The Audiobooks Department is heading into its second year at Ooligan Press, as audiobook production was previously overseen by the Digital Department. Audiobooks is now organized as a separate department because of the time intensive scripting, recording, and editing process required to produce audiobooks. I, Paige Zimmerman, am currently the second-ever Audiobooks Coordinator at Ooligan Press! My goal for this year-long role is to prepare as many of our books as possible for recording, and then set the department up for the future process of regularly recording audiobook versions of our books, which will improve the accessibility and availability of our books to readers.
Our ultimate goal as a department and press is to publish all versions of a book (print, ebook, and audiobook) on the same publication date. This has not been so easily accomplished in the history of the program, as we do not yet have our own recording space, and collaborations with recording studios can be expensive, especially for our student-run press.
This year, Ooligan Press is taking on its first attempt to record an audiobook without hiring the services of a professional recording studio and producer. We are starting with Faultland by Suzy Vitello: a compelling family drama set amidst a natural disaster in Portland, Oregon.
Last fall, the script for the audiobook was generated by students by taking the final manuscript and separating out different character voices from the narrator and tagging them with specific colors to signify a voice change to the narrator.
During the spring term, Ooligan students auditioned to narrate the manuscript. Then, similarly to other decisions made by our democratic press, students voted to choose the narrator of Faultland, and Jillian Bowen was chosen to narrate.
We are working with KPSU, Portland State University’s campus radio station, to record Faultland. The manager of KPSU, Ned Tillbrook, and the technical director, Carly, have assisted us with setting up the equipment we use for each session and finding the right spaces to work within the environment of the KPSU studio and offices. We are using Adobe Audition to record audio because Ooligan students already use the Adobe Creative Suite to create social media posts, book cover designs, interior book layouts, and other marketing and production documents.
Rather than use the same sound booth as the radio DJs, which only allows for one sound board operator at a time, we are utilizing a larger soundproofed room which features multiple microphones which have been used previously for podcasts and radio talk shows. While our narrator sits in the sound booth and reads through the audiobook script, I take the role of director and read along with the script on the other side of a window into the booth and provide clarity on pronunciation and line delivery as needed. Because the booth is soundproofed, the narrator and I use microphones and headphones connected to the same audio interface so we can hear each other. This audio interface is also plugged into my computer to record the audio.
Finally, once the process of recording the audiobook is complete, I will turn my attention to editing the recording to remove any extraneous sounds and errors in the narration. Once the audio is fully edited, the audiobook will be uploaded to distribution websites and will be available for purchase.