When I first saw the mention of the word “audiobook” in my book contract, I was a little skeptical. I mean, this is going to be a photo-heavy decorating book. A book that relies heavily on visual examples and, in most cases, is a book that looked at more than read. I do read some of my decorating books, but I usually look at the pictures and take away what I want from them. Sometimes I read them if there is a compelling story or if I’m eager to hear the design process and creative ideas behind a space. But, I confess that I have never bought an audiobook for a decorating book.
But, as I was writing the Feels Like Home, I had all of this in mind. (Affiliate link.) I wanted to make sure that what I wrote was something worth reading and offered more depth and encouragement than the photos alone could offer. And, I wanted to makes sure the words could stand on their own. Sure, the pairing of images and words is stronger, but as I was reading the book, I realized that listening to it without the pictures could be valuable in an entirely different way.
It’s a common thing for those who read novels – you imagine what the places and characters look like as you read. Your own ideas populate the story, mingling with the words from the author. Once you see the movie, though, your own ideas can be overshadowed and hard to even recall. I mean, who has a hard time reading Pride & Prejudice and not picturing Colin Firth as Darcy?
I think the same thing can be true of a decorating book. When you’re looking at the pictures, that is how you imagine the words that are not necessarily style-specific. We’re talking about kitchens, but now the picture makes the conversation about that kitchen. But the goal of the book is to encourage you to think about your kitchen and apply the principles and ideas through your own unique style in your particular space.
By listening to the audiobook, you have an opportunity to hear the words and imagine your own rooms, furniture, accessories, spaces, and style. You can digest the content in an entirely new way.
While we’re talking about the audiobook, I thought I would share some behind-the-scenes for those who are curious about the process. I did have the option of reading the audiobook myself or having it read by a voice actor. I felt like no one would be able to give the words voice as well as I could, so I opted to read. Well, with one caveat… I made it clear that my team could honestly tell me if listening to my voice for a few hours would be annoying! I love listening to podcasts and audiobooks and I know full well that a grating voice can ruin it. I was allowed to read the book, so I guess my voice meets a bare minimum standard at least!
The recording timeline was pretty tight and a local studio wasn’t available, so I was able to record in my house. In my closet to be more specific! Closets are great for recording because they are generally quiet, can be closed off from the rest of the house by a couple of doors, and are typically filled with lots of fabric (clothes) that will absorb sound. So, for a few days over the span of a couple of weeks, I sat in my closet for 4-5 hours and read my book off of a PDF on my computer. Fortunately, I had a professional recording mic and a pretty nice set-up for good sound quality.
Through the internet, I connected to a director in his studio in New York who would record my voice on his software. He would also direct me – stop if I made a mistake or if there was a noise in the background. I would also redo sections if I fizzled out at the end of a paragraph. I learned that some words and word combinations are tricky for me to say over and over again and I inadvertently wrote a few tongue-twisters. I also learned I’ve been mispronouncing damask my entire life and had to say that word about 15 times to get it right. Pete, the director, would patiently stop me and say, “No…no…it’s DA-mask, not da-MASK.”
“Okay, DA-mask. Got it.” And then I would read the sentence and again say da-MASK. I was just wishing I didn’t even mention damask.
It was a fun project, albeit an exhausting one. It’s amazing how tiring reading a book out loud for a few hours can be, especially if your one who has a tendency to paraphrase and you have to start the sentence over if you do that.
In the end, I am so pleased with how the audiobook turned out and I’m glad I went through the process of reading it myself. My mom and dad listened to it on a long car trip yesterday and my mom called to tell me it was great. She thinks I should add voice actor to my business card. Of course, my mom thinks pretty much everything I do is amazing, just as moms should, but she will speak her mind if she doesn’t like something! So, for what it’s worth, my mom gives it her support!
The audiobook is available on Audible and you can listen to a sample there to see if you might want to hang out with me while you’re working on a project or take me for a walk or on a long car ride. It’s 6 hours and 17 minutes, so it’s a pretty hefty listen! I’m sort of surprised I wrote that much. And, in case you’re wondering, I do not read the tutorials on the audiobook. We felt that listening to a list of materials and step-by-step instructions would be boring and hard to understand anyway. So, the audiobook is much more like hearing a bunch of encouraging and down-to-earth home decorating podcasts on various topics from furniture to finding your unique style and how to practice your decorating skills to not apologizing for your home.