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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

So You Want to Make an Audiobook Part III with Paula Berinstein

The past two days, the wonderful Paula Berinstein has been kind enough to share her experience with creating an audiobook. . .as a self-published author.  If you missed out, you can (and should) go back and read:
Part I here
Part II here

I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see how her journey continues!

Thanks, Paula!

So You Want to Make an Audiobook, Post 6: Post-production
The Amanda Lester, Detective Odyssey with Paula Berinstein

Recording an audiobook doesn’t end on the last day in the studio. You have to edit and check listen, both detailed and time-consuming jobs.

In order to comply with ACX’s technical requirements, you must submit each chapter as a separate file. You also have to create files for the opening and closing credits and provide a sample of up to five minutes, all governed by requirements such as decibel range, compression, and so on. It’s fiddly stuff! Add to that the fact that it’s easy for the actor to misread something or the editor to forget to chop out a cough and there’s a lot to do.

As the team was going through the files, they discovered a few problems. Chris told me that Allan would have to come back into the studio and re-record some stuff. He was scheduled to return for another project in a few weeks. Did I want him to come in specially for my project or could I wait? I could wait.

About three weeks later Allan rerecorded the passages and David Griffiths, the editor (who did an amazing job!), took over. The next thing I knew I had thirty-something audio files (actually sixty-something if you count both the .wav and .mp3 files) in my Dropbox folder. I was scared to death. My shiny new audiobook was waiting for me and I was afraid to listen.

I needn’t have worried. Allan had worked such magic on Amanda that I barreled through the whole thing, stopping only to exclaim, “OMG, that is brilliant!” about a thousand times. I found only one problem: he had repeated a line. I asked Strathmore to fix it (easy peasy), and then it was time to upload my files to ACX, where I’d established a DIY account.  

I logged into my account and started the uploads. Ugh, what a dummy. I was in such a hurry I started the upload for every file at the same time! A few of them actually completed and then the whole thing froze. Well of course it did. I had overloaded the system. I cancelled everything that hadn’t completed and uploaded thirty-something files one by one. Then I uploaded the beautiful cover Anna Mogileva had completed a few months before and sat back to wait up to three week for a verdict.

I was lucky: I heard back in about a week. By that time the book was already listed on Audible. It popped up on Amazon and iTunes a couple of days later. There was a bit of an issue with the age range in the target audience categories, but we got that resolved quickly. (Audible had put it in the five- to seven-year-olds section. You can now find it in the 11-13-year-olds section, which they consider teens).

I just found out that you can also get the audio Whispersynced to your ebook (which means you can switch between the text and the audio without losing your place), and that that version of the audiobook costs waaaaaaay less than the standalone one. I mean like $3.47 as opposed to $24.95! You can get that on Audible and Amazon but not on iTunes. I guess that makes sense since Audible and Amazon are so well integrated.  

As a result of my project, I have discovered that listening rather than reading allows you to experience a book in an entirely different way. How something is said is so important. A line you might interpret as angry or whiny when you read can come across as mellow, tongue in cheek, or dry when said aloud. A crisis can be magnified or played down. You might hear things you never realized were there. It’s amazing.

But from an author’s standpoint there’s more. When I heard Allan read my book something happened that changed the way I write. I realized I had inadvertently written the book in a way that sounded good when read aloud. I hadn’t meant to but somehow it turned out that way. Perhaps it’s because I hear my text in my head and automatically adjust the words so they flow well—I don’t know. But that got me thinking: what if my other books weren’t so audio friendly.

As we were winding up the audiobook I just happened to be making a final pass through Amanda Lester and The Red Spider Rumpus, the fifth title in the Amanda Lester, Detective series, and with Allan’s voice fresh in my mind I looked at that text in a whole new way. I imagined Allan reading the words and realized that some passages didn’t work. They were rhythmically wrong.

There was no way I was going to let them stand so I sharpened my pencil (I was editing a physical proof at that point) and nudged that puppy into shape. Sometimes I had to read the words aloud to make sure they worked. That isn’t something I would have done before, but I will now.

When you think about it, creating an audio version of a book is a lot like producing a play. Different directors interpret a text in their own ways. One director’s interpretation of Richard III (which was set in Nazi Germany when I saw it with Ian McKellen in the lead) will differ from another’s. One version of a movie is different from another. It’s up to the actors and the director to bring their vision to life. And that’s just what happened with my audiobook.

The way Allan reads the story is different from what’s in my head. I don’t just mean that my Editta is English rather than Scottish. It’s that he sees story and character in a whole other light—a light that illuminates the text in ways I never could imagine. And that’s the real beauty of an audiobook: you get to experience your creation as someone else does. What could be better than that?

Listen to a sample of the audiobook here on Soundcloud

Amanda Lester, Detective #1
 Written by Paula Berinstein Narrated by Allan Corduner Length: 10 hrs and 47 mins MG Mystery/ Detective 

A reluctant detective, a criminal mastermind, and sugar? Amanda Lester wouldn't be caught dead going into the family business. Her ancestor, Sherlock Holmes's colleague Inspector G. Lestrade, is a twit. Nevertheless her parents refuse to see his flaws, and she's going to a secret English school for the descendants of famous detectives whether she likes it or not. When Amanda arrives at the dreaded school, she considers running away - until she and her new friends discover blood and weird pink substances in odd places. At first they're not sure whether these oddities mean anything, but when Amanda's father disappears and the cook is found dead with her head in a bag of sugar, they're certain that crimes are taking place. Now Amanda must embrace her destiny and uncover the truth. The only snag is that arch-villain Blixus Moriarty, a descendant of Holmes's nemesis Professor James Moriarty, might be involved, and he doesn't like nosy little girls interfering in his business.
You can find Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy on Goodreads You can buy the audiobook of Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy here: - Audible - Amazon - iTunes Listen to a sample of the audiobook here on Soundcloud

All about. . .

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. Glad it all worked out so well, even if you did try to crash the system with the massive upload.
    I really understand now why reading out loud is so important. After hearing my books, I could hear my mistakes very clearly. The became less and less with each book, but I'd like to weed them all out in the future.

  2. Congratulations, Paula! I usually read large passages of my stories aloud. It's exhausting, but it's good to know it has multiple benefits. :)

    Thanks for this series!

  3. Thank you so much for hosting my story, Tonja!

    @Alex and @krystal, it is a lot of work reading everything out loud. Totally worth it, though, as you say.


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