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Audio Book Publishing - The Author as Reader

Posted by Brittany Lavin on Fri, Dec 10, 2010 @ 03:38 PM

by Dave Giorgio

describe the imageI often receive questions from authors who wish to narrate their own books. Some of the questions are along the lines of "can I be the reader, can I record it at home, can I record it at a 'professional' studio nearby?" etc.

There is a technically correct answer, and a practical answer. They don't always quite match.

Technically speaking, sure. An author can theoretically record themselves at home or elsewhere. But this raises more concerns and questions.


Does the author have a dialect that will distract from the listening experience? Does the author's voice have sibiliance or other audibility problems that will only be detected once put in front of a quality microphone? Does the author have a voice that records well?

Sometimes, the only way to know these answers is to do a sample recording. In most cases, regardless of the author's background; be it as an actor, radio person, or public speaker, the truth is that most authors don't have the best voice for recording. In many cases, aspects of their sound or delivery can attribute an annoying quality to the recording.

In the book publishing world, we have always placed the greatest weight on the words. As it should be. It is therefore easy to forget that audio books are a sonic, audible format. They are listened to, not read. We sometimes forget this, and in the process, overlook some of the most obvious aspects of these books.

The sound quality.
The listening experience.
How it sounds to the ear. How it impacts the listener.

Perhaps the biggest question to ask is this: Does the book deserve the highest quality voice available? Assuming the writing is great, will the audio quality, i.e. the reader choice and recording process, match the greatness of the written word?

Now, I've recorded my share of authors. Most are ineffective. However, one stands out as being just terrific. Dr. Victoria Zdrok.

Her book is The Anatomy of Pleasure. What a smooth and silky voice she has. Incredibly appropriate for the material, and infinitely produceable in the studio. She is definitely the exception to the rule. She is such a natural talent that she could add being a professional voice talent to her incredibly vast resume, which includes a doctorate in clinical psychology, a degree inlaw, and of course being a celebrity. She was a gem in my recording studio.

I find that if we respect the book, the written word, we will never be hesitant to ask, "Does this serve the book best?"

If we always balance our decisions against that criteria, with objectivity, clarity, and selflessness, we'll always be on the path to success.

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Photo by: dh130i

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