Saturday, 20 December 2014

Why Blogger Stats and Google Analytics Performance Reports Don’t Agree

Ever noticed the moment you create a new blog post, the blog stats jumps into life within the next few hours? A successful blogger may show a blog stat count of over 10,000 visits per month. This may inflate the blogger’s ego. However, Google reports will show a much lower stat count regarding page views. Why do Google reports and Blogger Stats disagree and which should the webmaster believe?

The Trouble with Blogger Stats

Inflated Page Count of Blogger Stats
When I began blogging a few years ago, I found myself checking the blogger stats and was pleased to find I was getting ‘hits’ (page views) almost immediately. For some time, I believed Blogger stats to be a representation of how many people were visiting and reading my blog posts. But I was mistaken.

How to Read Blog Stats on Google

The novice blogger may click on traffic sources to see where these visitors are coming from. Various sites and referring URLs may come up which might be Yahoo, Facebook or Twitter. Others sound exotic and weird such as Vampire or Zombie Stat. And this is where the clue lies when it comes to the inflated figures on Blogger stats.

Avoiding Spam Sites on Blogger

The truth is, Blogger counts everything, whether human, yourself, bot or spam site. This means not every page count shown on blogger stats are human. They might be indexing sites, spiders crawling the web or spam sites. By the way, never click on an odd sounding referring site in curiosity, as some are spam or contain a virus. There is nothing the blogger can do from stopping these sites from crawling your blog. Just keep writing and the better referring sites such as EHow, Bing or the organic Google will start to crop up.

How to Read Analytics on Google Reports

Take a look at Google reports (different to Google analytics which is a function for manually adding a site to count page visits) to get an accurate representation of how many people are actually visiting your site. Creating a blog will automatically configure it within Google reports. From Blogger, click on ‘earnings’ then ‘view dashboard’ then click ‘view reports’. If you have more than one blog or website in Google reports, clicking on ‘sites’ will break down the page visits per site. You can also custom the time period for analysis from the top right of the screen (last month, last week, yesterday etc.)

How to Find Real Page Views of your Blog

The page views shown on Google analytics will be much smaller than on Blogger stats, but at least this shows the cold hard truth. In my case, Google analytics showed I was getting roughly one quarter of the visitors I believed I had on Blogger stats. This is because Google uses cookies to differentiate real visitors from bots and indexing sites.

How to Use Google Analytics to Increase Google Traffic

The best thing a blogger can do to create more page views on his blog is to simply keep writing about what interests him. Take a look at the big picture rather than day to day. I compared my page views between years to see if the trend went up. Custom the time period on the top right of the Google reports screen (I took a look at a twelve month period). You can then see if the number of page views has gone up, down or stayed the same.

Increase Ad Clicks with Visitor Traffic on Google

Overall Trend on Google Reports
Because I had believed Blogger stats page views, I thought my ads were under-performing. How can a blogger get 300 plus page views per day and get few ad clicks? Well, the answer lay in the fact that I simply was not getting the page views I had believed. On average, a blogger will get one or so ad clicks per 100 page views. Well, according to Google reports, I wasn’t getting the page views I had believed, and therefore, would not be getting the clicks either. However, my blog was still getting around one ad click per one hundred (human) page views – the average.

How Blogger Stats are Misleading the Webmaster

The beginner at blogging may believe blogger stats on face value regarding page views, but sadly, is an inflated number count. Blogger stats counts everything, from indexing sites to google bots crawling new pages. Don’t believe blogger stats. Google reports (or analytics for independent webmasters) is a more realistic reflection of how many humans are actually visiting your blog. Take a look at the big picture to find trends. If page views are generally increasing over a few years, your blog is going in the right direction, even if page views were not as high as the blogger had first believed.

More Articles on Blogging

Friday, 19 December 2014

I Hate These Phrases in Novels: Tips for Improving Writing Style

Certain words and phrases have leached into the literary world to provide a crutch for lazy writing, to sound breezy or perhaps modern. Some of these phrases are annoying, others meaningless fillers. This is a shame as the English language provides limitless scope for creative expression. Why not use it to the full? The act of cutting out the expressions listed below will undoubtedly improve the writing style. Use only in dialogue – and even then, sparingly.

Irritating Words and Phrases in Novels

Weak Words in Novels
The following English words and phrases have for some reason infected modern literature. Books littered with the following expressions make me want to use that book as a draught excluder or as a discus. What a pity our bookshops are filled with such expressions. Aren’t publishing houses supposed to pride themselves on fastidious editing?

Irritating Phrases Number 1: Expressions in a Roundabout Way.

These are expressions supposed to form a bridge over something the author cannot express through laziness or an inability. They are vague, insipid and meaningless.

I figured, kind of, sort of, if you know what I mean, it’s kind of like, it’s sort of like, I guess, a bit like, something like.

A writer is supposed to be a wordsmith, otherwise, why write? Not being able to express something in words equates to a singer who cannot sing certain notes or a driver who cannot turn left. This is where the thesaurus comes in. Find an accurate word or sentence to express what the writer is trying to say. Don’t say ‘sort of’ or ‘something like’. ‘I figured’ is one of the worst phrases to come out of modern English and should result in confiscation of all writing equipment.

Irritating Phrases Number 2: I Want to Blow your Mind Away in a Lazy Way.

Awesome (I shudder), I mean, seriously, totally, epic (ugh!), wicked, amazing, that's cool, what a mindbender, blow me away, uber, it was surreal, literally, he’s a legend, ‘way’ this and ‘way’ that (way too big or way too small), ginormous.

Don’t tell the reader how ‘awesome’ it was or that ‘it was surreal’ because most readers will remain unmoved. Cut this hack and describe via any of the five senses what it was like to have something mind blowing to happen to the character.

Irritating Phrases Number 3: The Inane Tone

The tone of the narrator's voice can really grate on the reader. Certain expressions strung together makes me think of a nasally or whiny tone that gets ever more irritating. Such phrases as the following are like fingernails scratching the blackboard.

Go figure, seriously, to be honest, kidder, man up, my bad, rad, well, duh, bootylicious, hot (meaning sexy), holy crap, oh, my, that’s sic, get with the programme, suck it up, drop dead gorgeous, get hitched, go Girl, whatever, quit it.

Any writer who uses, ‘go figure’, ‘my bad’ or ‘duh’ in narrative prose deserves to watch the spontaneous combustion of the page the moment those words form. Expressions such as these are likely to alienate many readers, as the message the writer is seems to convey is that he/she only wants to appeal to a particular readership – the sort that doesn’t mind poor use of the English language.

Irritating Phrases Number 4: Historical Trite

Weak, lazy writing style is nothing new. It has been with us for many years in a multitude of novels and seems to have evolved in style. Once upon a time, expressions such as ‘my bad’ and ‘go figure’ had never existed. But the following expressions have been with us since the dawn of novel writing. So let’s celebrate the vintage of lazy expressions with literary irritants found below.

Starting with old roundabout and meaningless clichés.

To be honest, at the end of the day, in the scheme of things, many believe, at this point of time, obviously, basically, the fact of the matter, a lot think (or feel), it’s really (or it’s just), it is what it is (another shudder).

And now a few drops from the ocean of English clichés.

A piece of cake, dog tired, dead as a doornail, like a kid in a candy store, tip of the iceberg, brass tacks, avoid it like the plague, thick as thieves, nitty gritty, scared to death, tough love, cruel to be kind, a lot on your plate, down in the dumps, stubborn as a mule, no time like the present, still waters run deep, blood boiling, play the devil’s advocate, best foot forward, time flies, the nick of time, old as the hills, rough diamond, frightened to death, fall head over heels, quiet before the storm, nerves of steel, tail between the legs, love at first sight. 

Writers that use these cliches in writing are simply 'singing from the same songbook', if you know what I mean - the songbook of overused phrases.

Improve Novel Writing by Cutting Clichés

Certain words and phrases have crept into many novels which to me seems a lazy manner of expression. Some clichés such as ‘bootylicious, and awesome, have come about recently. Others such as 'best foot forward' and 'nerve of steel' have been around for years. Cutting them will immediately improve the writing style. 

Some clichés are so much part of our language, they can catch out the writer. I have been caught out a few times. But if diligent, the writer can find a new, original or accurate way of expression.

More Tips on Improving Writing Style

Words that should be cut from novel writing
Verbs to avoid in novel writing
Interview your fictional character
Using psychology in fiction writing

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

How to Create an Audio Book for Beginners

The creation of an audio book version of a Kindle book will open out new sales channels to a whole new audience. But how does the self published writer go about creating an audio book? The process of audio book creation is not straightforward but is possible when opening an account with the Audio Book Exchange (ACX).

Beginner’s Guide to Creating Audio Books

Self Publishing Audio Books
You have written a fantastic novel or non-fiction book. You have published it on Kindle, hardback and large print. There is only one other way to go: to publish your book as an audio book. At first, the process of publishing an audio book might seem bewildering, but is possible if following each step carefully.

Finding a Sound Producer for Talking Books 

The first thing the writer will need to do is open an account with ACX. Standing for Audio Book Creation Exchange, this is Amazon’s website for authors, voice artists and producers in audiobooks. Books created on ACX will go on to be sold on Amazon, and Itunes. The author may make arrangements to create an audio version of his book once claiming the rights to his books (referred to on ACX as the 'right’s holder').

At present, only audio book creators from the US and UK may open an account on ACX, but this is bound to change in future years. Non US residents will need an ITIN number, obtainable from the IRS, otherwise 30% of audio books earnings will automatically be withheld. Getting an ITIN number is covered on another article on this site.

Audible Book Exchange Guidelines for Authors, Voice Artists and Audible Book Producers

The self published writer can either get a professional voice artist and/or producer to create the audio book or create it himself. The former entails finding a producer and/or voice artist listed on the ACX site. The voice artist has to audition to be accepted. The author may provide a sample script for the narrator to read out after before making the commitment.

Audition for Voice Over for Audible

Once the narrator/producer has been selected, the author can then either pay ‘a pay for production’ fee, a one-off payment, or agree a ‘royalty share deal’ a fifty-fifty royalty of future sales. The royalty option can be risky for the voice artist if lots of hours have been invested in narration and recording only to yield poor sales. This is why most voice artists prefer to receive the one-off pay production fee. The author and narrator/producer will have to think carefully about the viability of such a project if the book sales are poor.

Do It Yourself Guide to Creating Audio Books

The author may decide to do all the production and voice narration himself. This will save money and retain creative control of the sound of the book. However, most authors know little about producing audio books when it comes to sound editing and narrating.

Quite rightfully, ACX are picky about the quality of the sound files and recording must be of professional standard before the audio book is accepted on Audible. This means the author will have to invest a lot of time and money on learning about sound equipment and narrating an audio book. Fortunately, ACX has video tutorials for authors and producers who wish to learn the craft of book narration from scratch.

Rights Holder of Talking Books

Creating an audio book version of a print or Kindle book provides an extra sales channel for the self published writer wanting to branch out. ACX, Amazon’s site for audio book creators provides all the resources the writer needs. This includes connecting audio book producers, narrators and recording experts with authors wishing to find a particular voice and approach. Payments can be made either by royalty share or a flat fee once the author is happy with the audition. 

On the other hand, the author may opt to create the audio book himself, but would need to become expert on sound equipment, software and the art of book narration. If creating an audio book yourself, find links on this site offering advice on sound equipment and voice techniques for narrating audio books.

Tips on Creating your Own Audio Books

The audio interface and why the audio book creator needs one
Essential recording equipment for narrating books
The best condenser microphone for voice acting
A cheap home studio for audio book recording
Tips for voice narrating

To Wear or not to Wear Studio Headphones in Audio Book Narration for Audible Books

Professional quality audio books rely upon the best sound equipment, which includes studio condenser microphone, audio interface, computer and recording software. Not forgetting a soundproof room lined with acoustic foam to absorb sound reflections. But when it comes to headphones, the best quality is not essential. Some voice actors don’t even like wearing them during voice acting.

Quality Studio Headphones for Voice Recording

What Audio Narration sounds Like
The reason why some book narrators don’t wear headphones during recording is because the sound of their own puts them off. The result could be a self-conscious reading that sounds stiff and expressionless through a fear of making a mistake. One voice over artist, Bill DeWees said, ‘stop trying to sound professional’. One way out of this tendency is to try reading without headphones. The audio book reader can then concentrate upon compelling the listener rather than trying to sound perfectly polished.

Best Headphones for Precise Listening in Audio Books

Other voice over artists have expressed the same issue when listening to their own voices through headphones whilst narrating an audiobook. Forgetting the ‘self’ can result in a more natural and expressive quality to the book reading. Remember that the intention of the audio book is to tell a story, not necessarily to speak every word perfectly.

Exercise in Voiceover Recording

Try recording the sound of your own voice whilst wearing headphones and then repeat without wearing them. The tone and expression of the reading are likely to be different in both recordings. Imagine telling a story to a friend whilst reading the book. With the headphones removed, a barrier will also be removed.

Professional Studio Headphones for Mastering and Mixing

Headphones will of course be needed when it comes to editing the recording afterwards, but pricy studio headphones are not as necessary as the mic. Prefer the headphones that rest over the ears rather than those that are inserted in the ears, as the former are more comfortable during long periods.

A lot of money need not be shelled out for studio headphones, but a safe bet is those made by Phillips Behringer, Audio-Technica, Roland or AKG. Some home recording studio recording packages come with headphones anyway.

Which Headphones to Buy for Talking Book Recording

The best quality headphones are not so vital as the microphone or other recording equipment. Some voiceover artists don’t like wearing them during the narration. Mixing and editing the recording will require careful listening, but good quality headphones can be found at reasonable prices.

More Articles on Audio Book Creation

The audio interface and why the audio book creator needs one
Essential recording equipment for narrating books
The best condenser microphone for voice acting
A cheap home studio for audio book recording
Tips for voice narrating

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Improve Sales of Audible Books with a Good Narrator: Dos and Don’ts of Book Production on ACX

After listening to numerous audiobooks on the Audible site, have discovered listeners will sometimes upload a book because of the narrator rather than the author. A good narrator can elevate an ordinary thriller. A bad narrator can spoil a great story. Some narrators get it right. Others can drive potential listeners away by bad practices. What are the common pet peeves caused by narrators of audio books?

How to Improve Sales of Audio Books on Audible

Great Book Narration
A great book, good studio microphone and perfect recording are far from enough to create a good customer experience when it comes to listening to audio books. Books in audio form are complex, having gone through many stages before arriving on the audible store. The thriller must have a brilliant plot, great editing, a compelling cover design and blurb. Then there is the recording equipment. A dead room free of background noise, a studio quality microphone and sound editing software.

How Not to Narrate Audio Books on ACX

But even when everything is perfect, the audio book can fall at the last hurdle with the voice narrator. Audible allows the customer to rate an audio book in three parts: overall, performance and story. The last thing a narrator needs is poor rating for performance. So let’s look at the most common irritations for listeners when it comes to audible books.

Monotone Reading in Audible

Some narrators forget that, like musical instruments, the voice box can express different notes. Not varying the pitch may result in a monotonous narration that is devoid of emotion, nuance or expression. This can lead to a dull listening experience, rather like listening to a robot. The listener may liken the audio book to-text-to speech on the Kindle. The culprit might be nerves, the narrator sounding stiff. Voice exercises prior to recording might help loosen things up.

Good Audio Book Narration

Any noise other than the voice itself can put the listener off. I’m not talking about background noises such as birds or traffic, but sounds from the voice artist, which might be swallowing between words, breathing, lip-smacking or gulping. No matter how soft, these oral sounds are, they can be off-putting and may result in a low star rating for narrator performance.

Who’s Speaking in the Audio Book: Mistakes of the Narrator

Not all attributes to who the speaker is will be ‘he said’ or ‘she said,’ so the narrator would do well by adopting different voices for various characters. Audible customers often complain that they don’t know who is speaking, as the narrator uses the same voice for every character. Some narrators have a natural flair for creating a different voice for each character. Doing so effectively can really help the listener get engrossed in the story.

Bad Narration of Audible Books

But the voice artist can also go too far the other way, hamming it up when it comes to accents, nuances and voice quality. An overly-booming voice or a sickly sweet whine can result in a listening experience that equates to watching a cartoon. It would be hard to get engrossed in the story if the listener cannot believe in the characters.

Patronizing the Listener of Audio Books

Some narrators can really irritate the listener by using a tone of voice that patronizes rather than engages. A sickly sweet tone suited more for kindergarten, or speaking too slowly can insult the listener’s intelligence. Care is needed to get the tone and pace right (not too fast, not too slow). This will lull the listener into the story without the obtrusion of condescension.

How Not to Narrate for Audio Books: Regional Accent

Another peeve is a narrator failing to convince an accent. One example is an American narrator trying to do a British accent or vice versa. The narrator would do better not to attempt an accent that does not convince, but differentiate characters by means within the comfort zone. Some listeners dislike Americanisms inserted within British books, using words such as ‘candy’ or ‘jello’ instead of ‘sweets’ and ‘jelly’.

Getting the Man or Woman’s Voice Right

A woman narrating an audio book may overdo the baritone of a male character; a male character may not achieve the soft tone of a female. Overdoing the tone of voice can be off-putting and fail to convince. The best thing to do is to differentiate the character tones in a subtle yet definite way.

Immersible Reading Abridged or Unabridged

If the words spoken by the narrator are in any way different to the Kindle version of the book, the words will not be in sync. Immersible reading or whispersync for voice would be made impossible. This would be a shame, as the customer is robbed of reading choice. Books that are ‘unabridged’ as opposed to ‘abridged’ means the words are the same as the audible version and reading in sync with the voice is kept intact.

How to Increase Audio Book Sales

Audio books are borne from hard work and complex elements. It would be a shame if a good story and great recording was spoiled by an unsuitable reader. Basic mistakes in narration can be put right. This will include avoiding making any other sound other than reading the words on the page. Watch out for attempting accents not within the comfort zone. Nerves can cause the narrator to overdo character voices resulting in a patronizing tone or characters that seem comical. Getting right the common pet peeves of listeners on Audible will go a long way towards increasing sales of the audio book.

More Tips on Creating Audible Books

What is an audio interface and why the audio book creator needs one
Essential sound equipment for narrating books
The best microphone for voice acting
A home studio for audio book recording
Tips for voice narrating

Best Microphone for Recording Vocals on Audio Books: Advice on Large Diaphragm Condenser Mic and Others

A vital piece of sound equipment the audio narrator is likely to need is the best quality microphone. This means not any microphone, but a particular kind. Different microphones will bring out varying qualities of the narrator’s voice. With this in mind, how does the audio book voice actor select the best mic for voice recording?

Basic Types of Microphones for Voice Acting

Condenser Mics for Voice Recording
Just because a microphone is of studio quality, does not mean it is the best for recording an audio book. A basic understanding of the types of mics out there will help with making the best choice.

Microphones come in all shapes and sizes, beginning with the liquid microphones, carbon, fibre optic moving onto ribbon microphones, condenser mics and crystal microphones. Nowadays, the choice can be broken down to basic types. These are either battery powered (external powered) or phantom power (internally powered). Some mics will connect to an audio interface via USB that transforms analog sounds to digital on the computer, others power via an XLR cable.

Large Diaphragm Dynamic Microphone

The large diaphragm mic is known as a ‘dynamic microphone’, since it requires no phantom power. When sound causes the diaphragm to fluctuate, an internal magnet or coil produces a small electrical current. The dynamic mic has an ‘end address capsule’ favored by field reporters or podcasters to cut out background noise. This mic is sensitive to local noise, but not background sounds. It is therefore ideal for rooms with sound echoes or where ambient noise such as birds or passing traffic could ruin the recording. Because the dynamic mic is not the most sensitive, a boost might be needed for the signal.

Beware, these types of mics are very ‘directional’ in that if the speaker shifts position, so will the sound. It is therefore important to speak centrally and directly into the mic without moving. The dynamic mic, being insensitive to background sounds, tends to bring out a booming quality to the voice, not ideal if the narrator has a deep voice already.

Studio Shotgun Microphone

The shotgun mic is a type of dynamic mic that has a large cigar-shaped head, often used on TV and film sets. This type of mic uses phantom power and is a little more sensitive than the dynamic mic. Background noise and echoes therefore must be kept to a minimum.

Cardioid Microphone

Shaped like the heart, hence the name, the cardioid mic is insensitive to ambient noise, like the dynamic mic just referred to, but eradicates sounds behind the mic, ideal for performing to a noisy audience.

Electret Microphone for Podcasts

The electrets mic is a type of condenser microphone, often small or built into cell phones, hands-free sets or Tablets. They are cheap to make and simple to use. Acceptable for podcasting or communicating with friends, but not for audio books.

The Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

The condenser mic is the favored choice by professional voice narrators for audiobooks and studio recording. This phantom-powered mic has a large head, picking up the smallest sound including echos in the room. Being sensitive, all nuances in the voice, including unwanted smacks and swallows will be detected. Sound is clear and highly defined. When using the large diaphragm condenser mic a dead room for recording is essential.

Best Microphones for Narrating AudioBooks

Don’t use a cheap microphone that might be OK for podcasting or skyping, but a proper studio condenser mic. The dynamic mic might be fitting for a room with echoes or background noise, but is very directional and being slightly insensitive, will bring out the baritone in the voice. The best mic for voice recording is the large diaphragm condenser mic.

Best Studio Condenser Microphones for Voice Recording

The Australian Rode NT1-A is highly regarded in studio recording, being an exceptionally sensitive mic, with clear signals. The Rode mic can also be found in a condenser microphone bundle, including phantom power, XLR cable, pop shield, shock mount and recording software, enabling the voice actor to get on with recording an audio book.

Ideal Condenser Mics for Home Recording Audio Books

Also great quality condenser mics can be found in the range made by Scarlett, MXL, Avant Electronics, Audio Technica, Shure, M-Audio and Behringer (Behringer is not quite professional quality, but excellent value for money).

Essential Microphone Accessories

To accompany the microphone, the voice artist will also need phantom power and XLR cable (if not supplied), pop screen, shock mount and microphone stand.

More Articles about Narrating Audio Books

Monday, 15 December 2014

Sound Equipment for Creating Audio Books: What is an Audio Interface and Why Voice Narrators Need an External Sound Card

The creator of audiobooks might at first might think a studio microphone, earphones, power supply, computer and sound editing software are all that are needed for recording audio books, but another essential bit of kit is needed: the audio interface. But what is an audio interface?

The Best USB Audio Interface for Audio Books

Which Audio Interface for Narration
Simply put, an audio interface is an electrical box that plugs into the USB terminal or Firewire port of the computer. It has input sockets for the mic, headphones and other sound equipment that might be needed. The interface converts the sound signal from analog to digital, a code the computer can understand prior to editing. Every computer has a built in sound card, which is really a basic type of audio interface. This might be OK for listening to podcasts, YouTube, or for basic recording, but not for audiobooks.

Does the Narrator Need an Audio Interface to Create Audio Books?

The answer is yes. The audio interface enhances the recording and listening experience for narrators who wish to create professional quality audio books. This is because the audio interface is a much superior kind of sound card than the basic one that exists in the computer. Like a USB-connected external drive, the computer will perceive this superior soundcard whilst sound files are being created.

The Best Audio Interface for the Home Studio

Not all audio interfaces are the same. Some have racks of input sockets for various sound equipment. The MIDI (a musical instrument digital interface) provides input jacks and controls for guitars, bass, keyboards and other sound-related equipment.

The humble voice narrator will not need these complex types of audio interfaces more suited to a multi-piece band. The FireWire interface, developed by Apple, for instance is designed for the transmission of large amounts of sound data, suited for such complex projects. Only sockets for earphones and a mic are really needed. But what is the best type of audio interface the voice narrator will need? Well, the USB interface is generally thought to be best suited for voice narration.

The Home Audio Interface for Voice Recording

A robust, good quality but simple audio interface is ideal, as the narrator might be paying for effects that will not be needed. The only important factor is after all, the quality of the recording, not special features or numerous input jacks.

Best Audio Interface for Voice Recording in Audio Book Narration

The FocusRite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface with award winning preamps is highly regarded in the recording industry and can be used on Mac or Windows. Note: the Focusrite Scarlett Home Recording Package provides the complete home studio as it includes the audio interface, a large diaphragm condenser mic, pop filter, earphones, Phantom power, XLR cable and sound editing software. Purchase of this complete home recording kit works out cheaper than purchasing the components separately.

Also recommended is M-Audio MTracks USB Interface. This simple to use USB audio interface with two input jacks for mic and headphones provides crystal clear signals, ideal for the voice acting. Pro Tools Express is the sound editing software that comes with this interface. Pro Tools are the favorite of ACX, the creators of Amazon’s

The PreSonus Audiobox USB Audio Interface with Studio One software is ideal for easy sound editing of voice narration. Again this provides all the sound enhancements the narrator is likely to need for creating audio books. Note: the PreSonus also comes in a complete home recording package: the AudioBox Studio Complete Hardware/Software Recording Kit with headphones, large diaphragm condenser mic, XLR cable and DAW software.

Other recommended range of USB interfaces can be found in Roland, Behringer and Lexicon Alpha. The simple models are compact, robust and boasts low noise power with professional quality preamps.

Which Audio Interface Should I Buy for Audio Book Narration?

Prior research is essential before purchasing the most suitable audio interface for narrating an audiobook. Make sure the interface is compatible with the computer (Mac or Windows) and that 48V Phantom Power is included (if the mic doesn’t have it. Phantom power by the way is what powers the mic). Not all audio interfaces include phantom power.

Audio Interface for Book Narration

Don’t rely on the basic soundcard that exists within the standard computer for professional audio book creation. A good audio interface will enhance the sound of the recording and digitalize the signals, a format the computer can understand.

Avoid purchasing the expensive type of audio interface that overkills the requirements of the modest voice narrator. Is a MIDI really needed? (a musical instrument digital interface for guitars, bass, keyboard, etc.). Racks of input jacks and special features may remain mostly redundant by the voice narrator. All that matters in the end is the quality of the voice recording.

More Articles on Creating Audio Books

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Tips for Narrating Audiobooks

Even the best recording equipment will not guarantee the best recording for the audio book. Good voice technique is vital. Many authors prefer to have a professional voice actor narrate the book for them. However, there are many advantages to narrating the book yourself. The following tips on voice narration may help.

Tips for Voice Actors for Book Narration

How to Narrate Books
Even the best recording equipment will not guarantee great recording for audio books. Once the sound equipment has been set up and running watch out for the following when recording your audio book:

Noisy clothes. Don’t wear fabric that makes a rustling sound. A good mic will be a sensitive mic and will pick up any background noise. Similarly, avoid wearing jangling jewellery.

Stomach rumbles. Have a glass of water handy to avoid a dry throat. Some voice over artists chew sliced apple or pineapple to keep the mouth moist. This will prevent that off-putting smacking or crackling sound of the mouth. A warm cup of decaffeinated tea is great for soothing and relaxing the vocal chords.

Things to Avoid when Recording an Audio Book

Avoid fizzy drinks, rich or spicy foods that may cause heartburn or wind.

Avoid also dairy products as this will increase mucus production in the throat, which may thicken the voice or cause a constant need to clear the throat. Exposure to cold air will also increase mucus production and affect the tone of the voice.

It is a given to avoid smoking and drinking as both are detrimental to health and can irritate the lining of the throat.

Recording for long periods can be tiring. Keep reasonably fit with regular gentle exercises. Stretching and warming the muscles prior to recording your audio book will add flexibility to the vocal chords, avoiding that stiff sound.

How to Work the Mic in Recording Voiceovers for Book Narration

Working the mike means pulling away for high volume vocals. This will reduce distortion when close-range sounds are picked up. Bringing the mouth close to the mic for the quieter bits will enable the mic to pick up what is being said.

Although working the mic will also bring a consistency to the volume range, a piece of software known as audio compression will further ‘limit’ the dynamic range of the voice. The dynamic range compression (or DRC) will guard against the listener having to turn up the volume to hear the soft parts of the narration, and then having to turn the volume down again when the voice is spoken at volume.

How to Voice Over: Tips for Voice Actors

Watch out also for moving the mouth in relation to the mic, causing the quality of the sound to shift. This can easily happen when the mouth is lowered when reading to the bottom of the page. Keep the position of the mouth central over the mic at all times, and don’t pull to the side during the narration. Also keep volume as consistent as possible.

Simple Warm up Exercises for Reading Books Aloud

Like singers and actors, voice actors would benefit from simple warming up exercises prior to voice narration. Moving up and down the octaves in controlled sirens will loosen the muscles in the larynx, improving vocal range. Smooth transition between nuances is made easier. Try alternating between vowel sounds to loosen the mouth muscles. Neck and shoulder rolls will guard against a stiff neck after hours of reading. Take regular breaks to keep the blood circulating. Good fitness will make such a demanding job easier to do.

Tips for Voice Over Acting when Recording Audio Books

Professional sound equipment and a recording studio is only part of audio book recording. Good voice technique is also important. Keep everything on the person quiet except the voice. This includes clothes, jewellery and stomach rumbles. Maintain voice quality by avoiding dairy products, smoking and drinking. Eat sensibly and take regular exercise. Warm up routines prior to voice recording will keep the vocal chords flexible. Work the mic in order to keep the volume within a certain range.