The world where our stories live is increasingly made up of streaming bits, bytes and pixels; this writer feels he has to get a handle on digital ‘dissemination’ if he wants his stories to reach an audience (the notion of ‘readers’ is no longer a broad enough). Podcast readings will be an essential part of future authors’ storytelling mix, I believe.
Even if you find the prospect of taking to the digital airwaves daunting, take a deep breath, and read on. Most won’t have the equipment or skill-set to launch into it right away, but for any of you who want to, or have a moderately tech savvy partner to help, the technology is inexpensive and the techniques easily learned.
There are four things you need to consider if you’re thinking of getting into digital readings:
A good digital recorder – On the recommendation of a film-maker friend I ordered a Zoom H1 ‘Handy Recorder’ online. It cost less then $200, including some accessories. Bundled with mine was a program for editing and adjusting audio files. The Zoom H1 records in stereo and produces crisp, rich-sounding audio files. It’s absolutely essential to get a good digital recording device and mic. Your mobile’s or camera’s built in unit won’t be good enough.
An audio editing program – I use Adobe Soundbooth, but there are other programs out there. You need a program that will allow you to see the wave forms so you can: zoom-in to eliminate extraneous sounds; cut flubbed takes and paste together the rest of the narrative; make audio adjustments. I’m a newbie when it comes to editing audio, and don’t know what half the buttons and dials in Soundbooth are meant to do, but after less than an hour’s fiddling, I was able to learn the functions I need to produce reasonably good audio… as for the of the whistles and bells, I’ll learn as I go.
A place to post and link audio files – I have discovered WordPress has a very well designed module that allows you to upload audio files and display them for visitors to your site. The main features of this user-friendly platform are: it allows you to display the audio files on your page like you would indexed chapters and episodes in a book; and the files in each chapter will auto link and open to the next episode, without the listener having to do anything. Go to the audio edition of my online novel The Boy From Under to see what I mean.
A dramatic voice – Everything hinges on your having a good story and being able to deliver it in an engaging voice. Again, many of us have to stretch and learn here. What I’m learning is that dramatic delivery not only increases your hold on the listener, it also gives you as author new insights into the characters that people your stories. I’m finding myself editing as I read, and getting into the story in a new dimension. It’s a great new take on my work.
That, in brief, is all there is to online readings of your work. For anyone interested in learning more, or participating in an online reading workshop, contact me. I’d be happy to set something up, and am sure it would be a fun learning experience.