This last week saw me do something for the first time ever- I recorded my first ever audiobook. At least, I recorded the first half of it, it’s not a quick process and it’s not a short book. The word count is one hundred and sixty thousand words, give or take. The average speaking rate is roughly nine thousand words an hour. Some folk speak quicker, some slower. This means that the audiobook will run at about seventeen hours, give or take.
The thing is, it’s not just a case of saying the words as they are written on the page. You have to do that, of course, but you also have to enervate the prose, bring the characters to life and keep true to the story. All the while not stumbling over your tongue or getting in your head about that particular turn of phrase the author has chosen to employ. Not that there’s anything like that here… Honest.
The general rule of thumb is that for every finished hour of an audiobook there’s another three to four hours on top of that. That’s editing, mixing, proofing, the whole shebang. I’m very lucky as I’m merely the narrator on this project. I leave all the technical details to people a lot more qualified and experienced than I.
It’s been a challenge don’t mistake me. There’s about ten main characters as well as a plethora of minor and supporting characters. I’ve always been a fan of accent work. I consider it one of my strong suits. This audiobook though, is a different story altogether.
As a fantasy novel it’s firmly within my wheelhouse, the basis of the world is a familiar one. Think a hotter version of Game of Thrones, temperature wise, not rude bits. It’s like Portuguese weather and architecture but with lots of UK/Irish accents floating around.
I have a shorthand for the main characters. The main Officer is “Russel Crowe as an assassin”, the Sergeant is “Sean Bean if he was a polar bear” and one of the baddies is ‘General Hux morphing into the Ebony Maw”. All the others have similar epithets and codes that probably don't make sense to anyone but me. It helps me keep track of what’s going on and who sounds like what. That, plus annotating the manuscript helps- so many colours!
Hopefully this will be the first of many audiobooks that I get to narrate in my career. It’s wonderful being part of the author’s journey. I really enjoy helping bring these fantasy and hopefully soon, sci-fi worlds to audiences. Who knows, in time I might become well known enough as a narrator to be specifically requested by authors to narrate their works. It should only be a few years till that happens, give or take.