Monday, August 8, 2022

Let Twitch Further Your Goals

Throughout The Twitch Playbook, I’ve described several instances in which I improved my overall quality of life, and even achieved major life goals, because of my Twitch channel. In the recent entry Make Your Masterpiece on Stream, I described my biggest Twitch-inspired accomplishment yet: illustrating and publishing my own book, as well as narrating the audiobook version. But how did I get into this whole literary racket? Mostly, I allowed Twitch to further my life goals. 


I should start off by setting something straight. This whole process was not planned out from the beginning. When we look back at all the small achievements and ideas from the present, it may seem obvious that my trajectory was leading toward illustrating a book and publishing audiobooks. But this always seems like the case when looking back. From within the moment, there’s no guarantee of what’s going to happen. And I didn’t have any grand designs for where I was going, either. I simply followed my passions and allowed myself to enjoy the ride. I think this is an important thing to take away from this whole process as you learn more about this part of my story. You don’t necessarily need to come up with grand plans and keep grinding until you reach your goals. All you really need is to follow your genuine interests, and maintain the ability to recognize an opportunity when it presents itself. 

I streamed all the Red Dead games
as a cowboy character.

In the entry
Let Your Streaming Passions Guide You in Life, I described my process in first becoming an audiobook narrator. Having long been a fan of podcasts, and then eventually graduating to audiobooks, that love started bubbling to the surface in my content. My channel always revolved around my voice (it’s called ‘The Voice of Nick,’ after all), but that concept took many forms. In the beginning, that name was merely a reference to the fact that viewers found the sound of my voice soothing during my shows. Then, as I mentioned in the entry Don’t Be Afraid to Be Yourself on Stream, I created a feature on my channel where I would invent original characters to appear on the broadcasts. These became so numerous that one dedicated viewer even built a custom Wiki to chronicle them! Later, I’d go so far as to play entire games in-character. Eventually, I toned down the custom characters and instead focused on reading the books and other written material I’d find in video games while I was playing them. I would essentially do miniature audiobook narrations for tomes I’d pick up in The Witcher, or item descriptions in Bloodborne. 

I loved this aspect of my streams so much that it led me to do a whole other podcast, which I called Books in Games, in which I’d narrate the books found in video games. I would release a new snippet from a game every day which, when combined, would form into a full audiobook of that game’s written side content. And of course, there’s The Twitch Playbook, which I’ve always written, polished and narrated in the audiobook style. Whether on stream or off, I clearly had an interest in the field of narration. 


A few months into the Books in Games project, I started to wonder: what’s stopping me from actually just narrating audiobooks? I had a mic, I clearly knew how to narrate, and I even had experience editing. Could it be that hard to find a book on store shelves that needed narration? Turns out there’s a whole platform built for those asking the exact same question! Audible, the leading audiobook sales platform, has its own backend service which links narrators to authors and lets them create audiobooks together. On this service, called ACX, narrators create a page with sample clips, audition for projects they find interesting, and then have total power to reject or accept the offers that come their way. I didn’t know much about making a full-length audiobook, but I was confident I could do it. 

I scoured the lists of books looking for narrators, built a list of ones I liked, and decided I’d audition for one project per day. The skillset I’d cultivated in making the Books in Games podcast (and by extension, the Twitch streams that inspired that project) really allowed me to stick to this regimen. I also populated my narrator page with things I had done related to my Twitch channel: a few different character accents from Books in Games, along with a Twitch Playbook episode as an example of general narration. After a few weeks of auditions, I signed a contract to work on my first audiobook. I actually enjoyed that experience so much that I re-upped two more times with the same author to do a whole trilogy! 


My new project was all Greek mythology.

My next audiobook project was much more ambitious. I took on the role of publisher and narrator of a text edition of a book, as well as its audiobook counterpart, all myself. The process of undertaking this massive project is laid out in detail in the above-mentioned entry Make Your Masterpiece on Stream. One of the things that I find fascinating about that project though, is the way that my failed or discontinued Twitch ideas led me to eventually be able to create this new thing. In the entry Attempt Your Worst Idea for a Twitch Stream, I spoke about how I always try to stream whatever out-there ideas pop into my head. If it interests me, it doesn’t matter if I think anyone will watch, or if I’ve seen other streamers do it before, I just try it and see how it feels. This philosophy led me toward several quirky stream concepts, some of which I quickly abandoned, others I continued doing for a while, and a few that have survived to this day. When publishing my book, two of these more out-there ideas made contributions so large that I don’t think it would have been possible without them. 

First, my editing streams played a part in making the audiobook. A few years ago, I had a short-lived satellite YouTube project, separate from my main YouTube where I keep stream archives. On this second channel, I would create vlogs and video essays about games I liked. Then, because it’s me, I used to turn the making-of process into streams. Every day, on top of my three daily livestreams, I’d also do a fourth stream in which I edited the newest video for that YouTube channel in Adobe Premiere. Now, I’m a professional video editor, and I already knew how to edit, but I had never edited live on a broadcast before- nor had I ever seen someone else do it. Regardless, I kept doing it for about six months, until I lost interest in making those kinds of YouTube videos. I quietly moved on from that project when it ran its course, like I had with so many other ideas. 

Cut to this past year, when I was making the audiobook version of this new book I was publishing. I had all the rights, and quickly realized I could resurrect that old editing stream, but instead to livestream my audio editing. Many audiobook listeners may not realize that narrations aren’t simply recorded in one smooth take. There’s actually a huge amount of editing that happens in post-production. And that goes double for my story, full of hundreds of ancient Greek names which I had to meticulously verify while recording. So I subsidized the colossal amount of work hours by streaming the audio editing process. My old abandoned YouTube editing concept, which might have been considered a failed stream, suddenly turned into a critical piece of this new project. 

Hopefully my art didn't look like the
Harry Potter PS1 graphics.

In the previously mentioned entry Attempt Your Worst Idea for a Twitch Stream, I developed a show concept where I would color in a coloring book whenever I traveled away from home. As someone who studied art throughout his life until junior year of college, I enjoyed doing this stream a lot. When I got an iPad, this concept eventually evolved into learning digital art. Then, when it came time to create my book, I was able to experiment with doing my own illustrations. This bloomed into a full-fledged feature of the book, and in the published edition there are not only pieces of artwork for each individual chapter, but also access to the playlist of stream archives, which collects the 250+ episodes in which I painted those images live on my Twitch channel. My book is the first I’ve ever heard of which includes its own making-of featurettes. The art streams, a long-running, ever-evolving feature of my channel, became a critical point in publishing my book as well. 


You never know where your streaming journey is going to take you. For me, I achieved many different life milestones, each bigger and more unexpected than the last, simply by experimenting, failing, and staying creative on my Twitch channel. Imagine what wonders you could be creating a few years down the line, if you take a similar approach to your content. If you let Twitch further your goals, there’s no telling what can happen. 

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