Sonje, Sanjay.


The story I had pushed through Apple’s AI narration system via D2D did not result in an acceptable audiobook. The AI voice itself is good. The main problem is that the main character’s name is pronounced wrong and there is nothing I can do about it. I cannot edit, I cannot tell Apple to redo it, there is nothing I can do.

There are other problems too. But those, I knew before I pushed this story through. (Can’t hear my own audiobook before publishing… which would have prevented the mispronounced character name problem; can’t decide on the price; can’t take down the audiobook for 6 months, etc.)

Again, the AI voices are good. I wonder why Apple partnered with D2D only to create audiobooks that cannot function properly. Was it to boast about their AI voices? But the resulting product doesn’t represent the worth of the AI voices. I can imagine fantasy books sounding ridiculous because Apple won’t let authors edit basic things–like how a character’s name is pronounced.

Maybe they’re just collecting material to test their AI on? Or trying to collect feedback for free, while pretending to provide a service for free? The story I tested this process with is a short story (about 10k words & according to Apple, it’s 1.5hours long in audiobook format) so getting the AI product out, and going to the Apple store to find out that the character’s name is mispronounced, did not take long. But, say, if a fantasy writer wrote a 300k giant fantasy book with a bunch of fantasy names and 50 major characters… and said writer waited for 2 months or however long for the audiobook to get read by Apple’s AI voices… and 25 of the character names are mispronounced… then, what a waste of resources on both sides. This is so, especially because Apple’s process doesn’t sound very automated at this time. Their description of the process sounds like there is human input involved.

On the title of this post:

The protagonist of this particular story, Sonje (pronounced somewhat like Zon-ye in English), was pronounced as… basically… Sanjay. 🤣 As far as I know, Sonje is a German girl name and Sanjay is a Indian boy name. So… hahaha. Apple took a story set in a fictional Germany-ish village featuring a magic cow and Sonje the 90-year-old German-named grandma. Then it turned the story into… I don’t know, an Indian boy’s adventure? A portal story? A portal opens up from somewhere in India to somewhere in Germany-ish. Sanjay the Indian boy finds himself in the village Eldham. With the magic cow. 🐄🐮 And he is a she. He is a grandma.

Look. Some stories may be about boys growing up to be grandmas. But this one isn’t. It just isn’t.