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  • Writer's pictureSimone Skopek

Audio-recording my own novels - challenging but achievable

Updated: Jul 8, 2023

Author Simone Pertuiset practices audio-recording
Audio-recording is not as easy as it may seem.

In praise of professional voice actors: audio-recording my own novels, it turns out, is easier said than done.

What author wouldn't cherish having their novel brought to life by a professional voice actor, who can breathe life into characters through their voice.

Failing that, it's also occurred to me that perhaps I could learn to do it myself. Wouldn't it be fun to produce perfect narrations that sound just as I imagine them as I put the words on paper.

Easier said than done! One thing I quickly realized is that reading for hours without straining the vocal cords requires stamina, and seamlessly adapting to diverse roles demands considerable skill.

Thankfully, there are numerous exceptional YouTube tutorials on breath-work and voice training that I've been exploring and experimenting with. I can already perceive the difference these resources can make with enough dedicated practice. Among my favorites is a 10-minute demonstration of voice warm-up exercises by Jeanette Nelson from the National Theatre School, encompassing breathing, projection, tongue twisters, and more.

I thought the greatest challenge for me would be the recording and editing technology. I found GarageBand to be a good way to get started.

I use the free GarageBand application on my Mac to record and edit. I was told would be easy; however, I'd never even connected a mike before and I was so completely bewildered by all the sound control knobs and sliders, that at first, I didn't want to touch anything.

I soon learned though that GarageBand offers a choice of templates from their voice library - for example, a telephone voice, or a voice that sounds as if you were shut up in a box - or an alien voice, or just a plain "narration voice".

Each voice template already comprises the basic combination of sound processing settings that you would otherwise have to do manually. There are a lot of tutorials, on setting up and tweaking including the very helpful Garageband setup for ACX or Audio Book Narration (8 minutes)

Of course, the most effective method of mastering new software is to experiment with it, embrace the challenges and refuse to be disheartened by initial setbacks. After immersing myself in countless YouTube instruction videos—ranging from incredibly helpful to far beyond my novice level—I've come to recognize the extent of my ongoing learning journey. However, in comparison to my initial foray, I'm gradually gaining a comprehensive understanding of how it all fits together. As a result, the day when I transform my aspirations into reality—audio-recording my own novels—draws nearer.

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