In this post: I tell you a little bit about my ordeal and failure in the quest to hire a voice actor and where the effort led me. Additionally, I’ll let you hear my mellifluous voice and and enjoy my exotic Puerto Rican accent, while I read aloud parts of a scientific textbook that I very much enjoyed reading recently.
Audiobooks are all the rage right now. Or so I’ve heard. So I decided to try my hand at it. My interest in getting an audiobook coincided with a new company that offered to connect authors with voice actors and to manage your distribution much as D2D manages my ebook distribution and payments. D2D has been excellent so far, paying on time and offering tips about independent publishing and such. Uploading books to their website is a little tricky for me because they are set mostly for Windows users but nothing that a bit of persistence cannot overcome.—If you want to know more about my experience with Draft to Digital (D2D) so far, drop a note on the comment section.—Anyway, based on my previous experience, that seemed promising, so I subscribed to this other company and started my search for the beautiful voice that would turn my recently published book into an audiobook. I had initially wanted a voice actor who could do a Puerto Rican accent, being that many of the stories in my book have some dialogue and a few scattered words and phrases in Puerto Rican Spanish, and I thought that would give it a unique flavor. No luck, they didn’t have anybody who could do that. Then, I decided to listen to the people they claimed they did have and ended up selecting three to audition, among them, a Spanish voice actor with the most amazing, rich, and caramely voice with a clear and resonant timbre. I followed their instructions to request an audition recording of a few pages of my book from these actors and waited for the files to arrive on my account. Seven months later, no news, no auditions, and no voice actors so I decided to cancel my account with them and forget about the audiobook; I didn’t have time for it anyway.
By the end of the year though, the ghost of the failed attempt still haunted me, so I decided to ask the all-knowing and all-mighty Google for more information about the mechanics of getting a book recorded. What I found was something that I had already suspected: if one had the time, one could record and publish one’s own audiobook without too much trouble and a minimal investment. Many independent authors had done it; if they could, so could I.
I had no idea what was the best way to go about it. You can search on the web forever and find twenty different opinions: do it but hire a professional, don’t hire a professional, save some money and do it yourself. There are even awards out there for audiobooks read by the authors. I decided that the best thing to do was to take it one step at a time: instead of throwing myself into a project that I had no idea of how to do, I would take small steps that would train me for the bigger challenge. I’m always reading one thing or another therefore, the first thing I did was to start to read aloud the books I had in my to-read pile. I found out that I did enjoy reading aloud; although it is much slower than other forms of reading, it is more satisfying for me for several reasons. First, I can pace myself and really be inside the book, I discovered that my concentration is better this way. Second, I have more time to savor the weight, texture and cadence of each word and truly enjoy the writing. Third, I can remember more of what I read. And lastly, I find I can improve my pronunciation to a certain extent.
This was going good, but one detail still nagged me, after all this time without public speaking, how did I sound to other people? The only logical way to find out was to record myself. And that is what I did. I was a bit disappointed with the results—Do I really sound like that?—I freaked out, turned around in circles but I am the grittiest person in the world and I finally pushed ahead. My next step was to double down on deliberate practice until I felt that I was doing an acceptable job; after that, my audience would decide. I’m still working on the sound and several technical aspects, but I think the results are not too shabby for a first try.
Curious about the results? I’m glad you are because I have included one of my practice recordings in here. It comes from the book Astronomy by Andrew Fraknoi, David Morrison, and Sidney C. Wolff, which is an introductory textbook for astronomy, of course. It’s a free ebook and their license states that “any user of this textbook or the textbook contents herein must provide proper attribution,” and so “download for free at https://openstax.org/details/books/astronomy.”
Talking about licenses, my work recording this part belongs only to me; I state that any listener can use this recording for non-commercial and educational purposes only, as long as they provide proper attribution to Roxanna Piedrafuette, narrator, and send traffic to my blog, rantinella.com.
And without further ado, here you have it. Enjoy!
P. S. You might be wondering when Lizard-Monkeys and Other Stories, the audiobook that started this whole audio-craze, will come out. I sincerely don’t know, probably by the summer of 2021, perhaps a little earlier. Stay tuned.
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