122 Rules by Deek Rhew

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

How to Create an Audiobook - Part 4

Welcome back! This is the final installment of my How to Create an Audiobook series. If you haven't already reviewed the previous posts, check them out:
 * Part 1
 * Part 2
 * Part 3

By now, you have recorded your first chapter. Woop! Congrats! Let's see if we can make it even more interesting by adding in a bit of intro music. There are several places to get free clips you can use, but some of my favorites are:
  * Sound Bible
  * Zap Splat
  * Free Stock Music

Make sure your clip isn't more than 7-10 seconds long. This is an audiobook, not a musical. Once you've found your intro, create a new track.

For the Input type, choose No Input and click Create.

From Finder, drag your file to the new track.
My file is called Intro-Wind-Mark (see the image).

Replicate the Chapter 1 track and create an introduction for your book. All that will go into the introduction is the name of the book and your name.

Here are the first few paragraphs from Norman and the Demon complete with intro.

I didn't have a lot of time to create this chapter and when I go to make the final version, I'll do a couple of things differently. First, notice there's a lot of popping. This is because I'm too close to the microphone. Next time, I'll move it away a bit. Also, there are a couple of times I munged words. When this happens, pause, and reread. The munged words can be edited out.

Nothing quite like examples of what not to do! :-)

Okay, intro, music, and chapter 1 complete. Time to upload!

ACX
ACX manages the audio content that is sold on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible.

Create an ACX account:
Go to www.ACX.com and enter your name or ISBN into their search bar:


 With a little luck, they'll find your books:

Choose your book and click This is My Book, then click I already have audio files for this book, and I want to sell it.

You will be prompted to log into Amazon. After that, complete the ACX registration. I was prompted to choose my book again, and I had to re-choose I already have audio files. Select your distribution preferences.

After that the site walks you through uploading your book.

Congrats, my friends! You now have a published audiobook!

I hope this tutorial has been helpful. Let me know if you have any questions.

Adventure on,

Deek

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

How to Create an Audiobook - Part 3

This is the second post in my "Creating An Audiobook" series. If you haven't read Part 1 and Part 2, start there.

In the previous post, we got most of GarageBand set up. There are still a couple of steps, then we are going to create some tracks and record your first chapter!

Chapter 1
At this point, there should be an Audio 1 track and a Master Track in your GarageBand project. Double-click "Audio 1" and change it to "Chapter 1."

Rename the default track from Audio 1 to Chapter 1
In the controls section at the bottom, there are three buttons:


 Turn off Master so that the button are shaded like this:


This will open up a whole new controls section:

Under Recording Settings, check:
  * Feedback Protection
  * Noise Gate
  * Master Echo
  * Master Reverb
Click on the Compressor button too. When you are done, the settings should look like this:

Next, change the Compressor, EQ, and Sends to the following:

Woop! Okay, our chapter is ready to roll!

In Part 4, we're going to walk through uploading your audio files to ACX. Let's make a couple of quick settings changes as per their requirements.

Click the Master Track, and click the Limiter button. This will bring up the limiter settings.

Change the Gain to +2.0dB and the Output Level to -3.0dB. This will limit the peaks of your recording. Close the Limiter menu.

Next, click the right-side of the Exciter button so the type menu pops up.

Choose Dynamics-> Noise Gate

Click the Noise Gate button and change it to -65dB (ACX requires -60 at least, so we'll go a little above and beyond. Click the power button next to Factory Default so that it is highlighted:


Alright, let's do this thang!

Recording
In Part 1, we discussed practicing recording and listening. Here are a couple of more tips and tricks:
  * When whispering, try leaning into your microphone
  * When yelling either pull back or look off to the side.
  * If you need to, practice reading through the chapter before recording. Be sure you can pronounce all the words (names can be especially tricky).
  * Speak clearly
  * Try to make as few mistakes as possible.
  * Try and limit your breath and lip-smacking sounds. These will need to be edited out.

If you make a mistake, it's not a big deal. Don't stop. Pause for a couple of seconds so that the mistake is obvious in the recording track, then try again. Mistakes will happen. That's what editing is for!

Okay, you're ready to roll. Click Chapter 1, hit the record button!


Editing
Woop! You've got your first track down and now we're going to make it purty!
Un-click the equalizer button and choose the editing button (the little scissors).

When you first see the track, it'll look like this. Kinda squished and difficult to see what's what.

Fortunately, you can spread the track out. On the right-hand side, this little slider bar will let you expand and contract your view.

Make it nice and wide, so you can see the nuances of your recording.

This is the beginning of my recording where I was opening the beginning of Norman and the Demon. Highlight this section and delete it.


Drag the track, so that the audio starts at the beginning of the timeline. Now, listen to the track and find, and remove, inhalations, smacking, so forth.


Here's an example of me taking a breath. With this tool, add or remove blank space between words, adjust volume levels, remove mistakes, so on.

That's it for this section. If you're ready, move on to the final tutorial.

Have fun and adventure on!

Deek

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

How to Create an Audiobook - Part 2

This is the second post in my "Creating An Audiobook" series. If you haven't read Part 1, start there.

As I said before, I'm walking through how to do this on a Mac, and the recording software is GarageBand. So, let's get GarageBand all set up!

Create a new project:

Open the app, choose File -> New and choose Empty Project as the type of project.

GarageBand - Project


On the next screen, choose Create.


GarageBand - Create Project

GarageBand will start with a single sample track.

GarageBand - Sample Track

From the Track menu, choose Show Master Track.

GarageBand - Show Master Track

From the View menu, choose Show Smart Controls.

GarageBand - Show Smart Controls


Click the music note / metronome icon, and choose Time.

GarageBand - Show Time

Turn off each of the repeat, tuning fork, etc. buttons.

GarageBand - Controls

Click the Mix menu and choose Show Automation.

GarageBand - Automation

At this point, the top half of your screen should look like this:

GarageBand - Ta Da!



Settings:

Okay, let's start messing with the settings.

Click the i to show the Smart Controls.

GarageBand - Smart Controls

Click the Master Track and click the Effects button.

GarageBand - Effects

For now, set the Time, Repeat, Color, and Volume to the above settings.

Next, click the Output button.

GarageBand - Output

For now, set the Squeeze, Bright, so on, to the above values. By default, the Compression and Limiter switches are turned off. Turn them both on.


Ready? Awesome! Let's do some sampling!

Sample Recording

The rewind, fast-forward, stop, play, and record buttons are at the top of the screen.

GarageBand - Control Buttons

Plug your microphone into your computer. Click Audio 1, and then click the Record bubble. Say a few words into your microphone and click Stop.

GarageBand - Laying Down a Track

Wut the wut? Did we just lay down a bit of track? Oh, heck yeah! Plug in your headset, drag the record needle back, and click Play.

Woop!

Okay, now comes the fun part. Start tweaking the different levels until your voice sounds just right. You'll need to practice making your voice louder or softer too. Just be sure that anything you do during practice, you can repeat when you are recording your audiobook.

Delete what you recorded and now record a short passage from your book. Give yourself 30-60 seconds or longer of track to play with. Restart the record needle, and click the Master Track. Now start the playback and begin monkeying with the settings. Keep going until you are happy with the sound of your voice.

Also, try speaking at different speeds. Pay attention to the details and listen and re-listen to the track. Record a whole chapter and practice being the different characters. You don't have to overact, in fact, don't. Just don't. Change your inflection and tone, but unless you are a practiced actor, don't do any more than say the words as you hear your characters say them.

Alright, next we're going to add some intro music and record your book! If you're ready, move on to Part 3.

Until next time, adventure on!

Deek


Monday, May 8, 2017

How to Create an Audiobook - Part 1

Welcome to Part 1 of my step-by-step guide on creating an audiobook. This will be a multi-part series where I will demonstrate creating an audiobook using my short story, Norman and the Demon.

Set Up - What You Need

I'll admit that I'm Apple-biased. Our home computers are Macs, and we use iPhones. The hardware is solid, the computers work great, and the phones play really well with the computers. So, needless to say, this post will be centered around Apple products. Not saying you can't follow it using a PC, but you'll have to make some adjustments.

Also, I'm not a professional sound technician. I'm not going to tell you to make a sound booth or get a thousand dollar mic. Most of what you need you should have at your home already. Since we're on the subject, let me reiterate, I'm not a professional sound technician. Just an author who wants to record his own audiobooks and sample chapters and spent a bit of time figuring out how to do it.

Okay, now that we have that out of the way, let's begin!

Microphone

Though you can spend $$$ on a microphone, there are other options that give really great results too. When I recorded the first chapter of 122 Rules (see the 122 Rules Home Page for the sample chapter I recorded), I borrowed a mic. I was so happy with the quality that I bought one of my own.

The Miracle Sound Deluxe Lapel Mic is inexpensive and delivers high-quality sound.

Miracle Sound Deluxe is a Miracle Mic!


Computer

As I said in the beginning of the post, I'm a Mac guy through and through. So, if you can afford it, drop a little extra now and save yourself a ton of time and frustration. A couple of years ago, Erin was using my Windows Notebook. Updates and patches and failures and hardware problems had this saintly, patient woman climbing the walls. Finally, we bought a refurbished Mac with a one year warranty and AppleCare (in case something went wrong).

Mac Rocks!

Erin's frustrations vanished, and she never looked back. We got Word for Mac, which is completely compatible with its PC cousin, so she could run her editing business and write.


Software

The Mac comes with GarageBand for free which is designed to do things like create audiobooks.

Garage Band - Free With Mac
This software is awesome! When we get going, you'll see why it's the one I chose.

Headset

You will need a good pair of headphones for editing your tracks. Pops, snaps, breaths, and so forth will all need to be edited out, but that's impossible without being able to hear them. I tried it with just a standard pair of iPhone earbuds, and if you're in a pinch, they can work. But I recommend something a little meatier.

There are some great headsets out there, but Sony makes a super decent pair for a little bit of $.



Location

Most people I know don't have a sound recording booth just laying around. So look around your home, and then get into the closet! We have a small walk-in closet, and the clothes make an amazing sound dampener. If you have a carpeted living room, you can even give that a shot. What you are after is someplace that doesn't allow the sound to echo and that will filter out ambient noise.

Recommendations:

* Turn off your furnace/AC, dishwasher, etc. The microphone will totally pick up these background noises.
* Stay away from external walls and windows where the noise from cars, dogs, neighbors, etc. can spoil your recording.
* Avoid rooms with hardwood floors where the sound will echo.


That's it for part one. Get all your stuff set up, and in Part 2, we'll discuss getting Garage Band ready to record your masterpiece.

Ready to keep going? Part 2!

Until then, adventure on!

Deek