Recording Your Audiobook, Part 2: Performing

04audi600spanLast week we showed you how to go about setting up a home studio for recording your audiobook. Now that you know where to record, we’re going to show you a few tips and tricks you need to know when you do record.

Remember, when you read aloud, you’re not just trying to get the words right – you’re trying to perform the book for your audience. If you drone on in a lifeless monotone, your readers are not going to be as invested in the story as they would be if you read it dramatically and with life in your voice. Of course, if you’re not confident in your vocal abilities, you can always hire a narrator/producer using ACX!

[image credit: Mark Georgiev for the New York Times]

Credits: Think of this as the author/title page of your audiobook. ACX requires that you record both opening and closing credits for your book. If you release your book chapter by chapter as a podcast, you may need to record credits for each chapter, but this isn’t necessary with a longer recording. Here’s how they should be worded:

Opening Credits:

“[title of audiobook]
Written by [name of author]
Narrated by [name of narrator]

Closing Credits:

This has been [title of audiobook]
Written by [name of author]
Narrated by [name of narrator]
Copyright [year and name of copyright holder]
Production copyright [year it was recorded] by [company name]


Gives yourself clean air for editing: If you make a mistake halfway through a chapter, you’ll want to be able to go in and fix the one mistake instead of recording the chapter all over again. If you do make a mistake, pause and start the sentence over (you may even choose to stop recording altogether and “punch in” so it’s easier to edit; note that this takes a substantial amount of audio production experience so you know just how to cut in correctly).

When you go back to edit (provided that you aren’t “punching in” and editing as you go), make sure that you don’t cut into the middle of a breath or a word, as you want the recording to sound as if it’s a continuous flow.

Be mindful of plosives: Have you ever gotten a voicemail from a friend and been annoyed by the way their voice pops when they hit their p’s? That sound you’re irked by is called a plosive, and it happens when wind hits the microphone at too fast a rate and creates a loud popping. These can be very distracting to the listener, so make sure you avoid them. The pop filter we suggested last week will help deflect some of the air against the microphone, but there are also a lot of techniques that you can use when recording to improve your audio.

For more advice on how to avoid plosives, check out this video by Digital Juice TV below:

Speed matters: Make sure you aren’t speaking too quickly or too slowly – you want readers to be able to follow along easily without getting ahead of you. There’s no other way to learn how to do this than to practice reading your text over and over again until you get used to the feel of reading your own words aloud. You can also listen to some audiobooks yourself to see what other performers are doing to keep their voices engaging to a reader.

Make sure you keep still: It can be difficult not to move for such a long period of time, but rustles of clothing, jewelry, papers, or even your body against your chair can all be picked up by the microphone.

Sometimes less is more: Some narrators like to go all out and assign very specific types of voices to each character in their story. When done well this can be extremely effective and engaging, but when done poorly it can be distracting. I, for one, get annoyed sometimes when a male narrator raises his pitch very high for all his female voices.

Don’t worry about what the most talented vocal performers might be able to do — if you don’t think you can pull off a convincing female voice as a male narrator or vice versa, or if you don’t have a lot of experience performing different kinds of accents, then you don’t have to do either of those things. Sometimes even just a slight change in tone will convey a different character. Maybe your protagonist is a shy person, so he speaks a little higher in pitch and a little slower than you do when you’re narrating.

Play around with each of your characters and see what feels right for them. Just make sure that you don’t change your mind about what kinds of voices you want to use midway through recording!

game-of-thronesPay attention to continuity: Nothing is more annoying to a reader of a series or long story than a voice actor who changes the pronunciation of a character’s name halfway through. Make sure that you know exactly how you want every name and invented term to be said. This applies if you hire someone to record the book as well – you wouldn’t believe the uproar there was when George R.R. Martin hired a new narrator for the A Song of Ice and Fire series and all the names were pronounced differently than they were both in the previous audiobooks and in the television show!


That’s all for this week’s how-to! Next week we’ll go over some very basic audio editing tips so you can make your audiobook sound as professional as possible. If you have any questions about the advice we’ve gone over in this post, let us know in the comments below.


2 thoughts on “Recording Your Audiobook, Part 2: Performing

  1. Pingback: Recording your Audiobook Part 3: Editing | BookWorks

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