Making an audiobook seemed impossible. When I imagined turning my book into an audiobook, I envisioned a studio and writing a check I couldn’t afford. But I should have known better. Creating an audiobook isn’t the investment it used to be. When I figured that out, I immediately knew I wanted to narrate my own book.
Authors narrating their own work is becoming popular with readers, and is expected with nonfiction. It’s not for everyone and it’s hard work, but if creating an audiobook intrigues you, I encourage you to check it out. Not just because it’s rewarding, but because audiobooks are a booming industry.
The latest statistics from the Audio Publishing Association show that audiobook sales totaled more than $1.77 billion in 2015, up 20.7 percent over the previous year. During that time, unit sales grew 24.1 percent. In July 2016, The Wall Street Journal called audiobooks the “fastest growing format in publishing.”
My first step was to make an account with ACX.com, Amazon’s provider for Audible and iTunes. I made both an author account and narrator account (they have very different functions, so you can’t combine them). What gave me some sticker shock was ACX’s recommended equipment list. While the equipment they recommend no doubt would work, it’s far more expensive than it needs to be. Also, some equipment is outdated so it’s only available from third party vendors, and they skyrocket the price, knowing full well that new narrators are just going to buy what ACX tells them to buy.
I was nervous deviating from ACX’s list at first because ACX has strict quality requirements before your audiobook will be allowed to go on sale. It was a scary thought to put that much work and investment narrating a whole book only to be told it wasn’t good enough.
Well, I bucked up and did the research, tirelessly comparing quality and cost. I bothered far too many experienced narrators and gleaned what I needed to know–which is why I dedicated my guide to the ACX narrators! Long story short, I discovered that the market has grown. Audio equipment is a competitive industry and there are many options. After I made my purchase and narrated my book with my own researched list of equipment, I passed ACX’s quality requirements on the first try.
My list: $385
ACX’s list: $1,700!
I’ve made a permanent place on this site to share this list with anyone who wishes to get into narration. Feel free to use it!
The equipment is how you get started, but the rest comes straight from you. You’re the artist. When you’re a writer, all you need is a pen. When you’re a narrator, you need a bit more. But the end result is still the same. You’re telling a story.
Narrating my own book wasn’t the learning curve someone else’s book would have been. It helped already knowing the book’s tone and what I wanted the characters to sound like. It was nice not having to deal with that while I was trying to learn everything else about narration. Now, I’m completely hooked, and more audiobooks are on the way! If you’re going to narrate, for yourself or for passive income, I can give you a few tips.
- Understand the process. In my guide, I include a one-page checklist of what my process looks like and what audio specs you should be targeting.
- Expect to have to redo your first few chapters. Use them as practice. Learn your equipment, how to master your audio files, and find any flaws in your process. What works for me and my voice may not work for you!
- Some basics:
- Stay away from dairy 24 hours prior to recording
- Bring Granny Smith apples for when your voice gets scratchy
- Slow down! Everyone talks too fast at first. Audible gives listeners the option to increase the speed of the narration, so it’s best if you’re talking slower.
- Bonus tip: If you’re going to pursue narrating for income, or even think you might in the future, don’t upload your own book’s audio by using your author account. Make a narrator account and submit it as if you’re hiring yourself. ACX certifies the narrators with 25 audiobooks under their belt, so that’s one less you’ll have to do for the props!