Audiobook publishers have been courting narrators with their own home recording facilities for some time. The reason is obvious – it’s cheaper. Even paying the reader a ‘premium’ for using their own booth still saves money compared with hiring a real studio with an engineer/producer at the helm.
Home booth productions can also have tighter deadlines, because narrators will sit up all night in their cupboard under the stairs, attic or converted study to get the work done.
But there are signs that the tide is turning. Publishers are seeing negative comments being left by reviewers on audible and other sites about background noise, intelligibility and ‘tone’. Editors are complaining about having to spend more time than they can afford ‘fixing up’ problems with the recording. And we’re seeing proof-readers actually turning down work from self-read authors.
And we’ve noticed that the big operators we work with are going back to being a lot more picky about audio quality than they’ve been of late.
Of course, not all “home booths” are the same. Well-known long-standing ‘high end’ professional narrators sometimes install pro-quality facilities at home and benefit from the convenience and extra revenue this gives them. But these are the exception.
Audiobook production isn’t the same as podcasting, for example, and sticking a USB microphone on the dining table is increasingly being seen as not good enough. Furthermore, working solo is much harder than it might seem – and being guided by an experienced professional engineer/producer is more than worth the extra production cost.