Making your novel into an audio experience can be a great way to expand your listener base. Because of the fast paced nature of Afterlife, where each chapter switches focal character, I decided to create a podiobook, splitting my novel into podcasts to release weekly, before combining the episodes into an audiobook.
I am not an experienced sound engineer and very much felt my way through this project, making plenty of mistakes! Below I’ve written the key things I feel you’ll need to get started.
So, what do you need to turn your novel into a podiobook…
1. A novel...
This should probably go without saying but you'll need your novel in its finished state. There are loads of fantastic sites such as Novel Writing Help that can help you with the process of writing your first novel. Before I considered my novel ready my checklist was-
First draft... pick it to pieces
Second draft... readers feedback
Third draft... readers feedback
Fourth draft... professional feedback
It was my fifth draft that I made the podiobook from. I recorded the episodes before releasing my novel which was super helpful, there's nothing like someone reading your work to highlight bits that need tightening up.
You'll need to be able to split your novel into episode sized segments. I aimed for 25 minutes to half an hour and tried to make sure each episode ended on a strong note. Remember a podiobook is just one of several options. If your novel is a single stream of consciousness you'll probably want to go for an audio book instead.
2. The software
I am no expert on recording software but after reading around I found that all roads led to Audacity. Free to download and super easy to use, I'd definitely recommend it. There's lots of forums and tutorials online too- I generally found if I typed my problem into google ie. 'Paste audio audacity' it would take me straight to the answer.
You're also going to want to make sure your laptop has a sound card that allows you to hear, record and play sounds. Most laptops come with them, here’s a useful FAQ on sound cards from Windows.
3. The equipment
After lots of reading up on the subject I decided to buy the CAD Audio U37 usb Cardioid Condenser mic which was £49 on Amazon. Lots of podcasters had recommended it and I haven’t been disappointed. You will also definitely want a pop shield. At one point I decided to try recording without one and the results were not pretty. Again you can buy one on Amazon or you can DIY it! You can make your own pop shield by bending a wire hanger into something roughly circular and stretching tights over it (that's what I did. It's currently sitting on my desk inserted in an empty beer bottle- an elegant design if I may say so myself...)
4. Somewhere quiet
I live in London... under a flight path... next to a bus route. My mic didn't pick up a lot of the background noise, plus audacity has noise reduction and insert silence features that will help cut out unwanted sounds. But still the quieter space you can find the better. I did end up recording quite a lot of it under my duvet.
I didn't appreciate quite how long this would take when I started. A ten minute section can take about 40 minutes to record if you do a couple of takes, go back on sections where mistakes are made or a bus rolls past. I had other people reading sections of mine so would also stop and give direction. Then editing your ten minute chunk will take 20 minutes plus depending on how much you recorded. Top tip- I found the sooner you can edit after recording the better, as I could remember which sections we'd redone and wouldn't edit whole chunks just to find we gone back over it.
It's not just your time you need to consider. If you've got any other readers you'll need them to commit to a timeframe to make sure you can release episodes as scheduled. You'll also want a couple of people to give your first podcasts a listen for quality control. Also If you're releasing your podcast on itunes you'll also need to give them time to approve it before your release date, it can take them up to two weeks (two weeks?!) to listen to it.
So that was my experience turning my novel into a podiobook. It took a lot of energy, but it was a rewarding experience. I got to work with a lot of talented people and had a lot of fun.
If you decide to make a podiobook good luck! I'm sure it'll be amazing!