Following my comments, narrator David Loving shares his process for narrating the Midnight Black audiobook.
The decision to publish my novel Midnight Black – The Purge as an audio book was not a quick one. Initially, I planned to publish only e-book and a paperback version. But when I began reading articles about how audiobooks were selling in greater numbers than e-books and paperbacks, I began to make plans for mine. I also read that the cost of producing an audiobook could run as much as $3,000.00. That almost put a damper on my plans.
I published the e-book first with Draft2Digital, then Amazon Kindle, and finally IngramSpark for both an e-book and paperback – I wanted to go wide. Draft2Digital has a working relationship with Findaway Voices, a producer and distributor of audiobooks. I thought I would give it a try with them. Findaway provided me with 10 or so narrator auditions to choose from. We settled on David Loving. I provided the manuscript and David sent a couple of recorded chapters as samples before we committed to him. I provided David my instructions, and he went to work. Each time he would finish a chapter, Findaway sent it to me for my approval. If changes were needed, I could enter them right there on the same page and they went directly to David Loving who was a joy to work with. It was that simple.
As for the cost, well, that pleasantly surprised me. The completed audiobook runs 7.2 hours and it cost less than half of what I stated above. The narrator’s fee is based on his or her rate and the final running time. Instead of me going into greater detail here, check out Findaway Voices at their web site for more details: FindawayVoices.com. My experience has convinced me to do it again on my next book (assuming this one sells).
I have but one regret. I waited too long to begin the audiobook process. I should have released it along with the e-book and paperback. Next time I will know better. And keep in mind that the audio book could take up to two months from recording, to quality control, to final distribution. As I write this MIDNIGHT BLACK – THE PURGE is rolling out to thirty online audiobook sellers around the globe.
I’ll sign off here and allow narrator David Loving to answer a few questions about his involvement and the process that might prove helpful to authors considering an audiobook.
DAVID LOVING, NARRATOR, talks about narrating Midnight Black – The Purge
I read through a quarter of the Midnight Black manuscript the day I got it. It has a Blade Runner-ish, sci-fi noir feel that I really like. I’m a sucker for books that offer a really compelling vision of a dystopian future and this one fit that bill.
Much of the book takes place inside the main character’s head. On one level, that’s easy for me as a narrator because it means I don’t have to worry about switching between character voices. But it also means I have to keep from getting too monotonous—just my regular narration voice over and over. Also, it was a challenge to differentiate between the main character, Billy Russell, thinking something to himself and Billy saying something out loud. I tried to do that by adding extra space between the lines and by saying the lines spoken out loud with a slightly louder and sharper tone, so (hopefully) my voice comes out sounding slightly (but not too) different.
The other perpetual challenge for was keeping the characters clearly differentiated in scenes that have more than three characters participating in the dialogue. Especially when, as in Midnight Black, several of the characters are late-middle age ex-military men.
It’s a bit scary as a narrator to spend hours recording audio only to find you’ve made critical mistakes that require a lot of re-recording. On Midnight, I received really quick and on-point feedback from the author—sometimes the same day I loaded a chapter. That’s a big help.
As to my approach to a project: I read the manuscript through and take notes – mostly on the characters so I can get a sense of what sort of voices I’m going to use. This is where the author’s notes come in handy. It’s important I know what he or she had in mind.
An hour or so of recording translates to about 20 minutes of finished audiobook. Once I have the first round of recording, I listen through everything at least once. Sometimes I find bits that I need to go back and re-record because I flubbed a line. The recording software makes it pretty easy to drop in and fix a sentence here or a paragraph there. I do a little light post-production work to raise the volume and make sure the silence before and after matches the specs. Then I submit the files and wait for the author to listen and come back with any additional changes. Hopefully, I’ve done my job well and there are many.