An AI Voice Sample
I'll admit it, audiobooks, specifically the making of audiobook versions of my books, is incredibly daunting and expensive.
Around 3-4 years ago, I dove in and shelled out around $3,500 for five of my books to be narrated by professional audiobook narrators. And at this point, I've nearly broken even on my investment.
I looked at my author biz bank balance and wondered if I should give it a go, get some of these other ten books I have written and published out on audiobook as well. I looked at my list of narrators (I had three different ones) and contacted each of them.
Let's just say that prices have risen exponentially in the past few years. If I invested $3,500 on five audiobooks, that averages to around $700 per audiobook. Every one of the narrators wanted a minimum of $1600 or more (sometimes much more) for their work.
Now, this is not to say that they aren't worth it. I'm sure they are. It is simply to say that, I can't afford that.
So what's a woman to do?
Eleven Labs... specifically, Professional Voice Cloning, was looking like a definite option. At least for direct audiobook sales. The website advised that I record at least three hours of my voice for the best cloning effect. Now, I have to say, their instant voice cloning was pretty darned good.
That's a clip of my voice using the Instant Voice Clone. They take around five minutes of material (up to 10 mb file) and use that for the voice profile. I was pretty impressed. I can't wait to see what the Professional Voice Cloning sounds like. Eleven Labs says to expect it in 3-4 weeks.
A funny thing occurred while I was recording three hours worth of my voice. I read G581: The Departure, and actually really enjoyed it once I had gotten over the learning curve of where to position myself and how to edit the files so that the ambient noise went away and all that was left was my voice. I'm telling you, there are some awesome products out there, and Audacity is one them. And FREE to use!
I found myself getting really into it as I read it out loud. There is something about it that really revved me up and got me excited for the story and thinking of folks listening to it. I learned a couple of things as well.
Despite hearing over and over that I would need a sound studio to do this properly, I have found that it is quite the opposite. I can get really good sound quality with the microphone that I have (it cost around $70 for the mic, boom, pop filter, etc) and by using the Noise Reduction filter on Audacity once I've finished recording.
I enjoy reading and recording my stories a lot more than I thought I would.
There's just one hump I need to get over. I need to get comfortable with the editing process. Figuring out how to remove the verbal stumbles and weird goofs that I make as I read. There aren't a ton, but they are there. And I think I can do it if I take the time and hopefully I won't lose my sanity in the process.
So what am I saying here? Am I actually committing to recording my voice reading my books instead of a cloned voice? I'm not sure. It's... a lot.
One of the biggest deciding factors is money. Not just what I would save by not hiring it out or doing the voice cloning technology and only being able to sell that in certain markets that allow AI narration. But also what I am missing out on making right now.
Ignore the income for a second and pay attention to the percentages. While ebooks constitute over 57% of my sales income, audiobooks hog a 21.55% share of the sales revenue. When I saw this number, I got really excited. Because of the 15 books I have written, only five of them are in audiobook format.
And see that number, well, it made me question what it would look like if ALL of my books were in audiobook format. I've certainly been hearing it for a while, but here was solid proof. Audiobooks are a huge market, and they are growing faster every day.
My husband suffers from dyslexia and has always found reading to be a slow, time-consuming task. He listens to audiobooks over and over and over again. I'm sure he has listened to the Harry Potter series at least 100 times by now. And don't get him started on the Wheel of Time books! A friend of mine reached out when I mentioned voice cloning and said that pretty much the only books he consumes now are on audio. We live busy lives. I don't listen to books on audio, but I love my podcasts, especially Joanna Penn's The Creative Penn.
When I worked in customer service and IT support decades ago, I had many positive comments on my phone voice. And this isn't the first time I've considered recording all of my audiobooks myself. I'm still on the fence, and more than a little intimidated at the editing that I will need to do.
But if it is anything like the dozens, if not hundreds, of things I have learned in my life - it's only intimidating until I get the hang of it, then it is usually smooth sailing. I think what remains is simply working it into my schedule, and finding a way to balance all of those spinning plates.
Writing, editing, and publishing my books...
Caring for a family...
Maintaining my short-term rental and coordinating the continuing renovations projects...
Continuing to lose weight and stay healthy...
Home improvement projects...
And... recording audiobooks? We shall see.
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