After I received 20 copies of my Createspace book, Super Holly’s Super Bad Hair Day (two short stories and chapter zero of The Comic Book Code) for the Fremont Book Signing, I wanted to add a CD to each book for artwork, ebook files (mobi and pub and PDF), and audio files of me reading each story. I’ve done open mics for years, should be easy, right? Here is what I learned.
Use a quality microphone! I used Blue Nessie, same USB mic that I used for The Malevolent Mystery Meat. I spoke close to the microphone but slightly to one side so my hard consonants did not pop, like a “P” turning into “PUH!!!” (I do not have a pop filter. Maybe I should get one.)
Voice over the top! I do all the voices for all the characters. Holly is my voice while I think like a woman as best I can. Harry Headbutt, my villainous Hulk, is pretty easy: loud and dumb. But when I voiced my barber Lash, the audio file sounded like just plain old me. Lash should stand out, he is a character in real life. So I roughed up my voice and re-recorded those parts.
Audio stories are LONG! As in reading the entire story takes around 45 minutes. There is no way I can read out loud for that long and not flub up a word, or cough, or curse at a barky doggie barking. So I recorded until I made a mistake or needed to stop, about 5 minutes at a time, 10 at the extreme outside. I recorded in Quicktime, and put the clips together in Garage Band, where it is easy to remove the trailing edge of the recording, as in, “And Super Holly punched Harry Headbutt right in the… ARGH! SWEET PEA, STOP BARKING OR I’LL MICROWAVE YOU LIKE A HOT DOG!”
Avoid external noise! I was at my cousin’s home (house/doggie sitting), upstairs, doors and windows closed. It got warm. But I did not plug in my laptop cooling fan. I had to stop at airplanes flying over, leaf blowers, and my cousin’s littlest dog barking (see above advice).
No internal noise! Even with a good mic, you can get buzzing if you do not place the mic in just the right position. That can mean moving around the room, moving the computer, and moving the USB and headphone cables. Monitor yourself by wearing headphones and making sure there is no static. At all. NO BUZZ! I made the mistake of letting some buzz into a few of the recordings; I might have to redo them if I ever send them to Audible.com.
Music makes fun! I added clips from Al Fabrizio album Serenata Italiana (he makes beautiful mandolin music), and from Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com), who makes great royalty free background music. I am often told I am a good performer, but adding the right background music makes an audio story sing.
Use quality CDs! I tries Staples CDs. Ugh, sometimes they would not verify after my computer burned them. I bought Verbatim CDs instead. Worked perfectly.
I have more to learn. And I have to post these audio files (soundcloud, anyone?). Or bits of them. 45 minutes per story is a LOT of blabbing!