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Audiobooks – Part 8


This post in its entirety turned out to be quite lengthy so I’m splitting it in two—there will, therefore, be a Part 9 along shortly.

It’s been a while since I wrote about producing audiobooks. Part 7, about mastering the edited track, was posted on 2nd April 2021. Part 6, about editing, was posted on 21st January 2021—this is the process I want to talk a little more about. As usual with these posts, they’re primarily aimed at writers who are considering producing their own audiobooks but don’t know how to go about it.

This is what I said in Part 6:

I am not claiming this to be the only or best way to edit audio using Audacity. On the contrary, it is not even an advisable method because it is massively time-consuming.

If you managed to wade through the rest of that post, you’ll know what I mean when I said my editing method was massively time-consuming. Although I managed to speed up my process a little by importing a second track of ambient room noise, it took me almost a year—a year!—to edit The Beacon, a novel of 104,000 words.

I took a much-needed break from producing audiobooks. When I returned to them, I procrastinated over embarking on the final novel in the Earth Haven trilogy, The Reckoning, since it’s the longest of them at 106,000 words. I couldn’t face taking a year to produce it. Instead, I finished producing the rest of my short stories in audio format.

Then, in mid-November, I couldn’t put it off any longer; it was time to begin recording The Reckoning. But I was mindful of what I’d also said in Part 6:

There must be quicker, more efficient ways of achieving the same outcome.

I needed to find those ways, and sharpish.

A few months back, knowing I’d eventually need to pick the brains of other authors who produce their own audiobooks, I joined a Facebook group: Authors Who Narrate Their Own Audiobooks. (I’m not sure what their policies are on linking to the group so I’m not going to post a link—if you want to find it, typing the group’s name into the search bar in Facebook should take you there.) I’d kept an eye on posts about editing and noticed discussion about a mysterious (to me) editing tool by iZotope called RX 8. It was time I looked into this in greater detail.

Long story short: RX 8 has now been upgraded to the latest version RX 9, and it was the standard version I needed because it contains a useful little tool called ‘Mouth De-click’. At the full price of $400, it was a little too costly for me. However, by first purchasing RX Elements (a basic package that doesn’t include ‘Mouth De-click’) as part of a Black Friday bundle and then waiting for an upgrade offer, I was able to purchase RX 9 for a combined total of $198 plus taxes, a decent saving.

That was the easy part. Next I had to learn how to use the software. RX 9 contains various editing routines, some (maybe all, I’m not sure) of which can be imported into Audacity as plug-ins. After much trial and error, I decided not to go down the plug-in route, but to edit tracks in RX 9 and then import the edited track into Audacity for fine-tuning.

It’s the editing process in RX 9 where the time saving comes in. And how! The chapters of The Reckoning are fairly lengthy and the unedited recordings are typically over 30 minutes long. Due to my deficiencies as a narrator and the limitations of my daughter’s bedroom as a recording studio, they contain a lot of extraneous noise: clicks, breaths, slurps and slapping and other moist mouth sounds (yeah, I know, eww), creaks, rustling, the occasional sound of distant traffic, mysterious little bangs, and so on.

My old process involved removing each sound in Audacity manually, using a combination of Crossfade Clips and Fade In/Fade Out*, and pasting in a short clip of ambient room noise to mask the fades—as set out in Part 6. That part also mentions the time-saving idea of using an entire track of ambient room noise, which I still do and is indeed a great time-saver in itself. That process, even with the Ambience track, was still massively time-consuming. To edit a 36-minute chapter might take me 30 hours or more. You can see why I needed to find a better way.

And I’m glad to say RX 9 is that better way.

In Part 9, I’ll talk a little about my new process. See you then.

* another way to speed up the editing process is to make use of Audacity’s shortcuts. By assigning two keys to each function, I can employ fades from the keyboard without having to use any dropdown menus. This, too, has helped speed up my editing times significantly.

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