[Jesus] said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” – Mark 16:15
Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!” – I Chronicles 4:10a
At my class reunion last May, I was visiting with a former classmate who had lost her vision a few years ago. We spent some time sharing our love for audiobooks, and she became very animated as she recommended some of her favorites. This conversation reawakened in me a dream that’s been on the “back burner” far too long.
I had discovered the wonderful world of audiobooks some years ago, when that form of book was relatively rare. But in recent years this method of “reading” has taken off, largely due to the lifestyles of people who have little time to sit and read. (I am one of them.) People today listen to books while walking, jogging, doing housework and yardwork, waiting in line, and falling asleep.
I had thought about making my own books into audiobooks for some time. Since one of the main characters in my first book, Counselor, is legally blind, it seemed only reasonable that the story should be made available to people who were blind themselves. But I had repeatedly procrastinated for one reason or another. Now, after meeting this old friend, and thinking of others not able to read my books, I decided to stop putting it off!
Back in Louisville, I did some calling around and found there were a number of recording studios in town. Most of the owners I talked to were nice enough, and having prayed about this new venture, I wondered how the Lord was going to let me know which studio was the one I should go to. This being a whole new experience, I needed someone to walk me through it.
I was also hoping that whoever I worked with would be a believer in Jesus, but I couldn’t bring myself to say, “Hello, I’m thinking of recording my book in your studio. Are you a born-again believer in Jesus Christ?” So, I just told Jesus and waited for Him to lead.
One studio owner named Jeff answered not only the questions I had, but also the ones I hadn’t thought to ask yet. As he explained the process of making an audiobook, I realized there was a lot more to it than just reading out loud and recording! And he was more than willing to explain it all to me.
Another thing that set this man apart from the others I had talked to was what seemed like genuine interest in my project. He was the first one to ask me what my book was about.
“It’s called Counselor, and it’s about a college student studying theater, whose ‘career’ is going nowhere. She meets a graduate student from the psychology department who befriends her and becomes a sort of unofficial counselor to her. He’s legally blind and has cerebral palsy …”
“I’m legally blind,” the man said. Jeff already sounded like someone who was easy to work with, so when he informed me of this coincidence, I saw it as confirmation and made my decision.
I soon learned Jeff is a Christian, too. I can’t say I was surprised. It was nice to begin recording sessions with prayer.
Jeff is also a director. He would stop and make me reread a portion if he thought it could be better. I got flashbacks of being back in school, dealing with reading too fast! I found I was especially prone to this bad habit with my own writings. Knowing that what was coming up was more exciting than what I was reading at the moment, I’d be rushing, and Jeff would stop me.
“You’re reading again,” he would admonish. (I was reading, but I was supposed to be storytelling.) So, we’d back up, and I would read that portion again, this time as if it were the most important part of the story.
It’s cringe-worthy enough for me to hear my own recorded voice, but I learned on the first day that the sensitive equipment also picked up every time I inhaled. But Jeff assured me he could go through the recording and meticulously remove every little breath when we were finished.
Even though I had been putting off this project for years, once it was started, I was very impatient to keep going! So, it frustrated me no end when I got sick and lost my voice for a week, right before a week off for Thanksgiving, and soon after that, another week off for Christmas!
But God has a way of making even the frustrations work for good, and we made the best of the situation. In one chapter the main character, Liz, catches a terrible cold/laryngitis a week before her theatrical debut, and she is in a panic. (Liz and I have a lot in common.) I came into the studio one day and read that chapter with my hoarse voice, and later recorded it again with my normal voice. Jeff then took all of sick Liz’s lines with the scratchy voice and patched them into the dialogue seamlessly.
When the whole book had been recorded, Jeff and I each listened to it separately to catch little spots where I didn’t enunciate clearly enough, said the wrong word, or where I wanted to say a line differently. (I majored in directing, so I can be picky, too.) We each made a list of “tweaks” and got back together to do the fine tuning.
Finally, Jeff walked me through the process of getting the (virtual) paperwork done to make sure everything was legit. This, more than any step, was where I know I would have dropped the ball – I’m terrible at those things.
Bottom line: The audio version of Counselor will soon be available on Audible, Amazon, and i-Tunes. I’ll keep y’all posted.
Prayer: Lord, thanks for expanding my reach and giving me ways to share the gospel that fit my personality. Thanks for using even the frustrating things to communicate Your grace. Whatever my ideas are, Yours are always better. (I love You!) Amen.