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The Career Author Podcast: Episode 124 – Recording an Audiobook

Recording an Audiobook

Audio is hot. We hear this everywhere and all the time. But what does it take to sit down and record an audiobook? Authors can struggle with writing and publishing a book so the thought of now narrating and producing an audiobook for it can seem daunting.

J. took on the responsibility of narrating, editing, and mastering Three Story Method and now he’s going to share the details of what’s involved in a DIY audiobook narration project. Both Zach and J. have had many years of experience in bands which includes time spent in rehearsal spaces and recording studios. Listen in as they discuss the logistics and mindset required to record your own audiobook.

The Career Author Podcast is a podcast where co-authors J. Thorn and Zach Bohannon share their struggles and successes as full-time authors, advice for improving your writing craft, and honest discussions of what it takes to build a successful career as an author.

In this episode, you’ll discover:

  • When it makes sense to consider recording your own audiobook
  • The pros and cons of the DIY approach
  • What gear you’ll need
  • Where in your home it makes sense to record and rooms to avoid
  • Ways to record, edit, and master your audio files
  • Decisions to ponder when it comes time to distribute your audiobook

Also in this episode, get all the details on audio for authors with Joanna Penn.

Send us your ways and hacks – https://thecareerauthor.com/waysandhacks/ 

Leave us a comment: Are you planning on recording an audiobook?

Thanks to our Patrons.

Podcast sponsored by Kobo Writing Life – https://writinglife.kobobooks.com 

Get exclusive bonus content by supporting The Career Author Podcast on Patreon at www.patreon.com/thecareerauthor

Want to work with us? Get the details at https://thecareerauthor.com/services/

Links:

Secret Powers of the Author Mastermind: How to Transform from Struggling Writer to Career Author by J. Thorn – https://books2read.com/authormastermind 

Next Level Authors Podcast with Dan Willcocks and Sacha Black – https://pod.link/1508555372

Audio for Authors by Joanna Penn – https://books2read.com/audioauthorspenn 

VOHeroes – https://voheroes.com/

Reaper – http://reaper.fm/

Audacity – https://www.audacityteam.org/

ACX specifications – https://www.acx.com/help/acx-audio-submission-requirements/201456300

Findaway Voices – https://findawayvoices.com/

The Career Author YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/thecareerauthor

Three Story Methodhttps://books2read.com/threestorymethod 

Three Story Method Workbookhttps://amzn.to/37SAR1a 

Molten Universe Media – http://www.moltenuniversemedia.com

Events – https://thecareerauthor.com/events/ 

26 thoughts on “The Career Author Podcast: Episode 124 – Recording an Audiobook

  • Morning guys. Great way today J; Jo’s book is on my reading list.
    Note, you spelled ACX as AXC in the links. I don’t look for these things, they look for me.
    To answer your question I am interested in recording an audiobook, but I am a realist. Years ago as part of my teacher training we were put into groups to self learn and we videoed ourselves teaching. I was horrified with my voice – mumbling to myself rather than trying to teach. And I have directed two plays for the public and I recall telling the actors to speak to the back row not the front row. So it is an interest rather than a financial or career move. I’ll check out that VOHeroes and see what happens.
    This is a great episode; lots of really useful information in it.
    Will you pay me to not search for your audiobook Zach? Ah, I see what you’ve done. Clever. You’re trying reverse marketing aren’t you? Like reverse psychology. Is there a book on reverse marketing you can point me towards? It’s powerful.
    Great show today guys.

    • Ha! I had that same experience. My mentor when I was student teaching video taped me (yes, with a camcorder) and played it back and I wanted to die. It’s why I listen back to every single podcast I produce because I’m always looking to improve.

        • Thanks, man. It’s because I’m dedicated to improving and learning. When I listen to the recordings, I take notes on things I say too often, incorrectly. I watch/listen for ticks and strange mannerisms, bad habits. Then I put post-it notes on my monitor to correct those things. If you want to get better at anything, you need deliberate practice.

  • OMG, this was such a great episode! Though as a writer who loves narrating as well (only done short stories so far), it slightly saddens me to hear that an author doing their own narrator is off-putting. I never made that connection myself.

    Will definitely check out VOHeroes. I’m always looking for new ways to improve.

  • An incredibly valuable episode! Since I just started narrating my non-fiction book, I was especially interested in your do’s and don’t’s. I was surprised to find that Findaway doesn’t have a formal mechanism for reviewing audio files before distribution–any options that you can recommend for getting a professional opinion on audio files so I can made any adjustments needed before I’ve completed the recording? Thank you!

    • You can hire out audiobook proofreaders and I imagine you could find someone who could do the sort of thing you are looking for. That could be your best bet. I’m not totally sure where you could find one. Perhaps on Upwork? You could ask a narrator if you know any.

  • I had thought about narrating my non-fiction book. I have been doing public speaking for at least ten years, always with positive feedback, and I have also been teaching (in various ways) for about fifteen years. My son has done a lot of the sound engineering for his bands, so I figured with his equipment and his help on the engineering side, I could do it.

    Nope. Even with his help, I decided it would be too much work. My book is for a small audience and I don’t think it’s worth my time to create an audiobook.

    I would never, ever, ever, narrate my fiction! I write about Vikings and the thought of my voice doing my male characters is too ridiculous to even contemplate.

    I totally agree with Zach about the narrator of an audiobook making or breaking the book, especially fiction. The narrator of the Harry Potter books, Jim Dale, could narrate the dictionary and I would listen to it. 😉 I’m with him too about the author not narrating their own work. I usually won’t listen if the author does it, unless I know for sure they have a voice I can listen to for hours. I don’t listen to a lot of audiobooks, but when I do, I’m really picky.

  • I’m a huge audiobook listener so when I decided to publish, audio was one of my top goals. I have more time than money to invest into my indie career (and like to control EVERYTHING) so I decided to narrate my own books.

    I used a walk in wardrobe, Rode NT USB mic and Audacity and distribute wide through Findaway Voices. So far, I’ve narrated flash fiction (that I cross-posted to my Fun-size Fiction podcast), children’s books, rom com and non-fiction (Narrated by the Author: How to Produce an Audiobook on a Budget).

    I’m behind schedule narrating this year due to homeschooling the kids and never having a quiet moment in the house, though that should improve when the restrictions lift.

    Your tips around the time you need to allow for the process are spot on. You need to build stamina for narration. I always suggest starting with a short story to practice the whole process before investing money in better quality equipment or time in a full-length novel. Short audiobooks don’t sell well on Audible but they do ok in pay per borrow library systems and are great to give to your newsletter subscribers.

    Love your podcast(s)!

  • I have become more and more a fan of audiobooks since I have found myself in the car more and just walking more and more. I can say that I have had dream of narrating, however I know just from running a D&D game and having to talk for more than a few minutes, it wouldn’t go well. Plus, there was my own disastrous podcast idea…much like Zach with his one audiobook…I will not tell you the name (but I think I am safe since the hosting site is gone) I know I would never be able to do any of my books justice.
    And, I will say I also want to get out from under ACX, and chaff at those contracts I have signed. Next few books, going Findaway.
    Great show guys! It gives me something to watch during the quarantine, even after I listen to it.

  • Great show, guys and extremely informative to the wannabe indie narrator – especially the numbers on the effort it will actually take to record then edit your audio book and that’s AFTER you’ve got all the equipment and everything else in place.
    I KNOW I want to try my hand at narrating my own sci-fi thriller series (diversification – if my books don’t sell but my narration skills are there, I can quit the day job and move into the audio book production space). And so I have invested in the equipment. I want to share my experience with your listeners, as there are a thousand decisions to be made on that score and this may help… I bought a Rhode NT1A condenser mic (eBay – $100). This came with a special cradle (the mic is HEAVY!) and a pop-filter. Desk-mounted extendable mic stand ($20 eBay) which came with the XLR mic cable attached. Realised that to get the signal from a condenser mic to my pc, I needed a mixer that would boost the signal of the condenser (phantom power) so I looked around and finally invested in the M-Audio M-Track 2×2 (Amazon for about $100). This came with loads of free software including Cubase LE Digital Audio Workstation which is really cool (as I’m going to use that to produce my own music – being an old musician like you both) although I’ve used Audacity (open-source and free) and that’s fine. Tried my hand at killing the room (keep your old duvets and hang them on the walls – great tip!). I got started on the narration – as far as submitting an example file to ACX as I WAS going to go exclusive. You can sign up to ACX from your Amzon KDP account I think. ACX gave me (free of charge) some valuable feedback about my settings (noise floor and levels etc). That’s as far as I got, then decided to put audio on hold as my ebook had flopped so I decided to write 2 prequels and do a better job of launching next time. You live and learn.

    • Finn, thank you for sharing your technical set-up! I ended up signing up for two audiobook narration courses on Udemy and am well into the first one, “The Complete Audiobook Production and Narration Course.” So far it’s a good course for a beginning like myself. The microphone that course recommends is the Rode NT2A, but he also says that a Blue Yeti USB is okay. I’m thrilled if I can get away with using my Blue Yeti because it will save me not only the cost of the condenser mic but also the cost of the digital audio interface, if I understand correctly. I see at least one other commenter is using a USB mic, but recall that J. and Zach discouraged it. Any input on why USB is less desirable? Thanks!

      • Hey Matty. There’s no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to gear. Musicians spend their whole lives debating gear. LOL! We’re not saying a USB won’t work or is bad. On the spectrum of microhpones, there just not as good as an XLR mic (in our opinion). I’m sure there are narrators doing great work with the Blue Yeti.

      • You’re welcome Matty. By the way I should have said Rode and not Rhode in my post. Yes, I’ve heard the blue Yeti USB mics are pretty good. I was considering a Yeti before I got the NT1A cheap. I was also looking at the NT2A but that’s more than you need as a narrator in my humble opinion. Back to the Yeti – try it out – record a sample into your recording software, edit and clean it up to where you think it should be according to your narration course and/or ACX submission requirements. Then send ACX your 5 minute sample (or whatever they are advising now) and get the all-valuable feedback (which is what I did). I had to wait about a month for their feedback though. Avoid the pitfall I fell into: recording and editing and post-producing hours of narration before submitting a sample to ACX and being told I’d got the levels slightly wrong – it would all need re-recording from scratch. Yikes.

        • Finn, excellent advice! Do you think ACX would be willing to listen to a sample even though I’m going to be distributing via Findaway (on the theory that it will get to Audible, just not directly)? Unfortunately, Findaway does not have such a sample review option. <: (

          • Thanks. All I can tell you is what I did (it was a couple of years ago now). I set up an Audible / ACX account which I think you can do from KDP account if you scroll to the bottom of the page.

            I must have found an email address at Audible or ACX (there should be a contact us link on their page). I contacted Audible / ACX via the contact us link on their site and an actual person replied from a personal ACX email address!!! and must have told me to submit an audio sample which I did. They then gave me the feedback.

            I found this page which gives their requirements:
            https://audible-acx.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/6736/~/what-are-the-acx-audio-submission-requirements%3F

            I got the advice but I haven’t done anything with it yet. You could give it a try 🙂

      • Thanks, man. Appreciate that. And a battle it is, this thing of ours (heh-heh). I think you and Zach attributed the right amount of caution and information in this episode, so I hope the listeners take heed. Like most things we indie’s face, audio can be a big rabbit hole time suck. Having said that, I’m really enjoying the journey and learning all the time.

  • Hats off for this gem! I appreciate the realism in explaining logistics with cost ranges. You offer tips of where it’s ok to cut costs and not short cut. Thanks for educating your audience without the constant deluge of selling and marketing! I was exploring the audio book option and this eye opener leads me to continue the written and Kindle versions. Thanks for your sweat equity to share your experiences! Christina, Oak Ridge, TN

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