I adore narrating things that I write, along with audiobooks in general. Heck, I have an audiobook for The Dancing Crow that people seem to enjoy! I edited that entire audiobook on my own after a lot of research (using the audio files my narrator gave me after he recorded himself), and now have quite a bit of experience using Audacity to do so. It’s pretty straightforward software.
It’s not easy getting started with these things, however, as you need a space to record without much background noise if you yourself are making recordings. You also need a good microphone, which could set you back a couple hundred dollars. Still, once you have these things, you can get going! It may be harder to edit with a ‘bad’ microphone, something like a headset, but you can start off using that, I reckon, to get momentum. Hopefully these tips will help you.
Without further ado, here’s some quick tips!
(5) Drink a ton of water
When recording, I always have my water bottle beside me. When I forget it, my audio tends to have a lot more ‘wet lip noises’ which is as obnoxious as those words sound. This may be distracting and is a headache to edit out. I’ve gotten used to some noises I make (even if I can’t stand my own voice, which is typical!) but there’s ways to reduce the extra noises you may make when reading. Gum also helps for some folks, though I’ve found limited success on that end.
(4) Re-record lines upon messing up
When I started, I would clap or snap my fingers to indicate I messed up and need to re-record a line. However, nowadays I stop the recording, delete it, and start from the beginning of the sentence I messed up on. This works for me personally, though the other way may work best for you. Try either way when you start. The ‘clap when you mess up’ idea isn’t the end-all-be-all, though, and I’ve found editing far more smooth when I do my re-record plan.
(3) Remove breaths or reduce the sound (Reading-specific)
If you’re doing entertaining content, typically you don’t need to go this in depth, but audiobooks in particular will not have loud breaths or any breaths at all. I haven’t heard breaths in the ones I’ve listened to, so I tend to go the ‘removal’ route. Some say that makes it sound unnatural, so if that is your concern, you can reduce the volume on said breaths. Keep in mind pacing, though – you remove the sound, not the entire piece itself. Pauses are natural in audio and very much needed.
(2) Noise Reduction is your friend – make sure to leave a few seconds of blank noise
You may have consistent background noise that you’d need to remove. The program I use, Audacity, has a way to reduce or remove that. However, you need a ‘noise profile’, and in order to get that, you’ll need a few seconds at the beginning of your audio. Make sure to not make a sound during these few seconds so you can noise reduce properly.
(1) Put your heart into it
Sappy advice, but true. No one wants a monotone, uninterested narrator. You need to put emotion into what you read! You can practice different voices for characters before you go all-in with readings, if that’s the route you choose to take. Or, if you are just entertaining, find the voice that best fits you! You’ll want to enjoy the content you are covering, so just picking popular topics is not the way to go, in my opinion.
Well, there you have it! I hope these little tidbits of advice help you on your audio recording and editing journey. If you want to listen to a piece I’ve done, see this tiktok video of me reading a segment of my book!
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