Music for Podiobook authors

It has taken me a couple of books, but I finally found Mixcraft 5, which is a terrific program. I work with Windows, which means no Garage Band, apparently the standard fall-back for most Podiobook authors.

You just open up the program, go into the library section, listen until you like a particular snippet of music and then click on the plus sign to choose it. You can use as many tracks as you like and there are loads of great sound effects which come with the program.

I’m afraid I am not knowledgeable enough to manage tempos and so there are probably huge technical mistakes, but I love the sounds I create, and the program itself comes at a very reasonable price, and with a free trial, so it was perfect for me.

Here is the result: Pretty good for someone with no idea of music, right? Just click here: xiantha 5 project

Audio books are HARD to do!

I have only done two audiobooks so far, and I must say it is a painful process.  It takes about twenty hours just to read the book, and then you have to spend long hours going over it wincing at the sound of your own voice.  About three weeks, full time, in all.

I was a finalist in the Parsecs with Valhai, so I decided I had to do it REALLY well with the second book, Kwaide.  I asked for a decent microphone from the family for my birthday, got up at four in the morning to read two episodes each day (to avoid birds singing, cars passing, etc.)  Then I declicked the whole thing by hand … which takes a loooong time. I didn’t want to just press the declick button in Audacity, because it seemed to degrade the sound quality. Then I added space  because I decided it all sounded too rushed.  In short, I spent a lot of time trying to make the quality of the audiobook much better.

Result?  Turns out that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing!   Although listeners have been generous, the one technical constructive criticism I have read says that Kwaide is not so good as Valhai, which was recorded on a 12 Euro microphone, declicked automatically and normalised!  And that the spaces are too long, and spoil the thread of the story. And I am afraid they are right!

So … my pretensions of actually becoming a Parsec winner one day will have to wait a while!  I have absolutely no idea what to do with the next book …  how to make it a better audiobook, how to actually achieve that level of “excellence” I was aiming for.

I seem to have a very “clicky” mouth/jaw, which drives me round the bend, and nothing I do seems to make it better.  I can eat, not eat, drink, not drink, and the clicks are still there.

Another thing. If I use the Levelator it brings the audio up, but I can hear the clicks more.  If I declick by hand the audio quality (I think) is better, but I don’t know how to declick in the middle of words … I spent a long time trying to find that irritating click buried in the audiowave.  Then you chop away at it, only to find half the word has gone too.

So – if you are expecting advice on how to record a perfect audiobook, I am obviously NOT the right person to talk to!  I hope I will slowly get better, but believe me … it is not as easy as you might think!  Advice welcome.



KDP Select Program

On Google + there have been comments in the only writing circle I share about the KDP program, and how restrictive it is because it requires 90 days of exclusive digital content. They are right, and that will probably prevent it from being a resounding success.

But I signed up for it at once. My only digital content is in .mobi format anyway, so they already have my exclusivity.  I am happy to have Kwaide available for free lending, and even more happy to be able to give both of my books away for free for five days over the Christmas period.  I’m hoping that people will download the books, and also that this “Xmas present” will generate some reviews on both pages.  Both Kwaide and Valhai need more amazon reviews, so it seemed like a win-win situation.  I get the books out there, and that, in its turn, might bring in some reviews (and hopefully the coveted stars).  I know there is money in the lending program to be divvied out, but I am not expecting to get my hands on much of that!  No, what really seemed “perfect” was the ability to give both books away, but only as a “special” offer, and to be able to make that coincide with Xmas is great.

Valhai will be free for Kindle download from 22nd to 24th December and then from 28th to 29th December.  I hope on all Amazons internationally, not only the US one, but they only guarantee in the States.  Just go to the site and put “Valhai” in the search box

Kwaide will be free for Kindle download from 24th to 26th December, and then from 1st to 2nd of January.  Ditto offer availability being limited to the States or internationally. Again, just go to the site and put “Kwaide” in the search box.

People who don’t have a Kindle proper can download the Kindle for PC, and still take advantage of this offer.  You can also “borrow” both books for free under the prime program, though I am not quite sure how that works yet.

Actually feel quite optimistic about this – hope lots of people get to read the books, and that their visibility is raised a little.

Final formatting for the Kindle

Kwaide should be available on the Kindle today or tomorrow, but I had a lot more trouble with the formatting this time.  In the end have left the chapter headings in with line breaks before, and put the title, dedication, rights and thank you pages as chapter headings so that they show up correctly in the TOC.  The Indesign to Kindle plugin works really well, and the result went straight through the upload process.

The main doubt I have is with the images.  I put a plan of the system on the second page, as a chapter heading, but I couldn’t get it anywhere near the low size they recommend so I am not sure it will be readable on the actual Kindle.  It looked fine on my Kindle for PC, but that doesn’t mean much.  Nothing for it, will have to order a Kindle proper for Xmas!!  The cover size was also too big;  it displayed well on the Kindle for PC, but looked awful in the preview they give you on the actual upload site.  No dropped caps unfortunately, and still no colour.

I am so glad to have the Indesign program for general text formatting, and now, with the plugin for publishing to the Kindle, it is all I need.  I  use Createspace now  for the paperback version.  I tried to complicate things with Valhai, through Lightning Source, but that was not really successful.  For some reason there were difficulties with the extended distribution, and the availability on Amazon was pushed first to 1-3 weeks, and then to unavailable. Now, in order to have availability for a paperback novel on Amazon in the US, for someone like me it seems best to use Createspace. Unfortunately that leaves the European availability pretty unpredictable.  I guess all this will smooth out in time.

The paperback proof is ordered for Kwaide too, so if that displays well the text version should be available soon too.  Yey!

Anne McCaffrey

It is sad to hear that Anne McCaffrey has died. I have loved her books for years.  I think that Helva (the Ship that Sang) was her best (especially with the short story sequel) but of course the Pern books, the Crystal Singer and the Tower and the Hive series were just great too!

I believe she went to DragonCon in Atlanta this year.  I so nearly went (through the Parsec Awards), but was in the middle of the final thesis for the Master program at the University of Valencia so in the end couldn’t.  It would have been great to meet her!

Welcome to the Kwaide blog


This is my first post.  Kwaide went live on Podiobooks last Friday, and so it is a bit soon to have many comments about it yet.  I know you can comment through the Podiobooks page, (and please do!!) but I wanted somewhere more personal to exchange comments too.

Anyway – here it is.  Let me know what you think about Kwaide, or Valhai, or the characters in the books.

Am hoping to get the paperback version out by the end of November, and Kwaide should be available for download on a kindle before then.  Have given up temporarily on the ibookstore, because it is so difficult for me to meet the technical guidelines.  Next year, maybe.