Hello folks, Sam from Future-Nostalgic here. Tony has kindly offered me the opportunity to write a guest post at Landless about my thoughts on the rising phenomenon of AudioBoo as it relates to flash fiction.
First of all, what is AudioBoo?
AudioBoo allows...users to record and playback digital recordings up to 5 minutes long which can then be posted on the AudioBoo website...These recordings are referred to as 'boos.'I can see the potential of Audioboo for authors of flash fiction, not least because the 5 minute limit for individual boos is ideally suited to reading a story of 1000 words or less. Audioboo is, I'm told, incredibly easy to do, simply register for a free account then record direct onto the Audioboo website, or record your boo offline and upload it later and away you go. It is also possible to embed the Audioboo player on your blog or website so listeners can access it directly from your site.
I suppose there is a certain appeal to hearing an author reading their own work, and from the author's point of view, Audioboo may help identify areas for improvement in their work, and help them tighten up their writing as they gain more experience of how it actually sounds. There is also potential for an increased audience among those people who prefer listening to reading from a screen
So, why isn't everybody doing it?
The author can be, by their very nature, an introverted beast who prefers to be represented through the written word than through other media. Having said that, some #FridayFlash authors, like Tony himself, and Icy Sedgewick, Benjamin Solah and Jodi Cleghorn to name but a few, feel much more comfortable about having their voice accessible online.
In fact, with the ease of use that Audioboo provides, Benjamin Solah has begun a new Twitter meme and website, #SpokenSunday to combine #FridayFlash with Audioboo podcasting, giving authors a new outlet for their work, which leads me on to something important, the voice itself.
Some of us are blessed with a naturally good speaking voice, others achieve it through training, but there are still others of us who feel that, for whatever reason, our speaking voices are not conducive to public performance. Guess which group I fall into? The standing joke on Twitter is that my voice resembles a cat gargling with spanners. Neither do I have a knack for accents, nor the ability to voice female characters.
I have a regional accent too, that, to be honest with you, I am proud of. The accent in and of itself does not worry me, though I am conscious that it may subconsciously influence the listener and their enjoyment of my work, so I'd prefer it wasn't part of the equation. I am comfortable with the voice I hear inside my head when I speak, though having heard a recording of my voice, I do not like how more high pitched and squeaky it sounds when I hear it back; there's the cat with the spanners again.
For me to feel happy having my stories available in an audio format, I would probably need to pay to have them recorded by someone who doesn't empty the room by the time they've spoken the first sentence, someone like my good friend and very talented author and voice artist Emma Newman, who offers a recording service for flash fiction (and longer works) at very reasonable rates.
I would prefer to go down this route, if funds allowed, for another reason, namely that I prefer my words to speak for themselves, rather than me speaking them. Let me explain – part of what I love most about writing, and reading come to that, is the reader's ability to interpret the story themselves, to hear in their own head a comfortable voice, their own, and to construct a mental image of the setting and characters in a story. For me it's part of the mystique of a story. I am sure there are readers who prefer to hear a story read exactly as the author intended, I prefer to give my readers the opportunity to enjoy the experience without the distraction of my voice, trust me, that's a blessing; I also enjoy my anonymity.
There are practical challenges too, not least of which is microphone technique. I don't believe many of us are naturally gifted with the ability to simply pick up a microphone and record. It takes practice, and while I may, eventually, be persuaded by my good friends (enablers) in the online author community to take a deep breath and podcast one of my stories, I can't imagine me ever taking the plunge without a lot of behind-the-scenes preparatory work, training, practice, and a script.
And then there's the issue of recording quality. There are some very good freeware audio programs available, Audacity for example, that can do a lot to improve the quality of an audio recording however, what such programs cannot help with is the quality of the audio input, and I am not convinced the microphone I have available will necessarily be up to the job.
To successfully podcast my stories I will need a new microphone, voice training and a good deal more confidence about my voice than I currently possess, though if my friends keep working on me as
So, what do you think about podcasting your work? Is Audioboo something you'd like to try? And do you have any hints and tips you'd care to share that may help me decide to take the plunge?
Finally, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Tony for handing over the mic to me for this post, I'd better hand it back again sharpish before my voice empties the room. Again.
You're very welcome, Sam! So what do you think, everyone? Do you Boo, either as a social medium or to read your fiction? Do you think it's a valuable tool for a writer, either as an outlet to reach an audience or as a means to improve your writing? And if people on Twitter are Tweeps, what do we call someone on AudioBoo? A Booer?
Direct links to the AudioBoo accounts for folks that Sam mentioned: Tony Noland, Icy Sedgewick, Benjamin Solah, Jodi Cleghorn, Emma Newman