Home Studio

2020 Goals: Branch into audio including podcasts and audio books

Time to talk about my first big goal for 2020! I’m getting into audio.

This is a big one that I’ve been working towards since 2017 when I started building an audio studio to do podcasting and audiobooks. I hit a bit of a snag when my daughter was born and I focused on being with her for her first year instead of doing audio, but now that things have settled down a bit at home I’m ready to do this.

My strategy for hitting audio is also part of my strategy for going wide. Audio is the fastest growing corner of the publishing market right now, and there are a lot of people listening to books and podcasts. These are my people. I’ve been an audiobook listener since the mid ’90s when the only way you could get audio was on tape. I haven’t listened to radio or music all that much since I got an iPod in the mid ’00s and discovered podcasts.

In addition there’s still a high barrier to entry for creating audiobooks, which means that there’s less competition in the market from indie authors. It can cost thousands of dollars to produce an audiobook, but if I’m able to do the recording and editing myself in my home studio then the only investment I have to make is time. It took hours spent learning Adobe Audition and audio engineering and the investment in creating the studio, but I’m hoping it’ll pay off dividends.

I’ve also wanted to start a podcast for years but never felt like I had anything to podcast about. That’s changed, though. I have ideas, and this is the plan:

Podcasting

Nonfiction Podcasting:

Motivrite: A podcast about what goes into being an indie author. I’ve learned a lot about the market over the years and would like to give back to the community by releasing a podcast with advice for authors. There are a lot of podcasts out there that focus on marketing a book and getting it to an audience, so I’m going to hit a different niche at first and talk about tips and tricks for getting the words down, and how to navigate life as a part time or full time indie.

Stretch goal – Indie Day Job: If I manage to complete all my other goals and I still have time then I’d also like to start a podcast where I talk to other indie creators about their day to day. I’m not sure if this will be happening because I already have a lot on my plate, but we’ll see. As the year goes on and some things succeed and others don’t I might have more time to launch this project.

Fiction Podcasting:

Avallanath: This is a story that’s been rattling around my head for the past decade about an author of very fat books, the fans who love to hate him, and what happens when his creations take matters into their own hands.

I started writing it while I was in grad school a decade back, and I released it as a webcomic at one point that got to be sort of popular with a few hundred people a day hitting the site daily. The problem is I’ve never been that good at drawing and I don’t feel like webcomics are a real growth area. So I plan on releasing it as an audio fiction podcast with a chapter or two a week.

Blake Byron: Paranormal Investigator: This is another story that’s been rattling around in my head for more than a decade, but I only sat down and actually wrote it in 2017. It’s the story of a former special forces soldier turned campus cop who wanted a nice quiet life. Then he came across the victim of a vampire attack, killed the vampire that killed her, and found himself in the crosshairs of the local vampires. I tried releasing this in 2017 and it didn’t meet with much success, but it’s a fun story that I enjoy and I feel like it could do well with a bit of a marketing push so I’m going to try it out in audio and see what happens.

GameLit: I have a couple of GameLit stories I’ve been working on since 2016ish when LitRPG first started taking off. The first one I plan on releasing in audio and as a wide book release is Dice Mage, which is going to be a complete rewrite of a book I released near the end of 2018 that had some moderate success, but I think it would do better being rereleased with the new longer outline I’ve worked out that tells more of a story.

Audiobooks

The plan is to release these novels wide on all ebook platforms once they’ve been finished, and then start releasing the audiobook episodes with one or two chapters being released per week to drum up interest. I’ll push people towards the finished ebooks at the end of every episode if they want to hear the whole story at once.

I also plan on releasing episodes early to backers on my Patreon which I plan on really hitting hard in 2019-2020. With a little luck I’ll be able to build an audience of readers and audiophiles who contribute for a chance to get episodes early while also adding another leg to my income table that isn’t Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.

When the books are finished in podcast form I’ll eventually release them wide as paid audiobooks as well. I won’t be going exclusive with Audible, but instead going wide with services like Findaway to diversify my income base.

Daily steps to achieve this goal

Having a lofty annual goal is all well and good, but it’s also important to think about the daily steps that’ll be necessary to make it happen. There are only so many hours in a day, and if I’m going to do everything I want to do in the 2019-2020 year then I’m going to have to focus and do it one day at a time.

The daily goal for this one is easy enough though. I’ll disappear into my home studio for a couple of hours every night after the kids are in bed and work on recording stuff. I’ll probably only do this Monday through Friday, taking weekends off to relax and have a little bit of fun.

Wrapping up

And that’s the audio plan for 2019-2020! I’m in the middle of production of episodes of Blake Byron and hope to start releasing that podcast in October to tie in with the horror vibe the book gives off. I’ve worked out outlines for nine episodes of Motivrite so far as well. I have about ten episodes of Avallanath written and will start recording that soon, and I’m currently working on finishing the updated version of Dice Mage and probably won’t begin recording that until November or December.

It’s a lot on my plate, but I really enjoy sitting in the booth and doing some recording. It gives me an opportunity to explore a new market, give another polish run on the manuscript, and flex my acting muscles which I haven’t had a chance to do in years. I’m looking forward to seeing where I’ll be in audio by next year!

How to: securely mount acoustic foam to the wall

Acoustic foam
Acoustic foam mounted to drywall.

Over the past year I’ve been working on putting together a small recording studio for podcasting and audiobooks. I say “small recording studio,” but in reality we’re talking a small walk-in closet that I’ve converted for recording. It’s small, but it works for my purposes.

One of the last things I did after cleaning the closet out was put up acoustic foam. For awhile I’d relied on clothes in not-so-converted walk-in closet to dampen sound, but eventually I got tired of the cramped space and cleaned the clothes out. I needed something to deaden the sound in the room so acoustic panels it was!

It turns out mounting acoustic foam to walls can be a real pain in the ass. I tried a couple of different methods, and I figured I’d write about them here to hopefully help out someone else in a similar situation. Putting together your own studio to record your audiobooks is something a lot of authors might consider at some point considering how expensive it is to have an audiobook produced, and it’s my hope that this might help someone out there and save them some time!

Mounting options:

Double sided velcro/tape

This was the first thing I tried. It seemed simple enough. Get some double sided velcro, put it on the acoustic foam and on the wall, and stick it up there. The only problem was the stuff didn’t stay up. Sometimes the foam panel would fall down overnight, and other panels stayed up for a couple of weeks. Eventually they all fell though.

I ran into the same problem with double sided mounting strips. Think the kind of stuff that’s advertised for mounting posters and pictures to the wall. It was even worse than the double sided velcro for mounting to drywall, and I wouldn’t recommend it.

There is a good use for that double sided velcro though! Read on to see how I ended up using it effectively.

Spray adhesive

When I was at the audio store they helpfully sold spray adhesive that was supposed to be specially designed for mounting acoustic foam to the walls.

Hint: It might’ve been specially designed for acoustic foam, but they need to go back to the drawing board because it didn’t work.

What the stuff did do is stink to high heaven. We’re talking I couldn’t use my small closet recording studio for several days because I had to leave the closet and the windows in our guest bedroom open to get the smell out. There are warnings not to breathe too much of the stuff in an enclosed space too, so it’s got that going for it.

That all might’ve been worth it if the stuff worked after the smell went away, but it didn’t. It was the worst of the three things I’m covering in this blog post. It also stained the hell out of the drywall, to the point that I’m going to have to repaint in there if I ever decide to sell the place.

Acoustic foam mounting spray drywall damage
The not-so-lovely aftermath of using acoustic foam spray to mount the foam to drywall.

All in all I’d call the spray adhesive $25 of disappointment that rendered my studio useless by stinking up the place. Don’t waste your money on the stuff.

Cardboard and T-Pins

Cardboard and T-Pin foam mount
Cardboard and T-Pin foam mount

This is the solution that ultimately worked for me. I bought some T-Pins in the sewing section of the local department store. I grabbed the 1.5″ which provides enough room to push the pin through the adhesive foam and into the wall. The beauty of these things is it only takes one or two to get the foam up on the wall, and once it’s up there it doesn’t fall.

I did have some issues mounting foam to the door though. The pins wouldn’t push into the solid wood no matter how hard I pressed. So I improvises and cut some squares off of a cardboard box, pinned the foam to the cardboard, and then used double sided velcro to stick the cardboard to the door.

See? I told you the velcro would come up later!

Summing up:

Double sided velcro/tape all by its lonesome: doesn’t work

Spray adhesive: doesn’t work, stinks the place up, and costs way too much

T-Pins and cardboard: works like a charm!

If you’re looking for a way to mount acoustic foam to drywall with minimal damage and without spending too much money then T-Pins and cardboard is definitely the way to go.