Ahem. [tap, tap] Is This Thing On? [breath]

As if the list of things writers must do, other than actually write, wasn’t long enough, now I understand we need to make our work available in audio form. I won’t go into why so many people prefer to hear a book rather than read it. Their reasoning is sound, I’m sure. No pun intended. And the market for audiobooks is growing at a prodigious rate.

The prospect of having audio versions of my books puts me immediately in mind of the folks who listened–by the millions–to live radio shows. TV put an end to that, but not before making stars out of a load of folks, many of whom went on to lucrative careers in movies and television.

Still, there’s a certain appeal in the idea of having someone with a pleasant voice narrate a tale to keep you awake during otherwise boring or sleep-inducing chores, like driving long distances, or surviving a daily commute, or washing dishes for a few thousand people. Such “distractions” can be invaluable.

Knowing this, and little else about producing my own audiobooks, I dove right into the deep end, purchased a decent microphone, downloaded a program called Audacity, and enlisted the aid of Derek Doepker to put me on the right track and keep me there. Did I feel like the reincarnation of Orson Welles?

Not even a little bit.

I found the whole thing intimidating. There was a lot to learn, but mostly how to make Audacity work for me. I’m happy to report that I’ve made some progress. (A great deal of volunteer effort has gone into the development of this amazing shareware program, and the producers need support. So, if you’re thinking of doing some recording with this superb application, please make a donation to help maintain it.)

Many of those old radio programs I’d been thinking of featured multiple performers and extensive technical support. As a one-man show, I had to make do with a less than sophisticated setup. Turning my work area into a studio required the use of a patio umbrella which I spread over my desk and draped with a blanket. Not exactly world-class, but it would do the trick.

Having a place to record wasn’t enough, however. I had to convince myself that my voice was worth listening to. James Earl Jones, I ain’t. Darn few everyday humans have a voice of that quality. I had hoped there would be a way for Audacity to convert my tenor into a more pleasing bass, but so far that magic bullet remains hidden.

Fortunately, I’ve had some experience with “dramatic” reading. It’s a technique I urge my writing students to adopt. Reading their work out loud, and hamming it up as they go, forces them to slow down their mental processes and actually see every word on the page. Reading silently allows their brains to hide the booboos. I’m often asked to read out loud for them, thus giving me ample opportunity to play the role of audio performer.

As a complete newbie in the recording business, I opted to start out small. My first project was a short story rather than a novel. The piece I chose is entitled “Attitude Adjustments” and runs for just under 32 minutes. It’s a tale I posted on this blog last year under a different title: “The Crone and the Crown.” (It may not be suitable for young listeners.)

I’m presenting the story again, only this time in audio. While it isn’t a holiday story, I think you’ll find it entertaining.

If you listen to it, please do me a favor and let me know what you think, both of the story and the sound quality. Any suggestions for improvement you may have will be sincerely appreciated. Just know that I feel a bit like the guy who strapped homemade wings on his back and prepared to leap from a cliff. [Gulp] I’m praying for a happy landing.

Please consider this tale as my Christmas gift to you. Thanks for dropping by!

–Josh

About joshlangston

Grateful and well-loved husband, happy grandparent, novelist, editor, and teacher. My life plate is full, and I couldn't be happier. Anything else I might add would be anticlimactic. Cheers!
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9 Responses to Ahem. [tap, tap] Is This Thing On? [breath]

  1. sonyabravermanaolcom says:

    Most excellent!

  2. Betty Smith says:

    I wasn’t able to open a download; however, this link worked perfectly. Your story had all the features of a gruesome fairy tale. The wicked queen in Snow White could not have done a better job. And listening was a pleasure. You, dear friend, have the beginning of a new career. How much would you charge to read others’ works?

    • joshlangston says:

      I have no idea what I might charge. The going rate is $500 to $1000, but I suspect that has a great deal to do with a project’s length. Once I’ve got a couple of my own books done, I’ll give some thought to hiring myself out. [smile] Thanks for taking the time to listen!

  3. Susanne says:

    Will report back after I’ve listened but would like to comment on the growth of audio books. My 20-something daughters are all podcast listeners which I find hilarious as, like you, it reminds me of early radio days. Of the three, the oldest at 26, is still a traditional book reader. The youngest scarcely reads books at all (I weep) and the middle daughter reads solely on-line. Its a changing world and kudos to you for continually adapting to the market. Your energy is inspiring!

    • Susanne says:

      I listened last night as I wrapped presents occasionally taping my fingers to the gifts as I giggled. I thought the sound quality was fine. Nothing distracted me from the story and I listened right to the end with the entertaining twist. Onward!

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