Sometime last Spring, I was chatting to my niece discussing the logistics of producing shows and outdoor events. She worked in theatre and described some of the additional restraints caused by the newly announced virus, as well as the traditional problems with egos and impossible demands from others with no understanding of logistics.
As regular followers might be aware, I am an author and writer with several books published, and enjoy writing short stories. My sister had progressed from working in holiday camps as an entertainer in her youth, to developing as an actress, and was having success as a voice-over artist.
Although I’d never watched much on YouTube, as the virus spread, home entertainment became more important and the suggestion arose of setting up our own YouTube site. What format should it take? We share the same sense of humour and an initial suggestion was a chat show, three females talking about anything and everything in the style of some early morning TV shows. Although it sounded fun, the practicalities of three different households working together, especially during a lockdown, made it impossible.
With the increasing popularity of audiobooks, the next thought was as an outlet to allow a wider reach for my short stories. Did I have any we could use? A quick check of my laptop revealed over 750 of various lengths and standards. The idea simmered for a while as work commitments took hold but eventually ‘Val’s Tales’ was born.
We realised between us we had the perfect blend of talents, a writer, a narrator and someone to handle the technicalities and admin.
If you’ve ever read a book, have you considered what is involved? You might think a writer puts some words together, submits it to a publisher who reads it, and the next stage is it hits the Amazon number 1 spot. It doesn’t work quite like that, but with the advent of Indie authors and small press publishing, the literary world has been opened up as never before.
‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ is an old saying, but many an excellent read has been passed over due to an amateur looking cover produced in Photoshop with no idea of the ‘rules’ necessary for it to grab attention. Colours, lay-out, fonts, clarity, immediate identification of genre, all are important in this fast-moving world.
Then there are the technicalities of formatting, editing and proof reading. Many a good story has been abandoned when typos, s P a c I n g and other lack of attention to detail jar, and take the reader away from the plot. To write a good blurb can be more difficult than writing a book; it needs to describe enough of the scenario to entice, without telling the whole story.
What has this got to do with YouTube?
As a newbie, I realised producing a podcast was in many ways similar to producing a book. The story is the bones of it, the presentation is the cover, and the technicalities are like the formatting and editing. All the various aspects have to be coordinated in the same way the plot, the characters and the finished article must come together to make an enjoyable book. The trials and tribulations of being found amongst a plethora of others are the same, and the voices need to be heard – which is when I discovered my dulcet tones, weren’t!
I knew my singing voice was good for clearing a room in double quick time, but hadn’t listened to my own speaking voice for many years. In the past I had dictated letters for secretaries to type up, (yes, I really am that old,) but hearing my own sound using the laptop voice recorder was quite a shock. Advice to first-time public speakers is to take a deep breath, and not to rush. Sorted – or so I thought.
My first attempt at producing the intro was dire; perhaps I should have marketed it as a sleeping aid for insomniacs. Did you know there are warm-up exercises for the voice in the same way athletes loosen up their muscles before a big race? After taking advice from the expert, I tried again, and again, and again. Lockdown didn’t help as having other people around during the day meant there were loud voices, blaring TVs, and constant interruptions asking what’s for dinner. I thought the sound of the washing machine in the background sounded atmospheric but was politely informed it sounded like a washing machine.
There was only one thing for it – rehearse at 3 a.m. when the house was quiet. Fortunately, I’ve always been a night owl, but having only two or three hours sleep was not conducive to a happy, bouncy personality. In the midst of all this I was trying to finalise the release of my latest book ‘Murder of Changes’ and not become a total hermit by cutting off my friends. At least the cover designers should be providing the finished book cover as they’d had the instructions six months previously. Several chasers later, I discovered there’d been an internal lack of communication and it hadn’t even been started.
Meanwhile, a planned meeting of the YouTube “staff” had to be delayed due to another lockdown, resulting in emails flying backwards and forwards while we all worked separately on our own tasks, as well as trying to fit in the day jobs.
In adversity, stubbornness comes into its own. Despite all the set-backs, we are still aiming for the first edition of ‘Val’s Tales’ to go live in December with a humorous Christmas story, and for my book ‘Murder of Changes’ to be released by the New Year.
It’s been a crazy game but we do love a challenge. And breathe!
See you all next week, and thanks for being here.
© Val Portelli November 2020
Amazon author page