I recently had the opportunity to experiment with AI narration for my upcoming book. While the features and functions are appealing, my compelling lean remains toward selecting a live human to bring my works to life. Here's why.
Despite AI's cost-effectiveness, it creates more work for the self-publishing author, as one must program the AI to stress emotions in certain parts of the story. Even with my five-minute excerpt, it took me over an hour to program emotions for a particular AI voice. It became more of a hassle when the AI could not pronounce the characters' names the way I intended. I had to experiment and preview how the AI would pronounce the name, then go back through the text in Microsoft Word and change the name to fit the AI's processor.
I decided to post a video of the excerpt on social media to see people's reactions. The feedback I received was mostly positive. Many liked the content of the story. Yet my conversation with a former roommate and friend who downloads audiobooks constantly relayed his constructive criticism of the narration, which affirmed my first instincts.
Narrators with flesh and bones often make a story more personal, and the reader stays engaged better than listening to AI. Still, the biggest issue with real-person narration is that the narrator can ruin your book as well if they are not the right fit. On top of that, you're paying them thousands of dollars to do it. AI's cost-effectiveness becomes much more appealing when authors desire to save money. But AI won't save authors the time it takes program emotion into the reading. AI platforms also carry conditions like subscriptions for premium features, which could be a good investment down the road.
For example, I recommend using AI narration for excerpts but not the entire audio project of the book. There's too much at stake. Using AI for the book excerpt allows me to effectively save on the cost in getting the content out to the public for a preview. I believe people don't mind listening to an AI with some music in the background for a short period of time. But more so, I highly recommend making videos as the author reading your own material so that readers can make a personal connection to your work.