A Sound Practice – How I Recorded My Own Book

Sue records a chapter for the bookI’m finally coming up for air. The writing of my book, “Out of the Whirlpool, A Memoir of Remorse and Reconciliation” is done. My web master is flowing it into a PDF in preparation for printing and to get it ready for electronic distribution. I’ve recorded the book myself. At first, I imagined that I’d get a professional to record it. Then friends and colleagues began to encourage me to record it myself. At first it seemed impossible. But then I started working on it, experimenting, trying this method and that, until I finally felt I could do it.

I don’t read braille well enough to have read the manuscript from a braille copy while recording it. How could I do this? I broke up the manuscript so that each phrase was on a line by itself. I tried to make the phrases long enough to make sense but short enough that I could easily remember them. I bought binaural microphones from Core Sound in New Jersey. I used them with my Plextalk Pocket recorder from Freedom Scientific. First I tried using my screen reader, JAWS for Windows, also manufactured by Freedom Scientific, to listen to the manuscript using headphones while speaking each phrase into the recorder. This sort of worked but there was bleedover from the screen reader into the recorder and my breathing also made it into the recording. In an effort to move the microphones further away from the headphones through which I listened to the screen reader I taped long wooden applicators to the glasses and attached the microphones to the ends of the applicators which stuck out several inches from my face. The result was that I looked like some high tech insect with long wooden antennae but the sound of the screen reader could still be heard in the recordings.

Then I hit on another method. I tried starting the recorder and placing it on pause. Then I got the first phrase in my head, un-paused the recorder and spoke it. Then I paused the recorder while I got the next phrase in my head. This was incredibly tedious but the result was a much cleaner recording.

I had already gotten forty chapters recorded before I hit on this new way of doing it. But the new way was so much better that I happily started all over again. The recordings are being professionally edited but I knew they wouldn’t be ready for my advance reader copies, most of which went out during the months of March and April. So I edited them myself. They’re far from perfect but they’re good enough. I copied the files to either a thumb drive or a flash drive for distribution to my advance readers who preferred spoken word to electronic text.

What’s this about advance readers you ask? At the advice of my editor I selected individuals to receive an advance copy of the manuscript. The advance readers are family members, friends, and colleagues. I also chose individuals associated with places and other entities that appear in the book. There’s a lot in the book about places such as the Seeing Eye, Freedom Scientific, and the National Park Service. I want to make sure I get all of the writing about these entities correct. Already I’ve taken feedback from three advance readers who have finished the book and incorporated it into the manuscript.

Jim shot a video of me recording a paragraph from the first chapter. View the video on YouTube. (See below to listen to the recording made in this video.) By now I’m pretty expert at this recording process but it took a long time to get to this point. Warning: You’ll hear the JAWS for Windows screen reader reading each phrase. If you’ve never heard a screen reader, or even if you have, you might wonder how I could understand a word of what it’s saying. The speech rate is pretty fast. This is just how I listen to JAWS, all the time. As I edited out the mistakes in the recordings I saved some of the more spectacular bloopers, see below.

The book is scheduled to be available for purchase and shipping on Memorial Day. Then we’ll do some publicity and promotion leading up to an official publication date, July 4th.

This has been an amazing journey. It’s taken a ton of patience and perseverance, every bit of which has been worth the effort. My husband, Jim, and I have listened to the recording together. Familiar as I am with it, I was still moved to tears at times. One advance reader has already called it a “Triumph.” That’s how I feel too. Yes, there is tragedy and adversity, but in the end, the book is a triumph.

I’m looking forward to sharing my creation with you!

Recording from the video (transcript):




 

Bloopers:




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16 Responses to A Sound Practice – How I Recorded My Own Book

  1. Caroline May 6, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    Wow! What a process! I assume the July 4th publishing date isn’t coincidence?

    • smartin May 6, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

      Yeah, it was quite the process. Jim joked that there were very few “sue sightings” while I was working on it. And no, July 4th for publication date is no coincidence, in all sorts of ways. Smile.

  2. Jake May 16, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    Wow, sounds like quite the task! I’m looking forward to reading your book!

  3. DP Lyons May 19, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    What a fascinating process. You must have been bursting with pride when the process was complete? The gag reel had me laughing out loud. Thanks for a great post. dp

  4. smartin May 19, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    Thanks Deon. Yeah, it gives me huge satisfaction for all of this book to be in my own voice. All that’s left now is to describe the artwork at the beginning of each part of the book.

  5. Rachel Z Cornell May 26, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

    blablablablabla….Hahahaha….LOVE that you shared the bloopers. Big smile! You have a wonderful reading voice. I plan on listening to your book on release day!

    • smartin May 26, 2013 at 4:22 pm #

      Thanks Rachel. blablablablabla? Thanks, I never could quite figure out how to spell that! Grin.

  6. Pris May 27, 2013 at 6:34 am #

    Sue–wow!!! thanks for sharing this process! I can hardly wait to get your recording of Chapter 26 onto VisionAware! It is going live in June.

  7. smartin May 27, 2013 at 7:17 am #

    Thanks so much Pris. I love Chapter 26. I’ll never forget those two men and what I learned from them. Thanks so much for allowing me to share it on Vision Aware.

  8. Joe May 30, 2013 at 7:28 am #

    Congratulations! That took passion, patience and commitment. my first book was released in December 2012. It is currently available in print and as an Ebook. I have been pondering the issue of an audio book and would like to read it myself. Your determination inspires me toward that end. I hope you will visit my website and enjoy it. http://www.joeleah.com

    Blessings,

    Joe

    • smartin June 25, 2013 at 10:15 am #

      Hi Joe, Thanks so much for the link to your website. It looks great. Checking it out and bookmarking it!

      • Joe June 25, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

        Hi again Sue, from what I see so far, your book is quite a journey! I have my blog up now, so feel free to drop by any time. You may include a link to your blog, too.
        Blessings,
        Joe

  9. smartin May 30, 2013 at 8:09 am #

    Cool, thanks Joe. I will check out your web site and your book.

  10. Amanda June 27, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

    I am looking forward to your book but one question, will there be a title change since there is already a book with that title? Where will the book be available?

  11. smartin June 27, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

    Hi Amanda, I’m not aware of another book with the same title as mine. I imagine there might be one titled, “Out of the Whirlpool,” but I can’t imagine one titled, “Out of the Whirlpool, a memoir of remorse and reconciliation!” If ya find one, let me know. The plan is to have the book available for purchase from my website, paperbook, electronic text, and spoken word audio. It will also be available as electronic text for Kindle, Nook, and iOS. Obviously, all except paperback will be downloads. Thanks for your comment!

  12. Maribel Steel April 26, 2014 at 10:30 am #

    Wow, Sue! I didn’t think it was possible – you are one determined lady…certainly a great victory that will inspire others to follow your lead – I’ve begun to think about converting my stories to audio now you have shown me how it can be done!
    Maribel from Australia

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