Saturday, June 11, 2011

How to record an audiobook at home


For months I have been toying with the idea of making an audiobook, but I didn't know how much work would be involved, or whether I could do a recording with the equipment and programs available to me. I started to research the subject and then thought, "Hey! I could do a post about this!"

The first place I looked for information was ACX.com. (If you would like to learn a bit about ACX, here is a link to their FAQ.)  ACX has a great section entitled: Video Lessons and Resources.  On that page are links to five video tutorials that will take you, step by step, through everything you need to set up a recording studio in your home.  The downside for me was that if I followed the advice in these videos I would have to spend hundreds of dollars on new equipment. :-(

My search continued.

The next place I went for information on making an audiobook was podiobooks.com. After clicking various links pretty much at random I came to a page titled: Postcast101 - Creating and Hosting an Audio Podcast. The information on this page is for people intending to transmit their books via an RSS feed so it contains a lot of information not applicable to me, but from what I can tell one can record an audiobook using only:

Your current Mac or PC
A Microphone
Audacity
Levelator
iTunes

If you want to include music anywhere in the audiobook here are some sources:
iodapromonet
Musicalley
ccMixter

Here are tutorials that give the nuts and bolts of how to record an audiobook:
Step 1: Creating and Editing an Audio Recording
Step 4: Levelating the Podcast
Step 5: Encoding to MP3 Format

I think I would like to try making an audiobook one day, but it looks like a lot of work. I have a new appreciation for all the folks who have done it.

UPDATE (February 25, 2013): I've written another article that builds on this one:
- How To Record Your Own Audiobook: Setting Up A Home Studio

Other articles you might like:

- Podcasting on the iPad
- How To Write Short Stories
- Michael Hauge On How To Summarize Your Novel

16 comments:

  1. Nice post Karen, I've wondered about doing this, too. As a musician I actually have a garage studio and the means to do this, but I've never actually listened to any audiobooks so I'm apprehensive about doing it wrong. I suppose I should check some audiobooks out of the library to get an idea of how it's done.

    Harmonycentral.com has a lot of software geared towards PC/Mac recording and some of it's free so it might be worth a look. Soundforge is also a great program if you want to add effects or process the tone, but it's not free unless you happen to have a copy that came with a pc or sound card. All I can offer from personal experience is that you want a room with a certain amount of sound absorption. Hardwood floors, bare walls and bathrooms will destroy a recording.

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  2. I did a blog on the same subject a few weeks ago. It is difficult.

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  3. @Jamie
    Thanks Jamie. The library is where I get my audiobooks, it's a great resource. In my area we've gone digital so all I have to do is login to my local digital library and download them. Can't beat that for convenience! I put them on my Walkman and play them while I walk to work.

    I googled Soundforge and came up with this link (http://cnet.co/fgVANd) to CNet where they're giving away a 30 day trial version. Yay! Nice to know if I ever decide to take the plunge.

    Thanks for the comment and the info!

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  4. @Christopher
    Hi, thanks for the comment. There is a lot more involved in putting together an audiobook thank I thought at first. After the research I've done I'm thinking seriously about going through acx.com if/when I do an audio version of my (yet to be published) book.

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  5. Useful info. I've never considered making one of my books an audiobook, but I have thought about recording "the call" when the day comes.

    Now, where to get a good microphone...

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  6. Hi Emily, what a wonderful idea! I hope that, when the day comes, you post it on your blog and send me a link. :)

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  7. I just got a contract to record my first audiobook. Your post saved me more time and trouble than I could ever thank you for in a simple comment. Rest assured I will do something equally nice for others in the near future. Thanks again, I'll make good use of the information and let you know when the audiobook is completed.

    Jimmy Hager (actor)

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    1. Congratulations Jimmy! I'm thrilled to have helped. Best of luck to you. :-)

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  8. Thank you so much for your post. I have a trilogy [The Secrets of Nine Irish Sons] on Amazon that people comment on . . . "you should have this recorded as an audio book". I keep thinking about it and found your information very helpful.

    I may not get to it for a while, but my mind is now ready to intercept clues and new ideas as I come across them. Thanks

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  9. In your article you have a link that is invalid. It is the one for:

    Step 1: Creating and Editing an Audio Recording

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    1. Thanks Luana, much appreciated! I've fixed the link. :)

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  10. Thank you Karen. You helped me out a lot. I'll post again when I've finished the project I'm working on for work and let you know how it turned out.

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    1. Thanks Louis! I look forward to reading about it. :-)

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  11. Hi Karen, I am an author and have just completed my third book. Kike many I have been advised to make them all into audio books, Since I am an expat living in Thailand, the best way of doing this is by doing the recording myself. I am using Sound forge and that is no problem. The main difficulty is trying to come to terms with the requirements of the publication platforms. With about two hundred thousand words in the three books, it is going to be a long learning process.

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    1. Hi Alastair,

      Great idea. The more formats your books in the the better. And people like hearing an author read their own work.

      After you're done, I'd be interested in hearing about your journey. I'm sure you'll have lots of great tips for other authors.

      All the best.

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Because of the number of bots leaving spam I had to prevent anonymous posting. My apologies to anyone this inconveniences, I wish I didn't have to do it. I do appreciate each and every comment.