After quite a few months of focusing on my real job, and going 0 for 4 with agents on my manuscript, I decided to solicit feedback on my audiobook from listeners I hired on Upwork. I never did this the first time, because my beta “readers” were actually readers…of the text version.

After hearing from 11 beta listeners, I’ve got a much clearer sense of changes I want to make. There’s also the benefit of several months of palate cleansing by not being immersed in my own story, and having to get reacquainted with the world and the characters.

  • I’m adding several chapters that “show” key elements of the world, the dynamics between characters, and the solemnity of the challenges they face.
  • I’m redoubling my focus on the audiobook version as the “flagship” of the story, not just a text manuscript that I felt steered into by the “process” of writing a fiction manuscript for the first time.
  • I’m probably going to self-publish the first book, focus on the entire audio experience, and might have background music or sound effects at key moments. I’ve got time and the interest to do this the right way, and potentially create something people will really enjoy and want more of. That’s my hope.
  • I am now using Audacity, a free and open-source editing software, rather than piecing things together with a voice recorder app. I’m also taking a much more serious look at my recording environment and my setup for capturing my voice at the highest quality that is reasonably possible without building (or renting) a studio. I’ve got a fun little prototype of a “sound dampening helmet” device I’m making from mattress topper foam and heavy cardboard, so that’s kind of hilarious and potentially groundbreaking for my narrating process.

It might take me a while to update, but hopefully not half a year like it did this time.

In other news, the US Copyright office is SLOW AS F$&@. I’ve had three correspondences with them and the last one took 3-4 months to hear back. I gave up on copyrighting the art and said “just do the text”—because while I know the artists I paid expected me to claim the art I hired them to create as my property, I didn’t explicitly get them to transfer the intellectual property to me in perpetuity. So, that’s that. I might still do that and pay them before I release a text version of the manuscript.

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