Reading a book aloud is different to reading the sentences within the head. When I began audio book production, I learned that my ‘word perfect’ novel needed yet another redraft. There are various reasons for redrafting your novels for the audio book market.
How to Prepare the Audio Book Script
Authors may redraft their novels for the audio book market for several reasons. These might be:
Certain sentences are too long. Reading long sentences without a breath is not only uncomfortable for the reader, but also the listener. Who wants to hear an endless sentence being read out to the last puff of air? Some audio book producers even edit out the pauses, which sounds wrong. I will cut a sentence in half, shorten it or add pauses via commas.
Tips for Audio Book Narrators
Tips for Audio Book Narrators
The writing style sounds overformal. The Queen’s English is vital in many cases, but over-correctness can stifle all expression from a reading. Words chosen for the inner thoughts of characters need to sound natural, human, so that the narrator can inject expression into the reading. Good narration is vital for audio book sales, but even the best narrator can do little with a script that permits no expression.
This short excerpt from one of my audio books, Nora by Charles J Harwood narrated by Rachel Shirley uses words to permit some expression into the heroine’s inner thoughts. Here, the main character, Nancy has broken into the home of Vince, a celebrity playboy. As she tampers with his security system, she suffers a flashback of the crashed limo that had almost been her coffin.
Avoid Repetition in a Novel
A receptive element within the text. This might be a recurring word or recurring sequence of words within a short space of time. It is surprising how much repetition can sneak into a novel until it is read aloud. I had some ‘weeding’ and rewording to do when I read passages aloud, not realising I have over-favoured words and phrases.
Character Dialogue Sounds Strained
Discourse within scenes do not sound convincing. This is a biggie. Watch out for character speech that sounds forced, unnatural or simply wrong. Putting words into a character’s mouth requires instinct and intuition. This means keeping faith to the lingo that a person would use, so that the listener knows who is speaking.
But crafting dialogue also means making it sound natural. Avoid forcing dialogue simply as a device to move the plot along. It will show up in the audio book recording. No one wants to listen to chitchat or stilted dialogue in an audio book.
Passages that Go On and On
Cut, cut and cut again if necessary. Some sentences don’t add anything or take too long to get to the point. Reading aloud means retaining the listener’s attention. Give the listener no reason to press ‘pause’ or worse, the off button. Keep the novel tight and moving along so that the listener is captivated and curious.
To Enable Whisperync for Voice
All corrections you make in your audio script must be reflected in your novel, or Audible’s Whispersync cannot be enabled. The technicians at ACX listen through your audio book recording to ensure the words are at least 98% faithful to the Kindle book. This means anyone purchasing your book can switch between reading and listening to it.