Cowry Catchers Audio - The First 50 Hours

Hello, Listeners.

I started writing The Scarlet Albatross a few weeks ago and then quickly realized that I was either going to write it or produce the audio for Cowry Catchers 5. I don't know why I always think that I can write a book and produce one at the same time.

Writing goals for the year are going to have to go out the window if I want to finish this production by Christmas. On the plus side, I feel that I might actually be able to catch up for the first time since I started self-publishing. If, you know, I stop writing for the year.

I should be writing one book, and have one other book in production. Production means editing, ebook formatting, paper design, cover, audio version (not produced entirely by me). Right now, I should be writing Albatross and producing Hunters.

Instead, I’ve got this huge chunk of fullcast audio – Cowry Catchers 5 - hanging over my head. In addition, I need to finish paper versions of 6 other books. And in addition to all that, Hunters needs attention from every aspect of the production schedule. If I keep producing new stuff, the backlog of production will just get higher. Greater amounts of time will elapse between ebook vs paper vs audio book, and I would really like those formats to come out almost simultaneously in the future, so that people can get what they want and not just settle for what’s available.

I have been playing catch-up since I started self-publishing, but I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel now. If I focus on production for the rest of the year, and get my desk cleared, I can go forward with a reasonable publishing schedule.

I have, of course, been plugging away at CC5 for months, but it wasn't my main focus. This time around, I am keeping close records of how much time each part of the process is taking me. Part of this is just curiosity. Bryan and I always tell people on the Fullcast Podcast that it takes about one hour per finished minute to produce fullcast audio. But that's just an impression. I've never measured it. In addition, I'd like to know the numbers so that, if I ever run a kickstarter to fund a fullcast audio book, I'll have a realistic idea of the time required (and therefore the cost). I also intend to share my findings with the community, as the information may be useful to others.

If you are new to fullcast audio, take my numbers with a grain of salt. This is the 5th fullcast audio book of this size that I've produced. I have a system that I know works, and none of the major parts needs casting. All of the small parts were played by people whom I've worked with before or know from the community. They all said yes as soon as I asked, and I didn't have to vet their audio quality. Casting wasn't really an issue in this book. I also marked a bunch of medium and small parts back when I was doing Book 4 and collected those lines at that time. I estimate that this was 3 hours worth of work. That's a conservative estimate. It was probably more, but since I didn't have a stopwatch running, we'll say 3 hours. All the rest of the times are recorded with reference to an actual clock.

Cowry Catchers Book 5 (including the epilogue) is right at 70,000 words. I have found that 10,000 words equal about one hour of audio. So this book is about 7 hours long. 7 x 60 = 420 minutes. So, if Bryan and I are right, 420 hours is what this would take for a person relatively new to fullcast. I would think that it would take me a bit less...but, maybe not? We'll find out.

With that in mind, here are my first 50 hours and 52 minutes on this book. This is an Excel spreadsheet. Hopefully it will display correctly.


Date Min Description   Total   Estimated Total
2012 3:00:00 Mark/collect lines Basil, Lu, Dakar, Felbane, Mouse, Hoepali, Firebird, Merta   50:52:00   420:00:00
6/16/2013 1:05:00    Recording       70K words
6/17/2013 1:10:00    Recording       10,000 words/hr
6/18/2013 0:22:00    Recording        
6/20/2013 1:00:00    Recording        
6/21/2013 0:55:00    Recording        
6/22/2013 0:15:00    Recording        
6/23/2013 0:16:00    Recording        
6/23/2013 2:31:00    Marking Lines (Gerard)        
6/24/2013 2:35:00    Marking Lines (Gerard)        
6/27/2013 1:20:00    Marking Lines (Gerard, Silveo)        
7/5/2013 1:30:00    Marking Lines (Silveo)        
7/6/2013 2:30:00    Marking Lines (Silveo and Gwain)        
7/7/2013 1:05:00    Marking Lines (Sirwen & Marlo)        
7/8/2013 1:15:00    Marking Lines (Bit Parts)        
7/9/2013 0:40:00    Marking Lines (Bit Parts)        
7/10/2013 0:30:00    Marking Lines (Alsair)        
7/11/2013 0:35:00    Marking Lines (Arton)        
7/13/2013 2:00:00    Marking Lines (Mishael, Jaleel, Avenyar, Morchella)        
7/13/2013 0:40:00    Secretarial and email with voice actors        
7/14/2013 0:20:00    Voice actor casting and correspondance        
7/15/2013 3:45:00    Marking and assigning lines - bit parts        
7/17/2013 0:15:00    Cooresponding with voice actors        
7/18/2013 0:10:00    Cooresponding with voice actors        
8/4/2013 0:12:00    Evaluating lines        
8/16/2013 3:00:00    Voice Track Ep 1 + intro/initial organizing        
8/18/2013 3:15:00    Voice Track Ep 1        
8/22/2013 1:00:00    Voice Track Ep 1        
8/23/2013 0:30:00    Voice Track Ep 1        
8/24/2013 0:15:00    Voice Track Ep 1        
8/25/2013 1:30:00    Voice Track Ep 1 (30 min)        
8/27/2013 1:00:00    Recording        
8/29/2013 0:31:00    Recording        
9/6/2013 0:40:00    Voice Track Ep 1 - entering retakes        
9/6/2013 0:45:00    Voice Track Ep 2        
9/7/2013 2:30:00    Voice Track Ep 2        
9/8/2013 1:30:00    Voice Track Ep 2        
9/11/2013 3:00:00    Voice Track Ep 2        
9/12/2013 1:30:00    Voice Track Ep 2        


If you'd like that in simpler terms, here's a summary. Marking lines ~ 23 hours. Recording ~ 6.5 hours. Voice track ~ 19.5 hours. Other stuff ~ 2 hours.

I'm done marking lines, so that's the total time. Marking lines is really important. You don't want to miss anything (including noises - laughs, grunts, etc), because that will create delays later. You want to give adequate stage direction without being intrusive, and you want to give in-line pronunciations of anything the voice actor might not know or have forgotten.

Recording - I'm just getting started. I'm only through chapter 12 of a 38 chapter book.

Voice track - This is all the voices spliced together into a final voice track, but without music. This is, by far, the most tedious and labor-intensive portion of a fullcast production. It involves editing all the audio and selecting the best takes. Most of the pacing is done here, although I fine-tune pacing while adding music.

Only 370 hours to go! :-b