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What I did during Lockdown

I’ve had a lifetime love of books but have, in my opinion, not enough imagination to write one.  I’ve listened to many audiobooks over the years as well, usually when on holiday or, more likely, when decorating!

My journey into the world of audiobook narration has, I think, been a slow one that happened in Glasgow, Scotland during the Covid19 Lockdown.  There were, however, two main things that gave me the impetus to go ahead and give it a try.

I was lucky enough to retire at age 50 in October 2019.  Then lockdown happened in March 2020, and with no job to go to, I took to cleaning house and watching Netflix.  During April and May I had seen an advert on TV where Scottish comedian Susan Calman is sitting in a cupboard narrating at home due to the Covid restrictions.  This got me thinking.  Also, during lockdown my family had weekly Zoom quizzes and I hosted a few of these.  I enjoyed doing them and realised actually my voice was quite clear and could be louder than I thought. 

Then the research began.  I spent day after day on Google and Youtube reading and hearing about audio work, how to get started and what equipment I would need.  I also reached out to a family member in the US who has successfully recorded many audiobooks and got some excellent advice. 

I bought myself a microphone and initially thought it would be a great idea to gain experience doing some type of voluntary work and stumbled upon Librivox.  Librivox is a wonderful website ‘powered by volunteers’ from around the world with the sole purpose of recording public domain books into audiobooks which can then be downloaded to listen to for free.  I recorded a couple of very long chapters (at least they seemed to be very long) of an old book.  This was a steep learning curve and very valuable experience.  I certainly had a lot more respect for audio narrators and presenters in general.

I then got really brave and created an ACX/Audible profile.  I spent many hours recording auditions, editing and mastering them and finally uploaded a few all at the same time, thinking nothing would come of it.

At this point I was reluctant to tell my family and friends what I was up to, thinking anyone that knows me would just laugh.  You see, I’m a fairly quiet-spoken, shy person, so not perhaps someone you would immediately think of who could talk for hours and hours.

The very next day I received the offer to narrate ’Malice’ by Christina Engela, a collection of horror stories.  My very first audiobook.  I was ecstatic and immediately ran upstairs squealing with delight to tell my husband. 

Now the real work would begin.

First, I had to record 15 minutes of the book for initial approval.  This comprised the first of the three horror stories in Malice (Wiggle Room). 

There I was, sitting in my tiny cupboard under the stairs.  Dark…stifling… definitely no wiggle room.  I was ultimately able to record a version I was happy with.  Then would come hours of editing to remove all of my breathing and outbursts!

Once uploaded, waiting for approval for this first 15 minutes from the Author and Publisher was as nail-biting as waking up tied to a hospital bed in an abandoned hospital.

Happily both were pleased with my work so far and over the next few weeks I was able to carry on and record the rest of the book, finish the production process and upload the completed audiobook.

Now we all wait again, this time for ACX approval (bites nails).

Throughout this process my confidence in my own abilities has grown immensely.  Initially I would ask my poor husband to listen and check all my recordings before uploading.  Always expecting mistakes to be found or to be told it was somehow unclear.  I have now learned to trust my own ear.  I know if I feel the need to have something checked, then deep down I also know the recording’s not good enough and needs work.  So I no longer feel the need to pester my poor husband for his time and hope soon he will just be able to relax and enjoy listening to ‘Malice’ the audiobook.

Nowadays I am delighted to tell anyone and everyone what I have been up to in the cupboard under my stairs during Lockdown.

Comments(3)

    • Glenda Younger

    • 2 weeks ago

    Michelle,
    You story inspires!

    • Joanne Le Fevre

    • 2 weeks ago

    Wow!!! Well done Michelle you are a true inspiration so proud of you!

    Joanne xx

    • Laura

    • 1 week ago

    What an amazing new career for you. Sounds so exciting. Didnt realise quite how much work goes into it. Well done. Laura x

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