5 Reasons Nonfiction Authors Should Narrate Their Own Audiobooks
I had a tantalizingly tempting offer for an award-winning audiobook narrator to record my nonfiction book. Here’s why I declined.
It was a luxury problem, I’m the first to admit it. My nonfiction book (Every Single Day) was doing pretty well in ebook and paperback sales, I decided to finally stop tweaking and editing (yes, after it was published) and I wanted the audiobook to make its debut into the ears of millions of fans around the world.
Or, at least, I just wanted the audiobook to exist.
My luxury dilemma was that a good friend of mine is a professional audiobook narrator. But he’s good. No, crazy good. In fact, one of the people I polled said, “I would listen to any book that Simon Vance narrated.”
Wow. I was up against that.
That one comment practically convinced me to have Simon narrate my book.
Then I attended the 20BooksLondon writer’s conference and polled as many people as would listen about my decision. I also polled in a very experienced Facebook group for authors (and savvy book marketers) and through both polls I got … mixed results. Still, here’s why I did it myself.
- Brand. It’s possible we stop here and just say there’s one reason to read your book yourself: brand. From my informal Facebook and in-person surveys, this was the #1 reason to do it yourself. It’s your topic, it’s your voice, it’s your personality. Think of you on stage: they’ll already have your voice in their heads. They’ll remember it and associate it with your topic. Like I said, we could stop here as I think this is already enough.
- Connection. Have you ever listened to an audiobook, podcast, or radio show and just feel like you know the person? At the 20BooksLondon writer’s conference, I was admittedly a fanboy of Joanna Penn and although I was nervous approaching her, I felt like I had talked with her at least 87 times in the past. Of course, that was just me listening to her voice on her podcast as I walk my dog in the woods. OK, so it’s not exactly a dialogue and we’re not exactly friends who go on walks together but it seems like we do because she’s talking into my ears. If that seems strange, maybe audio just does something different to me–and not to you. Yet.
- Voice. I had a refrigerator magnet that said something like “I wish Morgan Freeman narrated my life.” When you read your own work aloud, you hear it in a different way. Bonus tip: this is also why I waited a few months to record my book as I wanted to get all of the kinks out of any last nitpicks of editing before I set it in (digital audio) stone for eternity. How to do this? Read your work aloud. Hear how it sounds. Maybe you’ll edit. Maybe you won’t. My I’m-not-a-professional-narrator tip: hey, you’re reading your book aloud anyway, get a good microphone and hit record. You’re halfway there.
- Practice. So you’re a nonfiction author. Do you plan on doing much speaking? Maybe not recording all of your books, but being interviewed on podcasts or having your own podcast? On stage in front of an audience? This is good practice. Don’t believe me? Have you sat down and actually recorded, properly, a few chapters of your books? Do that and then you can comment or disagree.
- Glory. I really wanted to do it myself. I wanted it in my name in my voice (see #1). Also, maybe it’s just me, but it’s something of a legacy thing or even a time capsule. This is what I was doing in 2018 and here’s proof.
There are probably more reasons. Do you have any more to share? Let us know in the comments.
There were also several reasons to let the professional, award-winning narrator read my book. In fact, there were so many reasons I think it merits another post.