A little while ago I was lucky enough to get the chance to record my own book, How to Eat Loads and Stay Slim, for Audible.co.uk. Wow, what an experience that was! It took place in the tiny windowless studio you see in the picture. Just me, a mic and an iPad – oh and a glass of apple juice – more of that later.
Let’s start from the beginning. It seems an awfully long time ago that Peter Jones and I decided to write How to Eat Loads and Stay Slim. It was one of those books where we actually started with the title. We were chatting on the phone one day, Peter was telling me about his How to Do Everything and Be Happy book, and I said, what a great title. It could only be better if it was called How to Eat Loads and Stay Slim. And there you have it, the conception of a book. So we wrote it.
Anyway, back to the recording. We were lucky enough to get offered a contract from Audible, the world’s largest provider of spoken word entertainment. And we were also lucky enough to be asked to record it. (It’s a dual viewpoint book – I do the sensible stuff – Peter does the – er – whackier stuff.) So we both went along to Rushforth Media’s studios, in London where it all happens.
We were assigned a studio and an editor each. The editors were in separate studios, but connected to you by microphone. Mine was called Alice and she was lovely. How it works is that as you read, your editor listens, and if you stumble or miss out a word she stops you and asks you to go back. Reading your own book should be easy as pie (note the fitting simile, tee hee) but it isn’t of course. Because you know you are being recorded it’s scary as anything! Suddenly your tongue feels too big for your mouth and you have this urge to pant (with fear) which wouldn’t be good on an audio book, well at least not on the type we were doing. And,then there is the ongoing thought of, did this sentence I wrote really need to be this long?
We’d hardly got started when Alice said, “Sorry, Della, your throat is clicking.”
“My throat is what?”
“It’s clicking. Quite normal. Apple juice will sort it out. I’ll just get you some.”
Now for the uninitiated (as I was) throat clicking is something that we can all do sometimes when we’re speaking. Mostly it’s inaudible, but it can be heard on a sensitive mic – and – apparently apple juice sorts it out. And it did. You learn something new every day!
Once the throat clicking was resolved and I got going I was quite relaxed. The only other hold ups we had were extraneous noises, such as a door slamming somewhere in the building – or me moving too far from the mic – whereupon Alice would stop me and we would just re-record that line. Or occasionally I would come across a word I didn’t know how to pronounce. This is an occupational hazard I find with writing – I’m much better at writing our language than speaking it. Does bechamel have a ‘ch’ or a ‘sh’ in the middle? Yes, I know now, thanks, it’s besh-a-mel. Alice used pronunciation websites to check any queries. Interestingly, there were often several ‘right’ ways to pronounce words – which was quite reassuring.
Anyway, the book got recorded – it took less than a day – which is fast apparently. And Peter and I were exhausted by the end of it. But we both agreed it was a brilliant experience. We wouldn’t have missed it for anything. We can’t wait to hear the finished result. Especially the bits where Peter and I argue a point – as we both had to record our halves of the argument without the benefit of hearing the other person.
But we will have to wait to hear it. Although not that long because How to Eat Loads and Stay Slim comes out in audio on 24 May 2013. It will also be published in ebook format on 25 May. How exciting. Here’s the link to check it out.
And finally, just to add, if you ever get the chance to record your own book – then go for it. It’s a wonderful experience that I feel very privileged to have had. And being paid to do it was the icing on the cake – so to speak!