Audiobook Prep Tips

I just wrapped up the most complex audiobook I’ve ever narrated. But then again, it was the 5th book I’ve ever narrated and 2 of those were romance novels, 1 a non-fiction on Alzheimers and 1 a kids book. I felt like I went from 0 to 60 on this book. It is set on a made up island, with a made up language, included a screenplay, a jingle, French phrases, British accents and a bunch of different characters. Oh AND I split the book with another narrator, so we had to coordinate on voices for the characters. 

It was a challenge but I learned SO much. I wanted to share what I learned and audiobook prep tips that I will forever use. 
TIP #1: Before you begin to read the book, create an excel spreadsheet.  
– ONE SHEET for PRONUNCIATIONS
 – ONE SHEET for CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS

*Side note, my co-narrator just keeps her notes in a notebook. If you prefer to write it down you can but I wanted to be able to put everything for this book in one folder on my computer and easily be able to delete/update things. 
TIP # 2: For your PRONUNCIATION SHEET, create these headings over separate columns: 
– Page Number 
– Word
– Pronunciation
TIP #3: Highlight the words that are specific to the book/pronunciations ONLY the author can give. That way you can copy and paste those to send to the audiobook producer/directly to the author.  
TIP #4: Once you’ve read the book all the way through, look up the pronunciations for the rest of the words and write them out phonetically under the “pronunciation” heading.  
TIP #5: For your CHARACTER SHEET, create these headings over separate columns:
– Character Name
– Page they FIRST appear
– Vocal Description 
– Description (walk, hair, character traits, etc)
– Questions for the author

As soon as you are first introduced to a character, fill in their name (if there needs to be a pronunciation guide for the name, write that beside it) and the page number they first appear. Now as you read more of the book, add in any clues given for the vocal description (if any). For the book I did, there was one character that had a British accent but we didn’t find that out until towards the end and it was such a quick mention, you would’ve missed it. The “Vocal Description” section will also be used by you once you finish reading the book to figure out how you want to do their voice. 

Under “description” just fill in any type of interesting information you discover about the character throughout the book that may be helpful. This could be “upper class” “scientist” “methodical” “plain looking” etc. 

Then use the column “questions for the author” if you come across anything you’re confused about. For instance, in my book, the boy with the British accent’s mother was part of the book but there was never mention of her with a British accent and she had always lived on this made up island. So, I asked the author if she was supposed to have a British accent. 
TIP #6: Create an audio reference for each character
Once you’ve figured out all the characters and know what type of voice you’ll give them, record just 1-2 sentences of that voice and save on separate files to your computer. Pull the book manuscript, the character sheet, pronunciation sheet and audio references into one folder on your computer. I put them in a folder on my desktop. Having those character references while you’re narrating is really helpful keeping things consistent AND can be especially helpful if you’re narrating with someone else. 

Now, this may be easier to actually do on PAPER, if you’re recording from your home studio (depending on your set-up) but I recorded mine at ListenUp so I just brought my laptop and set it beside the iPad I was using to read. 

If you’re interested in Audiobooks, check out ListenUp in Atlanta.¬†

ACX is another place where you can audition for audiobooks 

Hope this helps for your next audiobook!

-Mike and Heidi

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