Tips to Record your own Audiobook

Today I’ m going to share tips on recording your own audio book. Now lots of sites will tell how to record your audio-book. But as I prepared for my own recording and glanced through them, I found that there was little practical advice about the actual recording.

Voice over recording

Pamela Q. Fernandes at the Cristal Studio

I’m no professional artist. Since last week I’ve begun to voice-over medical lectures for students and I’ve learned so much. I wish somebody had given me these tips before I did mine.  By the time I was done I got very sick. I want to warn and help you as you prepare for yours.

1.Review the material

It’s good to review the material and set a benchmark. These many pages/ slides in these many hours. You may not always finish them exactly as planned but when you have a ballpark in your mind, you’re mentally fixed on a target.

2. Practice

This is a time consuming step. But the more you invest in this, the less errors you’ll make while recording. I wouldn’t suggest reading out aloud, but rather read the text, put slashes where natural pauses occur. Find out correct pronunciations of words. During this practice session you will be able to identify the tongue twisters. Alliterations can be a particular problem. My problem word was “statistical.”

3. Make a voice-over kit

This is a kit you carry to the studio. It must contain warm water in a flask. Because not all studios will warm your water for you. Warm water will soothe your voice. Carry candy in this kit. If your voice suddenly turns scratchy, (and it will if you’re recording for multiple days) candy helps. Carry tissues, lip balm and hair ties. Also carry a meal if recording for more than two hours. This kit can go inside your studio with you. Barring the meal I created a kit so that I didn’t have to get up every time for my things. This kit sat at my feet while I recorded.

4. Eat a good breakfast

I found recording in the mornings to be better even if it was not a very good use of my time. I was fresh and could record far more material in the mornings than evenings. Irrespective of time of day, eat well before you go. Griping sounds are audible and if you don’t eat well, within an hour of recording you will be exhausted and your vocal cords will tire very easily. Be sensible about food, nothing creamy, cheesy, oily or spicy.

4. Don’t record continuously

Every twenty minutes take a break. Your vocal cords need rest. Trust me, I wasn’t told this, but after a couple of days of being pressured to record for over six hours my voice was hoarse and I couldn’t get past five minutes of recording without having to clear my throat. You may think it won’t happen to you, but I implore you, take frequent breaks.

5. Don’t record for more than four hours

Yes, it can be done. But don’t do more than four. Especially if you have a very long book/ work. More than four hours of continuous talking strains your voice and it will start to hurt. If not on the first day then definitely by the fourth which happened in my case.

6. Use electronic instead of paper. 

I prefer using my laptop to read instead of paper. With paper I found myself having to shuffle pages and rustling creates additional sound.

7. If you’ve made a mistake, stop. 

By the end of the first day, I had developed a good rapport with my sound engineer. All I had to do was look across the glass and he would give me the last place where I had to start. Once the engineer has a “feel” for your reading style it will all be smooth sailing. No one is going to punish you for a mistake.

8. Hair

Hair and fidgety movements affect sound. When I realized my hair kept falling in my face I added hair ties to my kit.

9. Lip Balm

I don’t know the scientific reason, but wearing lip balm helped me read better. I think lip balm lubricates the lips. So the lips read smoothly. The ability to enunciate each word is so much easier.  So carry lip balm and replenish as needed.

10. Drink warm water often. 

In fact, if you find yourself making too many errors, then stop. Drink warm water. Your body might be telling you it needs a break. Hydrating your mouth is very helpful. Plus most studios don’t allow air conditioners on while recording, so as to reduce the noise. You may find yourself sweating it out.

11.  Wear loose comfortable clothing. 

Wear something comfortable. You’re going to be recording in the heat for hours.  Wear an open or round neck. Anything constricting your neck will make it harder to read aloud.

12. Trust your sound engineer

My sound engineer could pre-empt when I was tired, my voice needed rest or water. Even if you don’t need it and have been asked to drink water, or have been asked to repeat a sentence, do what your sound engineer tells you. He’s only try to help you deliver the best work possible. You may get mad but drink your water and move on. You have a job to do.

13. Don’t obsesses over the time

It’s very easy when you’re paying a studio hourly, to obsess over how much you got done and how much is left. If you do this you won’t be able to concentrate on what you’re reading.

14. Rest your voice

When you go home, don’t sing or talk too much if you have to go back to record the next day. Mariah Carey does not speak to anyone before a major performance

15. Do some vocal exercises to strengthen the muscles in your larynx.

Take a look at Celine Dion talking about her vocal routine. If you’re planning a really long project, you must work on developing a strong voice. Like any other muscle, those in your throat also need exercise for them to grow stronger.

 

16. Don’t go on marathon recording days. 

I would suggest recording every alternate day. But this is not feasible for most authors.  Everything is done in daily marathon sessions. If that’s the case for you as well, record for four days, then take a one day break, then start again. You will thank me later.

17. Carry a decongestant

At the first sign of your throat clogging up, take a decongestant. If overnight your voice sounds more hoarse see an ENT and tell them you’ve been voice-recording because you most likely will have developed or are in the process of developing an infection. I know this from experience.

After this experience I have come to admire people who do this daily. Not an easy job.

Do you have any additional tips? After a week’s break, I will be heading back to the studio, do you have any more tips on audio recording for this amateur. Let me know.

 

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