Audiobook Stew

Audiobook Stew

Posted by John in Articles

1 Two Hundred plus paged book

1 Search Engine

1 Pencil

1 Day or more to proof read for pronunciations and comprehension

As much time as you need to develop character catch phrases and personality.

Record your novel in studio for a minimum of 3-4 hours per day (Preferably the same time every day).

(Optional for best results)

1 Engineer or someone to help out during recording

1 Editor (or you can do your own editing

Consistency and patience are what truly make this recipe work.  You have to be a great story teller to give off the right effect, then you have to make sure that all your personalities are consistent (including your narrator).  If you record a sample of each of your characters by creating a catch phrase for each of them, this will help you have an audio reference to follow.  Keep this in a separate organized folder/area on your computer so it’s easy to access.

If you edit this on your own, I can’t stress enough the importance of organization.  Create a pattern for yourself each day.  For example record for 3 – 4 hours (making sure to listen to the recording done the previous day to keep the flow of the read), then edit for at least 4 hours more.  Or use programs like Word to Wav, which makes it much easier to record and edit at the same time.

Everyone has there own mixing style.  I highly recommend using an editor and allowing for that in the budget.  The bottom line in audio book is that you have to know what you’re doing and know exactly what you need to make it happen.

 “Wow, $4,000 for an audiobook. This is excellent pay.”

If you’ve thought or heard this statement, let me fill you in on a few things you should know before EVER entering the world of audiobooks. Perhaps you can learn from my own experience.

I have a ton of experience in the voice-over industry, but it may surprise you to know I haven’t voiced many audiobooks.



My first audiobook was my own project: voicing my 90-page Creating Voices AUDIO/CD-ROM workshop.

This was a lot of narration and an eye-opener. Let me share with you what the job entailed:


  1. Over 8 hours of voice recording time, split over two 4-hour days.


  1. Edited first 4 hours (takes 8 hours to edit, all sounds great).


  1. Edited second half of project, and I sounded like a different person completely. Unusable.


  1. Revoiced ALL in one day, so that everything is consistent (8 hours).


  1. Edited the entire 8-hour recording, and all VO sounded too fast. Must re-record ALL OF IT AGAIN!


  1. Revoiced 4 hours of work, only to find out the recording stopped in the beginning. Nothing was recorded.


  1. Cried.


  1. Finally got it all done – but it was the hardest project I’d ever done, and I wasn’t getting paid to do it!



You think I learned my lesson?


Well. My narrative projects run up to about 125 pages, on average. Not really audiobooks, but long-format narrations.


So I thought I had experienced it all until I booked my first PAID audiobook.


The pay was fair – not great but fair – so my time was valued.


Originally, the job was posted at $1,500 for a 300-page book. When I sent in my submission, I requested a significantly higher amount and the client came back to me suggesting I was the highest bid but he felt I was worth it.




Then they sent me the script in proper VO format: 12 pt Times New Roman, double-spaced. This worked out to 798 pages, not 300!


They had quoted the job based on the size of the actual novel, not the transcript. So this made a significant increase in the rate.


We negotiated a higher rate, but it still wasn’t high enough for me to bring on an engineer (what a mistake that was – never again).


Plus, I took the job at an extremely busy time, and the deadline was unrealistic.




Still, I was sure I could pull it off. After all, I always take on more than I should, and the jobs ALWAYS get done.


So here was the challenge: 3 weeks to produce 89 clean, high-quality broadcast files (89 chapters).


I should mention this was a Christian-based book, so the read was over-dramatic and very high energy.




The client liked my read so much that he shared it with another talent they had hired to voice other audiobook projects. They wanted that voice actor to match my delivery.


Here is what happened:

  1. Ended up with 3 other large VO projects at the same time (long-time clients), so I accommodated ALL …Aghhhhh!


  1. Vocal chords get abused and very raw, only allowing me 2 hours of recording each day, instead of the much-needed 4 hours – with the rest of the day editing.


  1. Tone was completely different on 20 chapters. Started talking about the devil and it just got more intense from there. Had to revoice 20 chapters.


  1. G4 Mac computer fills its capacity and now won’t export any files


  1. Have to switch studio to new computer.


  1. Fill hard drive on 160 G laptop.


  1. External drive won’t let me record – only copy files (wrong drive – can’t take it back).


  1. LITERALLY worked 17 hours a day around the clock for 3 weeks and hurt my back so bad I needed therapy.


  1. Booked a holiday prior to booking the audiobook project (haven’t had one in 3 years or more), so have to edit for at least 6 hours a day of the holidays. Must hire two assistants to help me, or I can’t go on holiday. (What holiday? I worked the whole time.)


  1. Client critiques files and there are MANY changes and many Hebrew pronunciations. Client is reading from book, not script, so changes are their fault and EXTREMELY time consuming. Pulling hair out.


  1. Missed deadline (never had I missed a deadline before).


  1. Listened with headphones and heard tons of tone that I didn’t hear with monitors. Had to fine-tune EVERY file, which took an additional week.


  1. Got it done within 4 weeks (nearly 5), not 3.




I learned so much more this time around.


I might know the delivery and how to do the VO aspect of audiobooks, but there is much more to audiobooks than just the read.


So I’d like to leave you with some tips that could save you a ton of time, money and lots of stress!

  1. Hire an engineer/producer, or even a friend. Don’t do it alone. Budget for it.


  1. Charge enough to justify missing 3 to 5 weeks of work and paying an engineer/producer.


  1. Love listening to yourself over and over, and enjoy monotony.


  1. Know how to engage a listener throughout the entire project.


  1. Love what you’re reading, even If you don’t – and take them on a journey.


  1. Sound the same on Day 1 as you do on Day 14. CONSISTENCY.


  1. Use a small wire with a piece of foam as a marker sticking out of your mic, so you’ll voice into the EXACT same place every time. Moving off mic will affect the consistent sound.


  1. Know how to maintain the same pace and tone, while still becoming every single character in the book.


  1. Book your time-frame realistically. This is time-consuming.


  1. Work one chapter at a time, finish it off, and then move on to the next.


  1. Have enough space in your computer and name all your files, edits, etc.


  1. Stay organized.


  1. These files are large so leave time to account for uploading.


  1. For final edits, listen with studio headphones, not just your monitors.


  1. Be careful of your back if you have to edit for that length of time. Again, hire an editor to do it with you. It’s worth it!




You have to really enjoy this industry and the consistency that it requires. It takes a special type of talent to pull this kind of project off.


I will continue to voice audiobooks, and even though I had some difficult times, I enjoyed the project itself.


And now I’m more educated than before. I will not make the same mistakes twice, and will save myself a ton of time and stress on the next round.


The narration greats, like Scott Brick (one of the most recognized talents in the audiobook industry), know exactly what they are doing, and I applaud their expertise.


Make sure you know what you’re getting into before you DIVE in!

Until next time everyone

All my best
Chef Deb

06 Jan 2015 No Comments


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