Thursday, August 24, 2017

Producing Your Books in Audio Part Four: Prepping Your Book

By Angela Quarles, @AngelaQuarles

Part of the Indie Author Series

Previous posts in this series covered whether you should produce an audio book, holding auditions, and picking a narrator. So for this post, I'm going to step you through some advice for what to do with your book before you turn it in to your narrator!

Tip # 1 - Make sure you have it in your final form

This sounds obvious, but I have heard of authors making changes to their book after they've had their book recorded. So unless you want to pay for your narrator to redo those parts, your audio version will not match if you make changes to your ebook. I've found that little errors pop up right after my ebook releases, so I wait until I know I've got all the nitpicky stuff out of the way.

Tip # 2 - Go through and mark up your book in a Word doc

I go through and add comments to my doc to help my narrator. Think of it like a director aiding the actors on the stage with stage directions. Some of the things I mark up:
  • any time a new character comes on the scene I make a note of age, characteristics (like educational background) and type of accent. Anything that can help inform the narrator as to how that voice should be acted out. Are they excited in this scene? etc.
  • any time a certain emotion is important to nail, especially if it's ambiguous. This is especially important with humor and irony.
  • any words where it could be mispronounced
  • any foreign word pronunciations
  • any time, especially in the beginning, where backstory would be important for the narrator to know so that they can accurately portray a certain scene or line of dialogue. For instance, in Must Love Kilts, I marked this dialogue, which appears in the opening scene: “What else do I need? What about money?” with this comment: Background. She’s panicked because she lost her sister back in time. They’d gone drinking the night before, and… well, you’ll see … but here she’s frantic and hungover
  • any time a non-major character will make an appearance again later. This is so the narrator will know to "save" that voice/style for reuse later. (And when they appear later, I let them know which page they first appeared on)
  • likewise, if that non-major character is gone for good, I let them know
  • if a character was in an earlier book they narrated, I let them know, or if that character will appear again in another book, I let them know
Basically anything that will make it less likely you'll have to ask them to redo a portion. Generally, a narrator isn't going to be too keen about redoing lines if it's not actually an error in pronunciation, so help them out here. You'll get to hear the first fifteen minutes which will help you judge whether they're getting your nuances and characterization right.

Tip #3 - Record words

If I have a made up word, or a certain way I want the character to say something, I'll record myself saying it and give them that sound file. For Must Love Chainmail, I actually had an awesome author friend who recorded the Welsh words for me and so I was able to give those to my narrator.

Tip #4 - Don't forget your front and back matter

This isn't a huge section, unlike how it can be in print and ebook. Keep it brief. For instance, here's what I put right before my Prologue for Must Love Kilts:

Unsealed Room Press Presents

Must Love Chainmail: A Time Travel Romance

Written by Angela Quarles

Performed by Mary Jane Wells


To the hot men in kilts and the lasses who love them
And for my backmatter, I had:


The next book in the series, Must Love More Kilts, chronicles Fiona's adventures to Scotland. To learn more, please visit

To read the Historical notes by the author, visit
This has been Must Love Kilts: A Time Travel Romance
Written by Angela Quarles
Narrated by Mary Jane Wells
Copyright 2016 Angela Trigg
Production copyright 2016 by Unsealed Room Press

Tip #5 - Put unused backmatter on your website

You might have noticed in the previous tip that I had a link to my website for historical notes. On that web page, I put all the backmatter that would normally appear in my ebook

Tip #6 - Keep a running tab of changes to make to your ebook

Sometimes I'll come across a change I'd like to make in the ebook, and so I keep another doc open to record those changes so it will match what I give the narrator.

What about you? Do you have any tips for prepping your book for recording?

Angela Quarles is a USA Today bestselling author of time travel and steampunk romance. Her debut novel Must Love Breeches swept many unpublished romance contests, including the Grand Prize winner of Windy City's Four Seasons contest in 2012. Her steampunk, Steam Me Up, Rawley, was named Best Self-Published Romance of 2015 by Library Journal. Angela loves history, folklore, and family history. She decided to take this love of history and her active imagination and write stories of romance and adventure for others to enjoy. When not writing, she's either working at the local indie bookstore or enjoying the usual stuff like gardening, reading, hanging out, eating, drinking, chasing squirrels out of the walls, and creating the occasional knitted scarf.

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About Must Love Kilts: A Time Travel Romance 

The Jacobite Rebellion--not the best time to get drunk, hook up with a guy, and lose your sister.

A drunken bet...

When computer game designer Traci Campbell gets too close and personal with a bottle of Glenfiddich while vacationing in Scotland, she whisks her kilt-obsessed sister back to 1689 to prove hot guys in kilts are a myth. Hello, hundred bucks! But all bets are off when she meets Iain, the charming playboy in a to-die-for kilt.

Wrong place, wrong time, wrong name...

Iain MacCowan regularly falls in love at the drop of his kilt. The mysterious red-haired lass with the odd accent is no different. But when his new love is discovered to be a Campbell, the most distrusted name in the Highlands, his dalliance endangers his clan's rebellion against King William.

It’s all hijinks in the Highlands until your sister disappears...

Traci thinks men are only good for one thing--thank you, Iain!--but when she awakens once again in Ye Olde Scotland and her sister is gone, she must depend on the last person she wants to spend more time with. He wants to win a heart, she wants to keep hers, but can these two realize they're meant for each other before the Jacobite rebellion pulls them apart?


  1. Angela, how do you mark up your document so the narrator knows the info is for them and not read it as part of the book? Your post is full of valuable info. Thank you for posting.

    1. I use the comment feature in Word so it's off to the side... Glad you find it helpful Carol!

    2. Thanks. I'm working on getting my first audio book set up and doing lots of research about it first. Thanks again.

  2. This is so interesting! Where exactly do you do the recordings? Do you go to a professional recording studio? Or do you have recording equipment in your own home or studio? I have 2 published novels and would like to produce audio books.

    1. The narrator you pick should have their own set up. Check out the start of my series on how to go about finding one