If you’ve been following me now for a bit, you’ll probably notice I started dabbling in uploading AI generated audiobooks. For most folks, the natural reaction to this will be “ew, what?”
When I bring them up, the usual reaction I get is “oh, I/my friend/someone I know has tried that and it sounds like a robot.” If you mean using a device’s natural read aloud, then yeah, I agree. Having Siri read a file to you on your iPhone or iPad isn’t great, just like having Microsoft Word read a book aloud is a terrible experience.
That’s… not what this is. This is an evolution away from text-to-speech.
Google created an AI-driven system that learns as it goes, trying to pick up on tone, inflection and pacing while sounding almost real. Almost. Yes, there’s some uncanny valley at play here and it will lack the performance aspects that a human-record and produced audiobook will have. Of course I’d prefer to work with narrators or record my own.
Here’s the truth, though. I’ve got a family and as important as my book business is to me, producing audiobooks is a labor intensive process. We’re talking dozens of hours for me to produce my own, at least. I started a number of times, but then something as simple as one of my kids brings home crud from school and then I sound nasally and need to stop for a while happens. It’s a ton of work and my time is already divided up enough.
The other truth is that professional narrators and audiobook producers are expensive. If I have twelve books released, all with professional covers and editing, that means I need to have twelve books professional produced as audio. The average book will cost me at least $2,000 to produce. I do pretty well, but the idea of re-investing $25,000 into my writing business in hopes I make this money back is… daunting, at best.
That’s where these AI generated audiobooks come in. I can produce them with relative ease, only needing a few hours each for basic editing to hammer down pronunciations and pacing stuff, and can charge a fraction of what most audiobooks cost to the average consumer. If you’re getting books through a subscription service, then sure, it won’t be that expensive, but the cost to purchase an audiobook is pretty high.
So while these may not be the elegant solution, they’re a solution to those looking for audio version of my work for right now.
Here’s a sample of Broken Ascension.
So please, feel free to check the out above. They can be purchased directly from Google Play as well.
Feedback on these is most welcome.