Before we start
This guide is for anyone who is interested in the process of podficcing. The premise chosen is that of a first-timer's first podfic, but let's be honest, a lot of what's mentionned here is way past Podfic 101. You know how it is, you try to be exhaustive and you end up with over 10k. So keep what's useful to you and discard the rest. If it's too much information, or you want a second or third opinion, or my writing style doesn't agree with you or whatever other reason, here are some more guides to choose from: A Beginner's Guide to Making Podfic by EmilianaDarling, How to Podfic: A Highly Biased and Incomplete Tutorial and the response to this ask by The-dragongirl, A Newbie's Guide to Podficcing by Azdaema.
I started writing this guide around the beginning of 2018 and first posted it in spring of the same year. I got a lot of help from fellow podficcers, but this guide very much reflects my own experience and perspective. There is no one way to podfic, and I only know my way/my corner of the internet/my time period. Take it all with a grain of salt. I'll try to keep it updated, so expect some edits from time to time.
A big thank you to all the podficcers who helped with (and sometimes co-wrote) this. Special mention to Azdaema's guide (from whom I shamelessly copy/pasted many links and even a quote or two) and to the Auralphonic podcast.
All links are available in full in the endnotes of each chapter, just like here below.
Step 1: Convince yourself you really should do it
Obviously if you’re here then you know podfics are awesome, and you'd like to make some. If the only thing stopping you is a technical problem, then you can skip this section entirely. If the problem is more psychological, though, then this is for you.
Here are some of the nagging thoughts that might stop a podficcer from podficcing:
“My work isn't good enough.”
Ok. Let's start with that. Your work doesn't have to be good. There is no bar on podfic quality. If it's shitty, well it's shitty, and that's not a problem. The next one will look even better in comparison. Seriously, go to any big name podficcer's ao3 and go back to their very first work (though be careful, many of them started on Livejournal or the Audiofic Archive and might not have crossposted their earliest works here). Compare it to their most recent one. That's how much you can improve with practice.
“Nobody will like it.”
There's always at least one person who'll enjoy it. Chances are, the author will be happy you liked their work enough to want to record it. That's already one person who's happy you made this podfic. And there's at least one listener who'll enjoy it. They might not show it, but they'll be there.
Also, may I point out that it's extremely rare to get negative feedback on podfics? The worst I've ever gotten was probably “I think it's better if you write your story because I don't understand all of the audio and the story it's a good idea !!!” (exact quote). Or maybe authors giving permission to record for accessibility purposes. Kind of annoying, misguided, but not mean-spirited or anything. So at worst, you're shouting into the void. The void is not judging you. The void is nice and supportive of your efforts. The void only wants you to get better.
Actually, you can substitute “the void” for “the podfic community”. They (we) are a very friendly bunch and will adopt any baby podficcer (new podficcer) in an instant. If you need a friend/beta/cheerleader, just give us a sign! (For more info on where/how to establish first contact, see Step 8.)
One extra little bit of mental gymnastics that really helped me when I was starting: if nobody is saying anything either way, then they don't care, there's nobody to disappoint, and you're free to fuck up as much as you want. They don't have any right to complain, they're not saying anything.
“I'm not getting any feedback.”
That said, it's normal to want validation. But keep in mind, the kudos/views number are not a good indicator of how good/bad your work is. They vary widely depending on the fandom, the pairing, the tropes, whether the author gave you some publicity, your own online presence, etc etc etc. They are also, as a norm, significantly lower than for fics. People download, listen on some other device, and forget to go back to the ao3 post to leave some love. It's not like reading something on your internet browser, and when you're done there's the kudos button right there. There aren't as many podfic listeners as fic readers, and fic readers can consume bigger word counts in the same amount of time. And the numbers go up with a podficcer's notoriety. So don’t make the mistake of building your self-worth as a podficcer on the amount of feedback you get. That way only lies heartbreak.
“I'm not doing the fic/the author justice.”
One bad podfic is better than no podfic. You're not actually stopping anyone from recording a better version of this one fic! Yes, podficcers usually tend to avoid recording a story that's already been podficced. But repods are actually quite common nowadays, so it's not out of the question, and it's not stopping them from picking another fic to record and adding to the total number of works podficced. Though, if you still feel eh about it, maybe consider picking a fic that's already been recorded. That way, there's already a “good” podfic of it available, but since your interpretation of the text can only be different (in emphasis, in tone,...), it’s still a unique performance, and people will still enjoy it. Or an orphaned fic. Or something you wrote yourself, if you write! Or a fic from one of your friends, so it’s both podficcing practice and a gift to them. You’re putting time and effort into this, so no matter how good/bad it is, it’s still a show of love that’ll make at least one person really happy.
“I have a heavy accent.”
That is not a problem. Yep, you'll get a lot of “I really like your accent” in your feedback. It... kind of sucks sometimes? I mean, it is a compliment on the work you did on your accent, and on your cadence/melody/articulation/etc, which is not just about pure pronunciation, but it's also a reminder that nope, you still have one. But newsflash: everybody's got an accent. A German one, an Indian one, a Scottish one, a New Jersey one, … And listeners do have preferences, but there'll always be someone who likes yours, if only because they have the same. (Or they’re trying to get the same, because they’re also podficcers, and they need examples for character voices in their next podfic. Or they’re looking for someone to voice a character that has your accent in their next multivoice project. True stories.)
Also, if nothing else, you wouldn't want anyone else to not podfic because they feel self-conscious about their own accent, right? So putting yours out there is a good way to tell them that it's totally ok to do it too.
“I don't like my voice.”
Actually, you'd be surprised at how many podficcers don't like to listen to their own voice.
There are ways around that. You could limit the number of times you have to listen to it. It's totally possible to produce an entire podfic without listening to it once (for more info, see the editing section). You could just ignore it, or learn to like it, through sheer exposure, through positive thinking, through positive feedback. Or you could change it. And by that, I mean either use sound effects (like lowering your pitch in post-prod), or practice voice exercises and change your setup.
Whatever you choose, remember that your voice is going to change. The more you record, the more you learn, the more you can do. So if you have to call the first two (or ten) podfics you do practice for the ones you'll do after that, then so be it.
“There isn't an audience for what I want to record.”
Sure, if you only look at the hits. But if you look at kudos per views, the most popular fandoms and pairings don’t get the highest numbers. I know that my French pods get a veeery good ratio even though it’s such a niche, and the most notes I've ever gotten on a tumblr post was for a podfic in a fandom with 12 works total on ao3 at the time. (The creator of the webcomic reblogged it. The post now has 122 notes, even though the ao3 work only has 52 views.)
The way the author reacts to your podfic really influences the number of people it reaches. And of course, your own online presence does too. Like, marketing is a job in and of itself. Don't be too harsh on yourself.
"There's too many things to learn."
Yes and no. There are an infinite number of things you can learn, but most of them aren't a requirement. If you hate html formatting with a passion, forget it and copy-paste the link to your podfic into the ao3 work. No hyperlinks, no fancy streamers, no nothing. If you hate editing, record in a way that doesn't require much of it, or, even, say F it and don't do it at all. Podficcing should be fun, and finding your style also means finding ways around the not-so-fun parts. An example: many persons don't like breathes in their podfics, but I can't be bothered to edit mine out. So I've embraced it as a way of expressing emotion (huffs, sighs) and pacing (if you take away the breath filling the pause, it sounds longer). Does it still bother some people? Probably. Does that mean I should change how I podfics? Nope.
Yes, podficcing is hard and complex and podficcers are awesome. But podficcing is a skillset you can acquire, not a talent granted to you at birth by the podfic fairy. You wouldn't expect a first timer potter to produce the masterpiece of their career, same for you.
You probably already know some of those skills, anyway. Ever did some theater? Congrats! You have a head start on the acting stuff. Read to your younger family members? Narrating. Budding or seasoned artist? Cover art. Music or movie enthusiast? Music and sound effects. Computer software and coding? Hosting and posting. Played the flute in high school? Breath control and pacing. Just a nice, outgoing person? Networking and asking for permission. Etc, etc, etc.
But ultimately, it depends on why you want to podfic. Are you doing it for yourself, because you enjoy the act of reading out loud? Are you doing it as a gift for someone else, the author perhaps, a friend, or your audience at large? Are you looking for feedback or a sense of community? Are you trying to improve a skillset? If you know what you're looking for, it'll help you choose what to do and how to do it.
Need a final push? Consider making yourself accountable for finishing this project: inform the author of your intention to podfic their work, talk to a friend about it, join a challenge/exchange… So that even if you're not completely happy with it, you'll still feel like you have to post it. After all, one podfic, no matter the quality, is still better than no podfic at all!
Auralphonic on tips for Newbies.
EmilianaDarling, A Beginner's Guide to Making Podfic http://emilianadarling.tumblr.com/post/13193292007/a-beginners-guide-to-making-podfic-by
The_dragongirl, How to Podfic: A Highly Biased and Incomplete Tutorial http://the-dragongirl.tumblr.com/post/137390369796/how-to-podfic-a-highly-biased-and-incomplete
The_dragongirl, response to an ask by Podfic-Chicklet http://the-dragongirl.tumblr.com/post/138117215116/huhu-im-yvi-sama-from-ao3-i-love-your
Azdaema, A Newbie's Guide to Podficcing https://archiveofourown.org/works/14223324/
Auralphonic 007: Tips for Newbies http://archiveofourown.org/works/4141773
Step 2: Find a fic and get permission
Ok, first things first: please set a reachable goal. As in, if you really want to finish it but you’ve never done anything close to podficcing before, do not start with a 100k project. If you're fine with posting incomplete works, then it's not a problem, but if your goal is to finish a 100k podfic, that's going to take you forever. As a rule of thumb, 1000 words of fic equals between 5 and 10 minutes of edited audio. So 10k equals about 1h15, and that's only the finished product.
Just find something you like and feel good about reading out loud (not everybody feels comfortable recording PWP and that’s ok (though there are also tips on that, from Auralphonic and from that one google doc)) and test it out with a few paragraphs. Look for things that would be difficult to recreate in audio format and avoid them. "For example, does the fic incorporate pictures or other visual elements? Does it have more than one interconnected storyline, one of which is marked with italics? Are there texts? Documents? Does it involve singing? Speaking a foreign language? Are there footnotes? Most of these features can be done in podfic, as long as you're creative, and the results can be quite impressive. But keep these things in mind when you're looking at fics... and maybe don't pick one that would require it as your very first podfic." (1)
Please don’t start with the fic you've always wanted to record, your favorite one, the one you'd want to make the masterpiece of your career as a podficcer. Practice on some short, easy projects first and then go for it.
Or, if you think you can do it, disregard this advice and go for it! Who am I to tell you how to podfic?
Another thing to consider when choosing a fic to record is how easy it'll be to get permission from the author (Auralphonic on permission):
If the author has a blanket permission statement, then you're basically golden.
A blanket statement is a statement covering what they allow/don't allow people to do with their work, and under which conditions. Usually, it's give credit with links to the original work (which you should do in any case), often they also want you to notify them somehow, sometimes they add that they don't want the derivative work anywhere else than on ao3. Sometimes it's not quite clear though, and you have to ask for clarification or do it and then ask if it's okay.
To find such authors, you can either go through the ao3 profiles of authors whose fics you liked, or use the Fanworks Permission Statements (FPS) List. (By the way, consider writing a blanket statement yourself! Even if it's to say "don't touch my stuff" or "contact me first".)
Or you can ask the author for permission. One way to minimize the risk of getting a “no” is to look for people who have already had some of their stuff podficced. Of course, that's not a guarantee, and not mandatory.
What should a request for permission include? Usually, something about how you liked the fic, and the request for permission, with some details about what exactly you want to do and what the author can expect. Having a template (a pre-prepared, fill-in-the-blanks message) can help. Here are some examples of permission request templates:
"I have a template that I drop into comments when I want to ask for permission. '[COMMENT ON FIC]. I was wondering whether I could make a podfic of this. Podfic is like audiobooks are for published novels, only for fanworks. You can find my previous podfic here on AO3 if you'd like to know what I sound like. I'd LOVE to record this and share it with the world!'" (Opalsong)
I usually ask on Tumblr or in comments. “Hi there! I really liked [FIC] ([COMMENT ON HOW AWESOME IT WAS]) and I wanted to ask you, could I maybe podfic it? And please feel free to ask questions first or set conditions or refuse or even just not respond! Thanks for the read, and have a great day!” If it’s for something with a deadline, I sometimes add: “If I don't hear back from you in, like, [X] weeks I'll just take it as a no and move on, don't worry about it.” (Annapods)
"'Hi! You didn't have any kind of blanket permission statement on your ao3 profile and I was wondering if you'd be okay with me podficing "[fic title]". I'd obviously give credit and a link back to the original text. I really enjoyed the fic! [I usually add something more specific that I enjoyed about the fic]! Either way, thanks!' Then sometimes I follow up on tumblr if I don't get a response after a couple of days with something like: 'Hi! Just wanted to send this again in case it got eaten, but was wondering if you were open to podfic. I was a big fan of "[fic title]"! I'd obviously leave credit and link back to the original work. Thanks!'" (Godoflaundrybaskets)
You want to send your request somewhere the author is likely to see it. Tumblr is usually a good bet, though the ask system is... not the most reliable. A few lost messages sometimes. Comments on the fic work too, though you might have to wait a bit longer for an answer, but at least you can be sure your request isn't going to disappear into the ether. Twitter DMs too, Dreamwidth messages, emails, basically anything available you feel comfortable with.
If they don't list any contact information in their ao3 profile, you might have to do a bit of cyberstalking. Check the author's notes on their ao3 works, search for their username(s) on Tumblr, Dreamwidth, Livejournal, Twitter, ...
Waiting time for a response can go from a few hours to a few months, but is usually a few days to a few weeks. Getting a "no" is really rare, though not getting an answer at all is pretty common. It may be that they didn't see the message, or that they were planning to answer later but forgot about it. It may also be that they don't want to say no but don't want you to podfic their story either. If there's no answer after a while, consider trying to contact them again, maybe on another platform.
Once you have permission, take note of if/when/how you need to contact the author about the finished podfic.
A granted permission does not mean an obligation to podfic. If, for whatever reason, the project falls through, no harm no foul. Depending on the attitude of the author, it might be better to inform them of it, but after that, you're good. If you think there's a high possibility that'll happen but still want to go for a no-blanket, not-orphaned, by-someone-else fic, consider mentionning it in your permission request.
Fandom etiquette on the subject of permission is constantly changing. As I write, it is considered ok to record an orphaned work without getting permission (though be careful with anonymous works: often, they're only anonymous until the reveals of a challenge). Likewise, you can repod a fic without asking the previous podficcer(s), only the author. There's talk about taking a lack of response (after an honest attempt, and warning, and some waiting time) as a positive answer, but not a lot of people actually dare do it. And in the old LiveJournal days, podficcers sometimes had Dear Author letters they could link to where they explained what a podfic was, and what they were going to do with the fic, and how they’d credit the author, etc, but now that more and more people have heard of podfics it’s not that common anymore. Likewise, if you’re doing more than a simple read-through but adding a lot of sound effects that effectively change the meaning of the text, taking out the dialogue tags, or something in that vein, then you might want to inform the author beforehand.
For more info on the somewhat-current state of the matter, and where things are heading, see the Auralphonic episode on the subject.
Auralphonic 005: Sexy Podfic https://archiveofourown.org/works/3751933
NC-17 podfic advice https://docs.google.com/document/d/1etxIABrc7QW5qvaZlNeca1Bbtme-WMv5B71TUZ2iB1o/edit
1 Azdaema Pods, A Newbie's Guide to Podficcing, Chapter 5: Picking Projects https://archiveofourown.org/works/14223324/chapters/33211983
Azdaema, A Newbie's Guide to Podficcing https://archiveofourown.org/works/14223324/chapters/33211983
Auralphonic 027: Podfic Permission http://archiveofourown.org/works/10443285
Fanworks Permission Statements (FPS) List https://www.fpslist.org/about-fps-list/
Step 3: Set up the recording
Now, your recording equipment. Can be your phone or laptop's internal mic (the apple products in particular tend to have good mics, might be worth a try), can be an old headset, can be a friend's microphone, can be a pair of headphones with a built-in mic. Anything that records semi-well is good, no need for much.
Though if you know you're going to record more in the future, and want to invest in your own mic, here are some options:
For something not too expensive but with pretty good quality and easily found in your local supermarket/hardware store, try the Blue line. The Blue Snowball is about 50$/EUR and the Yeti is about 100. Both are USB microphones, ie you plug them in your computer and use an audio recording/editing software like Audacity or Garageband to record.
The more expensive option is to buy a XLR mic with an audio interface. The AT2020 or MXL990 microphones (100-150) with a Scarlet solo or PreSonus Audiobox audio interface (100) are the first option, but the Blue Spark microphone (200 T_T) is supposed to be very good too. You plug the mic in the interface, that you plug in your computer. The interface gives you more control over the gain (how much volume the mic/recording picks up). Mostly, though, the interface allows you to plug in several devices at once, which is useful for recording music and interviews, but doesn't often happen in podfic. For an excellent, very expensive USB mics, look at the RØDE Podcaster (200).
Another option: recording without a computer! Either with a microphone with internal memory like the Zoom NH2 (150) or something similar, or with an external microphone plugged in your phone. You might need an adapter for that, though. (Info lacking.)
Also, if you're a student, your school's computer lab might have some microphones they can lend you.
Here are samples of how different mics sound.
Though, seriously, no need for professional equipment. Record with whatever you like/can.
Now. Recording space. You want to be comfortable, and limit echo and background noises.
Posture affects your voice, and it'll be easier to focus on the text if you're not fighting off pins and needles in your legs. Also, podficcing is supposed to be fun and painless. Your health and comfort is way more important than the quality of your sound.
Some podficcers do marathon recording sessions and do not move for hours, others time their breaks every 30 minutes or so. Some stand, some sit at a desk, some sit on the floor or record lying down. Some read off their laptop or computer screen, some off their phone, some print the text. Try it all out! Though keep in mind, a bigger font is always better. Take something to drink with you, in a container that's not going to spill. Get rid of any creaking chair or rustling clothes.
Limiting background noise: find a calm space, pick a time when your housemates are out, jam a pair of leggings under your door (also, if you want to easily soundproof a door, look into getting some window sealing tape). For echo: try to pick a space with lots of objects or open space (flat walls reverberate the sound), maybe carpet on the floor, hang blankets around your recording space, get under your comforter.
If you can, get a pop filter (you can make one with a wire hanger and an old pair of thights), or put a sock on your mic. Try to put something sound-absorbant behind and to the sides of your microphone. There are sound reflection shields you can buy, but a blanket or a padded chair work too.
The ultimate version of that is the blanket fort or the podfic cave. Sometimes it’s a DIY portable sound booth, sometimes it's some mattress toppers hung on the walls of an empty closet, sometimes it’s a collapsible structure made of PVC tubes and blankets, sometimes it’s an extra room in your basement you built for this exact purpose HOLLY SHIT. Though once again, this is kind of overkill for a first podfic and in no way mandatory. As long as you're comfortable and you're having fun, that's enough.
Next, you need a recording/editing software. Tough the two can be separate: you can record on one device/software and edit on another. For free computer softwares, try Audacity on Windows/Linux (Auralphonic on Audacity) and Garageband on Mac (Auralphonic on Garageband). Avid Pro Tools is also supposed to offer a free version, though they don't cover Linux (grumble). For Android, check the preinstalled apps and ask Youtube/Google/your app store. (Info lacking.)
Here's a tutorial for recording on Ipad with Twistedwave.
Here's a link to a list of the keyboard shortcuts on Audacity and on Garageband.
On Audacity, the most useful shortcuts are probably: Ctrl+roll for zoom in/out, Alt+roll for past/forward, and Ctrl+X/C/V for cut/copy/paste. Ctrl+J/K will select until the beginning or end of the track, and the arrow keys will get you to the beginning/end of the selection.You should be able to customize those. For example, to make it so that you don’t need to hit Ctrl every single time you want to do something.
And Youtube tutorials are your friends.
Librivox, Microphone Showdown https://librivox.org/microphone-showdown-i-wandered-lonely-as-a-cloud-by-william-wordsworth/
Humanworkshop, Portable Mini Vocal Booth http://www.instructables.com/id/Portable-Mini-Vocal-Booth/
Annapods, Podfic closet https://annapods.dreamwidth.org/7414.html
Podfic-Chicklet, Ivy-sama’s podfics https://podfic-chicklet.tumblr.com/post/172312504452/guess-who-is-home-alone-two-days-of-podficcing
Paraka, Pod Aware Day 1! How We Podfic https://paraka.dreamwidth.org/287849.html
Auralphonic 033: Recording Setup http://archiveofourown.org/works/12230919
Auralphonic 015: Audacity Tips and Tricks http://archiveofourown.org/works/6028147
Auralphonic 019: Garageband http://archiveofourown.org/works/7238407
Avid Pro-Tools http://www.avid.com/pro-tools-first
Dr_fumbles_mcstudpid, Tutorial for Podficcing on your ipad https://dr-fumbles-mcstupid.dreamwidth.org/13173.html
Audacity manual, Commands and Keyboard Shortcut Reference https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/keyboard_shortcut_reference.html
Apple support, GarageBand for Mac: Keyboard shortcuts https://support.apple.com/kb/PH24957?locale=fr_CA&viewlocale=en_US
Step 4.1: Record it and start editing
There are several styles of recording/editing.
Edit-as-you-go is the less effort-intensive one while still being called editing. You start to read/record, you stop whenever you make a mistake and erase that mistake, and then you pick it back up. At the end, you copy/paste the tracks together into one and tada! No need to edit for timing. (Well, you have to pick it back up a little early so you can gauge timing, or not erase the mistake and copy/paste visually, but there are several ways to edit-as-you-go and the results are basically the same.) It does mean that you're stopping regularly, though, and that can mess with some people's flow.
The snapping method/visual editing is in-between. You make a sudden loud noise, like a snap of your fingers or a click of your tongue (or use a dog training clicker or something similar), whenever you make a mistake, before rereading the sentence/passage/whatever. Then when you're editing, you can see the bars on the recording and only deal with those bits. As you use this method more and more you get a sense for your patterns, where you broke character and laughed, where you stumbled over the beginning of a line, and can edit those chunks out sight unseen, er sound unheard! The extreme version of visual editing is when you don't even relisten to it, you just look at the wavelength to determine where the repetitions are and only keep the last version. A bit hazardous, but if you keep a copy of the original recording (in another track or in another file) then you can always get back what you unintentionally erased.
Whether you edit visually or not, the snapping method is useful for separating chapters or parts. You can come up with codes, like one snap for a mistake, two snaps for an effect, three for a chapter break. Or even describe the thing you’ll have to do later in editing, “snap-add-snap-effect-snap-here”, to leave future-you notes.
The most time-consuming option is to just repeat the line with the mistake, and when editing, go through the whole recording to look for repeated lines.
You can also find someone who wants to edit your podfic for you. Usually as part of an editing swap, where you edit their stuff and they edit yours, but also as practice for a budding sound editor. You’d have to accept losing some creative control, though, and agree in advance on your method of recording/their method of editing and how much control you’d keep (ie how many times you can ask them to go back and make changes).
And our last option: not editing at all. That is to say, powering through when you make mistakes, or correcting yourself but leaving the mistake in. This is called a raw podfic, and it’s a totally valid way to do it. Some listeners don’t like it, because it cuts the flow of the story and gives them second-hand frustration. Some find it charming and more personal. As always, your choice.
There are several things you can do to prepare yourself for the recording. Reread the text (though recording a text you’ve never read is also a thing, it’s called recording cold (not the same thing as recording blind, that's for when you don't know the fandom)), look up how to pronounce some of the words (here's a pronunciation database, because “the Alliance” and “the aliens” are sadly not interchangeable), mark up dialogue to show who's speaking with different colors, add notes about emotions or intonations, …
Some people also do warm-ups before recording, like voice or breath exercises, or even work out. Here are some singing warm-up and theater warm-up exercices. There’re a lot of little tricks you can try: some combination of tea or apple juice and honey, ginger or cinnamon, brushing your teeth and drinking a lot of water, singing, cheeks massages, …
But the two most important things to do are: be comfortable, and pick a fic you like.
Usually, podfics include an intro and an outro.
Intro: Title of the fic, some version of “written by [pseudonym attached to the work] and read by [your pseudonym]” as applies, sometimes fandom/pairing/tags or tropes/warnings, then summary. The tags and warnings depend on what information isn't already available through the cover art and metadata, and on how important you think it is. If the summary is a quote from the beginning of the fic, it could be skipped. If it mentions the author or the context of the creation of the fic (like in "i wrote this as a gift for my friend for this one challenge"), that can be skipped or altered, too (as in, "[the author] wrote this as a gift for [recipient] for this one challenge in [year]" or something). The author's notes can be recorded in full, altered, or skipped, depending on their relevance, interest, and the podficcer's wishes. However, it should always be clear who's talking: if keeping the author's "I"s, then you should mention those are their notes and not yours. Chapter numbers and names or usually read, too.
Outro: a lot more freeform, can include: “the end”, credits, info about when/how/why you recorded the podfic, “thanks for listening”, “please leave me/the author some feedback”, author's notes in full or altered, other reader's notes, music, nothing…
At the end of your recording (or at the beginning, whichever) you want to record some silence, to capture the white noise of the room, which we'll get rid of later. This is also useful to put about two seconds of silence at the beginning and at the end of your podfic (so that it doesn't blend completely with the next podfic on your listener's paylist) and to normalize the length of your scene or chapter breaks. For those, 4 to 9 seconds are usually a good bet, depending on your reading speed and the effect wanted. When relistening to mine, I barely notice 5 seconds, whereas 8 or 9 feel like a pointed pause. Of course, that's for silence, not for sounds or music transitions.
On the topic of names: if you’re getting ready to take a dive into podficcing/the podfic fandom, this is your chance to choose your identity. As in, your podficcing username/graphic charter/online presence. It can totally be your pre-existing one, but also, you could go for [name]podfic(s) or [name]reads or something similar, even make a new ao3 pseuds to separate text and audio works. The only real limit is that people need to be able to find you again after listening to one of your podfics.
Regarding typos, grammar mistakes, awkward turns of phrase and words that make you uncomfortable: I'd say, you can get rid of them as long as it's not obvious. However, this is subject to debate and I can't speak for the whole community. By fixing typos and grammar errors, you're staying closer to the intended meaning of the text, the listener won't cringe or be confused, and the author won't see their mistake forever immortalized in audio format and broadcasted for everyone to hear. Awkward turns of phrase or choice of words are more complicated, since it's hard to guess if the author really means it or if it's more of an unintentional thing. Once or twice, it can be passed as a mistake on your part while recording, you read too fast, you skipped over it, you accidentally erased a word or a sentence while editing. More, you're altering the text. The safest way to do that would be to ask the author for permission and mention somewhere in the post/intro or outro that you altered the text. "Adapted for audio by [you]" or "with slight alterations", something like that, but that suggests somewhat heavy editing, not a word here and there. As I said, opinions differ.
On the subject of acting. You'll find that, usually, people sound different when they're reading narration than when they're reading dialogues. And of course, the writing style of the author, as well as the mood of the story, influence the reading. Action scenes are usually more fast paced, in the text (short sentences, active verb tenses, less visual description and more action...) and in the recording (a faster reading speed, more dramatic emphasis...). Smutty scenes can have trailing on sentences, more breath in the voice, a slower pace. Funny, humorous passages might be read with a deadpan voice or wild intonations and a smile. If you're interested in all that, look into acting tutorials or lessons. Listen to people talk in different settings and situations. If you listen to podfics, analyze what works and what doesn't in your favorite ones.
Some personal advice (take it with a grain of salt, ymmv, etc): if you're reading faster, you need to balance it out with slightly longer pauses/breathes to give the listener time to digest the text.
In general, don't be afraid of long pauses. They give you and your listeners time to breathe and process.
Breaths are very useful! To express irritation, wariness, hesitation, pain or pleasure... But, if you hate them and want to get rid of them, keep in mind that your pauses will sound longer with nothing to fill them.
If a character is shouting, lean away from your mic. You want the little slide indicator tracker that shows you volume to always be in the green, sometimes the yellow, never the red or you're risking distortion (the audio wave will get cut, it doesn't sound good. Except if it's deliberate, of course!).
If you're not 'feeling' the emotion, underplaying it is a totally valid acting choice. Sometimes, it's even preferable, if the words themselves are already very moving (heavy angst, crack, stuff like that).
Overlapping lines of dialogues can be a handy alternative when trying to reproduce with only one voice two characters interrupting or talking over each other. For best results, record one, then record the other while listening to the first one, in real time.
Changes in posture really affect breathing and voice quality.
Character voices are not in any way mandatory, but they can be fun. By character voices, I mean anything that differentiates one character's lines from the rest of the podfic. Pitch (height of voice), melody (flat, sing-songey, etc), pronunciation of certain sounds (lisps and personal particularities, ways to pronounce /r/s, etc), general volume, emotion and quality of voice... Accents, in a way, are a mix of all of that. Btw, here's a data base of them, Youtube has lots of for tutorials and examples.
Some things can be done while recording, either with the voice alone or with props, but if you're dealing with a heavily altered voice (Batman, Darth Vader, Daleks, etc), using some sound effect might be easier.
Physically altering the shape of your mouth (pinching a cheek and holding it away from your teeth, pinching your nose, pushing your lower jaw out a bit, stuff like that) makes for easy (if sometimes slightly uncomfortable) character voices. Or you could come up with catchphrases you associate with those characters, sentences from canon or headcanons that you always hear in their voice, to bring it back to mind.
Character voices are a way to help listeners follow along dialogues. They're a lot of fun, and add some charm to the podfic. However, it's hard to multitask emoting, accents and/or pitch, articulation and everything else at the same time. If inconsistent, they can confuse listeners. Sometimes, they clash with people's voice headcanons and put them off the podfic. In some cases, adding a dialogue tag or two to clarify who's speaking is just less hassle all around.
So now you put it all together, in whichever way you chose. And you can call it a day and go straight to the next step, but you also have some more options.
Some quick and easy steps to improve the overall sound quality: on Audacity, remove the white noise and use the compressor to even the volume (here’s a basic tutorial, there’s a ton of them on Youtube. Though if you want more in-depth explanations, look here for compression, here for noise reduction). There are more options, like lowering your pitch, or suppressing or enhancing particular frequencies to make it sound better, using pass filters, changing the pace if you ended up reading too fast, removing pops, using noise gate to edit out the breaths, … everybody’s got their own little recipe.
On garageband, here is a tuto that might help.
On other softwares, please look it up (info lacking).
Another option: Auphonic is a free (2h per month) online service that cleans up your audio for you.
Step 4.2: Add music/sfx
One way to make podficcing more of a creative activity is to add stuff to the original text. Like intonations, cover art, aaaand music and sound effects. None of that is mandatory, but if you want to do it, then here are some tips and resources.
But before that, a note on credits, licences and when it's okay to use other people's stuff.
Just like for permission to podfic, there is no rule set in stone that is going to cover all platforms for the next century. But as it stands today in the corner of podfic fandom I know (ie Jan 2018, twitter/dw/most of ao3), it's considered better to never use stuff you didn't create without permission, though official canon things are fair game. The distinction between 'fellow creator' and 'canon creator' is quite fuzzy, though. Nobody is going to expect you to ask a big name band for permission to use their music, but what about a Youtube cover singer? Can you use art from a small webcomic for a cover, knowing that the artist is also a fannish person and will likely see it?
One way around that is to mostly use stuff under licenses that allow reuse and modification, like the Creative Commons ones. Some websites give you the opportunity to filter by licenses.
For music, here’s a mixed bag of free music: Natentine, Free Music Archive, Silverman Sound Studios, Audionautix, Kongano, Incompetech (very easy to search for soundtracks), Jamendo Licensing (not free!), Tabletop Audio (ambient music and soundscapes), and a quick google search will give you many more.
For sound effects, Freesound, Tabletop Audio again, SoundBible ... and whatever you can do yourself. It's sometimes much easier to use props or record your own sounds, prior to or during the reading.
And of course, Youtube, even though you can't filter by licenses.
One last resource: if you need ambient noise from a specific type of place/country, ask your fellow podficcers! Chances are, someone can stick their mic out of their window and record you some.
But even if you're going for mainstream music, you have to be careful about copyright, because some hosting sites automatically scan files for that (Tumblr, Youtube ...) or have a policy of deleting anything that comes to their attention (Youtube again, some hosting sites, ...). There are ways around that (changing the pitch, not putting it at the very beginning, using covers of the song, etc) but we've left beginner level (and my expertise) behind a while ago, so.
If you decide to incorporate music or sfx in your podfic, remember to check the volume on several devices (your car's stereo, old earbuds, headphones, your laptop's speakers, etc) to make sure it’s consistent. Wild variations in volume will, for instance, wake up a listener trying to go to sleep to the sound of your dulcet tones, or force them to choose between taking their gloves off every other minute to fiddle with volume, not hearing some parts/getting their ears blasted off at others, and skipping to the next podfic in their playlist.
To find music that fits a podfic, look for mentions of songs in the author's notes. Google the title with 'lyrics', just in case it's a quote from something. Browse your music library or the internet for something that fits the mood you want. Listen to playlists based on relevant characters or tropes. Or use something from the source material, like the opening of the show or the soundtrack of the movie.
The length of the music snippet used varies. For simple intro/outro stuff, it's usually overlayed under the voice, with the volume going down in decrescendo to let the voice be heard and then back up again (on Audacity, use the envelope tool to modify the volume progressively and without altering the actual sound wave). It might be looped under the words, so there aren't any lyrics or changes in the melody to distract from the words. Then the music plays for a bit, less than 30 seconds as a rule of thumbs (I think? If you listen to podfics with music, check what they do and how you like it), before petering out completely and letting the story begin. In outro, it's the same, except the music might go on for longer afterwards, since listeners can easily skip it. That's the usual use of music, but if you're feeling inspired, feel free to play around with it more! Background music for mood or setting, music as transition, music that's part of the story, singing or paying an instrument, ... To get a better idea of what can be done with music and how, check the Music in Podfic panel from Podfication 2017, by Revolutionaryjo and Bessyboo.
There are so many ways to use sound effects, I'm not going through them all. But consider: isolated noises (a door slamming, a phone notification, a plane taking off), background noises and soundscapes (rainfall, a busy street), voice effects (robotic voice, pitch changes, talking through a phone, echo), others (playing around with panning and directions with stereo, people talking over each other, reverb to play with distance and setting). Youtube tutorials, friend. Youtube tutorials.
There are things that are nigh impossible to do without editing, like hitting a pitch an octave lower than your vocal cords can produce, but many that are easier to do mid-recording. If someone is far away, you can lean away from your mic or put a piece of paper in front of your mouth. If they're talking with their face hidden by their hands or a pillow, you can do the same. You can knock on a wall to imitate someone knocking on a door, or rustle some paper for a character going through a report. Stuff like that.
One last thing about music/sfx in podfic: you've probably seen podfics with two versions, one with and one without. It's because some people don't like music/sfx in their podfics, because of bad volume control or because they have trouble focusing on the words with something else over it or because they don't want to chance not liking the song and it ruining the podfic for them. Whether you offer two versions or one is your choice. How much music is there in the podfic? How important is it to the story? How much work would it be? Do you have enough storage space? Etc.
Step 4.3: Beta it and do retakes
Once your podfic is mostly ready, you have the option to send it to a beta or do a beta-listen yourself. It's like a writing beta, but for audio, so the person listening will be looking for mispronunciation errors, variations in volume, missing sentences, overall tone, … as much or as little as you both agreed on. If you’re beta-listening to a podfic but don’t have the file open in your editing software, remember to write down the timestamps of the mistakes you’re noticing. It makes it so much easier to find them again.
Some things you can do while beta-listening to make it go faster: cooking, cleaning, driving places, taking the bus/subway/insert your local public transport here, doing the cover art, going to sleep.
Retakes are when you rerecord parts (or the whole) of a fic. Rerecording small parts and editing them in takes less time, but it’s also very hard to match the original recording, both in the voice and in the sound quality. Rerecording the whole thing takes time, but also allows you to change the cadence, the sound quality, the voices, the emotions, … And if you know you’re going to rerecord entirely, then the first take can be less stressful and more fun.
In the end, whether you rerecord or not, and how much of it you do, depends on how much time and effort you want to invest in this particular podfic, and how perfect you want it to be. There is no right answer.
Auralphonic 003: Editing Styles http://archiveofourown.org/works/3357470
Jacobs Vocal Academy, vocal warm up playlist https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uc8ak1qxrrE&list=RDUc8ak1qxrrE&t=6
National Theatre Discover, Vocal Warm-Up #1: Breathing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tc-_hoG4nec
Auralphonic 34: Pre- and Post-Production (the part about warmups/preprod) http://archiveofourown.org/works/12598984
George Mason University, The speech accent archive http://accent.gmu.edu/index.php
Forvo: the pronunciation dictionary https://forvo.com/
Mike Downes, How to clean audio with Audacity: Noise Removal, Normalise and Compressor https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkpzHJGE4Dk
Youtube, search for “audacity tutorial” https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=audacity+tutorial
Understanding Audio Compressors and Audio Compression, A Tutorial By Barry Rudolph http://barryrudolph.com/mix/comp.html
Audacity Wikia, How Audacity Noise Reduction Works https://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/How_Audacity_Noise_Reduction_Works
Takinmusic, How to EQ vocals https://talkinmusic.com/musicproduction/how-to-eq-vocals/
Pro Audio Files, The Complete Guide to Audio Pass Filters, by Rob Schlette https://theproaudiofiles.com/audio-pass-filters/
Greedy_Dancer, Tutorial: pops, pop screens and equalizing https://podfic-tips.livejournal.com/38991.html
Audacity Wiki, Nyquist Effects Plug-ins, Noise Gate https://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Nyquist_Effect_Plug-ins#Noise_Gate
PennState Media Commons, Recording Audio in GarageBand https://mediacommons.psu.edu/2017/03/31/recording-audio-in-garageband/
Pat Flyn, How to Record & Edit a Podcast in Garageband (Complete Tutorial) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhesskgmIsQ&t=1s
Auphonic: Automatic audio post production web service for podcasts, broadcasters, radio shows, movies, screencasts and more https://auphonic.com/landing
Wikipedia, Creative Commons licenses https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_Commons_license#Types_of_licenses
Free Music Archive http://freemusicarchive.org/
Silverman Sound Studios https://www.silvermansound.com/free-music
Revolutionaryjo and Bessyboo, Music in Podfic, Podfication 2017
Auralphonic on music and sound effects: http://archiveofourown.org/works/4583769
Auralphonic 34: Pre- and Post-Production (the part about betas/postprod) http://archiveofourown.org/works/12598984
Step 5.1: Export it with metadata
When you export your audio file, check the settings (on Audacity, you might have to install the Lame MP3 Encoder plug-in first). You want to export in mp3, mono, 64kbps. The bitrate (kpbs, usually) can vary, higher, if you have a lot of music and/or sound effects, or lower, if you want a small file regardless of quality.
Why those specific parameters? Mp3, because that’s what most people/devices use. Mono, because, unless your recording set-up differentiates between left and right, or you’ve played around with it in editing (panning, directions, some songs, etc), then it’s already the exact same sound on both side. 64kbps, because the quality you lose is mostly unhearable by human ears, and the rest is only noticeable with really good headphones. (Though if you're not sure about that number, do the test yourself! Export the same recording at several rates and listen to it on every audio device you own, and then tell me about it!)
Why bother? Because, with podfic files, size matters. By dropping from stereo 126 to mono 64, you’re dividing your file size by four. That’s four times the hosting space (and many hosting services only offer free accounts up to a certain volume, so if you don’t want to have to keep track of thirty different accounts you better use that space wisely), a much better downloading and streaming speed, a saved phone data plan for anyone downloading/streaming on the go, and less space eaten up on their phone or mp3 player.
For reference, here’s a guide to Audible’s formatting standards, using Fre:ac, a free audio formatting program (though it doesn’t do m4b). And here is a more in-depth explanation of this whole section.
If your podfic is shorter than an hour, there’s no need to cut it into segments. However, if it’s over that, it might be better to do 45min-1h chunks. It makes it easier for people to keep track of where they left off, and to move the time slide thingie left and right on their audio device.
Another thing you need to do while exporting is take care of your metadata. Metadata, along with the file name itself, help listeners organise their audio library, choose what to listen to, and then find where to leave you feedback once they’re done listening. Things that you might want to put in there: title, name of reader, name of author, fandom, link to the podfic or the fic, name of the series (if any), etc. There are several formats for that. For example, my name files are “[Abbreviation of fandom name] Title.mp3”, with the meta data being title: “[Abbreviation of fandom name] Title” and author: “w:Author, r:Reader” and year:”Year”. I’ve seen people using the album slot for the fandom, or the series, or the author or the reader, or omitting any one of those. If you want an idea of how far metadata can go, see this tutorial by Bessyboo.
While we’re talking data and organization, how do you feel about spreadsheets? Or ao3 bookmarks? Or pinboards? Those can all be useful to track your project(s) (and, ultimately, nerd out over statistics). On the practical side, you might want to keep an eye on possible fics to record, fics you are currently recording, fics you have asked permission for and through which means, etc. On the nerdy side, statistics help you track your progress and preferences over time. This can be about the length of audio recorded, but also the fandoms, the categories, the ratings, and so many other things. If you are an advanced spreadsheet user, or if you want an idea of how far they can get you, here’s a tuto on some useful Google sheets tools by Godoflaundrybaskets.
Step 5.2: Add some cover art
But the metadata is not always immediately visible to the listener browsing their podfic library, and anyways it doesn’t always say much about the mood and content of the podfic. Which is why you may want to consider making some cover art to go with it. Cover art is in no way mandatory, but it is (can be) fun!
For the softwares, anything goes. Photoshop/Adobe Illustrator are the reference, but they’re expensive. GIMP/Inkscape are free and open-source. Canva, Fotor and LunaPic do it online. Then there’s Paint/Powerpoint. Pretty sure you could even use Word…
Try using something you already know, something you’re comfortable with. And, once again, online tutorials.
The general conventions regarding cover art are: square dimensions (a lot of mp3 players crop anything rectangular), minimum 400 by 400 pixels, with the name of the pod/fic, the names of the author and the reader (either just the names or “written by X”/"by X" “read by Y”) sometimes also a short description of the story (ex: “a fake-married sterek AU”) or the name of the series. Some people (aka me and me only, tbh) also put the fandom, pairings, content warnings or major tags on it, though in order not to cluster the cover, they put it in small print in a somewhat separate part of the cover.
For the image(s), keep in mind what we said previously about licenses and permission. If you found a fanart that’d be perfect for your cover, consider contacting the artist for permission, and otherwise here are some resources for finding images: Flickr, Pixabay, Stocksnap, Picsart, the Wikia(s) of the source material (very useful for anime/manga/games fandoms where Google gives you more fanart than canon), Google image (also allows to filter by licenses! In 'tools', then 'usage rigths'. Though do click through to the original page for how/if to credit), …
For fonts: Fontspace, Dafont, Google Fonts, 1001 Fonts, … Wordmark, for choosing fonts
Color palettes: Design Seeds, …
And also, Creative Market for weekly free stuff! And don't worry about storing all of it, you can download any old 'purchase' again.
One more thing: stickerses! And that one is a personal obsession of mine, not (yet! *evil cackle*) a fandom-wide thing. But here’s a lemon stickers rating scale!
For people who don’t particularly like making cover art but still want some for their podfic: try to do it before recording, or while waiting for permission, so that it’s not keeping you from posting the podfic and you have time to devote to it. Or while beta-listening, so it’s easier to remember the mood of the fic.
Or get someone else to do it for you! You can either ask the general community (on the poddersundercover dw, on twitter, on the discord server, wherever you usually hang out) or use the “cover art welcome” tag on ao3. If you’re delegating the work to someone else, consider offering to send them whatever audio you have ready so they can listen to it while making your cover. Sometimes it helps to match the mood of the podfic. Though sometimes, the cover artist just doesn’t have the time to listen to it, or isn’t in the same fandom, so don’t always expect it. In any case, be upfront about how much time you’re giving them to work with.
Another possibility to make cover art easier is to have a template file ready that you can duplicate and use for all your covers. The size is already set, everything is positioned, you just have to fill in the blanks and add a picture or two.
Cover art can be all pretty pictures and fancy fonts, but it can also be black blocky text on a white background. The goal is to convey information, after all, and if you don't like doing cover art, or you really want to post right now this instant but still want a cover, well.
Step 5.3 make an audiobook
Audiobooks are m4b files. They can usually be read by mp3 players (usually), but in iTunes/audiobook players they offer neat options like chapters and different covers for each of them! They're also known as podbooks.
If you’re on Mac or Windows, iTunes can make them, and you can also use Chapter and Verse (free). For Linux, ABC Audiobook Creator. You'll probably have to install a bunch of other things first, see the table at that link.
Why make an m4b? Well, they’re better for longer projects, because you can have one file for the whole podfic but still keep track of where you are while listening. There’s also only one link to click on to download the whole thing. If your mp3 settings are not customized (ie, your file is unnecessarily huge), they will automatically be changed when exporting to m4b and the file will be lighter. Some people only listen to m4b because of how they organize their downloaded podfics.
Once again, whether you offer an m4b option depends on how useful you think it’d be and how much time/energy/storage space you have.
Audacity manyal, FAQ: Installation, Startup and Plug-ins http://manual.audacityteam.org/man/faq_installation_and_plug_ins.html#lame
Audible, Encoding Files to 192kbps MP3 https://www.google.com/url?q=http://g-ec2.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/Audible/en_US/acx/pdf/ACX_MP3_Encoding_Tutorial_04242014._V338366800_.pdf&sa=D&ust=1514742889237000&usg=AFQjCNGbcIrfNHMnMmHxeGhVxsUo7yyKGA
Cantarina @vworpvworp, livetweet of Bessyboo’s Podfication 2018 panel, Your file size is too damn big!!! https://twitter.com/vworpvworp/status/921815224021344256
The Doodles of Bessyboo, A Podfic Tagging & Organization Tutorial https://bessyboo.livejournal.com/78832.html
Godoflaundrybaskets, Podfic Tracker with Dynamic Menu https://godoflaundrybaskets.dreamwidth.org/1121.html
Auralphonic 032: Podfic Organization: http://archiveofourown.org/works/11936364
Links: GIMP https://www.gimp.org/
Google Fonts https://fonts.google.com/
1001 Fonts http://www.1001fonts.com/
Design Seeds https://www.design-seeds.com/
Creative Market https://creativemarket.com/
Podders Undercover, cover art discussion + resources https://poddersundercover.dreamwidth.org/
Lemon rating scale stickers https://www.dropbox.com/sh/m594efbyu3kjrse/AACKZKGpiS0UqQZIdTXFSKoSa?dl=0
Cover Art by Bessyboo https://coversbybessyboo.tumblr.com/
Lavenderfrost, Behind The Cover https://archiveofourown.org/works/6156175/chapters/14105449
Azdaema Pods, Behind the Podfic, Chapter 1: Cover Art https://archiveofourown.org/works/14871114/chapters/34433268
Annapods, #annacovers http://annapods.tumblr.com/tagged/annacovers
Auralphonic 022: Cover Art https://archiveofourown.org/works/8047066
Loden Software, Chapter and Verse http://lodensoftware.com/chapter-and-verse/
ausGE :: aus Gelsenkirchen, abc - Audio Book Creator :: Info english https://www.ausge.de/ausge-download/abc-info-english
Step 6: Host it
For the purpose of this meta, we’re presuming your goal is to post your podfic on Ao3. However, Ao3 doesn’t accept audio files, only html (for more info on Ao3 and podfic, see Auralphonic on the subject). Which means that you have to put your file somewhere else and then make a link/connection/whatever-you-want-to-call-it between that place and the Ao3 work.
If you have a personal website (with FTP access), you can host your files yourself. Litra (@litrapod on twitter) is also willing and able to host more people. But let’s look at online options too:
Some hosting-only services:
Dropbox: 2G max (but as many free accounts as you can make email addresses), allows preview before download/streaming for mp3 files (not for m4b) on external page on computer but not on mobile, works with Ao3’s streamers (with a trick!).
Box: like Dropbox but with streaming on phones for mp3, BUT with very strict bandwidth (only a certain amount of downloading/streaming per file per month), and I don’t think it works with Ao3’s streamers?
Google Drive: 15GB per account, streaming/download on external page, no Ao3 streamers.
Mediafire: 10GB per free account, preview/streaming on external page on computer, no Ao3 streamers.
Backblaze (tuto on how to set it up): 10GB storage and 2GB/day bandwidth free, ridiculously low prices for more, Ao3 streamers (use the native URL, not the friendly one), preview/streaming on external page.
Some media-sharing platforms:
Tumblr: no download (well, only with an Xkit extension), 10Mo per post (in mono 64kbps that's 20 minutes max, 40 min if 42kbps, etc), daily limit on number of audio posts (like, 7 or something), hard to keep track of all the posts.
Soundcloud: only 3h of total audio per account, soundcloud streamers can be embedded in ao3/tumblr, with direct download from the ao3 page.
Youtube: no easy download, no size limit, visual (video) component, can be embedded elsewhere, strict with copyrighted songs and images.
Castbox.fm: hard to search through, set like a podcast, RSS feed, no uploading limit (info lacking).
Archive.org: not the easiest to search through, no uploading limit, streamers on ao3 (info lacking).
(This whole section is lacking info and links to new/unknown resources, feel free to share your knowledge on the subject!)
If you have the time/energy to spare, it might be a good idea to use two of those at the same time, so that if one suddenly crashes or deletes all your files you still have at least one working link and an extra backup.
I say extra, because please backup your files in a USB stick or an external hard drive or something. You don’t necessarily need to keep every raw Audacity/Garageband/insert-your-software-here file you make, keeping the final mp3 file is enough. But pleeease save it somewhere. History says, it won’t stay up online forever.
There’s no need to keep the raw file if you know you’re never going to touch it again, but if there’s a good chance you will, or if you used several tracks (voice, music, sound effects), consider keeping it for a set length of time or exporting each track separately for safe-keeping. It’s easy to import an mp3 file back into Audacity/Garageband and the quality loss is minor. But once the different tracks are compressed, you can’t separate them again.
But in the unfortunate events you do end up losing some podfics, put out a call for any listeners who might still have it in their mp3 player or their hard drive.
Other things you might want to keep a copy of: your cover art and the html for your Ao3 work.
But going back to hosting on several platforms: in some cases, it goes hand-in-hand with cross-posting. If Ao3 is not your primary home, or if you want to reach more people, then posting/hosting directly on another media platform can be a good idea. And also, it’s a backup of your Ao3 work. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ao3 and kind of trust it to not randomly delete my stuff or even die on me, but I wouldn’t really be surprised if it did happen one day.
Auralphonic 017: Talking with the Ao3 https://archiveofourown.org/works/6556618)
Paraka Productions http://parakaproductions.com/paraka/?page_id=206
The Audiofic Archive http://www.audiofic.jinjurly.com/
How to make ao3 streamers work with Dropbox http://podfic-tips.livejournal.com/96527.html?thread=758031#t758031
Google Drive http://drive.google.com/
Cheap Big Media Hosting - A Guide by absolutedestiny https://absolutedestiny.dreamwidth.org/190827.html
Auralphonic 028: How Platforms Affect Podfic http://archiveofourown.org/works/10732491
Step 7: Post it
Finally, our last (mandatory) step!
For this one, I’ll direct you toward Shmaylor’s guide to posting podfic on Ao3.
If you’re a bit awe(horror)-struck by the sight of all that html, then come here.
See Shmaylor’s template (=the html she copy-pastes and fills for each new podfic) in her posting guide? Here's Kess', and here’s mine. Take the useful bits and delete the rest. Goodness knows that’s what I always end up doing anyway.
Now here’s an html guide to Ao3. When looking up tutorials online, keep in mind that what Ao3 uses is a simplified version. We’re not trying to create a web page here (though if you want to learn how to do that too, well, go ahead!).
Ao3 is also customizable through skins. Eosrose has made two for podfics: this one and this one, for gifts. And here are a bunch of tutorials about a lot of different things, some stuff about skins, and some more. However, if you choose to use skins, keep in mind that they’ll look very different on smaller screens like phones or tablets. Check your skin out on one of those, too!
On Ao3, please tag your podfics "podfics" and not "podfics and podficced works".
The “podfic” tag and the “podficced work” tag are sub-tags of “podfics and podficced works”, like this:
> podfics and podficced works
A podficced work is a text work that has been podficced, usually somewhere else but sometimes with the podfic in the same work as the text, like for the Podtogether challenge or sometimes for the bigbangs that accept podfic as art.
Anything tagged “podfic” or “podficced work” will appear when you search through the “podfics and podficced works” tag, but something tagged “podfic” won’t appear when searching through “podficced work” and vice-versa. And works tagged “podfics and podficced works” won’t appear when searching through the tag “podfic”.
So somebody looking for podfic will either look through the “podfic” tag and miss any work tagged “podfics and podficced works”, or look through the “podfics and podficced works” and will have to wade through all the works tagged “podficced work” too. And we know that fics get more traffic and more feedback than podfics, so it’ll be hard for them to search by kudos or hit or comments. Of course, a savvy Ao3 user can work around that. But even if they search for “podfics and podficced works” -”podficced work” or “podfics and podficced works” words<500, then they’ll miss all the Podtogether podfics, and that’d be sad because Podtogether podfics are awesome.
Some other podfic-specific tags that you might be interested in:
Canonical Ao3 tags: Read by the Author, My First Podfic, Podfic Collaboration, Repod, Podfic Anthology, Multimedia, Mixed Media (though both of those lead to the Art meta tag -.-), Multivoice (or its parent tag, Multiple Voices).
Some non-canonical tags that sometimes get used: Podfic Cover Art Welcome, Repods Welcome.
Some non-canoncal tags that don't really exist but should, dammit: Podvid (a podfic set to a video or a fanvid set to audio), Podmeta (a meta read aloud), Oral Not!fic (a recording of a not!ficcing (brainstorming, aural story telling, etc) session), Audio Only (No Text Available), Micropodfic.
Speaking of tags, you don't have to keep the exact tags of the original work, that's up to you. You do have to keep the same title (though I guess changing the capitalization is okay) and summary if possible (tbd?).
After posting, remember to check the permission request conversation with the author or their blanket permission statement for if/how you need to contact them about your new podfic.
Auralphonic 020: Posting Tips http://archiveofourown.org/works/7502799.
Shmaylor, Podfic Posting Guide https://archiveofourown.org/works/10656948
Kess, a very simple podfic template https://archiveofourown.org/works/14719992
Annapods, html template https://www.dropbox.com/s/cc42w57gc7qyk3k/whole%20html.odt?dl=0
ErinPtah, A Users' Guide to AO3 Tagging https://archiveofourown.org/works/839223?view_full_work=true
Afterandalasia, A Guide to Tagging in Supernatural Fandom https://archiveofourown.org/works/6467257/chapters/14802028.
Fanlore, Podvid https://fanlore.org/wiki/Podvid
Fanlore, Meta https://fanlore.org/wiki/Meta
Fanlore, Not!fic https://fanlore.org/wiki/Not!fic
CodenameCarrot, A Complete Guide to 'Limited HTML' on AO3 https://archiveofourown.org/works/5191202/chapters/11961779
Podfic Tips, Eosrose, AO3 Work Skin: Flow https://podfic-tips.livejournal.com/85741.html
Podfic Tips, Eosrose, AO3 Work Skin: "The Gifts We Bring" https://podfic-tips.livejournal.com/84362.html
Fanfiction Reference Works collection https://archiveofourown.org/collections/ReferenceWorks/
Ao3 News, admin posts tagged “skin” http://archiveofourown.org/admin_posts?tag=2
CodenameCarrot & La_Temperanza, AO3 Work Skins/Tutorials series https://archiveofourown.org/series/458134
Step 8: Get to know the community
This step is optional. Really fun, but optional, and can be done at any time during, before or after creating your first podfic. Heck, you might have already done it ages ago!
Where can you find podficcers in the wild: historically, on LiveJournal, then Dreamwidth, and a lot of challenges/exchanges/etc are still run on dw communities. Also, a lot of inactive themed communities, like Podfic-tips, Podficpool, Collaborativepodfic, Podficmeta, … and of course, Amplificathon. They’re inactive (except Amplificathon), but the old posts are still there, and a lot of people are still subscribed to them, so if you need help with something specific you can still post there and people should answer. Now, the community mostly hangs out on twitter, and a bit on tumblr. (Though I’d argue that tumblr has got its own separate podfic community, too. The demographics/fandoms are certainly slightly offset (info lacking)). Twitter has its own equivalent of dw support/discussions communities (Podficbeta, Podfic_bday, Audiofic_art, …), just like tumblr, and both often have mirror accounts for challenges/etc.
There are other podfic communities/people in other corners of the internet. There’re some on Youtube, some on non-anglophone websites (Animexx for German, for example), ...
And there’s also a Discord server!
Part of what’s so fun about being in the podfic fandom is all the exchanges and challenges and events going on. There are also a great way of getting into podficcing, since many have word counts limits. Here are some:
Podfic-bingo, from march? to end of year, prompts focused on podfic.
Podfic Bigbang, during the summer, >20k.
Podathon, monthly recording marathons on twitter.
Purimgifts exchange, from Jan to March.
Awesome Ladies Podfic Anthology, in February, short projects only.
And all the bingos, big bangs and etc that accept podfic! ( Auralphonic on interacting with non_podficcer fandom.)
Another way to participate: collaborate in multivoice projects! People are often putting calls out for volunteers, and most of the parts are usually pretty small and easy. (Auralphonic on multivoice projects.)
Or interact with other podfic creators! Comment on their works, rec them, etc. There’s no better way to endear yourself to someone (Auralphonics on feedback). And here’s Podfic-love, a podfic recs community.
Podfic-tips LJ https://podfic-tips.livejournal.com/
Podficpool DW https://podficpool.dreamwidth.org/
Collaborativepodfic DW https://collaborativepodfic.dreamwidth.org/
Podficmeta DW https://podficmeta.dreamwidth.org/
Amplificathon DW https://amplificathon.dreamwidth.org/
Podficbeta Twitter https://twitter.com/podficbeta
Podfic_bday Twitter https://twitter.com/podfic_bday
Audiofic_art Twitter https://twitter.com/audiofic_art
Animexx, Fanfiction-Hörbücher https://www.animexx.de/fanfiction/audiobooks/
Podfichat Discord https://t.co/AvmUPfxaqM
Podfic Bingo DW https://podfic-bingo.dreamwidth.org/
Podfic Bigbang DW https://podficbigbang.dreamwidth.org/
ITPE Twitter mod account https://twitter.com/ITPE_mod
Fanlore, Informal Twitter Podfic Exchange https://fanlore.org/wiki/Informal_Twitter_Podfic_Exchange
Auralphonic 002: Showcase of #ITPE 2014 http://archiveofourown.org/works/3174106
Auralphonic 031: Pod_Together http://archiveofourown.org/works/11615874
Auralphonic 010: Non-Podficcer Collaborations http://archiveofourown.org/works/4809311
Podathon Twitter https://twitter.com/podathon
Purimgifts Tumblr http://purimgifts.tumblr.com/
Awesome Ladies Podfic Anthology Ao3 collection https://archiveofourown.org/collections/AwesomeLadiesPodficAnthologyCollection
Podfication DW https://podfication.dreamwidth.org/
Auralphonic 024: Podfication http://archiveofourown.org/works/8569525
Aethel, Podfication! https://aethel.dreamwidth.org/365408.html
Auralphonic 014: Interacting with Non-Podficcer Fandom http://archiveofourown.org/works/5730367
Podaware DW https://pod-aware.dreamwidth.org/
Auralphonic Ao3 http://archiveofourown.org/users/auralphonic
Auralphonic 001: Multi-Voice Podfics http://archiveofourown.org/works/2773202
Auralphonic 004: Feedback https://archiveofourown.org/works/3550445
Podfic-love DW https://podfic-love.dreamwidth.org/
Chapter 9: Add to this guide
Step 9: Add to this guide
One last thing. As said previously, this whole guide is but a glimpse of what's out there. Each person's experience of fanworks and fandom is different from another, so there might have been times when you wondered why I hadn't mentionned this or that, or when you disagreed with me. Or things might have changed in the lapse of time between me writing and you reading, or reading and rereading. If so, would you mind telling me about it? Either in the comments here or on whichever platform you prefer. My email address is email@example.com, tumblr/dreamwidth/pillowfort/ao3: Annapods and twitter: Annapodfics @iamapodperson.
Thanks for sticking with me until the end. I hope to hear your work soon.