How to Record an Audiobook to Sell on Audible

After recording and producing more than 40 audiobooks, I’ve noticed that you can get more visibility for your book on Audible and reach a wider audience than you can by merely selling your book on Amazon or any of the other online booksellers alone.

Basically, if you want more organic reach and larger royalty payments each month, you should seriously consider turning your book into an audiobook.

 

How to Make an Audiobook

As a self-published author there are two main routes you can go –

  1. Hire a narrator and outsource the production of your audiobook, or
  2. Narrate and record your own audiobook.

For now, I want to focus on how you can record your own audiobook and submit it to Audible.

But first, should you narrate your own book?

This is a legitimate question.

There are some cases where you would be better off outsourcing the production of your audiobook to a professional.

Here are a few of those scenarios:

  • You absolutely hate technology and don’t have the patience to learn how to use a simple software program.
  • You don’t think that your voice is right for the characters or overall tone of your book.
  • You aren’t comfortable recording yourself.

There is no point in forcing yourself to do something that isn’t a good fit for you or your book.

But here are some reasons why you should consider narrating your own audiobook:

  • You know the vision you have for your book better than anyone.
  • No one is going to care more about “doing it right” than you.
  • You understand the tone.
  • You know the emotions expressed by the characters.
  • You already know how to pronounce all of the names and words in your book.
  • Being the voice of your book creates a more intimate connection with your listeners and fans.
  • Recording audiobooks is fun!
  • Once you know how to record an audiobook you can get narration gigs through ACX.com if you want.
  • Also, in most cases, you can save a lot of money by narrating your own book, especially if you have multiple books.

Still onboard? Fantastic.

Let’s get down to business.

 

EQUIPMENT

To get started you’ll need:

  • A microphone
  • Audio recording software (I recommend Audacity for beginners)
  • A pop filter
  • Headphones
  • A microphone stand or boom arm (optional)

 

RECORDING SPACE

There’s no need to pay for studio time. A small room or a closet will work just fine.The key is to stay away from windows or cover them with sound dampening materials (blankets or noise reducing foam) especially if there’s a lot of outdoor noise, like birds chirping, traffic, children playing, low flying airplanes, etc.

You should also listen for internal noises coming from appliances and heating/cooling systems. If you’re having a hard time escaping noise, a closet is often your best bet since it’s an isolated space.

Sometimes it’s hard to judge how much “noise” a space really has, especially since you are used to the “sound” of your home. An easy trick to test the sound of your space is to “record the sound of the room.”

Hit record, stay as silent as you can for about 30 seconds, and then turn the volume way up and listen to the recording through your headphones. Do you hear any humming or buzzing? If so, you may need to choose an alternate space or isolate the noise.

Next, do a test recording where you are actually speaking into the microphone. Now listen to the playback through your headphones. Do you hear any echoes? Does it sound like you are recording in a tunnel? If those things are happening, you might need to bring sound absorbing materials like blankets, towels or acoustic foam panels into your recording space.

If you are recording in a large open space, a room with hard floors or a lot of hard surfaces, the sound waves can bounce around the room until they hit some kind of material that is capable of absorbing them, like a piece of furniture, a blanket, or a sound dampening foam wedge.

*Tip: Avoid recording in bathrooms or near the kitchen. Bathrooms are typically filled with hard surfaces that will create echoes in your recording. Kitchens are prone to producing ambient noise from appliances like your refrigerator.

A small carpeted room or closet is often the best bet when it comes to setting up your home recording studio.  

 

THE RECORDING PROCESS

Each audiobook starts with a manuscript.

If you are narrating someone else’s book, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the book before you start recording. You should know who the characters are and what the overall tone of the book is. If there are words or names that you don’t know how to pronounce, you’ll have to get those things squared away before you start recording.

Next comes the actual recording. This is where the narrator is recorded while verbally acting out the book. You will need audio recording software to complete this step. I always recommend Audacity if you’re just getting started because it’s free and relatively easy to use. 

Once the raw recording is complete, it must be edited to remove outtakes, mistakes, and odd noises.

The next step is reviewing the edited recording for accuracy.

Here, the editor listens to the recording and verifies that the recording matches the manuscript. If something was left out or had to be cut during the first editing phase, those segments can be re-recorded and inserted into the audio track.

Once the editor verifies that the recording is accurate, the producer will “master” the track to improve the sound quality of the recording. This step involves tasks like applying compression, normalizing the track, adjusting sound levels, and applying equalization if necessary.

Don’t worry if that sounds a little complex, it’s actually quite simple once you get the hang of it.

Once the recording is mastered, it needs to be split into separate files according to chapter. For example Audible requires that each chapter be uploaded as a separate file. Other sites may not have this requirement.

Finally, you will need to convert your files to MP3 format and upload them at ACX.com.

ACX or  “The Audiobook Creation Exchange” is Amazon’s audiobook production platform. Once you upload your audio files to ACX, they will be reviewed to make sure that they comply with their audiobook submission requirements. Once your files pass the ACX review, your audiobook will be made available for sale on Audible and iTunes automatically.