Interview Q&A with Lee Pritchard, MediaMusicNow
Since having our first AudioBook – The Siege of Scarn – published and with another one about to be released, we have had a number of enquiries from authors about making their books into AudioBooks.
So who better to ask than the man who produces our AudioBooks, Lee Pritchard of MediaMusicNow.
We put to Lee some of the questions we have been asked about AudioBooks and here is what he had to say.
Our thanks to Lee for his time.
What’s involved in the production?
Audio Book production involves working with reliable and professional voiceovers to get a good raw recording of a book. As an audio producer it is vital for us to get a good clean recording so that we can produce the best edit and production.
Once the voiceover has recorded the raw audio, we edit it by first removing any breaths that can be heard, any clicks, pops and intrusive saliva noises (yuk!). At this stage, it is also good to reduce or increase gaps where necessary to alter the flow and pace of the book. It is quite usual to have to tighten the flow by removing fractions of time in between sentences, paragraphs and even words. As humans, we seem to be able to listen faster than we read.
Once the raw files have been edited, the production process involves EQ’ing, which alters the tonal balance of the audio so that it is clear. In some cases, the EQ’ing process can add additional power to the narration.
Additionally, a good audio producer should use a variety of processing techniques to balance out the audio volume, known as compression, gating and limiting. This processing makes the quiet sections of the book louder and blends the loud bits to make them quieter. The overall effect is to create a balanced and rounded sound.
Although audio editing software is widely available, using the correct speakers and working in a suitable listening environment is very important. Good audio production is a skill of judgment that can take years to perfect.
Who supplies the reader/voiceover and how is that managed?
Media Music Now has a number of reliable voiceovers to record audio books, however, if the client has a specific voice style in mind, we are open to sourcing new voices to suit their requirements.
Any new voiceovers are interviewed and required to provide a custom demo before I consider working with them. Audio books are long projects and you need the right people involved in order to achieve successful results.
Can I read my own book?
If you feel strongly about reading your own book, then yes you can, but, I would probably advise against reading a large book yourself as this can easily run into many days / weeks of recording. It is usually more feasible to record your own book if it is short or a section from your book such as an introduction from the author. We do have a location recording service, so we can record you if you are local to the Northwest region of the UK.
However, a professional voiceover will always do a better job as they are accustomed to the techniques required for long narrations. Also, a good voiceover will have developed their own reading style and microphone technique that can take years of practice.
How much will it cost for the production and how do you cost it / what’s included and who pays the reader?
The production cost can vary considerably depending on the size of the book and the experience and profile of the reader recording it. For example, a newly professional voiceover will cost significantly less than a well-known actor.
A second consideration is the cost of editing and production. If you want a cheaper product you could skimp on the editing, however, a fully edited and produced audio book will sound far superior in comparison.
At Media Music Now, we only take on projects where a high standard of production is required. We keep prices competitive and the quality high by working with voiceovers who have their own recording studio and use our own private studio to do the editing and production. This maximizes the productivity as we can be editing part of the book while the voiceover is recording the next section.
As a ballpark, our production costs range from £500 – £800 per produced hour of audio book. We produce a detailed quote with a breakdown of the costs and staged payments upon deliverables. This includes payment of all music licenses, the voiceover and project managing the production schedule.
How involved can I be as the author?
It is your book, you can be as involved as much as you like. If you want to make suggestions, we are happy to listen and see what we can do. We actually value your feedback and request that you proof listen to the book to make sure you are happy with the result. If there are any problems we are happy to sort them out for you.
Who owns the copyright (Producer/reader/author)?
Everyone owns part of the copyright. For example, when music is used in the introduction of chapters this will be licensed to the client and can be used in the product even though the composer of the music still owns the copyright(s).
It is the same with all aspects of the production, even though the individuals concerned have all expressed permission (in the form of a license) for their content to be used i.e. music, voiceover, manuscript, the copyright still remains with them.
How long will my AudioBook be?
This is difficult to calculate as it depends on the number of words and the speed of the produced narration. We have calculators to estimate this, but it is only an approximation. If necessary, we can produce a tighter edit to fit into a specified duration.
How long does it take to produce?
Depending on workload and book size this can vary from a few weeks to a few months.
What format will I receive it in / how do I receive it?
We produce it as a 32bit audio file and can produce it as high as 96bit, however, there are no commercial CD players that can achieve this level of quality and therefore we downgrade the audio to CD quality (16bit). Additionally, we can produce it into numerous other formats such as mp3 for personal audio players or CD audio for CD duplication.
Your audio can be sent to you on Audio CD or CD/DVD ROM or as a download using our file transfer service.
Will I be able to sell a download from my website?
Yes, you will be able to sell your audio book as a download from your website, however, the technical infrastructure for hosting and selling large audio files is still relatively expensive and you will require the services of a web programmer. As a business that already sells music downloads, we are currently looking into the feasibility of developing an audio book download platform.
What kind of quality can I expect?
Our AudioBook production quality is much higher than many commercially available audio books in the marketplace. I have heard our productions compared to the BBC, which I think is high praise indeed.
Why not decide for yourself
Thanks Lee – if you have any other questions about audiobook production then you can contact Lee by visiting MediaMusicNow.co.uk
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