Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Audiobook (part two)

Part Two of the audiobook chronicles.

I've been waiting to blog further about the audiobook until we had gotten further into the process.

Part One is here: https://ellenwritesdogs.blogspot.com/2019/05/the-audiobook.html

When I last posted about the audiobook, Casey Turner, my chosen narrator went off to read the book's PDF. (At that time, it still wasn't officially published yet and the ARCs were no longer the most recent version). Some time later, we met via a Google Hangouts video conference (highly recommended). Earlier, Casey explained to me how she handled differentiating the voices with a whole bunch of different highlighting over the PDF by using the iAnnotate app on her iPad. 

We spent a long time talking about the main characters voices and how they would be distinguished. (One male character very low, the other average. One female character relatively low and other other one a little higher but not much.) Also, how the dogs might sound and that I didn't want them to sound cutesy (she didn't either). The dogs' lines are very short and telepathic. What's tricky is that the dogs sound like what their person thinks they might sound like. 

We did have to talk about words and places that I had made up, like Choran or what does "pffft" sound like and do I really care about whether the "t" is pronounced. (I didn't. I wanted what works as a performance.) I studied directing in college, so I tend to look for talented people, and give them a lot of latitude. Given that I can't be there, I actually didn't have a lot of choice in that manner. I have to trust her judgement, which is just fine. If you don't trust the work of the people working for you, you will lose your mind. I assure you.

I did have her read to me some sections that were important to me. She kept telling me there was no way she could match what happens in the studio. I got that. I just wanted to get the idea and that was plenty, and I could tell that it was going to work well. 

In a later phone call, we went over one of the dog sections because it there was a lot of back and forth between a dog and his human in a very stressful situation. Listeners are going to be very opinionated about it, so I felt we had to do our best on it.

Then the studio worked out staffing and a schedule for recording. 
I had been referred to Casey and Bill (William Dufris)  the owner of Mind's Eye Productions (MindsEyeProductions.com, contact: wdufris@gmail.com), at the same time.
Bill's name should sound familiar. He was the voice of Bob-the-Builder and has narrated over 400 audiobooks including the marathon 42h43m Cryptonomicron (by Neil Stephenson).

Each audio book has a Producer, Engineer/Director, Narrator, and a Quality Control person.

Producer: William Dufris
Engineer/Director:  Karlyn Daigle
Narrator: Casey Turner
QC: Katie Flood

Big ginormous thanks go to Katie as she found an issue later in the book that two proofreaders and two editors missed.

It took two weeks to record (3 sessions per week, more than that kind-of thrashes the narrator's voice) and then a set of mp3s (one per chapter) was sent to me for review. I then spent a solid weekend listening to the book with the book's PDF in front of me and I got to fill out a proof sheet with any corrections. The reason it's important to work out in advance on what you think a character should sound like is that I don't get to say I don't like a character interpretation. What I get to write down is errors in deviation from the text, or to fix the book's editorial errors/changes, or if I hear something weird (I didn't - it was already proofed), and I've asked for a couple of shouted words to be louder.

Now it will go back in for this last fix-it session and then it will get sent to me again.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Book Published July 9th, and Other Projects

Pursuits Unknown was officially published on Tues July 9th. Some genius at Amazon figured out how to get many of the books delivered on that day precisely, which is probably why the pub day wasn't on a Monday.

My publisher was very nice to arrange for sunflowers to appear that day. I like arranging flowers so it was simple enough to make then look presentable, take a photo, and send a thank you photo to them.

While the paper version is printed and is now out, we are still working on the audiobook, and any minor changes that we discover we need to do can always be worked back into the Kindle version. (This modern world.)

Another thing is that I am guest blogging too which I really enjoy as it makes me consider topics I might not of thought to blog myself.

One is that She Writes asked me to blog about How to Write an Animal Character.
I need to check to see if I can put a copy of this in this blog.

I will be the first one to say I'm no expert, but apparently having created a world like my fictional world qualifies me to at least talk about how I go about it which seems fair enough albeit self indulgent.

Speculative Fiction also sent over a long set of 14 in-depth questions for me to go along with the part that they already posted about the book.

There are other blogging opportunities, but they are more nebulous.

I am trying not to pay too much attention to Good Reads. They are kind of a rough, impatient crowd and are not professional reviewers like Kirkus is. (Hint a professional review includes enough detail about the book that you can tell they've read the book. GR has no such requirement.) My marketing people tell me that GR is much more about readers than writers and I can ignore them if I like. I've made use of GR as a reader in the past, so I find this a little disappointing but probably the reality. I really need to focus on my work and not outside opinion.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews warms up to Hybrid Publishing

Kirkus Reviews is a long standing (since 1933) book review magazine. Pursuits Unknown has a positive Kirkus review which we're very grateful for. (They are infamous for being "cranky".) A positive Kirkus review carries a fair bit of weight.

They have been slow to accept the idea of hybrid publishing as they have been on the traditional side of publishing for decades.

This is an interview with Brooke Warner who is the headhoncho at She Writes Press which is very closely associated with Spark Press. https://www.kirkusreviews.com/writers-center/publishing/hybrid-publisher-seeking-elevate-womens-voices/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_campaign=hots_facebook&fbclid=IwAR108GhikZd3NXwAw9i6TrT1DydPg583IXQBAnSULJIgD0Ad65Q63LQXTm0

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Books Are Heavy, Let's Give Some Away

When I was in college the most arduous problem to moving was the hundreds of books. A friend of mine once prophetically said, "I want one reloadable book." He got his wish. I've been trying to keep fewer physical books these days, but even though I try to donate all the fiction to the library and keep the Kindle/Audible versions, I still have a ridiculous number of reference and "pretty" books.

Now I have gone and written a book and because I've chosen to do hybrid publishing, I get to pay for the printing and shipping of my books. This is a good, albeit expensive thing. Did you know that a box of 24 books weighs 28 pounds? I know, I lifted one.

I'm starting with 750 books, which is over 31 boxes of books, and it over $700 to ship from the printer to the warehouse. (I've chosen to have 36 books which is one and a half boxes, delivered directly to me) which is a separate shipping fee.


So now I have 36 books. What the heck am I going to do with them? That's a rhetorical question. I am not into selling my own book, as I don't want to compete with the Amazon version of me (if you will), or offend those that have already bought the book. The dog sports communities often hold raffles at their events, so many of these are going to be given away in raffles or benefit auctions. The cool thing about raffles is people have a long time to look at and talk about the book long before it's given away. Everyone else is doing your publicity. This is called "buzz" and it's a very good thing indeed. Win-win just for the cost of a few books.

So after just a few personal conversations at a dog trial and about four emails, I have homes for 24 books. I signed them all with a varying set of pithy little phrases like
"Read this with your pooch" or "The nose knows" and my name and they are ready to go.

The only trouble is that because I'm not physically there to introduce the book, I need to make a little postcard that summarizes a part of https://ellenclary.org. So we're back to old school. I've make the screenshots, now I need to remember my graphic arts training and arrange them on the page. After about an hour of stealing from my own web site it was ready to go.

Then I get to decide whether just to leave it as 8.5x11 page or make postcards. I did buy a new printer, so I could do either if I bought card stock. the printer probably has a margin which is unfortunate, but I probably don't want to have to hand trim everything though I could do that down at Kinkos. Not sure. This might be a fun debate to start among my Facebook friends who are very tolerant of geeky issues.

I just used ordinary paper as they're just going along with the books as off-line information.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Getting Used to Twitter

While I've been signed up on Twitter for a while, I've never been at peace with it. Instead i hang out on Facebook where I have (well, had) a manageable friends list and for the most part only posted to those friends. There was a time where I could go through my friends list and verify that i had met each person in the flesh at least once. Such were the days. Now with my participation in Facebook groups I have friends that I've never met in person which has taken a lot of getting used to. If someone is close to me geographically and we get on really well I arrange to meet up with that person for lunch just to have a face-to-face conversation which I really love.

But this only works along the west coast where I live. My friends circle has increased and my professional circle seems to be particularly fond of choosing those that are more that an incidental two hour drive away or don't live in a city that I already travel to. In fact, they are more than a two hour plane ride. Fortunately, there is video conferencing which I'm well used to from my work, and I've spent a lot of time on Google Hangouts and Zoom. I should also get used to Apple Facetime, but like many, I don't particularly like how I look in HD, and I look fine in most photographs.

And now, I have a novel coming out. I need to reach out to readers and not my well-protected Facebook friends list. So I now have an author page on Facebook (Hi there. I don't know how to talk to you yet.) And I have to get used to tweeting to the world. Eeek. AND I can't edit tweets, I can only delete them. Half of my Facebook posts are edited because of a typo or unclear wording. That's just crazy that we can't edit tweets. It's certainly technically possible.

So now I have a new skill to learn. How to talk to actual strangers in just 280 characters. One reason I rarely used Twitter is the old 140 character limit. Drove me nuts and I just said 'Fine, forget it.' Now I don't have that excuse.

Now what to say. I'm a writer, so just retweeting is not really my thing though it's a great way to get started. I need to create content. I actually have little trouble with Facebook addiction because I'm the one doing the talking half the time. I'm not caught up in that never ending stream of post after post which can depress you after a while. (There is research out there on this, but I don't have it at hand.) i just have to learn to ignore noise and there is a lot of it on Twitter. I have to focus on what I want to say and listen to what someone is trying to tell me. It's probably just as well we have to be brief.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Actual Book Arrives

A month before publication, my copies of my book have arrived. The actual book. Not an Advance Reader Copy. Now I have to find a place for 40 pounds of books (two boxes). A lot of them will be give-aways at raffles. I don't think I want to sell many books myself as I'd honestly rather leave Amazon to do the heavy lifting, and I don't want to compete with myself.

Now the hard part. since they won't be addressed to a particular person, I have to sign the give-aways with a general dog-related saying and my name. I've come up with some (not telling what), but I need to find more.

This is a good problem to have.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Song Writing Maybe

I probably will have to write a song in my next book (haven't decided yet). I keep making song writing harder than it actually is. I keep thinking there's a mystery to it, but when I look at songs I realize that isn't the case with the words. 

Unless you're talking about someone who sounds like a poet. Then things get much more complicated. Examples would be Anna Nalick, Alanis Morissette, and Amy Rae, but creepy cool Garbage songs like #1 Crush are pretty straightforward. As long as I don't think about the fact that #1 Crush is 24 years old. Eeek. #1 Crush is a perfect paean to obsession and stalking. For writers it's pretty inspirational. 

Here are the lyrics.