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Recording studio, microphone

Recording an audiobook in the closet!

Recording studio, microphone“The sweat glistened through the white clay painted on their …… ‘Bah-gawk’!

A few seconds silence….. I repeated the phrase and continued the narration. I was busy recording my book, Hippos, Hotspots, and Homelands for Audible on Amazon. Whenever I stumbled or made an error, I had to make a noise that would easily show up on the screen when looking at the soundwaves.

laptopWe decided that I should not tap the microphone but make a high-pitched sound. After trying to ‘peek’ and ‘squeak’ in different ways, we settled on me imitating the sound of a hen. My daughter, Eugenie, teased me that the recording at first probably sounded like being in a farmyard!

A few months ago, my friend, Julie, suggested that we produce the audiobook. She was in the process of setting up Juliet’s Clustered Closet (JCC) Recording Studio. In the past, she had recorded her songs. Look for Juliet O’Day on YouTube. Here are links to two of her songs. e.g., Walk Away and Babe

It has been quite a learning curve and fun but a taxing experience demanding many hours, retakes, google searches, and video training. I even coughed up $280 for a training course on producing an audiobook. Submitting something for ACX is not just a question of recording and uploading. Each chapter is individually screened and then reported back on. Julie was a star, mastering a new program, Audible, and cracking the code for successful submissions.

Audiobook cover, Hippos, Hotspots, and Homelands, Memoir
Audiobook cover of Hippos, Hotspots, and Homelands

A whole new world opened up to me, learning about dB RMS and dB peak values, noise floor and CBR (Constant Bit Rate), and kHz. It was like learning a different language: reading tracks, waveforms, slice points, and so much more. Microphones could have Wind Muffs or Dead Cat Mic Covers. My daughters assisted: Genie, giving me some excellent technical advice, while Georgina reconfigured her cover design into a square for audiobook production.

Juliet's Closeted Closet Recordings
Closet recording studio

Julie put her life on hold, stacked her closet shelves with pillows, blankets, clothes, and even a tall surfboard to make it soundproof for the recording sessions. She set up the microphone, complete with muffler at precisely the correct distance, and perched me on a highchair. I could read the chapters from my laptop balanced on a music stand.

We had to remember to silence our phones and laptops and switch off the air conditioner. Julie asked her neighbors upstairs if they could avoid using their electrical appliances, especially the washing machine, while we were recording. Sometimes, we had to wait for a lull between outside disturbances, e.g., a dog howling like a wolf or a lawnmower. Other sounds we had to deal with were the elevator going up and down nearby, my tummy growling, heavy breathing, breath intake, a sudden swallow or sniff.

We had to submit each chapter, one at a time, to ACX for approval. Boy, their standards are high! Once Julie got the procedure right, it was plain sailing, and we got it taped. Finally, the big moment came, and we could submit the book for approval. YEAH! One small spacing error had to be corrected, and we were good to go. We are now waiting for the final publication approval, which could take up to 2 weeks.

In the meantime, it was time to celebrate with a steak at the Outback Steakhouse, a Smoked Cinnamon Pecan Old-fashioned cocktail for Julie, and a glass of red wine for me. I have suddenly become a red wine fan – it must be the cold weather up to now.

Today, however, it was sunshine, hot tub, and coffee while we reflected on all the hard work. I look forward to sharing even more positive news soon!