The last time I blogged about my forthcoming audiobook of Dad@Home: Fully Domesticated, it was hailed around the world as a hilarious cautionary tale of how NOT to record one. People really seemed to enjoy reading about (and laughing at) my incredible ineptitude. It was one of my most popular posts of 2017. Go figure.
There’s no need to rehash the many things I did wrong, or how I would have done things differently. Let’s just say I’m a complete imbecile who royally screwed it up and leave it at that. Looking back, I feel fortunate that I had the mental and physical fortitude to finish recording it in a cat-pee-scented, claustrophobic, wobbly play structure that doubled as my “very professional recording booth”.
I didn’t actually keep a detailed report of my recording time but if I had to guess, I’d say it took me 20 to 24 hours to lay down just over 4 hours of spoken word. When I finished recording, I gleefully dismantled my dumb booth (which was constantly on the verge of collapsing every day I used it) and felt a huge sense of relief and accomplishment.
The weight of the world was finally off my shoulders, as I was certain that the worst was over and I could now get cracking on the easy part… editing the audio.
Um… yeah. About that “easy” part.
Here’s the thing. It was clear I didn’t really know what the hell I was doing when I was recording the audio, so I have no idea why I assumed it would be so easy to edit that 4 hour and 12 minute jumble of mumbled words into a very professional-sounding recording. Oh yeah, I remember googling “record your own audiobook” and reading about another self-published author who promised me I would really enjoy the editing process. You know what? I actually DID enjoy the editing process… for about five minutes… until it really sunk in how tedious, mind numbing and repetitive the process is.
Again, I’m not keeping meticulous records of my editing time, but I am positive that I have SURPASSED the total hours it took to record it, and I’m only two-thirds finished editing the damn audiobook! I thought the process of manipulating audio files would be relatively simple… I’d just “clean it up”! It’ll be easy; just shorten the odd sentence, adjust the master volume and remove a few breath sounds here and there.
I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE WRONG ABOUT ANYTHING IN MY LIFE (and that’s saying a lot).
To give you an idea of what I’ve been going through these past couple of weeks, here’s a small sampling of what I have been painstakingly editing and CUTTING OUT of my recorded material. So far, over half an hour of crappy, unusable sounds have been axed from my audiobook.
Here’s a list of the Top 10 Most Unacceptable Noises I’ve removed.
- Loud inhaling at the beginning of a sentence.
- Loud exhaling at the end of a sentence.
- Loud breathing in the middle of a sentence that makes me sound exasperated.
- Loud sniffling of my nose throughout the recording.
- Loud throat-clearing every five minutes.
- Loud coughing for no apparent reason.
- Loud tongue-clicks at truly random intervals.
- Loud lip smacking at the worst possible time.
- Loud gulping sounds at the best possible time.
- Loud, extraneous mysterious thumping sounds.
You see, my extensive research taught me that you actually have to KEEP some breath sounds in your audiobook, or risk sounding like a robot! Have you ever heard Siri, Alexa or that bossy lady from Google Home take a breath? I didn’t think so.
Here’s the problem. My stupid my breath sounds are WAY too loud! How loud? Well, imagine you’re watching a TV show or a movie… and some unfortunate soul has just collapsed or has been pulled out of a lake after being found floating face down. You know that loud, gasping sound they make after the hero successfully performs CPR for a couple of minutes? You all know what I’m talking about… that first giant, deep, breathy gulp of air they take after they are miraculously revived from the dead? Yup. That’s how almost ALL of my breaths sound on the unedited recording of my precious audiobook!
Am I exaggerating? Only a little bit.
This has become a very big deal, as I now have to scour my recorded files for that rare breath sound that actually sounds like it came from a normal human being. When I do find one, I squeal with delight and quickly copy it! I then use it for an entire chapter. But, then I get paranoid and start wondering:
“Will people notice that my breath sounds are all the same in any given chapter?”
That’s when I slap myself in the face and yell out loud:
“Dammit Greg! Stop overthinking it!”
I also have been struggling mightily with removing several breathy exhales that I inexplicably placed smack dab in the MIDDLE of a sentence! Why did I do that and why didn’t I notice all of them while I was recording the book and simply do a retake? Why indeed.
And speaking of retakes, some of you eggheads may be thinking to yourself: “Why doesn’t that idiot simply re-record parts of his book instead of spending 35 minutes trying to fix a few seconds of weird bodily sounds that ruined a take?”
I’ll tell you why!
For starters, I would have to recreate the exact recording conditions to ensure a consistent sound throughout the audiobook, and God knows I promised myself I would never go back! I can’t go back! I won’t go back! Never again!
I lived in a stinky, collapsing hellhole on and off for over a month, literally stuck in it for hours at a time, recording the same damn sentence over and over and over again every time an airplane flew overhead, a truck drove by, a dog barked, or my cat snored! The experience shook me to the core and when I finally finished, I said never again! NEVER AGAIN!
So, that’s why I can’t simply restart the recording process. That’s why I am determined to make this work with what I’ve got. That’s why I must make sure the incredible sacrifice I made wasn’t in vain. I’ve been staring at a computer screen daily, taking 60 minutes to edit a measly two-and-a-half page section of my book. If I can survive this, I can survive anything. The good news is, I’ve actually been fairly successful in turning this pile of recorded garbage into a finished product that actually sounds pretty darned good.
I was starting to think that I might be able to pull this off. I was daring to dream that maybe, just maybe… all of my hard work… the 50-plus hours of recording and editing, just might be worth it! Then, the other day, my lovely wife Lianne asked me a simple question after I complained to her for ten minutes about how difficult this project has been since I started it in early November:
“What if you don’t sell any audiobooks?”
I didn’t have a response. I just stared straight ahead for a several seconds as my jaw dropped, my eyes bulged and my stomach churned. Thanks wife. That incredibly disappointing possibility had never crossed my mind… until now. 😦
But, that’s neither here nor there. If you would like to make sure that I won’t suffer the ultimate humiliation of producing an audiobook of Dad@Home: Fully Domesticated, and then not sell a single copy, then please stay tuned. If you help a brother out, I promise it will be a feast for your ears!
If all goes well, my “book on tape” will be available to purchase on audible.ca within a couple of weeks. Wish me luck!