I’m working on the April series audio books

No hard timeline. We’re going through and editing things. They want to know for example how to read ISSII = International Space Station II. So you read it ISS2.

12 Responses to I’m working on the April series audio books

  1. Sarah February 2, 2024 at 8:49 pm #

    I am excited for this! I have a bit of a commute to work and listen to books quite a lot.

  2. Stefan February 3, 2024 at 8:13 am #

    Can’t wait. I started reading your books because i found the FL audio books after i started reading Laurence Dahners. I found him because i liked a narrator for some of my audiobooks and she did one of his books.
    Whatever the choice just make sure somebody carefully listens for consistency. For someone like me who listened somewhere around 5 times (more like 10 times for the first few) to the complete family law series, there are some rather obvious errors there:

    Ceres Dollars are in the most recent two books pronounced without the second e (cers). That might be plausible but not if it is pronounced like i would currently expect. Would have made a cool little fact about evolution of language.
    The french colonies (and pretty much every non-english name) like Jan which definitly is not close to Chen, are quite butchered.
    And Delta-V is totally not pronounced Delta five.

    Just to name a few.
    It is also rather annoying if the narrator is switched between books. The long break between FL4 and FL5 audio books and the corresponding inconsistencies are noticable, but not as bad as switching narrator without a reason within the content. Some audiobook series are hard to listen to if you listen back to back and then the narrator changes. It gets worse when the narrator has his/her own ideas about how to pronounce names or act in character.

    I also checked over the whole timeline issues i mentioned a few month ago. Those are messy even just within the FL series:
    The elves are apparantly the reason for explorers carrying weapons but that was only 70 years prior ot FL4 which is the same time the derf have been discovered. Might have been a mistake by Jeff since characters are allowed to make mistakes but obvously a mistake.
    Bill King of the Interstellar Intelligence Agents on Derfhome mentions the “girl with a pocketphone” report as if he was a contemporary but also appreciates eventual life extension of Derfhome.
    Might not be an issue but Fargone will be discovered within the decade of the current April timeline.

    If you need a beta reader or listener just let me know. Gonna buy it anyway but would not mind helping find errors and improving the reader/listener experience of others.
    Also: Do you know if the narrator is doing the recording live on discord? Some do and it great to join some of those sessions. In some cases i could help with pronounciation of german names.

    • Mac February 3, 2024 at 9:31 am #

      So far Tantor hasn’t been inclined to buy rights to more of my books. I’ve offered them. I have no idea if they were happy with sales or not. They have earned out the advance. These new books will be ‘read’ by Amazon. They give you a choice of voices and I allowed my nephew to pick a young woman’s voice using American English. They can be edited after publishing so if you find errors do please tell me about them. Since I’m deaf my nephew is going through the edit/correction process. I’ll attach an image of what the working screen looks like.

      • Stefan February 3, 2024 at 1:25 pm #

        From what i can find i am not happy about that service. It seems to be a simple text to speech in a single voice. No character voices.
        I am not sure if i would actually buy that in its current state. It could be ok but i don’t have much experience with a reader instead of a voice actor.
        I will see if there are already examples available to buy and see if the quality is anywhere near acceptable. If that is the case i might check out the experience.

        At least from my perspective it should be relatively simple to do multiple voices and do text analysis to match that to characters. Some AI voices can also do emotion pretty decently.
        This seems like minimum effort and something i would have soon expected to be available for kindle to do in real time not up to 72 hours wait time before publishing.

        As you seem to retain rights to do your own audiobook with narrator later you could try it but while i expect the voice to be decent, without character voices i expect the experience to be poor. It might also hurt future chances to sell the rights to the audiobook. Another author i follow offered AI narration for one of his works and decided to take his self created audio version down. The publisher of his previous audiobooks declined buying the rights because of the other available audio version.

        As i did not find a lot if info myself i asked ChatGPT(paid version with bing searches). Great for an overview but not fully trustworthy:

        The alternatives i asked for need a lot more work to get a full audiobook. I only know ElevenLabs and the voices are great but for my private use it is too expensive. There you would still need somebody to edit and the author i mentioned earlier said something about 2 hours per chapter of average 15 Minutes but we are actually talking about narration with character voices, not just reading. The free Mimic3 wasn’t in the list but i should have asked for open source/free. Quality was a lot worse than ElevenLabs.

        • Mac February 4, 2024 at 9:26 am #

          I didn’t know anyone did multiple voices. The books I sold Tantor had one reader. Unless you are talking about someone who can change voice at will. I’ll never know being deaf.

          • Stefan February 4, 2024 at 9:46 am #

            they have one voice actor. that is a huge difference to a reader. they have a good range of voices so playing different male/ female characters. they also do accents that fit the characters as well as emotions and whispering / screaming and so on in a way that the listener understands it.
            Just think the same actor playing different characters in different movies. How that is done is important for the experience as the words spoken.

            one voice and narrator/reader works in nonfiction but for fiction with multiple characters, a voices actor is better

            some books have a voices actor each for the female/male characters and there is full cast audio with a lot more voices actors. usually not for every role but the main characters. there is a lot more editing/coordination involved so it is probably more expensive.

          • Zebulon Dakota February 8, 2024 at 11:52 pm #

            I don’t buy audiobooks, but I’ve heard some good ones – the Aubrey/Maturin series used Patrick Tull, a marvelous narrator. You could tell which character he was voicing very easily, and he gave each one a personality by voice quality and accent alone. There are a lot of subtleties in narration.

            I have no idea what an AI narration would sound like, but I would think it would be fairly flat in terms of being able to tell the characters apart by voice quality. Someone just reading the words doesn’t sound very appealing. I’ll have to see if I can find one and see.

  3. Sam Dinkin May 17, 2024 at 6:47 pm #

    The voice for family law has a slightly different tone or inflection or accent or all of the above for each major character. As noted above the fellow wasn’t enough of a nerd to know what Δv is. During my high school debate team experience, one of the competitions was “dramatic interpretation”. A single person would spend 8 minutes reading an excerpt from a book or a play, with different voices for each character.

    I am guessing the AI is more like a non voice actor reading as a service to the blind rather than someone with substantial talent and some ability to speak with a French or Dutch accent putting together a 20 hour performance. Your writing gives a sufficient word picture to have the battle scene, where Gordon arrives at spur-of-the-moment tactics to vanquish foes that have not even jumped into the system yet, the voice actor was much more like Ronald Reagan reading the teletype of a Yankees game during WWII over armed forces radio as “Tinker to Evers to Chance—both runners are out!” Rather than the teletype’s “643 double play.” The AI is very expressive, but no voice acting ability in the Prologue segment. Definitely better than nothing. I would recommend a lower price for the AI audiobook than the $7 for the audio book from voice actors for Family Law if you already own the ebook. Maybe $4? The difference between $0.005 per minute and $0.003 per minutes is kind of inconsequential, but the lower price can signal you know it’s not first best. And the standalone audio book you should price to earn you as much revenue as the text version—the only price difference should only be for the hundreds of MB of downloading, not for bringing your words to life like the Family Law ones.

    • Mac May 17, 2024 at 8:49 pm #

      Yeah it will have to be much better than the current beta to be worth doing all the books.
      April made about $28 from the AI audio. It cost $500 to edit and it should have cost more considering the time my nephew ended up putting into it.

  4. Joe Hempel May 29, 2024 at 12:55 pm #

    Family Law narrator here just chiming in:

    Be careful doing Virtual Voice, people hate it, and they will not even buy your books if they see virtual voice. You took a lot of care with your words to have a machine butcher them and to give money to Amazon. It’s not sour grapes, it’s just a fact. Many authors have had their career tank by using it. Listeners just do not want it by and large. And the reviews on the April book show that. I know if there is an AI cover I won’t narrate the audiobook. Period. I have a strong stance against virtual voice currently.

    The ONLY thing that virtual voice does is give money to amazon because they take 60% of the sales. You said yourself you spent $500 on editing.

    If you are looking to produce, I hope you went ahead and started looking at narrators for royalty share deals. You can help a newer narrator (no they won’t be as good as some) and it helps the industry fight against AI. You share royalties but you aren’t out much money.

    One other thing – Amazon also sets the prices, and I think it is ONLY audible exclusive with virtual voice because you are using KDP to produce.

    Re: Multicast – it’s INCREDIBLY expensive to produce that and unless they are almost guaranteed to make a lot more on their investment it won’t be a thing.

    • Mac June 1, 2024 at 9:00 pm #

      Thanks Joe. I’m not sure if my Family Law audio books didn’t sell well enough for Trantor to pick up the April series. I asked but got no answer. Wish I could hear your voice. I went deaf late in life so I remember how things sound. I have my doubts Amazon’s experiment will work. Even if the author is a hearing person able to do their own audio editing it is time consuming for the return compared to spending that time writing.

  5. Sam Dinkin June 22, 2024 at 11:38 am #

    Joe, thanks for your excellent job on narration. I hear the slight change between a clean read through and a retroactive mini edit. I appreciate the craftsmanship to fix some missing words or mispronunciations, but more the uninterrupted long periods of clean perfection that I hope wasn’t necessary to re-record as often as a Steely Dan song.

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