How to Record an Audiobook, and Why It’s Important to Do So

Posted on Jul 9, 2024

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Written by Nicole Ahlering

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Nobody knows your book the way you do, so it makes sense to record its audio version yourself. Not only will you accurately represent the spirit of your manuscript, but you’ll see financial benefits too. 

We’ve helped over 7,000 authors publish their books, and we recommend all of them have an audiobook ready to publish alongside it. Here’s how to record an audiobook, even if it’s your first time publishing.

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Why should I record my audiobook myself?

If you’re reading this article, you may have already decided to record your audiobook on your own. Great choice!

Recording your book with your voice is bound to create the most authentic experience for your listeners. Moreover, you’ll avoid the cost of pricey voice actors, who often charge low-to-mid triple figures for each hour of recording. 

That’s not the only reason recording your own audiobook is a smart financial move. The audiobook market is expected to grow by over 25% in the next handful of years. It’s a 2 billion dollar industry with no sign of slowing down. 

How To Record An Audiobook - Woman Sitting At A Computer Speaking Into A Microphone

How to record an audiobook

Just like everyone’s manuscript writing process is a little different, so too is their path to recording an audiobook. But generally, some steps stay consistent across authors. Let’s start with the supplies you’ll need. 

The tools you’ll need for recording 

You may be pleasantly surprised at how few things you need to record an excellent-sounding audiobook: 

  1. A very quiet place. This can be the most challenging “tool” to source, as even minimal background noise is heard on a quality microphone. If you have a walk-in closet stuffed with clothes, you’re in luck. That’s your new studio, complete with fashionable sound dampeners. You can also purchase foldable sound panels, which are an investment, but cost far less than recording at a studio. Some folks DIY their own “recording booth” with pillows, blankets, and even mattresses, while others choose a quiet guest room and outfit it with as many soft surfaces as possible. 
  1. A microphone. This is the piece of equipment new self-publishers are most likely to splurge on. While you want to purchase a quality mic, there’s no need to break the bank. Today’s technology can provide you with a high-quality microphone for a reasonable cost. You’re looking for a USB mic, and you’ll need to decide between a condenser (which picks up nuances in sound) or a dynamic mic (which is less sensitive to subtle sounds). Which you choose is up to you. Many audio pros opt for a condenser mic, but others hotly contest that choice. Bear in mind, of course, the more sound your microphone picks up, the more quiet your setting needs to be. 
  1. A pop filter. Have you ever listened to a recording where someone’s “p” and “t” sounds are an assault on your ears? Spare your listeners the pain and pick up a filter to soften those plosive sounds. 
  1. Headphones. Choose a quality, closed-back pair so you can hear exactly what your recording sounds like, minus the background noise. 
  1. Recording + editing software. This is another potential rabbit hole for first-time audiobook recorders; there’s a lot of software out there! We’ll keep it simple here. Audacity is a perfectly acceptable, free app that many folks use to record and edit. You can make a great audiobook while keeping costs low using this tool. 

That said, like most free things, Audacity has its limits. It’s not always super intuitive, it lacks some advanced features, and if you have an issue with it, you’ll need to rely on community support. If you’d prefer to avoid those pitfalls, you can invest in Adobe Audio, which many consider the “gold standard” in professional audio recording.  

The recording process

Okay, now that you have your tools, are you ready to get started? 

Step 1: Ensure your manuscript is complete

Sounds obvious, but just in case; don’t record your audiobook while you’re still workshopping your manuscript. You wouldn’t publish a partially complete e-book, would you? 

Most people prefer to record their audiobooks from a digital format (like an iPad or laptop) to avoid the sound of pages turning. 

Step 2: Prepare your equipment (and yourself) 

This is the time to ensure your recording environment is quiet and will be for the duration of your session. Position your headphones comfortably on your head. 

You can place your microphone a few inches from your face. Setting it up slightly off-center can help limit plosive sounds. 

Grab a glass of water—no crinkly plastic bottles, please!—to stay hydrated, and if you’d like, google a couple of vocal exercises to warm up your voice. 

Step 3: Start reading 

All that’s left to do is record! Use your natural voice as you read your manuscript—don’t strain or do anything you can’t maintain for several pages. 

Remember to pace yourself, and follow your punctuation. This means pausing when necessary, exclaiming when appropriate, and so on. This is your book, so read it well! 

Our biggest tip? Don’t try to record too much at once. Take breaks when you feel fatigued to ensure the quality of your audiobook. 

Step 4: Edit your audio or hire an editor 

Once you’ve finished recording, it’s time to trim out mistakes and background noise using your recording software. You can use noise reduction, equalizing tools, and more to ensure the clarity of your reading. If your book has chapters, don’t forget to separate tracks accordingly. 

Of course, you’ll want to listen to the entire audiobook once you’re through to ensure it’s ready to go. It’s a good idea to have a buddy do this as well. 

Once it’s ready, export it in the format required for your chosen publishing platform. And upload! 

If editing your audio sounds tedious…

There are folks who can do that for you. A good audio editor will also do it more professionally, efficiently, and objectively than you likely can. So if possible, we advise allocating the money you saved recording by yourself to get help with this last step. 

How To Record An Audiobook - Woman With Headphones Adjusting Sound On Her Computer

Final thoughts

Do you feel ready to record your own excellent audiobook? With a little savvy and a lot of time, it can be a rewarding—and surprisingly low-cost!—endeavor. 

Just remember to have your manuscript ready first, invest in good equipment, and maybe send the kids or dogs to their grandparents’ house while you record. When it comes to making an audiobook, silence is golden. 

If you need help with your audiobook, that’s what we’re here for. Book a free call to get started!

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Audiobook Recording FAQ

How can I record my own audiobook?

To record your own audiobook, you’ll need a quiet space, a quality microphone, a pop filter, headphones, and recording software like Audacity. Follow the steps: ensure your manuscript is complete, prepare your equipment, start reading, and edit your audio or hire an editor.

Is it hard to record an audiobook?

Recording an audiobook can be challenging, especially for beginners. It requires patience, the right equipment, and a quiet environment. However, with practice and preparation, it can become a manageable and rewarding process.

How much does it cost to have someone record an audiobook?

The cost of hiring a professional narrator varies, typically ranging from $100 to $300 per finished hour of recording. Additional costs may include editing and post-production services.

What equipment do you need to become an audiobook narrator?

To become an audiobook narrator, you’ll need a quality USB microphone (condenser or dynamic), a pop filter, closed-back headphones, and recording and editing software like Audacity or Adobe Audio.

How long is a 1-hour audiobook?

A 1-hour audiobook typically requires about 4 to 6 hours of recording time, including setup, breaks, and re-recording mistakes. The editing process will add additional time.

How profitable are audiobooks?

Audiobooks can be very profitable, especially with the audiobook market growing rapidly. Authors who record their own audiobooks can save on costs and potentially earn higher royalties, making it a lucrative addition to their publishing strategy.

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