#153 How To Narrate Your Novel, with Renee Conoulty
You’ve written your novel and now it’s time to narrate it.
Renee Conoulty is the author of novels and flash fiction that contain elements of dance, romance, and/or military life in a variety of genre – chick lit, women’s fiction, romantic comedy, contemporary romance, children’s books.
She also has a book on how to narrate your own novels and stories, Narrated by the Author. In this episode, not only do we have the pleasure of listening to Renee read her work, we chat the following:
⬩ The pros and cons of self-narrating
⬩ Affordable equipment options
⬩ Narration tips
⬩ How to edit and master with free software
⬩ Audiobook distribution options
⬩ All the dumb things she did so you can learn from her mistakes
⬩ And much, much more!
Did I mention there’s a workbook? It’s called Character Voices: a Workbook For Audio Narration. And a course that takes you through the whole process, step by step? Check it out here.
You can find out more about Renee, her stories and how to narrate your own stories here.
Last, if you want to lift your mood, how can you resist taking a peek at Swinging Through Life and Renee’s other stories, or better still, listen to her narrate them.
Mel: And today I'd like to welcome Renee Conoulty. Rene is a swing dancer and writes stories of dance romance and the military life. And I used to love the old musicals where Fred Astaire danced around the light pole so I'm hoping you've got something like that in store for us today, Renee.
Renee: I've got lots of things in store.
Mel: I want to talk about your book on how we as authors can narrate our own audio books. You have a workbook and a course as well over at http://heysaidrenee.blogspot.com/ and we're going to talk through the process of narrating our own work which I know a lot of us are interested in but before we do that I’d like you to read some of your flash fiction. Renee, thank you very much for reading to us today and then talking this through the process of narrating it.
Renee: No worries. The story I was going to read today is from my latest book which is called Swinging Through Life which is a collection of twelve flash fiction stories. So flash fiction is around the 500 word mark. All these stories are pretty much bang on 500 words but I've got another flash fiction collection that sort of varies a bit up to a thousand. The story I'm going to read today is called Sing Sing Sing. I like titling my books and stories after swing dance songs. So that's the song some people might have heard. And the main character in this story is codename Jane. And she also features in my first novel don't mean a thing. But she's not. She's not the main character in that one. Okay. Sing sing sing. Music pulled through cost. Okay. And that's when you pause it when you're actually narrating And then you go back and you start again. Music poured through the car stereo big band swing and jump blues. 19 favorite playlist. Her brother teased her about her taste in music but she didn't care. She preferred music from before she was born. Music from before her parents was born were even better. And that's where I would also oppose it and go back and fix all my typos and spelling mistakes and things but I'll just keep going. Music from before her parents were born. Is even better. She belted out the lyrics tapping the jazz rhythm rhythm on the steering wheel. The only thing that put her in a better mood than singing was dancing. But that was a little difficult in the car. She just needed to keep it together until she got there. Then she'd be fine. She'd never lose control in front of a crowd. That trek ended and the next song began. The words caught in her throat. It had been met in 19 song. The song that first dance to the song that first made love to. The song. She needed the last song she needed to hear of this of all days. The day match was marrying that girl. She skipped to the next track in the shuffle playlist and dabbed at the corner of her eye prying him a scar hadn't smeared. Night and shouldn't be said she'd moved on months ago. Derek was wonderful and she was happy. She glanced at the empty at the empty seat beside her. She'd be happier if he'd been by his side. Now I've lost where I'm up to. OK here we go. Turn the page it went funny. She'd call the hospital again before she left home but she she'd call the hospital again before she left home. But he still hadn't been cleared for discharge. Surely overnight observation would have been done by now. It was after 6:00p.m. Night and stomach knotted. He'd hit his head quite hard when he'd come off his pushbike. Why wouldn't he wear a bloody helmet just because it's not the law in Darwin doesn't mean it's not a good idea. Footpath step has its two. She almost swung her car around and drove to the hospital instead. But even if she did there was nothing she could do to help. And people would notice if she wasn't at the wedding. Nineteen pulled into the familiar car park at Nightcliff JT should be back here again tomorrow for the Sunday afternoon dance class. Everyone said it was so sweet that they were getting married at the same place I'd met. She pulled the invitation from her handbag and double check the details. The ceremony wasn't due to stop for 20 minutes. Nate ain't tricked her makeup in the visor mirror then stepped out of the car and locked it. She wandered over to the concrete dance floor with a swing dance classes were held and stared across the water to the jetty. Big white boats surrounded the posts all the way along. They should be having the ceremony here on the cracked concrete slab. This was where I'd really met. Where she'd met Matt to. A warm home a warm hand grasped hers. Am I too late. Nineteen smiled at Derek. You made it. I snuck out didn't want you to have to arrive alone. This was where she finally understood real love. That's the end of that.
Mel: That is absolutely beautiful and brought back a few memories to a friend I used to live in Darwin. I know Nightcliff, it's really cool.
Renee: Well both they're doing swing dancing. Still every Sunday afternoon neither quick Jedi on that cracked slab of concrete. They're all real places.
Mel: Flash fiction is an interesting genre on its own and it's something that we do in school a lot. It really forces you to make every word count and in the circumstances that you were writing them I think you said it was the Australian Writers Centre monthly furious fiction competition. It's really what you want to roll with your writing of these scenes, hasn't it?
Renee: I had a little play around with flash fiction before and so when I saw the Australian Writers Centre was doing a furious fiction competition I thought this would be good fun. It's good writing practice. You get to write a story and actually finish a story. And that's like when you're writing a novel that can take quite a while so to be able to get that done in one or two sessions was really fulfilling. I decided well I don't want to just have a bunch of flash fiction sitting on my computer. So what could I do to make something. That would work with my brand. I decided from the very first furious fiction competition that I would incorporate swing dancing somewhere in those first year worth of stories and then by the end of the year I'd have something I could publish. So that's what I did which was quite a challenge.
Mel: Some months some of the friends they came up with but I managed to twist everything around in some way to get a swing dancing reference in yeah.
Mel: And it's a writing habit isn't it. When everything else is happening in your life and like in the Air Force you move around a lot as we spoke about before to the past being out to develop a routine something like this actually makes you commit these stories doesn't it.
Renee: It was just that that once a month. Even when I was having a rough time if. I would just make that time it's like Okay Friday night the email came in and I'll read through the writing prompts and have a think about it and brainstorm some ideas and sometime Saturday I'd sit down and I'd write out the first draft and then Sunday I would take some time to go through and edit that and fine tune and make every word count as you need to when you've got a 500 word limit. You don't have words just to play with you've got to make everything fit the story.
Renee: And sometimes as a reader too we only want to read in snippets so that little story that you told it immediately created a picture for me. It took me to Darwin. I liked the idea of swing dancing because it's just pure romance. Yeah. And and people can flick through the stories and choose the ones that they want to in to comfort.
Renee: I also went on marketing that one I've mentioned if you want to retest if you want a story you can finish before your cup of coffee goes cold. Grab this one like you can. There's heaps of stories in there. You could sit there and you can read an entire story from start to finish. While you have the coffee you don't have to remember what happened for the next day. And carry on you can just slotted in when you've got a moment and it's great for people who don't do a lot of reading. To start with something short and sweet.
Mel: Don't make a mistake anybody you think these things are easy to write because they're not are they?
Renee: Like a lot of people when they start with flash fiction they just it's more like a vignette they just write. This is a little snippet of something but nothing actually happens. You've still got to sit down you've still got to work out character motivations you've got to have a goal for them you've got to have something happen they've got to want something in the story and they've either got to get the thing or not get the thing but you've got to actually. Still have a plot. And to work all that into 500 words you've got a limit you've got to introduce your character in 100 words or less and set the scene and then you've got to have obstacles or have things happen. Some some of my stories are stronger than others but yeah. Trying to fit them all in it's it's a challenge but you've got two collections.
Mel: Now look I know when I teach my writing workshops and I set the word limit because we're on it on time restraints. People can't do it. People get starting to write and they think the longer they write the better they are and I say well now you actually have to pull it back I want you beginning the land and I want you conflict I want all those conflict and then they start to get a bit cross because they want to just walk alone and keep writing was I will know we've got to have parameters here and this is with skill starts to come in doesn't it.
Renee: Definitely challenging. I'm lucky though that I tend to underwrite more than overwrite with my novels so it's a little bit easier for me to keep it concise I don't waffle when I'm talking but I don't feel quite as much good at writing.
Mel: You have novel out as well there are two collections. One's called Wife Mother Woman as well we've got a Swinging Through Life but we don't want it to move on to today. This is of interest to a lot of this is you know write your own audio don't you.
Renee: Yeah. So I've done that so far from my self-published titles. So the two flash fiction collections you mentioned there. I've also got a perma-free short story that I wrote for originally for the Romance Writers of Australia. One of the little gems competitions and it just missed out on getting into the anthology so I thought beauty I'll just publish that and I've done an audio version of that too. And I've also done audio version of my How to Make an Audiobook book because I figured well I might as well have an audio of that too.
Mel: I've had some fun researching here in preparation for my chat with you Rene and I found the book on how to write.
Mel: Then I found the workbook which is really interesting because it was how you mark up the manuscript and we're going to talk about that further and a few different things that you don't think of. You know documenting your technical record you know all these things that you think oh you just sit down and you talk but of course it's not that easy. And then you've put out this whole course now going to mention everybody this course is forty-nine dollars it would have to be the best value simply because you're talking about your own experiences and you're talking about the problems you had and then there was a riot.
Renee: There was a lovely expression there that made me laugh because it was all your stuff ups as well or something like that which you heard some of just then and as you can tell that's what happens when you sit down to record it doesn't come out perfectly. There's lots of editing and lots of other behind the scenes stuff that goes into a finished product.
Mel: When Sam does my podcast she spends an awful lot of time taking out ums and she says Mummy or your words run into each other. And it's hard to get rid of them. You know it's when you are reading your short story you'd stumble you'd stop and then you just repeat and keep going because you can edit all that out.
Renee: I would often do it often either leave a larger gap or I'd make a silly noise which helps with the frustration when you've made the same mistake four times in a row.
Mel: You go you make a silly noise I blow a raspberry and they show up really well on the audio files when you need to cut things out.
Renee: Yeah. And just for people who don't know anything about the equipment we'll talk about that in a minute. When you look at the audio it gives little vertical lines up and down and when you speak normally the vertical lines on up and down very much but when these forces it breaks and when there's loud noises it jumps really high and Semmelweis gets me to give a clap so that when she goes in she can go in and fix it two o'clock and snap your fingers or something it's like that like a if you haven't seen it if you can imagine a heart rate monitor with the bits that go up and down when your heart beats it's that kind of thing you know that you say on your screen we're recording an audio podcast here everyone and we're both during your fingers up and down kind of crazy women are we.
Mel: Let's start at the beginning. Equipment, okay people weren't in the right or people weren't podcast or people won't do any kind of audio because they're worried about equipment but it's not that hard is it.
Renee: No. I was a little bit worried about upfront costs and that sort of thing. So a budget was a consideration when I looked into it. I spent quite a lot of time researching before I got started. So all up so far I've spent about one hundred and sixty dollars and that was on the microphone and that's all I've had to pay for. I decided that I needed a decent microphone. But if you're just getting started you can do a practice run and try it out just with the headphones that come with your phone they've got a little mark built in and you can try it and see if you like doing it if you can handle doing the process if it's something you want to do have a listen back and if you do like it then go out and invest in a decent microphone. I wouldn't recommend using your phone headphones to do the final but it's a good way just to try out the process before you commit to lots of hours and a microphone that you probably won't use for anything else unless you do podcasting and microphones were a very interesting topic of conversation you can google them and you will get all kinds of advice.
Mel: I took my roadie Mike off my camera and I've been using that now for nearly three years then it now got specialist podcasting microphones which I didn't have then but very similar to my shotgun camera mike. Yeah.
Renee: Yep I've got a road. NTSB Mark. That's the one I picked up I picked it up atJ.B. Hi-Fi. They had a few different microphones that would do the job but this is one that I had heard of before and I hadn't actually planned to buy a microphone when I went in I'd gone in because my laptop died and I needed a new laptop but I did a little bit of a wander around the store and ended up coming out with a laptop and a computer like computer laptop and a microphone as well.
Mel: Yeah there's so many cool things out there and if you listen to me talk to Scott about what is it about Dragon Dictation.
Renee: You know you need a good microphone for everything else as well. And this is some of the things you can use it for. All right. Physical pros and cons of self-narrating now in I think was issue 3 of all the success stories make it seem we had a beautiful lady called Tina Dietz and she talks about how important it is to get in a professional Narrator And I know when Sarah Williamson's win Sarah Weems is just dumb got Nick from McLeod's Daughters who love with to narrate her Brigadier book which is really exciting.
Mel: I had a little listen to the audition too and I'm like oh I could listen to him all day.
Renee: We're romance writers really have fun. There is a time and a place for us to narrate our own stories isn't it.
Renee: Joanna Penn just mentioned that recently on her podcast as well. She's gone into the writing her own book she's just released her own self-narrated flash fiction. Oh short stories as well. And she had a podcast recently with seven reasons why we should narrate our own books. So it is definitely a topic of interest at the moment and a lot of her reasons were around branding and how a voice like even with you male I feel like I've known you for ages because I've been listening to your podcast. I hear your voice I feel like I know you I have I have a connection before we've even met which is a lot stronger than just writing somebodies books. Well when you hear their voice you do connect with the more.
Renee: I think that's really important. That's the number one reason everybody. Personal branding I think a reference in a pen at the bottom of the hour podcast chat today and also that Australian Writers Centre said that you can go in and have a go at writing and writing yourself everyone. But the reason I've gotten Rene on today because I know that you've done it and we can pick your brain because people know like and trust don't they. Once they know like and trust you they're going to go in and get your stuff. You're talking is like writing your own books does help to build that.
Mel: I had a go with Fiona McArthur everyone. She's got a book out on midwifery and she asked me to write that for her. But the trouble is I don't have a nurturing voice. I said you you're the voice that is that nurturing.
Renee: Come on let's get this baby out. VOICE I haven't got that I'm saying can step it up. It didn't quite work for I didn't think it was the right person for that. So it's really interesting you've got to find the right person. And yes everybody we can all have mic.
Mel: When you were reading that flash fiction and that little story you just read swings means you took me straight to a time and a place that that familiar with and that's the secret of engaging your reader isn't it.
Renee: And a lot of the time your voice doesn't match your story because you're writing your own voice. So. For you to read your own story can it all just come across more naturally you'll you'll have your emphasis in the spots that you've planned it. Can Fly really well can work really well. The only thing that can be a bit tricky is if you write the characters with accents and you're not really strong with that. You're better off to not attempt an accent that you can't do properly because you're better off just to do a straight read and read with some enthusiasm or read with the emotion and focus on that rather than trying to give all your characters different sounding voices and do the go for the voice acting if you don't have that experience you don't need to do that for all the stories depends on what your story is you might decide it is better to hire and a writer for it but if it's something that you want to do yourself if you've got that connection with the story if you think that you can do justice to your characters then go for it. Have a go yourself.
Mel: Now this is not an easy job everybody. I don't know about you but I've listened to Stephen Fry narrating the Harry Potter novels time and time and time again and he's really really good. Oh he's amazing.
Renee: I can't do that I don't do that with my stories. But I'll try to give different characters if this characters in the same scene you can differentiate them just with little things with your time. You could speak just a little bit higher you could speak just a little bit slower a bit softer a bit deeper. There's lots of tiny little things you can do with your voice even your posture if you stand up straight out the air will come out a different way from your lungs if you're slumping a little bit it'll be a bit more compressed it'll be tiny little things that can help distinguish your characters without needing to go into over-the-top accents.
Mel: Yeah look I don't put my podcast on YouTube because we discussed how boring it would be just watching you two ladies talk but watching you remind everyone she's glowing and she's moving all around and she's actually been missing. This is one we should have put up on YouTube never mind moving. Moving right along.
Renee: You don't have to be an actor you don't have to be in a voice actor unlike that. You said you could just read and slowly and clearly. And that takes a bit of practice. You talk about we've talked about some of the equipment we've talked about the microphone. The other thing that is really interesting everybody is your sound proofed room. Now it's Rene and I are sitting here and we've got blankets and fittings and all things stuffed around us just to create a sort of a bit of an atmosphere.
Renee: And we did take away that he got and that's the thing is you don't have to have a professional recording studio but you do need to do something you can't have. You can't sit in the bathroom with a Saturday coming off the walls. You'll get a terrible echo. And that actually distances you from your listener. When people listen to audiobooks the majority of the time they have headphones or earbuds in so your voice is right there in their head. And any echo or anything else you can hear they hear it as opposed to playing music out loud through speakers you don't hear that quite as much but audio books are very close. You want your voice to to be close. You don't want your voice echoing off like you're on the other side of the room or you're in a big empty space.
Renee: You want that that close sound so you do need to do something to help soak up all the extra sound that bounces off the walls as you can see me waving around my hands and yes to the open wardrobe I have on one side of me with all my hanging clothes absorbing some sound I've got a pile of pillows on the other sound side of me I've got quilts hung up behind me over things and blankets hang up in front of me over things and this is my this is my half recording studio I don't have the roof on. Sometimes when I'm doing the audio books I would put another blanket over the top and I'd use pegs and PAYGO my blankets together to to make it more of a surround it didn't cost me anything although I am trying to hit hubby up to make me some recording pedals that I can click together for my birthday. I'm like is a carpenter by trade so he's pretty handy like this is what I want for my birthday so. Well look I could if I get that together I'll put some pictures up on Facebook.
Renee: You could just get all the doing. She could stream between like squares of plywood build scripts that is such a fantastic look. I'm getting packing blankets from Bunnings. And putting them up right in. The middle of.
Renee: Some timber frames.
Mel: Yeah. That is such a cool idea. I'll just use my kitchen table and put the chairs up and hang I hang Goonies over that set it on surrounded by Dennis and the other thing is I've got some good lighting but we don't need that for audio narration.
Mel: OK. You're narrating the writing tips. We've covered a bit you've talked a little bit about your voice.
Mel: Is there anything else because I know you've got the work guys you've got to buy the narration haven't the right book but the book is I would say an essential extra because it's got assigning local characteristics keeping track.
Renee: It's just a really good extra tool mostly extra little things you don't think about. And if you're going to record something that's going to take more than one session. Then you need to keep track of what you've been doing you need to remember where you've saved the files on your computer. You need to remember what microphone you've used and what sound settings you've put on the recording. Program. And if you. If you assign different types of speaking to different characters you need to remember what was what. So the majority of that book is pages to write down stuff about each of the characters. I originally just did it as a print copy because I thought well people would just want to buy the print book and write in the print book and within a couple of weeks of that I had a girl email me she's like Wednesday April coming at you doing an e-book.
Renee: I'm like well I am now. So within a couple of days a couple of hours I e-mailed her back and said Here it is it's up on Cobol already it will take a bit to get to Amazon and she turned around about it straight away off Kobo.
Renee: So I haven't done an audio version of that one because I'm like I don't need an audio vision but I might if people start asking for it. Also an audio one as well with the e-book I just gave links to download all the pages that I had. Multiple copies of. And people can then fill them out on their own computer.
Renee: Which is what the younger generation do all the time now is actually speaking disarm and they don't take notes with pen and paper like we used to know that it's all on a computer.
Mel: There is already free on your high said Rene yon website there you can download your free character voices chichi which will get you started straightaway. So I'll do that at the end of this podcast as well.
Renee: It's like an abbreviated version like that. A couple of the pages out of the character voices book and I've expanded on all that in the character voices a book but that's some good ideas to get you started with. It's a lot of those kinds of things thinking about how to make your characters sound different and talking about emotions or the. Speed or the cadence or all those sorts of things. So if you can choose some a couple of attributes for each character and you think about well that's the tall proud character he's. Going to have. Standing up straight and have a clearer voice like this compared to the quiet person or the shy person or think of things like that and when you think of that character you can think of that emotion or that attribute and that can help you give them a different voice.
Mel: This is starting to sound like funny everybody we can be an actors in our own studios.
Renee: We do sound rooms because one of the things I recommend you touched on it earlier and I know when we're talking about voice acting are standing up actually frees up your voice so you've got to stand and you quite often see people who record have hanging mikes and they standing they say I can act out these scenes we have a seat.
Renee: I've just invested in a mock stand so I can stand up. I was I tend to stand for my recording.
Renee: I just had a pile of cardboard boxes on top of each other with my laptop on top of that particular everything to the right height and I'm like No I just need to get a mike stand.
Renee: I've got a mike stand now so I can stand up and it's the little things with your posture. Breathing is quite important when you're narrating because you do need to make sure you keep enough breath to get your whole sentence out especially if you've got descriptive sentences that can often be a little bit longer. So you need to get enough air in to get the sentence out without breaking it up too much or in the wrong place. So standing helps you get that breath down deep into your diaphragm and you. Get the consistent sound out when you're speaking this is really cool.
Mel: Everybody. I'm gonna I'm gonna get a stand up Mike now I'm jealous. But the interesting thing is she found all this out by trial in Iran. Yeah. For forty nine dollars you've got the whole course.
Mel: Which twice now. Well we've been talking I've been trying to find it on your website. It's not listed on the books and that's wonderful.
Renee: I think I've mentioned that somewhere. I haven't got a direct link to it. I haven't been promoting it too much lately. It's on the narrator by the author page. If you look for the book this does mention that there is an online course and there's a link. To click on that page as well.
Mel: I did find it everybody and it is there. And you're not promoting it. Why. Because it looks fantastic. Oh I haven't.
Renee: Had the time to jump into that one too much. I sort of put it out there and then got on with other things. I am running it all through the romance writers of Australia. Later in the year in December I think I'm booked in to do that on the same topic. So there'll be a bit more talk about that one but yeah I might need to make a prominent tab on my website that says online course I could a bit easier to find.
Mel: We think she should everybody because when I had a look at the when I look at your course outline this morning there was something like eight or ten hours worth of material there see and it took you right through from set up through to the actual narration and this is the biggie that scares a lot of people. We're going to talk briefly now before on Renee go about the editing and mastering sides of it.
Renee: Yeah well the online course is a good way to look at that because I actually did some video and a decent screen capture and share all the steps that I go through so I can actually see it on the screen. So if you do prefer that visual prompt and something to actually look at and see what's happening online course is a great way to go through that. But I do cover those topics in the audio book on the e-book and print book as well. The main thing is I use audacity that's the name of the program that I used to record and edit and master. So don't go through that one program. There's a couple of plugins that I use. They can download and install into the program and then there's a second program that I've downloaded to check the audio files to make sure all the mastering and everything that I've done. Is that the correct standard that will be accepted by all the retailers that you want to distribute audio book to. So I've listed all of those and how to use them in the book but what audacity to start with. And that's free you can download that free online. It's an open source software. So it's constantly got little extra bits you can add to it and things like that there's quite a lot that it can do. I don't know how to use all of it. I know how to use the bits that I need to do what I need to do.
Mel: Now a definitely you can get a professional level everyone if you need that as well. And if your if you're serious whether it be about your podcasting or your narration then it's worthwhile getting that professional package it's it's an upgrade it's not that dire but it's what a lot of the music is and everything use and it's what's been recommended to me for the last few years.
Renee: Yeah. And I I thoroughly recommend it. Some sense saying I mean to do my take.
Renee: I always like to start off with the free version of something and see if it works for me. See if I can understand it before I'm ready to pay out some money so I'm assuming other people possibly feeling the same way especially with something bigger new that I haven't tried before. So it's a great one to start with and then as you said you can upgrade and add extra things to it as you figure out what you need and we'll use it.
Mel: And we've also got good ol good ol garage band.
Renee: Yep yep. Some people use that as well. I went with audacity because I found the best online support for that when I was looking for how to use it and what to do the other resources I read about writing audio books and editing a lot of those we using audacity so that I started with that one because I could find all the answers to the questions I had. But yeah if you're more familiar with Garage Band if there's any other audio software that you already understand and use that.
Mel: And you can see how it's so simple and Rene you certainly make it sound simple but it is a little bit terrifying when you start to cut and edit and pull things together and citizens in a few screen sense been trying to teach me to do this stuff for a long time and we write out a list of instructions that's two pages long. You've got to have the little cursory and a little gray space and you've got to do that.
Renee: Aren't you going to drag this from here there and zoom it in so I can find the right spot. My one tip is save the raw audio and call it raw audio.
Renee: And then when you open up to edit it then save hours before you start editing and call it EDIT 1 and then save it as you go because if you make a big mistake and you chop out too much and you delete it you can go back you've still got the raw audio files to go back and take it out.
Renee: And that is that quality that's really good for us. Yep.
Renee: Back everything. I have another go do do practices because no one has to hear the cool.
Renee: This is no exception everyone who has this podcast and all my muffled around bits at the start with stuff that you hide if you go and download the audiobook of swinging through life you'll hear the notes version of Sing Sing Sing.
Renee: I don't fall for every second word.
Mel: Actually we might put that up at the end. I deliberately wanted you to read at the beginning and Rene wanted to send me a nice pretty version I'm going now. I think it's really important that you key here it is raw.
Mel: Yeah. And then learn how to fix it because you know I think they say it takes about six hours of recording to get one hour of finished narration or something like that.
Renee: I didn't quite take that long it depends on what you're doing. But as you could say I stuffed up a few times so the rule the audio the actual recording time I would probably say is maybe double I might spend two hours by the time I set the computer up and read the whole story out. I might take maybe two hours to get one hour of finished audio in the studio recording but then I've got to sit down to the editing. The editing is what takes the longest it's going through and taking out those deep breaths or the sounds or the mouth sounds when God sounds awful. You go through you gotta go and take all those out so you can see those after you've been doing it for a little while you can see on the screen that little baby is probably going to be that sound and you can paste a little bit of clean silence over those so that you still have the right. Pauses between words so your words aren't running in together to keep the pacing working nicely you can adjust the spaces between words if you need to. If you don't run all your words together like I do but between two sentences you can make sure they break up nicely but that would probably take the longest. Is the editing the cutting of the bits you've made mistakes in cutting out the bit where the dog was barking in the other room and you had to rerecord that. You might not have noticed at the time so then you've got to make yourself a note to go back rerecord that sentence and paste it back in and then carry on with the editing because you need to do all your editing first before you do the mastering.
Mel: All right that word mastering.
Mel: Yep that's a scary word. We all know editing that's what we do with our books.
Renee: So if you think of editing in the same way it's where you change your words you make sure you've got the right words in the right place. Mastering is more like formatting when you look at how to make people look pretty and how to put it into the maybe format so people can read it on their Kindle or how to put it in a pub format so people can write it on their Kobo. That's sort of converting the words you've got into the format that people can hear them. So with the mastering that's getting the sound levels right it's making sure that the high sounds aren't too too high pitched or too loud and that the the court the background noise. Is gone away. It's it's altering all those things in the sound file which is a total foreign language to me. I had to go in there and learn that from scratch. So I try to explain that in layman's terms in the. In the book and basically you need to understand a little bit about what's going on so room noise is important. So that's that's the background noise that is going on when you're not saying anything if you're sitting in a silent room and you're not making any noise. You want it to be quiet. That needs to be. Below negative 60 decibels or something like that which is all foreign to me. But I understood it needs to be quiet. You can't be recording in a room with the fridge running in the corner because just that that hum of the refrigerator is enough to make that underlying noise too loud. So the quieter you can get your room to start with then the less you've got to tinker around in the mastering stage. There are things you can do to try to cut those noises out light up but it's much much easier if you can start in a quiet room with a microphone at a good distance from your mouth then it makes everything else so much easier. But yeah there's different filters that you run through using the software that will enhance things and dampen other things and make them more fit within. The requirements.
Mel: Yeah. Now I can tell you I remember when I did the two podcast with Tony Deets and she's a professional voice actor and she does all this stuff for a living. And she said people will send two recordings and expect to fix them.
Renee: But the distributors which we'll talk about quickly will not accept them if they're not have that standard. And she said people are wasting their time unless they get these things right. And that's that critical mass step isn't it. And so reading your book doing you if you can find it. I can't find it this time but it is the morning. It's there. Rene Mike I can put another link on Sydney the link reading the notes. That's I'll also you the direct link to it. Yeah. Because being able to see it visually three videos would be a really good thing I think especially people who haven't used audacity before having a screen of Chinese a really good help distribution. Did you have any trouble getting it up on distributors or you took care of all that before you even put it up with them.
Renee: I went with finding my voices because as I'm living in Australia I don't have direct access to FCX X who distribute to Amazon inaudible and chains. So that's where everybody used to go. That's that was the most popular place that people would go. People in America tend to go to AC X and upload everything through there. But when you. Do that you can choose to be exclusive to them and get a higher royalty. But I didn't want to be exclusive. I like to be white with all my books. I wanted to be white with my audio. I can find a white voices through draft to digital. They started an affiliation with them and that's how I found them and they're fantastic. They send all my books to audible and Amazon anyway. They now have a better deal with our chains than audible ever did. Then I see exhibited and then they've got me out everywhere else. Yeah got my books everywhere you can find audio books your phone you want some of mine. And so Kobo they're out there they're three overdrive they're three people who I think out which is actually my biggest readership at the moment. They pay per borrow. So it's a library by system all over the world. And every time somebody borrows your audio book you might you'd make less than you'd make on a full sale but. Every time they borrow something through that you'll get paid as opposed to other library systems where they pay a little bit more for one copy but then hundreds of people could read it and you won't get paid any extra. So a little sales trick later might be 45 cents I earn for one borrow of swinging through life. But one hundred people from that library could then borrow that book and I would get paid each time.
Mel: And because a lot of folks you can't get through a six and a school billion people I think I don't know if I I'm I learned all the word from reading from hearing it. So I don't know if I'm pronouncing it right but that's one of the one of the places you can get to through find a way. Voices and I did find when I first sent my audio through to find it by voices I thought I'd done everything right. And I'd done all my checks and it all sounded good to me and I sent it through to them and they sent me a note back and said sorry it's not up to scratch. And they sent me a link to the the second program that I now use that will check everything.
Renee: My issues were often like this the sound levels were generally fine but there'd be an issue with the length of silence at the beginning or the end of the track because they've got a set amount that you've got to have between one second and half a second of silence at the beginning of the track. So if you happen to have the tiniest amount of noise in you a little bit of silence it'll say it's it's wrong and they'll reject the file. So the second program I've got to check actually checks the silence at the beginning and the end which I couldn't do within audacity. I hadn't found a way to check that properly within the audacity so I'd run it through a couple of different checks and now I know once it's passed my check. That's the same thing that find a way users to check the files that they're in. So if it's passed at my end it'll pass at their end and I haven't had any trouble since I started doing that.
Mel: Now I've got to tell you Rene you had me absolutely convinced that we could do this and in the last 15 minutes everybody I've given up. It sounds really scary. Yeah but the reality is it's not scary.
Renee: And I think it's just it's just taking the time to work through the steps. It sounds scary when I'm trying to explain it here. But if you have the if you have the book down in front of you which I had to then go and open on my phone last when I recorded swinging through life I went oh how do I do this.
Renee: Like I did the recording a look I can't remember how to do the editing and what was my process for doing the mastering. I couldn't remember. I had to sit there and get my own book back out and refer to it and work through the steps one at a time. Then it was fine. So.
Renee: I even made my own book to do it. So if you get a book like that if you get a list checklist or something to work through. Take it one step at a time. I would really suggest have a go at writing some flash fiction. Get yourself 500 words. Practice on that. Have a go at that. At the end of that you'll have an MP 3 file. That you can give away the newsletter subscribers you don't have to sell it you don't have to do anything with it if you decide no. This is not for me. You've still got something at the end that you can do something with. So give it a go give it a go. You don't have to commit to a novel. I haven't been game to take on a novel yet but I'm planning on thinking about thinking about having got the novel I've actually the audio right. So with my publisher at the moment but if they're not planning to do something soon I won't have a chat to them and say well maybe I'll type the audio rights back in.
Mel: Let's do this thing. Please everybody don't give away your rights it's drivel. And so many of our waters are running into this problem. Listen to join a pen. Do not give you rights it's my feet my feet.
Renee: When I signed that deal to start with it was before finding my voice as was an existence there was no way for me to get into audio and I had no intentions of narrating it myself because I hate the sound of my own voice like we all do. So I thought I would I would sign the rights to somebody who might do something with it but it just hasn't eventuated yet. So I've decided well actually. Everybody hates the sound of their own voice is nothing wrong with the sound of my voice. I'll have a go and I've put myself out there and it's amazing how many comments I've got about how people enjoy listening to me. They liked my voice they liked the narration I got another review went up on Amazon in the last 24 hours since I stole my amazon review last fall swinging through life with somebody who said I love listening to my voice they enjoyed the stories I was reading those revealed to me. Oh. Maybe. Maybe I don't sound like I think I do.
Mel: I was reading those reviews this morning and they were. This might be one book everybody that we don't buy in a book that we actually buy in print.
Renee: No it's not very expensive. I recommend the work book as well. I thoroughly recommend the 49 dollar course. If you're starting out from the beginning but the book may get like some of us who are a little bit more used with the techie stuff might might get by with the book. Yeah. Rene thank you very very much for your generosity. There's so much here that we could talk about I've got another list of things because you started to start writing fiction of free H week online course through open university which is something as well. But we're totally totally out of time. Thank you for narrated by the author. It's something that I'm very interested in and I know a lot of us are interested in and getting our books out there and going wide draft digital. Absolutely wonderful find a way voices though I'll do it for you. They'll record everything for you. There is a cost involved. Yeah. For those of us who are driving along in the car and just want to listen to some of these fantastic stories I'm swinging through life and why wouldn't we all. Rene sitting here everybody she's just glowing She's vivacious SHE'S GOT THE WONDERFUL VOICE She's got great storytelling voice why wouldn't we want to listen to view of the Tullamarine stories.