Preparing to Record an Audiobook at Ooligan Press: Scripting

The Audiobooks Department at Ooligan Press is beginning the process of recording the audiobook for one of our upcoming titles.

When we identify a candidate for an audiobook, we start the pre-recording process once the copyedit of the manuscript has been finalized. Once we know that we have the final edited copy of the manuscript, we can begin the process of turning the manuscript into a script for a narrator to read.

Our goal with creating an audiobook script is to create simple visual clues for our narrator while they are sight reading the manuscript. We never expect our narrators to memorize the manuscript before coming into the recording studio to read. Rather, the audiobook narrator will sight-read the manuscript as they go. While this may seem to require little preparation for the narrator, they will actually need to practice different character voices ahead of time so that they can easily switch between narration and dialogue while sight-reading.

The scripting process we prefer to use at Ooligan Press uses a highlighting method with different colors for each main character to provide the narrator with visual context clues when sight-reading the script.

We assign each main character a highlighter color using the selection available in Google docs. We use highlighert colors rather than other methods so we can avoid introducing errors into the manuscript during the scripting process.

Below is an example of how we might script a manuscript with a third-person point of view:

Character A: “He ate the apple.”

Character B: “He did, did he?”

Narration: The characters stared at each other for a long while.

Character B: “Well,” Character B started, “I was planning on eating that apple for lunch.”

The third-person point of view is most common in the manuscripts that we publish at Ooligan Press, but books are also written in the second-person and first-person point of view.

Below is an example of how we might script a manuscript with a first-person point of view:

Character A/Narrator: “He ate the apple.”

Character B: “He did, did he?”

Character A/Narrator: Character B and I stared at each other for a long while.

Character B: “Well,” Character B started, “I was planning on eating that apple for lunch.”

When working with a script written in the least common second-person point of view, the format is the same as the first-person format.

And finally, once we have finished scripting a manuscript for audio recording, we can begin selecting passages of the manuscript to use for narrator auditions!

Photo of narrator in sound booth

 Recording Audiobooks At Ooligan Press

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.