4 Things Authors Forget When They Record Their Audiobook

professional author upset forget this about recording your audiobook

The technical details which need to be completed for a successful audiobook can frighten many authors. Sampling rates, file formats, microphone type, microphone position, and sufficient recording levels, just to name a few, keep the author wondering if they are up to the challenge. They are! With some experienced coaching and some education on how to achieve a professional recording, any author can expand their reach and their revenue by selling their book as an audiobook just don’t forget these four things when you record your audiobook.

While there are technical details that can be set up before the recording, several important guidelines often get overlooked and forgotten in the process of recording. If you skip these, you will degrade the quality of your recording and decrease the desired impact of your audiobook. Let’s look at four of the most important actions often overlooked by nervous authors narrating their audiobooks.

1. Speak in a conversational tone.

The first important action is to be conversational. While reading your audiobook, you are ultimately talking with someone who is interested in what you have to say. If you sound like you’re reading to them, they will quickly lose interest and go somewhere else. If, however, your reading style is conversational in nature, they will engage with you and the material.

Often the word isn’t how we would talk. So just reading word after word of your manuscript  makes for a stilted conversation. When narrating your audiobook, you may need to change the wording so it will flow better for conversation. How?

  • Use contractions.
  • Shorten long and involved sentences.
  • Read for phrasing and meaning.
  • Be strategic with punctuation.

A comma doesn’t mean you have to take a breath. An exclamation mark means to emphasize that sentence. A question mark means that inflection rises at the end.

Conversation means connection with the listener. Don’t just read; engage the listener. If you find this difficult, have a picture of your family or a close friend within your field of view and talk to them.

2. Convey your passion for the topic.

The second important action is to be passionate about the topic. This may seem odd to say, but this is your topic. You are the expert. Why should they listen to it if you don’t get excited about the topic when telling a friend?

Your tone of voice, inflection, excitement, and pace (or lack of) will compel the listener to listen or to turn you off. Your choices when you record affects their choice.

To tap into your passion for the material again, ask yourself the following question: “Why did I write about this in the first place?” Once you answer this, narrate your audiobook in a way that will drive the message home to your listener.

Ben Stein plays an Economics Teacher in the 1986 movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. {Sarcasm Alert} You can see the passion with which he teaches as he calls roll and delivers his economic history lecture. The students catch his enthusiasm and reflect the same passion for the topic. “Bueller. Bueller.” Don’t punish your listener this way. Help them feel your passion for the topic and draw them in through your excitement.

Have confidence in yourself. Your reader is interested and listening. Speak to them.

3. Identify any written phrases that won’t work for a listener.

The third important action is to change the text, when helpful, to address a listener. Many narrators simply read the manuscript as written, but phrases that mean something to the reader leave the audiobook listener feeling like a second-class citizen. While you may write “as you read this book,” don’t read that. Change it to, “…as you listen to this audiobook” so the listener feels that you are catering to them. You wouldn’t narrate the phrase “the quote above is important…” because the listener has no “above” to reference. Change that phrase to read “the quote I just mentioned…” These simple changes make the listener feel that the audiobook was created just for them…which it was. Go the extra mile, plan ahead, sweat the details, and make it special for your expanded audience.

Another thing people forget when they record is referencing a chart or diagram in the text. Obviously, the listener cannot see the illustration. You can go to great lengths to describe the diagram to them or simply state, “I have an illustration that helps explain this concept. You can go to my website and download a copy for free.” On your website, have a dedicated page where you can offer your listener everything they need to experience your book fully. have all references, charts, illustrations, and other material available to them as a free download. This adds value to the audiobook and drives traffic to your website, where they can get more information about you and the services you provide.

Visual Examples

Also, remember to fix wording that, through visual cues, will confuse a listener. Homophones are an example of this.

Homophones are words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings.

For example, “to,” “too,” and “two.” All three words are pronounced the same yet are spelled differently and have different meanings. If you use these in a paragraph to make a specific point, how are you going to differentiate between the three words? How are you going to voice it in a way that gets your point across without confusing the listener? Also, watch for a “play on words” that is easily understood if read on the page but becomes confusing for a listener.

Take this joke, for example,

“I’ve been to a lot of places, but I’ve never been in Cahoots. Apparently, you can’t go alone, you have to be in Cahoots with someone. I’ve also never been in Cognito, either. I hear no one recognizes you there.”

The joke is understood by seeing the capitalization and separation of the letters. A listener would struggle to understand what is funny here without an explanation.

Sometimes it is as easy as placing strategic pauses while reading, and you may have to change the wording to convey the intended message. If in doubt, imagine you are describing a play to a visually impaired person. It is the same process.

4. Don’t forget this when you record: Relax and enjoy yourself.

The fourth important action is to relax and have fun. Somewhat like animals can sense fear, your listener can hear when you are uptight and nervous.

When you are nervous, your breathing is more rapid and unnaturally spaced within your speech. Your throat also tightens, constricting airflow. This not only takes more effort to speak, but it also requires more physical energy. Over time your listener will sense the distress and feel agitated and not really know why. Eventually, they will quit listening because the tension will wear them out. If you relax, however, your breathing will slow, your throat will relax, you will conserve energy, and your narration will become more conversational.

young author recording an audiobook

The goal is for you to have fun. When you have fun, your delivery will be smoother, and you will be relaxed. Feel free to laugh at parts that are funny. And smile while reading as your listener can “hear” you smile. Match your own emotion to the material you are reading. You don’t really want to laugh if you’re talking about your dog dying, just as you wouldn’t sound sad telling a funny story. Just think, “How would I sound telling this story to my friend?”

Change your inflection and pacing regularly so that you don’t lull your listener to sleep. A repetitive, “sing-song” cadence is difficult to listen to. This usually happens when reading poetry with a set meter, but narration can fall into this pattern if you’re not careful. This usually happens when you start getting tired, so take a break, walk around, get some food or a drink, and get back at it. For this reason, I suggest no longer than 4 to 5 hours of recording per day. And to approach each session with the same level of energy.

You Can Do It – You Won’t Forget These When You Record

By adhering to these four simple tricks, your audiobook will stand out from the rest and result in a professional, memorable experience for your listener. They will connect more easily to your content and catch your enthusiasm for the topic.

Many of my clients enjoy the Do-It-Yourself option to record their audiobooks. They use my course, 5 Ridiculously Simple Steps To Record Your Audiobook, at their own pace and record their audiobook from their manuscript. I toss in a bonus hour of coaching with me, and I review a sample recording before they start so we can head off any issues before they record. I also offer a Full Service option, which is as it sounds, and a Hybrid of the two offerings where I do all of the editing, mastering, and uploading to ACX after they record the work themselves. The Hybrid also includes an hour of coaching from me.  I have plenty of options for all of the amazing authors I’m honored to work with. The world deserves to hear you. I’d be happy to help.