Profound changes in audiobook production
I’ve ventured into the territory on the map which says: here there be dragons!
Say what? Well, it’s like this. You may have read on my blog about Google’s entry into some pretty remarkable, if also a bit disturbing, voice AI offerings for audiobook production. For the moment the service is free. Rest assured it won’t be forever. They’ll get us all hooked, like they did for businesses using their business apps, and then suddenly give short notice that the free component will sunset (who the hell comes up with these terms?!) the free program, and the only way you’ll be able to retain use of any of your applications, data and interface is to pay for a subscription. But I digress.
So yes, there’s this technology Google has developed which allows an audiobook producer to use one of Google’s AI generated narrators to narrate a book, all for free. You can choose from several accents, genders, even age range. And while Google recommends their AI for non-fiction books, because of the lack of inflection in the AI narrations, the voices are also quite acceptable.
Why would I do this rather than work on my own production?
It’s simple economics.
I spent in excess of 40 hours producing the audiofiles for Caliban myself. It was a steep, although enjoyable, learning experience. So, add those hours to the years it took me to write Caliban, and then the cost of producing the layout (perfectly capable of doing that myself, but at the time I was busy, and financially flush) and cover, we’re looking at some serious time and expense. Audiobook sales which resulted from Caliban since it’s release January 2022? Zero. A big fat whonking zero.
So, the math is simple. I can either spend a lot of time producing my own audiobook for zero sales. Or I can use Google’s AI and produce an audiobook in under three hours and still have zero sales. Seems pretty clear to me.
And the bonus in all that is I can earn even more nothing because Google allows you to download the AI generated audiofiles and use them in other distribution channels. There is no exclusivity. At least for now. So, that means I was able to effortlessly upload those files to Kobo.
ACX is another matter
ACX is the publishing portal for audiobooks streaming to Amazon (which owns ACX), Apple and Audible (which Amazon also owns). Their production standards are very high and exacting. It would seem Google’s AI production doesn’t meet those standards.
That has meant I’ve had to remaster the Google files in order to meet those standards. I’ve now completed that process and successfully uploaded all that. The audiobook is now under review by ACX, and in 10 business days And the Angels Sang should be available on Amazon, Apple, and Audible.
It is now available in audiobook from Google and Kobo, if you want to head over there and listen to my collection of short fantastica fiction. You can also read And the Angels Sang in trade paperback and ebook. Purchasing options are on the collection’s page on my website. Oh, and there are some pretty cool reviews on the collection’s page as well.
And while your at it …
… why not leave a review of the collection either in the comments for this blog post, on social media, or the retailer’s site from where you purchased it. Tell you what, if you take a photograph of yourself reading the print copy, I’ll post it here and on my Facebook page.