would be better, just in case.
Remember that if you have a lower quality or very sensitive microphone, you have to be extra careful with outside sounds, which includes even the whirring of your computer. Laptops get especially noisy, so you might want to work with a desktop computer if you have a chance. If not, then give the laptop a break every once in a while to cool down.
Setting up the room
Even if you have a microphone that won’t pick up too much outside sound, you want your room to be as quiet as possible. Here are some tips for setting up the perfect recording space:
- Make sure there’s no refrigerator, heating system, or air conditioner nearby.
- Make sure you’re not near a window that overlooks a lot of foot traffic or a busy road.
- While hardwood floors are pretty, carpets are much better at absorbing sound. If you don’t have any carpets in your home, put a rug on the floor.
- Hanging blankets or rugs on the walls will also help to absorb sound. If you want to get really fancy, you can buy some foam paneling or other sound absorbing materials.
- Having a stand for the script is great, but make sure that your microphone doesn’t pick up the sound of moving papers. Either time your breaks to sync up with page turning, or use something like an ipad or tablet PC to scroll through the text.
- You’ll want a good chair! You’re going to be recording for a while, after all. Make sure it’s comfortable and that it doesn’t creak.
Now you should be all ready to start recording. Next week we’ll get into how you should tailor your performance and what kind of techniques you can use to make your audiobook as exciting as possible.