In March 2021, I went on a solo staycation in Singapore. I had written the first draft of my book, Rewriting My Happily Ever After, but needed some alone time to move ahead. While looking for ways to edit a manuscript, I learned that reading aloud was a great way to improve your writing. Especially when it comes to large works like books.
I began by reading each chapter aloud and recording it on my phone. Then I would play it back and make corrections on the printed copy. It made a huge difference to the manuscript because reading aloud allows words to come through your brain differently than words that you take in visually. While it may look like we are reading with our eyes, we are actually reading it out to ourselves silently as well. That’s why it is easy to spot clunky phrases, awkward sentence structures and complex words more easily when they are being spoken instead of simple being read.
As a recent convert to audiobooks, I know why I enjoy listening to books. There is a sense of closeness with the narrator, an intimacy that is easy to strike because the words are whispered into your ears (when you use earphones) which results in a greater involvement (and perhaps greater recall) in the narrative.
Baby steps make a difference
When my book was launched in print and ebook version a year ago, I didn’t think much about creating an audiobook. I consumed several memoirs including Michelle Obama’s Becoming, and Maya Shanbag Lang’s What We Carry in audio format and particularly enjoyed them when the author was also the narrator (unlike fiction where professional voice artists narrate the book instead of the author).
Yet, I was unsure that I would be confident enough to create an audiobook. Although I had been interviewed on podcasts and Instagram/facebook live, I could not have predicted that launching my own podcast would be my first serious foray into the world of digital audio.
Six months after the launch of my book, it became clear that conversations about life after divorce needed to happen so that more women could freely speak about their divorce stories. While my story was a good start, in order to break the silence and stigma associated with divorce, it was important to keep the dialog going and bring more stories out into the open.
I launched Rewriting YOUR Happily Ever After podcast in April 2022 and enjoyed the process of learning how to connect with people, record audio and upload it on platforms. After every conversation, I feel energised and pleased with the result.
When the first anniversary of the book launch arrived, I knew that there were many people who love stories but don’t always read books. Several prospective readers also enquired about my book being offered in audio format. Despite my misgivings about my ability to narrate (and invest the money required) an audiobook, I could not deny them access to my book.
So I took the next step to bring the audiobook to life.
The unexpected joy of doing something for the first time
While I like to think that I am reasonably tech savvy, at heart I am very old school. I looked up places to record audiobooks in Singapore online but was not convinced about the options. I decided to ask around and approached some new friends I had made lcoally thanks to my book.
A friend connected me with her friend, a lady who does voice overs and after a brief call, she put me in touch with a studio she had used. And in the blink of an eye it seemed as if the stars aligned. I was connected with the right people at the right time and voila, within a week I was at the recording studio for my first ever narration session.
Over the years I have had the pleasure of speaking before large and small audiences and to be completely honest, I am quite happy to speak in public. But usually I speak about topics related to my professional work. The audiobook narration experience was nothing like that.
I was alone in a sound-proof room with all kinds of recording equipment and headphones. Across the glass pane I could see the sound engineers doing their part with the software. Not surprisingly, I found myself speaking confidently, knowing that I could repeat a line if needed.
From my recording sessions I learned that keeping yourself hydrated with frequent sips of warm water and taking bites of an apple are essential to avoid dry mouth and lip smack sounds. Reading your own words aloud feels awkward at first but it is easy to get into your story and it felt quite intimate, as if I was telling my story to a friend.
In fact, many reviewers of my book mentioned that while reading it, they felt as if they were sitting across from me (even though they had not met or known me previously) and hearing my story being told to them. The audiobook narration experience felt like I was in a one on one session with a reader, the one who will eventually listen to the book.
In a few weeks the audiobook will be available online on a variety of platforms. I’m looking forward to sharing it with everyone who loves audiobooks.
There was no way I could have known that within a year and half I would go from reading aloud chapters from my book to myself in a hotel room, to launching a podcast and now, finally, getting ready to launch my audiobook.
Life sure is strange. But isn’t that what makes it so exciting?
Drop me a comment if you would like to be informed about the audiobook launch.