Even though people across the UK still consume considerably more books in print than through audio, the audiobook market has grown impressively since the onset of the pandemic.
Fuelled by a desire for escapism through long periods of being trapped at home, the demand for audiobooks grew by 47% in the first half of 2020 and it is not slowing down. As a result of the popularity of audiobooks, we have seen some incredible productions. George Saunders’ Booker Prize winning ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’ features 166 narrators, more producers are experimenting with specially created soundscapes or archival recordings blurring the lines between audiobook and podcast – and some authors are even skipping print going straight to audio.
Setting aside the actual content of your audiobook, ensuring that the production is right is critical as competition is fierce in this growing market. Crisp sound combined with the right narrator will make sure that your story is told the way you envisioned.
Finding the voice for your audiobook
If you’ve ever read a bedtime story for anyone, you will know that it’s not just about reading it out loud. You need to make the words on the pages come to life! Whether you want to tell the story yourself, or let a pro do it, can be a tough choice. You’ve written the book, so who can get the exact trials and tribulations across better than you? On the other hand, a professional voice actor knows exactly what they’re doing. More and more A-listers are narrating audiobooks and while it may offer your book advantages in terms of marketing, is the person actually the right one for the job? A voice that is absolutely bang on the money makes your text magical to listen to regardless of whether they are a household name or not.
It isn’t enough just giving your voice actor your book to read aloud from. Offer the narrator time in advance of the recording to prepare and research. It is important that you as an author offer insight into how you’d like the final product to sound. How do you pronounce both character and place names? Do you want the narrator just to keep one voice, or change pitch depending on character? There’s no such thing as too much information when it comes to briefing your voice actor. Consider creating character sheets and don’t be afraid to be specific.
Using a professional recording studio
There are many websites that will tell you that you can record your audiobooks at home. To some degree you can. But, how do you ensure that your bedroom is completely soundproof and that you keep reverb to a minimum? The risk of birds, cars or roadwork bleeding into your recording is high when producing audio work outside a professional studio.
If you’re envisioning a project creating a soundscape and using sound effects, working with a sound engineer is paramount. They can offer the right mixing to make your audiobook sound flawless. And even though you’re loving your voice actor, they may have some sybillant pronunciations or have very dominant plosives – an engineer will have extensive experience which means they can adjust unwanted speech sounds.
If you don’t require a sound engineer for your recording sessions, using our self-operated booth allows you to use all the professional equipment and a more relaxed environment – so a great hybrid solution. Your voice actor can easily plug in and record at your own pace ensuring your sound stands out. With the self-operated booth you get all the benefits of a professional studio recording. It’s a completely sound neutral environment with professional tools.
Managing your Audiobook project from start to finish
Recording an audiobook seems like a straightforward process. To some extent, however, there are a few external factors that you need to consider. What is the availability of your voice actor? Do you need to book studio space? When do you want to publish?
The average length of a finished audiobook is 10 hours. Depending on the level of experience of the narrator, and the difficulty of the text, it takes roughly 20-30 hours of recording to get 10 hours of finished product. After the recording, there is editing and proofing time. There is also potential re-recording where the audio quality isn’t 100% as you wanted it to be.
Map out your timeline, so you know exactly when to book your voice actor and the studio space. Making sure your narrator and studio has availability in advance means your project will stay on track. As with anything, there will always be unexpected hurdles. Having everything planned out means you know exactly where you have capacity to flex your project.
Tell your story with the right partners
A quick search on the internet will show you that most people give up on an audiobook because they don’t like the narrator. So carefully choosing who narrates your masterpiece, and recording it in a professional studio where jarring speech elements can be removed, will only help the success of your audiobook. At TVG, we frequently help authors and publishing houses both find the right voice and record their masterpiece. Working with the right partner to tell your story will guarantee that your audiobook stands out.