APTIPS: Try to think outside the box.

Have you heard about some professional voice actors who successfully turned their hallway closets into completely functional voiceover booths? Yes… it can be done, but it requires quite a bit of structural retrofit. Unless you plan to make a solid living as a narrator, you shouldn’t try to attempt this kind of home improvement project!

I’ve converted a spare bedroom, and the process involved not only buying a literal truckload of specialty materials for doing general construction… I also needed to get permission from the building owner, rip out the entire floor, install a new floor, and hire a contractor to make sure my new VO booth was built to last. I could have built something much simpler, smaller, and cheaper, but I wanted to make sure I could spend multiple hours inside the booth every day, without feeling like I’ve been sealed inside some kind of sarcophagus.

You might think I’m exaggerating, but I can’t overstate how important comfort is, in this line of work. Cramming yourself into a small and poorly-lit enclosure will only complicate things, and possibly even lead to a claustrophobia-induced panic attack!

At this point you might be thinking: “Cool. But what does this have to do with me?”

Well, reading a book out loud might seem like an easy gig to most people, but you’ll find out just how “easy” it actually isn’t, when you’re barely on page eighty-six of your five hundred-page book, and you’re ready to scrap the whole idea of doing an audiobook, because you’re tired of contorting yourself to fit inside the hallway closet. You’re finding it extremely difficult to stay consistent when you’re sweating and cramping-up inside a small enclosure, and you’re stressing out because you know that consistency is a major factor when it comes to producing a decent audiobook.

You want some hard numbers? Okay, smartie. If the average novel is approximately 100,000 words long, then the audiobook version of that novel could easily be around 10 hours long. It could even be longer, if it’s read at a slightly slower tempo, or if there are frequent pauses added to the performance for effect. Let’s not forget that you’ll invariably make mistakes, do alternate takes, and run into pronunciation issues, which could easily double your entire working time inside the booth. Everything you do adds up very quickly when you scale to fit the timeline of an audiobook recording project.

This is why I’m against indie publishers cramming themselves inside a closet, or any other similar confined space. When you’re attempting to do the marathon-run of the VO world (also known as ‘long-form narration’) you’ll always want to give yourself as many advantages as possible.


This is an excerpt from Audiobook Production – A Few Tips for Independent Publishers. Drop by for a new tip every week!

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