Recording your own Audio Book? Tips from someone who has!
A few tips on recording an audiobook with the Audiobooks NZ self record kit.
Before you start
- Browse the internet and check out the advice in regards to recording your own audio book. It is worth reading and learning from the experiences of others.
- Listen to some audio books. I have listened to dozens and recently I started listening closely to the narrator to get a feel for what was involved. If your book is in the memoir genre (like mine) I suggest listening to Sydney Poitiers book – The Measure of a Man which he narrates himself.
- Before the audio kit arrives, start to develop “your voice” by getting in some practice. It may sound simple, just read aloud, but you are both narrating and telling a story and it takes time to develop your narrators voice. I didn’t do this (hence the advice) and subsequently re-recorded my earlier chapters.
- Read all the instructions and get familiar with the equipment. The Audiobooks NZ guys have learnt a lot of lessons and their advice will help save you hours!
Your sound studio
- Unless you have access to a sound studio, or have a soundproof room, choosing your location is very important. I found that no matter where I went the sound of cars driving by was inescapable though thankfully I live on a relatively quiet street. You need to find a place that minimises background noise but you probably won’t be able to eliminate it and, if your neighbour is mowing their lawn, it’s time for a coffee break!
- Make sure you position your book so that you can sit comfortably and upright. Even though the mic is very sensitive, you still have to project your voice and doing this hunched over is difficult
- I naively thought that I would be able to rattle off pages at a time and found, at the beginning, I could hardly rattle off two sentences without stumbling. You get better as you go but, as you are seeking something close to perfection with each sentence, it is definitely an iterative process. Some sentences took dozens of attempts!
- Follow the instructions! The software used has dozens of settings but the Audiobooks NZ team know what they need.
- I personally found that listening back to the audio before I submitted it helped both to identify where I’d stumbled as well as making sure my voice was consistent. You will likely record at different times and when you are in different moods but you are aiming for one consistent narratative.
- You will need to send some early samples through and take heed of the feedback. It’s not personal and you want honest and direct feedback.
- If your home is busy, schedule time to record when it isn’t. There is no point hoping everyone will remain quiet, not turn on the TV or talk on the phone. They won’t.
- Find your own physical style for recording. Initially I sat still but I found it difficult to be expressive. I found that gesticulating when I read a method that worked for me, like I was giving a talk. Obviously, I had to make sure I did it silently.
- You also need to remain a constant distance to the mic as much as possible. Your style needs to cater for this and my gesticulations were mainly above my head!
- It will take longer than you think or hope. Patience is required and enjoy the journey. I found that I liked reading as a narrator though I’ll probably stop short of making it a career move.
- Typo’s and changes! My book was professional edited by two people but I still found some typo’s and bits that needed to change. I wasn’t thrilled but it’s normal and I updated my book on-line and ready for the next print run. That is the beauty of an audio book, no typos!!
- I had some parts of my book that didn’t work well in an audio format. For example, I demonstrated some issues with grammar in people’s biographies but they sounded perfect as audio. I had to had in some small bits to help the listener navigate these pieces.
Relax, find your voice and have fun. If you enjoy the experience it will come through in your narration.