Rachael Herron is the bestselling author of the literary novels Pack Up the Moon (named a 2016 Editor’s Pick by Library Journal) and Splinters of Light and The Ones Who Matter Most (all from Penguin), the Darling Bay and Cypress Hollow series, and the memoir, A Life in Stitches (Chronicle). She received her MFA in writing from Mills College, Oakland. She’s a New Zealand citizen as well as an American, and she is a proud member of the NaNoWriMo Writers Board. She teaches writing extension workshops at both UC Berkeley and Stanford.
Rachael was already known to us as a serious hybrid, having published or self-published over twenty books. She recently released her memoir writing handbook, Fast-Draft Your Memoir: Write Your Life Story in 45 Hours, and when we heard she “lost her mind” (her words) and decided to learn to narrate an audiobook in time to launch audio with her digital and print editions, we knew we had to get her on the show to talk about it.
If you are thinking of recording the audio of your own book, some things to consider:
- Readers do want to hear the author’s voice for non-fiction, but typically they do not want the author to read their own fiction.
- If you have no experience with speaking or performance, you probably do not want to try this yourself.
- If the idea of recording your own audiobook sounds at all awkward, turn around and run!
Many authors who record their own audio will rent time and space in a professional recording studio, where someone else will do the mastering. Not Rachael Herron! She baffled the heck out of her bedroom (sorry, Lala, balanced her setup on top of her bed, stood frozen in place atop squeaky floorboards, only after she ran the pups to exhaustion so they wouldn’t clack toenails in the background. She crawled Google and learned everything she could about the process, specs, and mastering with GarageBand and Audacity so she could get it right the first time because she was on a tight deadline to get this released with her book launch in digital and print.
PFH is a term that means “per finished hour” and refers to the cost per finished listening hour of audiobook. Each finished hour, when done by a professional, represents two to three real hours spent working (recording, pausing, backing up, re-reading, etc.). As a first-timer, Rachael spent 8 hours per finished hour for her 5-hour book.
As Rachael was reading her book out loud she was able to catch mistakes in time to release a really clean book for launch day. She and Rekka recommend reading your work out loud to catch issues you wouldn’t see just reading it by sight.
Rachael will never listen to herself on podcast episodes because of the difference in sound inside and outside the jaw bones of her skull, and was sick of hearing herself talk by the end of the process.
Rachael is working on another memoir as she works through a year of creative replenishing. Each month since December, she challenges herself to try a new tactic to rebuild her creativity. December was “Reading,” January was “Home,” February was “Music,” and March will be “Vacation.”
Bossy Pants by Tina Fey
Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham
Travels by Michael Crichton
TRIGGER WARNING: Dolls with Human Teeth
- How Do You Write? Podcast (Listen on March 23 to hear her interview with Rekka!)
- The Petal to the Metal with J. Thorn