It’s true! I had a minor crisis in the last few weeks, when I had to have some dental work done. This little bar thingie was inserted behind some loose front teeth to stabilize them, and the unfortunate result was several gaps that, in the worst moments, made me sound like Sylvester the Cat. There was so much air and spittle flying through them that I could feel my upper lip puffing out during my “S’s.”
I was in despair. That’s it! My narration career is over before it began! Even if I had $$$ for veneers, the dentist said it’d be a long time before I could even do that, because the teeth had to stabilize first. I told him about the narration and his only suggestion was, “Don’t brush.” I.E., eat some food, get it stuck in there, and record…
Well, that was not only gross, but not too helpful. Talk long enough and sooner or later whatever cracker mush you’ve crammed in there is gonna get expelled. Also, nobody sounds good with a bunch of cracker mush in their mouths.
So I looked at anything, everything available as a (literal) stopgap in the CVS Tooth Department. Denture cream? Ick, and besides, I don’t know if it would even stick between actual teeth. White strips? They’d cover the gaps but only for the 10 minutes before they melted. Mouth guards? Nope, too big.
Then I saw something else, of which there was only one left. For $2 and change, it was some orthodontic wax meant to be squished onto braces, to keep them from scratching up the inside of your lips or something.
What did I have to lose? So I brought them home, rubbed my front teeth dry with my t-shirt, and started squishing the wax into place. It flattened out nicely, like a custom fitted piece. Then I did the master sound test – yes, which is indeed saying “Sufferin’ Succotash” over and over to see how much air and spit was flyin’ through the gaps.
Holy crap. It worked! I could barely feel it, too, and it stuck like (easily removable) glue as long as I needed it to be in there. Suddenly I had my normal voice back.
TMI, I suppose. But I was not gonna give up on this. Not now, when I’m so close, when I’ve finally nailed narrating – the breaths between sentences, a keen ear for each lip-spittly sentence I have to do over (or rewrite because it’s too goddamn long for narrating), the voices for the characters.
And, most importantly, not now, when I’ve nailed audio editing. Fuck it’s boring, but I’ve got it down to an assembly line system that, yeah, reminds me of doing data entry in my post-high-school days, the dull repetitive grind of it. In November, I’d said I had to do it on the “Homer Simpson Platform,” that is, when it came to editing, “Can’t Someone Else Do It?” Well, the answer right now is no, not unless you spend money you don’t have that may be more than you’ll make anyway. (In fact, I’ll need to raise the price of the ebook, so I’m not totally undercutting myself on the audiobook – a $15 audiobook can be purchased as a $2 Whispersync add-on to a $4 ebook, so what do you think most people are going to do? Thanks again, Amazon…)
I’m into narrating chapter 8 of 10 (this was one of my first Brad books, back when I was unaware of the Master Diktat that ebook chapters should be super short). 4 of those chapters have been fully edited, and, most importantly, passed the “ACX-check” test, thanks to the Audible plug in that delivered me from the stress of wondering it it would all, as Jamie would say, End In Tears when I submitted it and got it rejected and had to do it all over again.
It has been a long road since last summer when I started this project. So many stops and starts and chuck-it-all-and-restarts, opening and closing the Shopify store, blundering through the editing and producing process until at last I’ve achieved enough self-taught mastery to do this thing.
So yeah, the audio recording will be finished next week. And I’d guesstimate 2/3 of the editing will be as well, if I really push myself to do it. It’s not so much the amount of time these things take as it is the amount of attention. When I did data entry, I could zone out, barely even think as some mechanical system in my brain did the work letter-perfect while the rest of me was elsewhere (data entry is like driving – you can think of a billion other things in the meantime while that one part of you does the driving).
But for this, I have to be attuned to every click, huff, snort, spit; I have to listen to the three takes in a row I’ve done on a sentence and pick the right one (not always the last one I was satisfied with during recording); I have to make sure the pause timing between sentences or sections is appropriate. So it’s not time-intensive to spend say 45 minutes editing down to 10 minutes of finished product, but it’s energy-intensive. Especially on a day where you both narrate (acting, reaching the right emotional pitch in both the narrative and the dialogue) and edit.
I can’t imagine someone doing this all day. I’d just drop. But…I’m getting there.
And it’s an experiment. I’m working from completely diminished and realistic expectations, for one. Between Audible credits and Whispersync addons, the $ for each audiobook probably won’t be so hot. So it’ll be a question of volume of units moved. That said, if it does produce a few hundred additional bucks a month, then shit, I’ve got a massive backlist I can convert to audiobook.
If, and as always with anything in selfpub and especially with Amazon, that’s a big if, I do make some $ on this, then it’s obvious to me that Given the Circumstances is the next book to be done. It’s my perennial seller, moving at least a few copies when nothing else does. We’ll find out soon enough…