According to figures released in 2008, 9% of Americans downloaded an MP3 in the previous 12 months, a figure that had doubled over the previous year. It’s a habit that’s been shaking up the music industry and will certainly affect authors too.
As in the music business, the audio book business is moving away from sales of physical CDs toward selling sound files that can be downloaded to an iPod or other MP3 player. And, just like musicians, authors increasingly find themselves giving away free samples for potential customers to have a listen before they buy the whole volume.
As an author, you can distribute these sound files through your corporate web site, your blog, book sales sites, and social networking sites. There are also a number of podcast directories that can point potential listeners in your direction.
Recording a podcast of a single voice reading a book excerpt is actually a simple process that can be divided into five steps:
- Adapting your script
- Assembling hardware and software
- Recording and editing
- Converting your recording to an MP3 file
- Uploading the file to the Internet
1. Adapting your script
Whether you are creating a “free sample” podcast to promote your book, or a full-fledged audio book for commercial sale, there are three basic considerations to keep in mind when you re-write the book as an audio script:
First, are there charts, graphs, or illustrations that you’ll need to write descriptions for and then integrate into the flow of your text? While a see fig 1 notation might work in your printed book, it won’t work on an audio file.
Secondly, what is the best way to divide the flow of your ideas? In printed form, chapters and subheads provide logical places for the reader to pause for reflection or take a break from reading. Audio books, on the other hand, tend to be listened to during the daily commute or session on the elliptical trainer, activities that take about 30 minutes. According to Podcast Free America, the typical spoken word podcast is 3 to 5 minutes long, about the same length as a song. That means your listener should have time to listen to between 6 and 10 “chapters” of your book on the Step-Master each morning.
Thirdly, what sound effects will provide aural interest where illustrations and design added visual interest to your book? Music, audio clips from interview recordings, even sound clips from sound stock libraries can add an extra dimension to your podcast.
2. Assembling the hardware and software
You may need less equipment than you think to create an MP3 file of your book or book excerpt. If your computer has a high-speed Internet connection, a headset with microphone, and software such as Audacity that will let you record sound onto your computer, you already have everything you need to create a basic podcast of your own voice.
3. Recording and editing your podcast
According to Dave Dwyer writing for Busted Halo, using Audacity to record and edit podcasts is much like using a word processing program. His step-by-step instructions for recording using Audacity can be found here. Complete instructions for how to edit your podcast with sound effects and music are available from Guides and Tutorials.com.
4. Converting the file
The audio file you’ve created on your computer will need to be converted to the MP3 format in order to be distributed as a podcast. You’ll need to download a LAME encoder that will work with Audacity to convert your recording to an MP3 file.
5. Uploading the file
If you maintain your own web presence, you or the person who maintains your web site will know how to upload and link to the file from your own website. You can then link to it from your social media profiles, as well as from your blog. If you need some space on a server to host your file, choose a syndication service like the Podcast Directory or LibSyn to take care of your podcast storage and distribution.