In a previous blog post, I discussed the pros and cons of creating your own audiobook, as well as must less resource-demanding solution. Here, I am going to assume that you have considered the options carefully, and have decided to at least further explore the option of creating a human-narrated audiobook. This post is a "how to" on creating an audiobook, doing it yourself. This document also assumes you have a MAC -- this is the only way I know how to create audiobooks. If you are on a PC, I suggest searching Google for options.
Recording: Do It Yourself
- Decent voice. You don't have to be a radio announcer, but you do need a voice that people could listen to for hours. Strong accents or difficulty with pronunciation could be a turn-off to listeners, and could result in product returns and negative ratings. For a "have someone else do it" option, check out our service.
- Recording "studio". A "studio" just needs to be a quiet room without background noise and heavy echoes. A carpeted room with draped windows, a door that shuts, and quiet air vents, should do the trick.
- Computer. A computer, in our case, a MAC. Any MAC purchased in the last several years should do fine.
- Mic. The better the mic, the better the sound. If you want to go all out, get a USB2-based mixer, and a good XLR microphone. This can cost over $1000, however. A cheaper solution would be a decent USB mic, something in the neighborhood of $50-$100 should suffice.
- Software. GarageBand, which comes standard with the MAC, should be more than fine.
- Patience and Time. Even if you are really good at reading, and make very few mistakes, expect to spend about one hour per every 10 minutes of finished audio. This includes proofing, editing, and saving. For example, I spent about 38 hours making my audiobook for, Logically Fallacious, which is about 8 hours running time.
- Create a new project in GarageBand -- use the "voice" template.
- Change the scale to "time" -- just makes it easier to work with.
- For the vocal track, turn off all effects by selecting "No effects".
- Record voice in mono, not stereo.
- Start recording. You want to keep far enough away from your mic so you don't hear the annoying mouth sounds, yet it should still sound as if you are taking into the microphone and not away from it.
Audible requires that no track is longer than 30 minutes, so you will want to do the above multiple times for each chapter -- if the chapters are less than 30 minutes, otherwise break them just into less than 30 minute segments.
Editing: Do It Yourself
- Go back through the recordings, and edit out all mistakes, and sounds that should not be there (coughs, throat-clearing, lip-smacking, etc.)
- Make sure there is a few seconds of no sound at the beginning of each recording.
- Read your text while editing -- make sure the text matches what you are saying.
Proofing: Do It Yourself
- Once edited, go to the start of the file, and listen to the recording again while following along reading your book. Very often, a sloppy edit will get in there.
- Correct any errors and listen to the section that you correct, making sure the edit was done correctly.
Saving and Packaging: Do It Yourself
The "packaging" refers to zipping it all up in the one zip file required.
Steps to create an Audible.com-ready, MP3 audiobook:
- For each recording file, make sure the master volume is 0.0 db.
- Make sure the end marker that signifies the end of the file, is right after the end of the voice track, otherwise you will have recorded silence at the end.
- Share > Export Song to Disk
- Compress (checked), use MP3 Encoder, Audio Setting (Custom: 192kbps, mono)
- Save as filename "xxx_bookname" where "xxx" is the 3 digit number representing the order of the file, ex. "000_logicallyfallacious.mp3"
- Repeat steps 1-5 for each file.
- Create a new folder on your desktop, named after your book.
- Move all the MP3 files in that folder.
- Right click on your folder, choose "compress"
- The .zip file will be on your desk top.
Steps to create an iTunes-ready, M4B audiobook (assuming the above has been done):
- Get the Audio Book Builder from the Apple App Store.
- Create a new book - follow the instructions in the app.
- For build options, accept all the defaults: normal quality, MB4, break between files, 12 hours.
- This will create one or more .MB4 files -- these are your audiobook files ready for iTunes.