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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

So You Want to Make an Audiobook- Part II by Paula Berinstein

Yesterday, today and tomorrow, the wonderful author, Paula Berinstein, is sharing her experience and knowledge about the world of audiobook creation. And that for self-published and indie authors!

Today, she's talking about kickstarting, finding a producer and the work itself. If you didn't have the chance to drop by yesterday, you'll definitely want to catch up on the first part of her adventure:  Finding the Narrator. You can find that here.

Welcome back, Paula!

So You Want to Make an Audiobook: Kickstarter? The Producer? The Work?
The Amanda Lester, Detective Odyssey with Paula Berinstein

Me and my big mouth. Or should I say me and my itchy fingers? Allan Corduner was interested in Amanda. Now I’d better come through or I’d look like a complete idiot.

I had mentioned to Allan’s agent, Kate Plumpton, that I was thinking of doing a Kickstarter campaign in order to finance the project. Allan was all right with that, but as I investigated what it would take to do the Kickstarter, I began to worry. Doing a fundraising campaign right is a huge project. You have to write and record videos, create graphics, publicize and manage the whole thing, etc. It’s like doing a book all on its own! And to tell you the truth after more than a year of promoting the Amanda books, I was exhausted, spent, drained, kaput, finita.

You see, I spend at least 90% of my time marketing. Write books? Ha! I have almost no time for that. Instead I write blog posts, ad copy, social media posts, and newsletters. I choose and format book excerpts, maintain my Web site, plan and execute giveaways, network with fans and colleagues, participate in book deals, do Facebook events, and more. Each blog tour requires not only a huge amount of preparation, but personal interaction galore. I also work closely with my street team, Amanda’s Irregulars, and I’m constantly reformatting my books for new venues. Since every vendor has different requirements (an ultra-short blurb, a short blurb, a long blurb, a logline, a graphic of this, that, or the other size, testimonials, and on and on), you can imagine how much time goes into that stuff. I often wish all the companies would get together and agree on one format, but that will never happen. And so we authors spend our days customizing stuff for them.

But there was a bigger issue: what if I didn’t raise the money? What if no one, or not enough ones, wanted to support the project? That would be embarrassing, and dispiriting too. Not that that would happen, but it could. And then what would I do?

As I pondered these questions, I rapidly came to the conclusion that doing a Kickstarter wasn’t for me. That meant I would have to finance the project myself. I was pretty sure I could do that, but I needed a quote from the studio Allan uses to be sure. And so I set out to contact them.

Considering how much work was involved I was less than enthusiastic. But in order to make the decision I needed more information: how much would producing the book actually cost? The narrator is only part of it. You also need a producer.

I wasn’t sure how to go about finding a producer so I asked Allan Corduner’s agent if there was someone he normally used. Yes, she said: Strathmore Publishing in London. They furnish the studio, producers, editors, the whole deal. And so I contacted them.

The man I spoke with, Nic Jones, the founder of the studio, was so nice and helpful I couldn’t wait to get started. There was just one tiny thing, though, and that was a price. And so I spoke with Elspeth McPherson, the production director.

She too was as nice as pie and wanted to know how long my book was, in words, not pages. Nearly 103,000 I told her. The next thing I knew she had come up with a cost based on twelve finished hours, which was what both she and Allan thought it would take. (The actual recording time is usually about twice that.) The cost came to a fair chunk of change, but it included the studio, producer, editor, and check listener as well as formatting and delivery of the final files in two formats.

By now of course I just had to do it. I had fallen in love with Allan’s voice work and Strathmore and nothing this side of the moon would stop me. The risks associated with the Kickstarter campaign worried me. Allan might be the best voice actor in the world but he isn’t a household name. What if people didn’t want to participate? What if they weren’t so hot on Amanda? I’d look like an idiot, embarrass everyone concerned, and just generally fail. And I was not going to let that happen.

Here’s the deal, though. I am extremely fortunate. I have enough resources of my own to finance a lot of what I do, and a husband who supports my writing. After discussing the situation for about a minute, we decided to forget the labor-intensive minefield of Kickstarter and just do it. I wrote back to Allan’s agent and Strathmore and told them I wanted to go ahead.

And then it was time to get down to work.

At last it’s time to discuss the audiobook itself. I’ll bet you thought I’d never get there.

The first thing I did after making the decision was send an electronic copy of the book to Strathmore and a printed copy to Allan, who already had a PDF. I sent the printed copy Global Mail Express Guaranteed, which is really expensive. Ha! The package didn’t arrive as scheduled and we spent two frantic days trying to track it down. Finally, the excellent Chris Beer, production manager at Strathmore, printed a copy and couriered it to Allan’s house. The package did arrive a while later—don’t ask—and I applied for a refund from the post office. After all, guaranteed is guaranteed. (I actually got the refund pretty quickly, which made for a nice surprise.)

Anyhoo, Allan proceeded to mark up his copy and we scheduled recording to start about a week later. Chris warned me that they would want pronunciations for various words, and we briefly discussed whether Lestrade should be pronounced Lestrayde or Lestrahde. And the week went by.

Early on the morning of the second recording day I heard from Chris. He had made a list of words selected by Tamsin Collison, the producer, and Allan. How should Allan pronounce them? Oh well, this should be easy, I thought. I’ll just make a quick sound recording and shoot it back to them. How na├»ve I was.

All my recording infrastructure was long gone (goodbye Writing Show), I couldn’t figure out how to record on my stupid phone (thank you so much, Apple), and my husband was out of town so I didn’t have access to his copy of Cakewalk Sonar. I thought maybe there was a way to record an audio email but couldn’t find anything. So I downloaded Audacity, which is free, and hoped I would be able to figure out how to use it in the next five minutes.

Despite the fact that I’ve produced more than 300 podcasts, I was rusty and could barely remember anything of what I used to do. Audacity was similar to Sonar, though, and I got the hang of it quickly. I didn’t have my good mic, but I couldn’t worry about that. Somehow, I managed to stammer out and record the terms, save the file, and attach it to an email. Phew.

Chris thanked me for the pronunciations but had questions. It seemed that English people would say this or that differently and oh, by the way, Allan thought something else would work better. In addition they’d found a couple of places that didn’t read well aloud, and BTW, what did I mean on page so and so and could they change it to read thus and so? I dutifully looked everything up, decided what they wanted to do was brilliant, and shot off another email.

By the time the recording was finished a few days later, Editta Sweetgum had become Scottish (she’s actually from Brixworth, which is in Northamptonshire), Professor Stegelmeyer was German, Amphora Kapoor had an Indian accent, and the pronunciation of Lestrade varied according to the speaker, all of which works so beautifully you will die when you hear it. I was thrilled and I think you will be too.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you what happened in post-production.

All about Paula Berinstein!!!

Paula Berinstein is nothing like Amanda. For one thing, she’s crazy about Sherlock Holmes. For another, she’s never wanted to be a filmmaker. In addition, compared to Amanda she’s a big chicken! And she wouldn’t mind going to a secret school at all. In fact, she’s hoping that some day she’ll get to build one. You can find and contact Paula here:

Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads - Paula's blog on Goodreads - The Writing Show podcasts - Newsletter


  1. Wow, that is a lot of work. Makes me so grateful I didn't have to go through the process like that. I did have to make a list of words and how to pronounce them, but I didn't have to record it. (And I'm fortunate the narrator of my books has nailed almost every single name the first try, especially since I had so many odd science fiction names.)

  2. What an incredible journey! My goodness. I love hearing how it all went down. Terrifying and exciting all at once.

  3. That is a lot of work! I'm guessing a regular person would be less work and expense. I listened to recording yesterday though, and it does sound great.

  4. @Alex, well, I think it could have been less work with a bit more planning. But in the end everything turned out all right so it was no big deal. Part of the issue with pronunciation was the English vs. American difference. Some of it came down to my intent, and in a couple of cases it was a matter of how to pronounce Spanish words like Calabasas and Ysidro. There was also the issue of artistic license, which affected how Allan pronounced "Lestrade" and other things. But it was a lot of fun and I would love to do it again.

    @Crystal, What a lovely thing to say! Thank you so much for your interest!

    @krystal jane, I'm so glad you like the way it sounds! I guess I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I'm sure it would have been fine with even a talented amateur but I so wanted it to be special. I'm just so lucky I was able to get Allan.


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