I compiled a number of HolyJuan stories, postings, cartoons, and some new writings together in a book called, “I Love Me. Who Do You Love?” At the time, I thought about recording an audio book to go along with it. As part of my work at Roto, we did audio recordings all the time. We would screen the voice talent, and then with a recording engineer, the talent, and with me as the producer, work together to ensure high-quality recording and to catch errors / make on-the-fly changes to the script. It was enjoyable work, so I thought I could handle it myself by just reading through my book with some simple recording equipment.
Oh boy, was I wrong.
First off, they call them “talent” because it takes a lot of practice and experience to read well, even when it is in their own voice and not a character voice. Reading naturally, without screwing up a word or skipping a whole line is difficult for someone doing it by themselves. Even if you think that you’ve read a few lines perfectly, the engineer and producer is there to catch if there were “pops” or background noises. In a studio environment, you’ve got two people making sure that the words are right and that they sound perfect. Being able to sit back and have a second take on something with a few modifications might squeeze something unexpected from everyone working together.
Secondly, the engineer is doing several other tasks that have nothing to do with the performance. They are tracking the takes, monitoring the equipment, catching subtle modifications the talent can make to how they are speaking into the microphone, and then wrapping it all up in a nice package for which I can take credit.
Lastly, it is very difficult to produce your own work. It’s hard to massage a 5th take out of the talent when you are the talent. There are missed words. Missed paragraphs. No direction from a 3rd party. And after trying to get one passable chapter complete, all you want to do is have a drink before moving on, and drinking while recording a downhill cheese wheel chase of compounding trouble.
I tried to record my book. I borrowed audio equipment from Hugh. Prepped my file folders. Booted up the Adobe Audition recording software. And promptly gave up after the first three chapters. About 75% of my recordings had the word “shit” in them when I recognized I had screwed up a word. Literally every recording would need an edit in the middle. And even when I thought I had a perfect recording, I’d catch a pop or slurred word. I was miserable, realizing that I am the laziest perfectionist in Ohio and the book would never be recorded without paying for an engineer, a producer, and studio time.
When I returned the audio equipment to Hugh, I explained my predicament. He knows a significant amount about recording and couldn’t help but agree. But in that sad discussion, we came up with a great idea: The Director’s Cut Audio Book – Now With 100% More Alcohol Consumption.
Here’s the pitch: I read and record my own book. I use at home equipment. If I want, I drink beers before and during the recording. I read without stopping for simple errors or I call out when I’ve glitched. If I want, I add commentary. I read the comics. I describe the photos. It is story telling of my stories. You buy the audio book knowing what you are getting and buying it because you know what you are getting.
What do you think?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.