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Indie Publishing: Edit with Text-To-Speech

As an indie author, your manuscript is your hand-crafted treasure, and ensuring it's polished to perfection is crucial. Today, I’m covering the game-changing practice of listening to your manuscript with text-to-speech as a step in editing.

Self-Publishing: Edit with Text-To-Speech

As an author, there are a bunch of reasons why you might want to use text-to-speech while revising your work in progress. Because affording line editors is beyond my budget, I opt to use this hack instead. Activating a different part of your brain by forcing it to listen rather than just read means you experience it for the first time all over again. I know. Oxymoron. But, it’s true. Further, humans are far more hard-wired to listen to stories than read them. Spoken words have been around for at least 70,000 years. The written words have only been around 3,500 years.



HEARING TYPOS

Typos have a habit of hiding in plain sight. For dyslexics like me, they could be in bold bright letters and I’d still miss them. For me, the peskiest gremlins are the ones where a similar word replaces the desired one. The “dessert” v “desert”. I may not be able to see the difference while my tired eyes scan across the page, but I can hear the slight difference when read aloud to me.



AWKWARD ALERT

Transitions are the glue that holds your narrative together. When read silently, they might seem smooth, but when heard aloud, unwieldy transitions, turns of phrase, and alliterations reveal themselves like busted thumbs. You’ll feel uncomfortable when your turns of phrase miss the mark. Your “this-is-all-wrong” meter will spike into the red, and you won’t be able to live with it.


Pro Tip: If you're a speedy thinker, crank up the text-to-speech speed to match your mental pace. I might not be the Flash, but I've found my groove at 1.2x speed.



A WORD OF CAUTION

You’ll need to practice being kind to yourself during this round of edits. It’s easy to think you’re a horrible writer because plenty of stuff will stand out. This is where you need to remind yourself that traditionally published authors have developmental and line editors. Many indie authors have editorial friends who will highlight cringe-worthy sentences for them. Unless your significant other is also a gifted writer/editor, you’ll want to use every tool at your disposal. And, isn’t it better to find your imperfections on your own rather than expose them to your beta readers?


Here’s a hint that can help with self-confidence. Please don’t listen to your work until you’ve done several rounds of revisions, including at least one specifically looking at flow. If you listen too early, it’ll hurt your ears so bad you’ll want to give up. When you listen later in the process, you’ll sound like a literary genius.



REPETITION

We all have literary crutches. Some people write “just” or “that” too often. I use characters’ names too often and write dialogue tags way too much. We’re like broken records that need fixing. Your eyes may glide over repeated phrases, but your ears will catch every echo. Text-to-speech is your redundancy detector, sparing your readers from the Groundhog Day of literary repetition.



AUDIOBOOK POTENTIAL

If you’re like me, you want to hear your books in audiobook format. It’s a magical experience if your work is polished for the spoken word. Guess what’s the best way to check for this? You got it. Text-to-speech helps you fix the issues before you spend a lot of time and/or money on a narration. If it sounds engaging with a monotonous computer voice, imagine the magic a professional narrator could bring to your story.


Try this: Turn on quiet music or white noise because it helps mask the imperfections of the synthetic voice.



HOW TO

Fake! There are too many options to write out instructions. Not gonna go there.

  • Mac v Windows

  • Safari v Google Chrome v Edge

  • Google Docs v MS Word

  • Latest Version v 2016


I recommend Googling it: “how-to text-to-speech for Google Docs on a Mac 2024.” I find the videos more helpful than the random documents.


Suggestion: In the system settings, change the gender and nationality of your digital speaker to match the main narrator.



IT'S PERSONAL FOR ME

As someone who battles with chronic fatigue and dyslexia, text-to-speech and Audibles are my literary sidekicks. Spoken word helps me not only navigate through my manuscript effortlessly but absorb other people’s works. If your stories aren’t suitable for being read aloud by a random voice, then I might not finish listening. I particularly hate to do this to indie authors, who benefit from full reviews.


For me, dialogue tags are the biggest game changer. If someone has edited their manuscript with the ear in mind, there will be far fewer “he saids” and “she saids”, making it far easier to listen to. Context is the auditory storyteller’s friend.



FAQ

Q: Can I use text-to-speech for poetry?

A: Absolutely! Your verses deserve a robotic serenade too.


Q: Will text-to-speech replace human editors?

A: Nope, but it'll make your editor's job a tad easier, especially if that editor is you.


Q: Can text-to-speech make my characters sound cooler?

A: Sadly, no autotune for literary characters...yet.


Q: What if the robot mispronounces my invented fantasy words?

A: Consider it a test of your world-building skills. Ask yourself, “Will readers be able to replicate the syllables?”


Q: Can text-to-speech detect emotional nuances in my writing?

A: It's not a mind reader, but you'll catch flat emotional notes.


Q: Is there a text-to-speech tool with a British accent?

A: Indeed! Your manuscript can sound posh and proper. Select the option in your system settings.


Q: Will text-to-speech understand my subtle sarcasm?

A: Nope. Nothing beats a human eye-roll.


Q: What if I get attached to the robotic voice?

A: Embrace it. Your manuscript, your rules.


Q: Can text-to-speech read my manuscript while I sip a piña colada?

A: Yes. But sadly, robotic butlers won’t be able to bring it to you yet. Maybe someday…


 

As always, I appreciate your support of indie authors. In the name of putting myself out there, here are a few of my works.



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