Jessica Kaye from Big Happy Family Audiowas this month's speaker at BAIPA. Big Happy Family Audio specializes in "Helping independent audio book publishers secure online download distribution". The company can help small publishers get their audio books sold by big audio book companies like Audible. It is often difficult to get distribution through big companies like Audibles, which make distributors like Big Happy Family Audio ideal of small publishers.
Kaye discussed what goes into producing a great audio book. Professional audio books require editing, directing, good equipment, a good studio, and a professional narrator. She stressed the importance of finding a good audio editor, someone with experience in the business. If you want to narrate the book yourself, Kaye suggests taking at least one acting class. A one-hour, professionally produced show costs about $5000.
According to Kaye, there is a professional audio book standard that exists. Because of all the free audio downloads available, a lower standard has been established, but Kaye recommends publishers seriously pursuing the audio route pursue a professional standard. You can learn more about this at the Audio Publishers Associaion.
Kaye gave examples of things to look out for when producing a professional audio book. Anything that takes the listener out of the story, such a coughing, background noise, page turning, or mis-pronounced words are all things to avoid. She also stressed the importance of finding a professional narrator with a voice that fits the style of your book. Oftentimes, you can interview prospective narrators; you send them a portion of text, and they send you an MP3 clip. A good place to find professional narrators is www.voice123.com.
There are many people out there who don't have $5000, but still want an opportunity to turn your book into an audio book. There were several people in the BAIPA audience who had experience in creating their own audio books for very little upfront costs. There are 3 essentials:
1) SOFTWARE. Audacity is a free, open source software for audio books. For about $50, you can buy Sony's Sound Forge. This software allows you to make tracts, which can be helpful to audio book listeners.
2) MICROPHONE. You can buy a very cheap one at Amazonfor about $25, although BAIPA members in the audience recommended spending a bit more to get better quality. Among those recommended were the Yetti, which costs about $100 and is available at Blue Mic. Also recommended was the purchase of a "pop screen," which dulls sharp "p" sounds that we make when we talk.
3) RECORDING STUDIO aka a walk in closet. The clothing in a walk-in does a great job of muffling all outside noises that might interfere with a good recording.