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 Born to Write
 A Blog by Author Amy Hill Hearth

No Jewelry, Stop Kicking Your Foot, and Don't Let Your Stomach Growl! (Adventures in Digital Audio 'Recording')

I got the call a few weeks ago: My publisher wanted to do a digital audio version of my novel, "Miss Dreamsville." Did I want to read it, or should they hire an actress? I decided to read it myself. A 250-300 page book takes about twelve hours to read. (A doorstopper, such as a Stephen King book, takes about 30 hours.) After three or four hours, even with several breaks, the human voice is tired. This meant I would need to go to the Simon & Schuster audio studio in Manhattan three or four times. I was a little nervous the first day. There is a learning curve involved, though the producer and the engineer were incredibly helpful. If you agree to it, you read from an iPad rather than holding the book in your hands. The reason? Every time you turn the page of a book, it makes a noise. Plus, the iPad can be reformatted in advance so that there are no sentences that continue on another page, as there is in a book. You have to read with emotion in your voice but you can't overdo it, either. I found reading a little more slowly, and constantly scanning ahead, worked for me. The recordings take place in a sound-proof room on the 11th floor. I was told ahead of time that I should not wear jewelry, especially bracelets or a necklace, because they make noise when you move. Ditto, clothing with buttons. And men are told not to wear starched shirts because every time they move even a tiny bit, to the engineer, it sounds like a marching band in the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Any "extra" sound means backing up in the text and re-reading that line. And, unless you want to spend the rest of your life in the sound booth, re-recording and re-recording, you realize you'd better get with the program. I did one thing wrong: I kicked my foot (nervously, I guess) under the table. I kept doing it, even when I tried not to, so finally they told me to take off my shoes. The most surprising thing, to me, was that some people have to hold a pillow over their stomachs or the engineer hears all kinds of gurgling noises. Now, if that isn't enough to make you self-conscious, I don't know what is.