You’ve finished writing your book and are ready to record your audiobook.
In this blog post, I’ll show you how to prepare for your audiobook and share some things I learned while creating mine that’ll make the process easier for you.
Who Will Narrate Your Audiobook?
The first thing you have to decide is who will narrate your audiobook. The basic question is whether you’ll hire a professional narrator or narrate it yourself.
I recommend that just about every author hire a professional narrator to record their audiobook because the work is demanding and requires a specific skillset.
However, there are certain authors who could consider narrating their own audiobook:
- You have an acting or performance background (music, voice or stage)
- You’re a professional speaker, which means your audience is used to interacting with you via spoken word and will expect the book to be in your voice
- You’ve written a book (usually a memoir) that, because of its intensity or emotional depth, would make a lot of sense if you read it on the audiobook
I’m not saying these authors should narrate their own audiobooks, just that they are more likely to find success with the process and deliver a quality product.
Based on which path you choose, you’ll prepare in different ways.
How to Prepare if You Use a Narrator
After you’ve chosen a company to help produce your audiobook, the main question they’ll need you to answer is the type of narrator you want to have read your book.
Here are some questions to consider:
- Would you like a male or female narrator?
- Do you have an age preference for your narrator?
- What type of voice would you like?
- Is there a certain accent you are looking for?
Using those answers, the producer will send you samples of different narrators reading a portion of your book.
Carefully consider how these samples make you feel.
You’re not just choosing someone for their voice, but also their ability to bring the words in your book to life.
If you need more samples, request them. It’s OK to search for a narrator who better fits your specific desires. You want a narrator who’s the right fit for your book.
Once you decide, you have nothing to do until the audio files are ready to be reviewed.
How to Prepare if You’re the Narrator
To prepare to narrate your own audiobook, let’s look at what needs to happen before you come to the studio, best practices while you’re there, and how to recover afterwards.
Before You Get to the Studio
What you do before coming to the studio has more of an impact on the quality of your audiobook than anything else.
If you’ve chosen a good producer, they will set you up for success in the studio, but how you come to the studio is entirely up to you.
That’s why there are more tips in this section, and why I recommend you read them twice to make sure you’re fully prepared for the work that lies ahead.
After you create the recording schedule with your producer, block out those days entirely on your calendar. No calls or meetings—keep your focus on the recording session.
Make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before (eight hours of sleep, at least). Cut off the caffeine around 12 p.m. the day before and turn in early so you’re well rested headed into the studio.
For breakfast, eat foods that will give you energy, not take it away. Stay away from sugary, high carb meals (e.g. cereal) and opt for high protein foods like bacon, eggs or greek yogurt instead.
Wear things that are soft and comfortable. Don’t wear layers or clothes that rustle, as the microphone will pick up that sound.
Plug Energy Drains Beforehand
We’re still talking about what happens before you go to the studio, but I’m putting this tip in its own section because it’s that important: Set up your day so nothing drains your energy.
For instance, don’t bring a friend with you to the studio who’s an annoying nag. I did this once and had to kick my friend out of the studio so I could focus on the reading.
If you’re a speaker, you know that speaking for long periods of time is exhausting. Recording an audiobook is even more exhausting than speaking because you also have to read and focus. In fact, I would argue recording an audiobook is the most exhausting form of performance.
Be selfish and give yourself tons of time to focus—you’ll produce better work if you do.
While You’re at the Recording Studio
When you arrive at the studio, your script should be ready for you. It will include the full manuscript as well as the opening and closing credits.
Be calm, read at an even pace, and don’t stress when you make a mistake. Mistakes are going to happen! Just focus on having a fun and enjoyable experience recording your audiobook.
Anticipate six hours of recording at a minimum (including breaks) and eight at a maximum.
To soothe your throat, keep plenty of your favorite beverage on hand. If you like tea with honey, that would be a great choice here. Keep in mind that the microphone can pick up the fizz of sodas, and the carbonation might make your stomach grumble, which could delay the recording if it’s loud enough or keeps happening.
After You Leave the Studio
Once you finish a recording, the key is to give yourself plenty of rest time. If you have an untrained voice, you probably don’t want to record more than two days in a row.
You can put rest days in between sessions—a Monday/Wednesday/Friday recording schedule, for example—if it works with the producer’s schedule.
Before the next session, re-read the above tips so you come to the studio fresh and ready to go.