So…I had a writing plan for early 2021, and it’s already changed, five days in (it was actually by two days in…). I figured I’d write a little here on the writerly reach for excellence (and possibly masochism).
I’ve just come off recording two audiobooks between October and December 2020. These are the sequels to The Seeds of Dissolution, which I recorded in 2019. Seeds was a decent recording. It gets the job done. I had a few complaints about the sound quality.
You can find it here, if you’re interested (although it may be an updated version if you read this a while after it’s posted).
Then I recorded the next two books, Facets of the Nether and Fall of the Imperium. You can find those below and wherever else you consume audiobooks. What better thing to accompany this thread than listening to the end product!
While recording, I got a better microphone, I learned how to control my breathing and pacing better, and most importantly, I started recording in our walk-in closet with blankets covering the door and window.
(I got a lot of jokes from friends about how I was going back in the closet…)
The resulting audiobooks are MUCH better than the original, so much so that I worried readers listening to The Seeds of Dissolution might be turned off by the sound quality and not want to continue listening to the rest of the series.
Here’s a sample of the difference in quality, with the first chapter of Seeds, and the first chapter of Facets (beware the chapter of Facets has some spoilers for the end of Seeds).
The recording for Seeds is very hollow sounding and there’s a strange echo, because I recorded in a larger room. There are also a lot of incidental sounds, clicks and even a few road noises.
It also took a LOT of effort to get it just to this sound quality. The original was terrible. It took me and my spouse several weeks of constant work editing all the files to clean them up. I don’t regard that as wasted time, because it served its purpose. But I wish I knew then what I know now.
So, fast forward to October 2020, when I started recording Facets of the Nether. It went a lot better, and I improved through recording that book and into Fall of the Imperium.
(Oh yeah, I also have some outtakes, if you want to listen. There could be some minor spoilers in here, but mostly it’s me just tripping over lines.)
I uploaded Facets and Fall primarily to Findaway because of the whole Audiblegate hubbub going on. Basically, Audible isn’t paying authors or narrators if readers return books, even after listening to the book. They’re also pushing for listeners to use the exchange function. The new books will be available on Audible eventually, but I’m no longer exclusive.
At this point, I knew the sound quality in Seeds was bad, but was determined to clean it up a bit and then also upload that one to Findaway.
Reader, it took me seven chapters of editing before I broke. It was taking me almost as much time to clean up the files as it did to originally edit them, and the end product still wasn’t that great.
So, being me, what did I do? I decided to re-record The Seeds of Dissolution. I was already in the groove from the last two books. (This was the big change in my schedule for 2021)
And you know what? I’m about six chapters in now, and it’s actually pretty fun. I think I’m getting better at voices, too.
The raw files are pretty darn clean too, because I’ve spent the last three months improving my recording quality and learning how to edit files much more efficiently.
I can basically record, which takes about 1.5 times the chapter length, then edit, which takes only a little longer than listening to the chapter again.
I get a recording to my new benchmark of satisfaction, get a better recording for readers, and it takes only a little longer than trying to edit the original files.
So the files I upload to Findaway, when I finish, will be much better quality than the files originally uploaded to Audible. I’m going to update those files too, but it will take longer to get them approved.
My schedule for the beginning of 2021 *had been* to start on a new SF trilogy I’ve been looking forward to. But instead, I’m going back to recording. I don’t think it will be wasted time.
To top it off, I have one other book in the Dissolutionverse that I was planning on recording later on, because I was running out of steam.
But now I’m just going to do all four books. You can look forward to Tales of the Dissolutionverse in audio format in a few months!
So what does all this mean, in terms of sticking to a schedule and settling for something that’s not top quality?
As we all progress in the things we want/are paid to do in life, we get better. Sometimes you look back and leave the things that were not so great behind you.
Other times, you get a unique chance to make something better that you were never quite happy with. I’m glad to get this chance to re-record The Seeds of Dissolution with better sound quality and better voice acting.
I hope you will get that chance too at some point. It’s nice to look at something and say “I can do better,” and then have the chance to do exactly that. So I’ll leave you with links, if you want to listen along with my journey as an audiobook narrator!
Facets of the Nether (also available wherever you consume audiobooks)
Fall of the Imperium (also available wherever you consume audiobooks)
If you want to see more behind-the-scenes on how I write books and record audio, check out my Patreon! There are outtakes for each chapter of Facets, and nearly half the full book is posted as well. I’ll likely post some more comparisons of Seeds v1 and Seeds v2, once I get more chapters complete.