Should Authors Record and Produce Their Own Audiobooks?

As the author, should you record your own audiobook? For some, this is a scary proposition. For others, an exiting idea. There are a lot of of things to consider before making your decision. This article will walk you through several of them.

This question comes up a lot - "As the author, should I record my audiobook?" - That really all depends. Recording and narrating your book has many critical elements, which are not as easy as some would like to make them out to be, for you to have a successful audiobook recording. You read so many articles online stating "Yes you can do this, and learn how!" when in reality it's a lot harder and time-consuming than most know.

The quick answer is that yes, you should record your own audiobook IF you have an adequate recording environment and have the right tone and delivery in your voice. Also, as the editor, you need some experience and understand that it's going to take a significant number of hours to get one single finished hour of audio for an audiobook. You'll also need a very quiet recording environment where the listener doesn't hear dogs, planes, overhead lights, HVAC, computer fans and hard drive noise, etc.

Usually, an author wants to record their book for either of two simple reasons; they're trying to save money, or they feel that because they know the material so well and that they'll be able to deliver a better voiceover, with more emotion and feeling.

While the author may know the book more thoroughly, and certainly they do, they usually don't have the experience and needed voice-over technique or the technical skills to pull it off.

Authors, understandably, don't do voice-over work every day, and even with more emotional tone and emphasis, the lack of required know-how and skill rule the day. The result is another audiobook, which might have been great, is reduced to a recording that is difficult to listen to, lacks credibility and fails to gain any real kind of market response.

This usually starts with cheap USB mics, plugged into a tablet or laptop, producing thin, noisy, hard to listen to audio sound and heavy in the mid-range results- as a side note, USB mics have gotten better. It's usually the recording environment that ruins the recording, more times than not.

We've all heard podcasts and audiobooks that sound like this - usually unprofessional, and the temptation to turn off the audio is right around the corner. Let's look at some scenarios where the author can be involved and can influence the direction of the audiobook.

If the author, in fact, has the right tone for the book, then perhaps they should try and record it. The question is now: does the author have the right tone? We've all heard books where the narrator just doesn't fit or match the genre and scope of the book, and thus fails to capture that raw emotion to draw the listener in. That has to be a question answered prior to recording. Perhaps a test run is done and those who will give you an honest response, not easy to find, might help determine this.

If it sounds like you have received honest and positive feedback about not only your voice talent skills, but your tone of voice for your book, then let's talk about the next obstacle - recording environment. I can't tell you how many individuals that come to us with audio files that ACX won't accept because of a high level of noise and not following their guidelines.

If you can do one thing to assure recording success, record in either a professional studio, probably the best plan, or really make sure that you're in a quiet recording space. Even in a quiet recording space, your equipment needs to be quiet. There is what they call a self-noise level in all electrical equipment when electricity passes through the circuits - there just is.

Even in the most professional of studios with expensive recording gear, there is some level of self-noise. This is only mentioned here, because the temptation will be, "Hey I've got the green light to do this," and even in a fairly quiet room, you have to consider sound bouncing off walls, the self-noise of equipment we just talked about and the fact that you're most likely not in a soundproofed room.

Not having all of these details in place correctly, leads to noisy audio. And then, because the individual has spent so much time recording and editing their book, they find that Audible won't accept it, and so they try noise reduction in Audacity or a similar program. A little noise reduction is fine, but when you really have to take down the noise floor, you also degrade the remaining audio - you don't get something for nothing. In other words, while you might have reduced the overall noise level, now the audio sounds off and it's been degraded to such an extent that other issues presented might leave you outside the walls of Audible.

You should try your best to test your audio, move equipment around, getting into the quietest recording environment you can and then listen and look at your files with some metering plugins, to make sure that your audio levels are correct. Also make sure that the noise floor will be allowed and that the overall sound of the audio is acceptable, and that your files sound great, and that they pass Audible, iTunes, Amazon, but most importantly, your listener!

Tom Gauger

At ReelMusicianPro, we specialize in audio book production and recording of audio books, with a vast array of voice over talent, music, sound effects and marketing ideas to create your next audio book recording. And as a Grammy nominated audio book production company, we do it all. From editing and abridging your book and script, to recording the voice over, adding custom or library music, audio book trailers to delivering a fully designed and marketable audio book CD with artwork included if you desire - We Do It!

We are truly a full-service audio book production facility. In fact, if you take a listen to our award winning production and then listen to our competitors - there's no comparison. ReelMusicianPro has the detail, sound and professionalism that most companies, quite honestly, can't compete with, especially at our prices! We deliver national sounding audio book productions at prices you can afford! We offer discounts for multi book production as well.

Our client and production history is pretty impressive! With clients from William Morris LA, Pulitzer Prize nominees, to National Best Selling authors and large talent booking agencies - we work with a lot of folks, and we'll give your book the same attention!

Contact us - Tom Gauger 615-300-5030 or at

Join the Conversation

Read These Next


Marketing to Libraries

Don’t discount libraries as a source of steady orders for your books. U.S. libraries spend over 700 million dollars annually on print materials.


Reading Comprehension Increases with Audiobooks

Love of reading and reading comprehension go hand in hand, and audiobooks have proven to promote increased reading activity – and advance reading comprehension – something many people struggle with on a day to day basis.