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Networking For The Career-Minded Student

Creation of the Audiobook


As it illustrates the changing nature of work, thanks to new technologies, Linda Hewitt and Suzie Vail provide the following information on how the audiobook of Networking For The Career-Minded Student was created.

Both: We were each registered on the Audiobook Creation Exchange, or ACX, Linda as a Rights Holder and Suzie as a Narrator.

Linda: As rights-retaining author, I listed Networking For The Career-Minded Student (Networking) on ACX. As part of that process, I posted an audition script containing a thousand or so words of the book, indicated the production terms, and described the narrator characteristics I thought would work best with the material. Once I published this listing, the title was open for auditions from any narrators registered with ACX. By registering with ACX, these narrators agree to serve not only as the 'voices' of the material, but also as producers, which means that they are responsible both for recording and for all other audio services required to deliver a polished version of the audiobook capable of meeting ACX's high standards.

Suzie: I saw the Networking listing and realized at once that it would provide an appropriate project for my first audiobook narration. The subject matter interested me, and I liked the way the topic was approached in the audition script. I immediately recorded the audition in my home studio and posted it to the ACX site where it joined other auditions submitted for this title.

Linda: I reviewed the auditions. Most weren't suitable for one reason or another. There were, however, three that would have been acceptable, and two that were really good. Suzie's was my favorite in that her read offered an easy-to-follow interpretation while maintaining a brisk pace, in keeping with the urgency of the material. I made Suzie an offer to which I requested a response within 24 hours. I provided contact information if she wished to get in touch to discuss the project before deciding whether to accept or reject the offer.

Suzie: I contacted Linda. After discussing key issues, we decided we shared a common approach to the project, and I formally accepted her offer via ACX. The ACX production process follows a preordained order, the first step of which is the submission of the first 15 minutes of the finished audio. I recorded enough of the beginning of the book to meet this requirement and submitted it to Linda via the ACX site.

Linda: The purpose of the first 15 is to give the narrator and author a chance to see if they have communicated properly and the output is what each of them is expecting. After my review of the first 15, Suzie and I agreed that the approach was correct, and we made a final determination of the date by which the completed audiobook was to be submitted to the ACX site for final review. As each of us was already involved in other projects, we set a delivery date of mid-February 2014, two-and-a-half months away. As we anticipated might be necessary, this date subsequently had to be adjusted to accommodate other commitments.

Suzie: I recorded the book chapter by chapter and submitted each file to Linda via Dropbox, a digital-sharing service that's great for the transfer of large audio files.

Linda: I reviewed each file as I received it, sliding it over from Dropbox into Adobe Audition, the audio program I use. As I reviewed, I made a list of any issues, tying them to precise time codes. At the conclusion of each review, I emailed Suzie the list.

Suzie: I used Linda's review list as a guide to changes, made them, and Dropboxed the files with corrections.

Linda: I reviewed the changes and then emailed an approval or a request for further changes to Suzie.

Suzie: When I'd recorded all the chapters and Linda had reviewed, I did a final listen and made a couple of tweaks, then I Dropboxed each of the chapters to Linda for a final review before mastering.

Linda: My final pre-mastering review revealed only a couple of additional tweaks that would benefit the material. Suzie made these almost at once, Dropboxing them for my approval.

Suzie: I Dropboxed the approved files to my audio-postproduction guy, who sweetened and mastered everything. When he'd finished, he Dropboxed them back to me and I uploaded them to ACX, chapter by chapter, as required.

Linda: ACX emailed me that the finished audiobook was ready for review. I went onto the ACX site and downloaded all the files into my audio program. I listened to the sweetened and mastered piece, found it correct, and approved it.

Suzie: Once Linda approved the finished piece, it automatically went into ACX quality review. The purpose of the review is to be sure any audiobook uploaded to Audible.com, Amazon.com, and iTunes meets the highest standards so that no listener will be disappointed.

Linda: The Networking audiobook evidently went through the process without a glitch, as I was notified within days that the audiobook was being prepared for the stores in which it would be sold. A couple of days later, I received notification that the title was available on Audible.com and would be listed on Amazon.com and iTunes shortly thereafter.

Both: Not so long ago, to create output of this quality, with each of us having this degree of input and control regarding the process, would have required physical proximity and/or the sending back and forth by mail or delivery service of a lot of physical materials. In the virtual world of digital, we have worked together to produce what we are confident is a high-quality audiobook without ever having laid eyes on each other (although we have had some fun phone sessions). The furtherest either of us has traveled is the walk from our living rooms to our home office or studio. It's a whole new world of work for people like us. While there are a few kinks to be worked out (Dropbox was occasionally erratic), we think it's a huge improvement.