Narrating your own book
I have written and self-published my Autobiography which is already available on Amazon as a paper and Kindle version which is a pre-requisite to being accepted by Audible.
Initially, I wanted to narrate the book purely for my friend who is going slowly blind due to a degenerative macular condition and she wanted to read my story.
I downloaded Audacity and watched a bunch of Utube video and launched myself into it.
As I proceeded with that I delved into the possibility of making it an Audible book, and started comparing what I had done with the ACX requirements.
I didn’t want to spend a fortune on equipment as it only really for the one project, so I bought the Samson Meter USB mike from Amazon at about £50 and rigged it on a cheap boom, I used a laptop with a second larger monitor attached so I could have the document displayed in large print. Surprisingly little noise from this setup. I have attached a picture.
That’s a skill in itself, I found I had to teach myself to speak more clearly and try to eradicate the irritating little noises we make with our mouths, drink lots of water and read the text ahead.
First attempts I listened to file and tried to cut errors and past replacement which didn’t really work, then I used a dog clicker to highlight errors and repeated then taking out bad bits during process which was also difficult, eventually I installed the punch and roll plugin which I found to be the easiest way to go, with the Ctrl D hotkey, I think its down to personal preference.
Don’t forget to set your mike levels as close as possible to the RMS values so it’s not going to need massive mastering. I didn’t do any mastering at this stage and saved all my files in a folder called narration only.
ACX asks for the same chapter/section format as the book. My book has 15 chapters with several sections in each chapter as per example below.
In order to ensure the order was very clear I named each section starting with number,
ie 004 Chapter 1, Section 1, Growing up in the Country, was careful to start each section with a clear accurate title as per the book. The Acx titles at the left are what you see when you play the file, i made a mistake and consequently, it has only chapters which is not accurate but cant be changed once published.
Audacity is very clear that you must not have dead silence so I have an audacity file just containing room noise at the required level, in that I have a couple of tracks at the correct length for start and end of file, so I can just copy and paste those, I also use that same file to punch copy/paste any sections between speech that includes breathing or mouth clicks etc, that function fills the selected area with room noise, a bit of a slow process that probably wouldn’t occur with a better mic setup, but end result is good. I put this on convenient hotkeys at Z & X which makes it quick
To process the files to ACX levels I used the following functions as per their recommendation
Effect > Filter curve… > Manage > Factory Presets > : Low roll-off for speech > OK.
Effect > Loudness Normalization…: Normalize RMS to -20dB > OK.
Effect > Limiter: Soft Limit, 0.00, 0.00, -3.50dB, 10.00, No > OK.
Analyze > ACX-Check.
Its easy to put these into a macro so one command does the lot, also have a macro to join and align tracks first.
I submitted a sample to the forum and Koz suggested using the mossie killer to get rid of some usb buzz that my system was generating and I put that at the beginning of the macro
Software sound correction plugin.
(363 Bytes) Downloaded 65 times
After this I saved the files to a separate folder called, post Mastering.
Export to MP3
Very simple, once again to a separate folder, all you need to remember is the bit rate set to constant, quality 192 kbps & channel mode, force to mono.
Uploading to ACX
Your cover art has to be square so you can’t just upload your book cover, I just got someone to make it fit, would probably be better with a redesign for the new format, but that can be done later if required.
After setting all the details in the ACX site I started to carefully upload the files in the correct order, checking for errors or typos, its good because you are able to change or replace them up until you are happy that everything is as you want it, the process will pick up any gross errors but then you just have to press the completed button and get the following message back then wait until I find out if I passed.
Confirmed: Your Approval for Sale of Taking the Tide Where it Serves
You have approved the audiobook production of Taking the Tide Where it Serves.
What happens now
• Your audiobook will pass through both ACX and Audible quality assurance (QA) checks.
• Once it passes, we will let you know and begin distributing it on Amazon, Audible and iTunes. The whole process is completed within 10 business days, as long as there are no problems or errors with your audio files, cover art, or retail data.
• If your audiobook does not pass QA for any reason, you and your producer will be contacted right away with instructions for how to remedy this.
• Meanwhile, please confirm your bank information is up to date so you can start receiving your royalty payments.
We can’t wait to hear your audiobook.
The ACX Team
The files were rejected first time and it was due to the spaces at the ends of the files not being correct and some rather long silences in the narration. I think I was a bit careless in not checking more carefully
I very carefully listened to each file again correcting some errors that I had missed and resubmitted it to ACX, and was pleasantly surprised when I got a positive response and my book is now published
I think all the information above is on the forum in various places but I thought my experience might be useful to anyone else in the same situation. Following this process I am confident I could complete an audible submission first time, obviously the narration is a skill more aligned with acting and requires some practise but if the technical side is correct it makes it much simpler.