Making the Audiobook

I'm halfway through making the audiobook for Tiny Tales from India (book release date scheduled for July 10), and since I had some extra time today, I thought I would write up some notes about the process I'm following since it is turning out to be really practical and even fun!

Goals. I have TWO goals for the audiobook component:

* Audio helps me to proofread. I'll confess that I find proofreading to be a very unrewarding experience, but I know it is important. I use the audio recording as a final proofreading opportunity, and it's very motivating to be making the audiobook at the same time. It feels like a much better use of my time than just traditional read-out-loud proofreading.

* Audio makes the text more useful. I know students use and appreciate the audiobook versions of my Public Domain Ramayana and Public Domain Mahabharata books. I hope the same will be true for these recordings too! The procedures I am using here — create audio, upload to playlist, embed in blog post — is the same procedure I used for those projects. A big improvement, though, is having a phone to work with. I didn't have a cellphone when I did those earlier projects (I know; it's weird, but I don't like cellphones, so I didn't have one until my father got sick three years ago and I had to have a phone with me all the time)... anyway, recording on a phone is so much easier than on the laptop!

Process. So, here's the super-simple process I follow based on my very limited goals. You'll see I do no audio editing of any kind; my main goal here is to support the proofreading process, and being able to share the audio is just an added bonus... but it's a bonus. I don't want to spend any more time on the audio than I have to because I want to get to work on the next book already (I have about a dozen books planned out so far).

1. Start with text file. I do the editing for the book in a simple text file, so I work through the stories in order one by one. Each book has 200 stories, and the stories are each 100 words long, so that makes this process very steady. I've proofread the stories many times by this point, but I'm also prone to keep editing too. This is the final round of proofreading!

2. Record with EZ app. I use an app called EZ Voice Recorder on my phone, but there's nothing special about that app. I click record, read, click stop. If I see an error or something I want to fix in the text, I just delete the recording and start over. Since each recording is just around 45 seconds, it's not a big deal to delete and re-record.

3. Upload to Google Drive. Then I use the "share" feature in EZ app to upload the mp3 file to my Google Drive. The app gives me the option to rename the file at that time so I just type in the number of the story (001, 002, and so on, to make it easy to sort by file name later), and I save it to a specific folder for this book in my Google Drive. Because EZ app remembers that Google Drive destination, it's easy; I don't have to navigate to the folder over and over.

4. Upload to SoundCloud. When I'm done with a session (maybe 20 stories or so), I download the mp3 files from Google Drive and upload them to SoundCloud. I already had a Pro/Unlimited account at SoundCloud when I created the Indian Epics audiobooks (yes, I pay for that out of pocket, as I do for a number of online services: welcome to my world...), so I don't have to worry about account limits. The free SoundCloud gives you 3 hours of upload time, Pro gives you 6 hours, and Unlimited is exactly that: unlimited. Which is a good thing: I'm going to be creating a lot of audio this year since each of these audiobooks will be around 3 hours of audio each since there are 200 stories in each book.

5. Edit tracks. As part of the SoundCloud upload process, I rename each track, copying-and-pasting the number/title information from my text file. I also upload the bookcover image file for each track as the image for that track. This goes very quickly; the SoundCloud interface is very user-friendly for my purposes.

6. Add to playlist. There's a playlist for the book, and after the tracks are uploaded and retitled, I add the tracks to the playlist. I embed the playlist in the main page for the book; the playlist updates automatically as tracks are added. SoundCloud recommends no more than 250 tracks per playlist, so that works perfectly for me: each playlist will have 200 tracks. I've embedded the playlist at the bottom of this post so you can see how that works (I have 100 tracks in there now, and I'll be added the second half this week).

7. Embed in blog posts. This is the more tedious part: After I upload the tracks to the playlist, I then embed each track in the blog post for that story, as well as updating the text in the blog post to match the final text in the text file. So, that's super useful: I end up with a nice blog post that has an audio track and text that matches the edited copy for the book... but this takes a couple minutes per post. It's a very repetitive task, though, so I do it watching TV in the evening. :-)
Use this link for Tiny Tales from India in blog posts.

8. Upload to my domain. I'm also uploading the audio files to the domain space I have for each Tiny Tales book. For example, here's the directory with the India mp3 files:

Here's the playlist at SoundCloud, and here it is embedded:

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