The fastest-growing publishing sector is audiobooks, which presents a fantastic opportunity for independent authors, but most are unaware of audio-first writing processes. Whether you write audiobook script of fiction or nonfiction, we’ll show you how to use a few clever audiobook strategies to make your script stand out – and listeners will thank you!
Publishing an audiobook is different from publishing a print book or an eBook. You would think it’s just a book that’s read aloud, but it’s not quite that simple. It necessitates some “adaptation.”
Step 1: Fine Tune Your Audiobook Scripts and Style
The goal of production notes is to assist you in conveying the book’s intent as the narrator. The information that an author might supply to a narrator is usually found in these notes. Even if you’re both the author and the narrator, I recommend making these production notes so you can keep track of everything.
If you’re the narrator, ask the author for this information. Even if you can’t, you should be able to figure out a significant chunk of the data.
- Understand the pace of the audiobook? The tempo could be quick, slow, calm, urgent, or just about anything else. It varies depending on the book’s chapter or part. In addition, the book’s general tempo is appropriate for its genre. A humorous children’s novel, for example, might be more evenly paced, as if it were being read to a child by a parent. There are, however, faster-paced chapters within the plot that depict action situations. As a narrator, you’ll need to modify your tone to fit the story’s needs.
- Understand the Genre and Theme? Understand the genre and theme of the book, if the book is light-hearted and warm or dark and cold? This will have an impact on how the words are delivered. I once listened to a book narration and could tell right away that the book was going to be dark and disturbing. It wasn’t the words themselves because I simply listened to the first two sentences. It was the narrator’s voice. This can be one of the most effective aspects of listening to an audiobook. Create a plot that holds the listener’s attention at the end of each chapter. Never end a chapter with a set of answers or major results. Keep major arcs in the middle of chapters to keep your listeners captivated to their speakers all the way to the end of your book.
- Understand the characters? Here is what we should look for:
- Name of the character
- Key details (such as the character’s age and descriptions such as “a young enthusiastic child,” “an old feeble man,” or “a tough person”)
- Voice accent
- What is the overall feeling of the book? Is it upbeat, downbeat, authoritative, or something else entirely? The listener’s experience is greatly influenced by this overall feeling. A nonfiction book that provides a how-to guide, for example, would benefit from being read in an authoritative tone.
- General pronunciation instructions. This is a list of nonfiction words that aren’t generally used (medical, technical, etc.). This is a list of imaginary locations, new languages, and so on for fiction. Even if you’re the author and are preparing to narrate your own work, I recommend writing this down simply to keep your thoughts clear.
- Write Like You Speak. Write your book as if you were speaking. To captivate your reader, use speech-centric phrasing and phrases.
- Work on Your Descriptive Writing. Tone, speaking speed, and visuals can all be used to set the mood for your listener.
- Make Your Recording Sound Professional. Always be aware of the dangers of the letter ‘S.’ If you’re planning to narrate it yourself, be mindful of the recording issues that S’s can bring. To keep yourself on your toes when it’s time to record, highlight them in your script.
Step 2: Audiobook Annotation Options
Marking up the script process has been described here in four different ways. Feel free to choose a completely different tool as per your need.
The first way involves printing out the whole audiobook script and marking everything by hand. This is by far the slowest method of going through the script, but the benefit is that you have complete control over everything you put in it.
By following this process you’ll know:
- How all the characters sound
- Where you’d like to add emphasis
- Which ones have an accent
- Where to add extra pauses as you go through and hand-annotate.
In other words, you’ll have a better understanding of the audiobook script and how it should sound
You can also use tools like Adobe Reader. To view, print, and annotate your chapter you will need Adobe Reader version 9 (or higher). This program is freely available for a whole series of platforms that include PC, Mac, and UNIX and can be downloaded from http://get.adobe.com/reader/.
Between printed paper Adobe and iAnnotate, Microsoft Word could be a decent compromise. Drawing tools in Word may be more useful for annotations. You could, for example, create an ellipse and write a character’s name inside it. It may become confused if you reach a section with a lot of talk from different characters. Character names are normally used at the beginning of the discussion and are not repeated if there is a lot of back and forth.
Furthermore, unless the narrator does anything with their voice to make each character stand out, the audience may not be able to tell which character is speaking. Just before each character speaks, the narrator could paste in the ellipse with their names. This will serve as a cue for the narrator to switch voices for Character 1, Character 2, and so on. With Microsoft Word, this is really simple.
The advantages of Microsoft Word are the same as those of iAnnotate. If you come across a difficult-to-pronounce word, make an ellipsis with the work’s phonic spelling. It’s simple to conduct a search and then copy and paste the pronunciation directly over the difficult-to-pronounce word.
You can quickly sync your document between your laptop, iPad, and iPhone if you keep it in OneDrive. Your hand-annotated audiobook script is now always with you. If there are any spots in the script where you’d like to add more emphasis or include more pauses, you’ll have to work your way through it slowly.
Another option is to utilize iAnnotate, which is software that allows narrators to electronically annotate a script. Consider the following scenario:
Let’s pretend you have a difficult-to-pronounce term. You can get the author’s pronunciation and use it to make a phonetic spelling of the term. But how can you make a list of every time that word appears?
- Step 1: Using the search tool in iAnnotate, locate the first occurrence of the name.
- Step 2: Cross out the name and write the name’s pronunciation (phonetic spelling) directly above it.
- Step 3: Make a copy of the annotation.
- Step 4: Find the next occurrence of the name and paste the annotation directly above it.
- Step 5: Continue until all of the words have been annotated.
Because of the search feature, this method is clearly faster than doing it on paper. iAnnotate quickly navigates you through the audiobook script.
You must make your way through the script slowly if you need to emphasize specific words or pause longer in some spots for dramatic effect. In this scenario, there is no evident advantage to using iAnnotate over a printed document.
Step 3: Audiobook Script Markups
Let’s talk about various narrator marks you may use so you know how to say a specific word, adjust your voice for a character’s accent, or include a pause for a dramatic impact.
Unless you choose to, I don’t expect you to utilize these annotations throughout the entire audiobook script. I believe they are best used in scenes where the writing is a little muddled or where you want to add a little extra drama
We spoke about what you can do if you have numerous characters speaking in a passage before. To restate, if you’re using Microsoft Word, you may make an ellipse, fill it with the character’s name, and then place it in front of each line where that character speaks. If you’re using paper, you may color label each character with a highlighter. Alternatively, you can use iAnnotate to mark which character is speaking before they begin their dialogue.
Build Your Story Curve
It’s all too easy to get caught up on the commas and periods that already exist in the sentences. However, you might wish to include more pauses to emphasize a point. To set the mood, slow down your pace for key sections of your novel. Maintain a consistent volume while adjusting your tone and pauses for each mood and setting.
Keep this in mind while you write so you may incorporate these notations into your screenplay. You might write the word “pause” in the spot where you want silence to appear. You can also use a slash (“/”).
You could simply insert these markings using any of the three ways I outlined before, hand-annotation, iAnnotate, or Microsoft Word. It’s entirely up to you whether you want to use “pause” or “/.”
If you’ve got the skills to Narrate, flaunt it. Use your voice to do different character voices and impersonations to bring your work to life. Build tension, create emotion, and tell stories that connect with your audience by using your voice.
You might also hire a professional, but make sure to include clear instructions.
If you come across a sentence that says,
What are you going to do?”. Sam inquired, in his quiet voice
You won’t realize Sam is speaking softly until the end of the phrase in this scenario.
You may add the words “sad” or “silent” to the beginning of the sentence to help you remember how to speak it.
You can always put the pronunciation next to the word if you’re pronouncing strange names or unusual locales like I said earlier.
Graphs, photos, charts, and other visual elements commonly employed in nonfiction don’t work well on audio. Some can be tweaked, but there’s a better way: make a printable PDF with all of this information.
Even when it comes to nonfiction, a line of text that states, “Look at Figure 7 which shows…” is one example where guidance may be required. This line should be changed to “In the audiobook companion material, Figure 7 shows…” to create a better listening experience.
The advantage is that now the listener is aware that there is companion material to reference if they want more information.
However, before the listener may access the audiobook companion material, the narrator must explain what is shown in Figure 7. The majority of the time, this is taken care of in the author’s audiobook script. This explanation may need to be updated by the author if there is any confusion.
Research the right pronunciation of odd medical or legal phrases and mark the phonetic spelling next to the word.
For published authors and freelance writers, branching out into audiobooks should be a logical progression. The Internet and modern technologies offer a fantastic opportunity to sell professionally read narrated audiobooks. Audiobooks are growing increasingly popular as the world becomes more digitalized and people have less time to read print books and eBooks.
How to handle Graphs, images, tables and other visual elements on Audiobook?
Creating a separate PDF file to accompany the audio is the best way to deliver graphics, charts, and photographs in audiobook. The narrator can label each graphic element, such as figure 4, figure 9, and so on. For example, in a book about body language, the narrator might discuss a strategy for interpreting body language and say something along the lines of… “For more information on this, please see figure 8 on page 5 of the accompanying PDF.”
How to share PDF alongside Audiobook?
If the audiobook product was delivered as a download, the PDF document can be included in the package. The narrator can just tell the listener to look for the PDF by name.
You can also share with a secret URL is simply a basic webpage that can only be accessed if you know where it is. By hosting your additional content online, you can instruct the listener to go to the secret page to view graphics and illustrations or download them as PDFs or other files. Your secret URL may be a hidden directory on your book’s website. i.e. www.mywebsite.com/audiobookfiles.