There is always a "learning curve," but this was more of a "learning curl!"
For example: 192 kbps, mp3, bit rate at 44.1 kHz, -23 dB and -18 dB RMS, -3dB peak, and -60 dB noise floor. It all looked like the combination to a secret safe or the password for entrance into an important government facility.
Consequently, my first attempt at recording my narration, of the first book in The Story of Glops series, was an unacceptable flop. That dimmed my enthusiasm a bit. Education is usually the key, so I decided to learn all I could and get help from someone who could and would help.
ACX is the Audiobook Creation Exchange launched by Audible, Inc. about 10 years ago. Audible is an Amazon company. Audiobooks produced through ACX are sold through Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. Each recording for a book must meet certain, specific criteria to assure excellent, high-quality audiobooks. That, in turn, leads to satisfied audiobook listeners.
My husband, Glenn, calls it my hideout, because it reminds him of his boyhood hideout made with blankets and quilts over a card table.
Attempt one: Using the entire spare bedroom as a "recording studio" failed. I used quilts, a matress pad, a bedspread, and sheets on all hard surfaces. I added an old egg-crate mattress around my laptop and Blue Yeti USB microphone. That did not deaden enough extraneous sounds. Plus, the room could not function in any other manner.
Attempt two: Shrinking the size of the "recording studio" to a corner of the room seemed like a good idea. Although it was slightly better, it was not sound proof enough for good recordings.
Attempt three: Using a closet. What about claustrophobia? I wouldn't know until I tried it. I was able to make space in a different closet for luggage that was stored in the spare-bedroom closet. Throwing away a few items, including useless, empty boxes, was painless. The closet was only three feet wide and I had no desk that would fit. I did have the adjustable stand for my music keyboard and a removable computer-keyboard shelf from a desk. Add one very small, folding chair. Perfect fit!
I used the same quilts, matress pad, bedspread, sheets, and egg-crate mattress on all surfaces, over, under, and side to side. Voilà! One small, 3' x 4.5' dead-sound room. Although it is not very pretty, it is effective. As for claustrophobia? The door knob is only 12" from my left shoulder, and I take frequent breaks from recording.
No solution yet.
I am moving on to the next project, which is making audiobooks.
I have tried several times to get this blog to appear on Author Central, also. I even re-entered each separate blog, here, for Amazon to recoginze. Even though the pop-up said the blog was connected to Author Central, it has not shown up. Of course, I have to wait a day or more to know if the most recent attempt works. It is not a matter of "drag and drop" or "copy and paste." If it were, I would do that.
I will keep working on it. In the meantime, does anyone have any words of wisdom to share with me about how to get it done?
Balaam: The Story of Glops, Short Story 5a is ready for you and anyone else who wants a FREE copy.
This is the back-cover blurb:
“How can I get rid of these people before they start a war?” King Balak asked himself. He was talking about the Israelites.
God’s people rested in the country of Moab after forty years of wandering. They had won many battles against other nations. Balak, the king of Moab and Midian, hired the prophet, Balaam, to put a curse on Israel so the immigrants would go away.
Some imaginary glops became friends with the prophet’s donkey. Together with Balaam, they went to the king. Amazing events took place during and after their trip. Read this short story to find out how God stepped in to make Balaam do what God wanted.
This is a short story in The Story of Glops series.
Get your own copy and tell your family, friends, and acquaintances about the FREE short story. You wil find it on my website: bettymreeves-author.com
It has taken two years, but I have finally learned a few "key" steps to get better rankings on Amazon. This is important to me, because all my books are sold on Amazon.
When people talked about "algorithms" on Amazon, I had no idea what they meant. Wikipedia says, "An algorithm is a finite list of instructions, most often used in solving problems or performing tasks."
I was still puzzled. When I learned that a recipe was an example of an algorithm, I began to understand. In cooking, I had to follow the recipe in the correct order.
1. Gather the ingredients. There was no need to go to the next step if I did not have all (or most) of the ingredients. I did my fair share of substituting one ingredient for another, though.
2. Preheat the oven. Such a simple but necessary step. If this step was overlooked, the oven would not reach the proper temperature and the mixed ingredients did not cook properly or in a timely fashion. I learned from experience that turning the oven to a hotter temperature than recommended, to make up for lost time, would not solve the problem.
Amazon has become the #1 search engine for books. If someone wants a book about a particular subject, the person types the subject into the search bar. Books that Amazon thinks are the best matches will be shown. Chances are strong that the person will click on one or more of the books shown and possibly make a purchase.
How can an author of a particular book, one of millions in a particular genre, get Amazon to show that one book to someone searching for books in that genre? Algorithms.
Only Amazon knows all that goes into its algorithms. Apparently, it is a closely guarded secret. Certainly, one important factor is the sales ranking of the book. More sales, better algorithms, more exposure, better ranking ... Somehow, they must be tied, or looped, together.
It's been a year or longer since I watched "Dancing with the Stars." The show was based on the premise that a well-known person was matched with a professional dancer, and they became a dancing couple. Weekly, they competed with other such couples, until one couple proved to be the best dancing partnership in the dwindling number of contestants. Ideally, the best couple won. Popularity played a part, especailly at first, until the dances became harder and the weaker couples were eliminated. It was more than a popularity contest. Hard work and skill were involved.
To get a book noticed by Amazon so that buyers notice the book, the author needs more than popularity. People who are much smarter about this than me, specifically the people at Reedsy who send free, weekly emails, say that "keywords" are extremely important. To Amazon, keywords are more important than the words in the book's title, subtitle, or back-cover blurb.
Having placed my books on Amazon and filled out the forms, I already knew that authors are allowed only seven keywords. Here's the "key" to this problem. We can insert more than one word in each of the seven spaces. That was welcome news to me.
In fact, we can enter up to 50 characters per keyword space. Now, that makes a difference! Instead of using "Noah" for one keyword and "Ark" for a second keyword, I could type "Noah's Ark, Great Flood, Rain, Rainbow" in one keyword space. Did you count the characters? I still had room for more, plus six more keyword spaces to go.
When I did that seven times, I knew I had a better chance of my book being noticed. If someone searched for "Noah," my book might be recommended by Amazon. In fact, it was. For awhile, my book was #1 in the cagetory of "Children's Noah's Ark Books." Amazon's rankings are very fluid, though. My book is no longer #1 in that category, but it's still doing much better than it did during the first two years that it was on Amazon.
"How do you like them apples?" (Good Will Hunting).
God said, "Go on. Don't quit.
Your work is not in vain.
I'll always go with you
To strengthen and sustain."
I said, "God, I'm convinced
That I don't walk alone,
But some days I give up;
I lack courage to go on."
God said, "Get up. Don't quit.
Remember I love you;
Victory is just ahead.
Go on. I'll see you through."
Perry Tanksley (copyright)
"May the Lord bless and keep you."
Sometimes, authors get great support from family and friends. Other times, those closest to us cannot quite understand why we are drawn to writing. They know we are not in it for the money. They know that when we get into our writing mode, it takes us away from them.
A writer’s critique group is a small group where authors can meet with other authors who understand our writing passion. Critique groups have regular meetings where its like-minded members come together to offer each other support, encouragement, and, yes, even criticism.
The authors in a small group share bits and pieces of our writing in each meeting. We read our excerpts in an atmosphere of acceptance and understanding. Criticism is genuinely constructive and given in order to strengthen one another’s writing skills.
When I began writing, about twenty years ago, I didn’t know that critique groups existed. Initially, I would have been afraid to go to one thinking that the criticism would be severe and devastating, not constructive and encouraging.
If only I had known what I was missing!
Now, I heartily agree with one of our group’s members, Suzana Sandoval:
I love our little group. I can see that we’re more than a critique group;
we’re also a support group. It’s so important that we have support groups
where we can edify each other. We are there for encouragement, and
allegiance to one another, and to our work.
Our critique group has five regular members who write in several genres. Initially, we gathered as authors of children’s books. We discovered that we are multi-talented and enjoy writing in diverse fields, as well. Those genres include historical fiction novels, memoirs, music-themed writings, non-fiction, poetry, short stories, and YA novels.
If you do not know of any local critique group in your particular writing genre, join organizations for authors and go from there. Texas High Plains Writers is an excellent organization based in Amarillo. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is an international organization with headquarters in Los Angeles. It also has numerous chapters, including five in Texas.
If you are not invited to join a small group, or you do not locate a group that you are interested in, you may consider starting one. Find a comfortable, accessible place and a convenient time to meet. Get the word out by contacting other authors through organizations, like the ones above, or by posting information online.
Formats of critique groups vary, including face-to-face meetings, teleconferences, or online communities. The group I belong to meets in Amarillo. When we first used ZOOM online, we were able to include an author friend from the Alaskan wilderness.
When you first join or begin a critique group, you may be nervous about sharing your writing. At first, you may benefit from simply listening, but contributing your own writing will help you get more out of the small group.
Benefits of participating in a local writers’ critique group may include:
Benefits of online critique groups include:
Critique groups can be very enjoyable and rewarding, and should definitely be an important part of your life and growth as an author.
This article first appeared as a guest post on Rick Treon's author website, 5/19/2020.
During Sunday's worship service, I was impressed with the need to look in my copy of The Daily Bible, Harvest House Publishers, that is in chronological order. When I had the chance at home, I looked to see what I must need to see.
In my notes, I saw "Balaam (Numbers 22-24)." So, I read those three chapters again. Balaam's story took place when the Israelites were camped in Moab, just before Joshua led them into the Promised Land. That is exactly where Moses: The Story of Glops, Book 5 ended.
This will be a short story to add to the Glops' adventures. Perfect timing, too. God is good, all the time! All the time, God is good!
When writing, it is fairly standard for authors to show people's thoughts in italics. I decided to do the same for the glops, even though the glops are imaginary. Doing so meant I needed to go to the previous books and update them. The new editions have the glops thoughts in italics.
For example, in Tower of Babel, Abraham and Isaac: The Story of Glops, Book 2, the old way said:
Glops were shocked! They thought this could not be right! This was Isaac, Abraham's precious son!
The new way says:
Glops were shocked! They thought this cannot be right!
This is Isaac, Abraham’s precious son!
It's a subtle change.
Betty M Reeves