Sound Phone Tips on How to Record Your Audio Book At Home

Mic Audio RecordingIn the digital age, people are not looking for a quiet corner but a pair of headphones to shut out other sounds.

Readers are turning to audio books in great numbers. The audio-book industry is estimated to be worth more than $1 billion. That means a lot of people are interested in listening to their books.

With this trend, your smartphone can be a basic means for offering audio to entice your readers.

I regularly read the Home Free Adventures blog. It chronicles the lives of a couple of seniors who gave up their house and now live from town to town, city to city. Lynne Martin, who owns the blog, wrote Home Sweet Anywhere, a book the adventures and lifestyle she and her husband live. As a means of promoting it among her readers, she posted on her website the first chapter of her book. But it wasn’t the text of the chapter. She gave her readers the first chapter of her audio book.

I’ve followed her blog since 2012 when I read about her in the Wall Street Journal. However, I only knew her words and her responses to my comments on her blog. The audio, however, gave me a chance to listen to her as if she and I were having a conversation over dinner.

Before rejecting the idea, don’t disregard your speaking voice so quickly. You’re giving something new to your followers. Your readers can take in a new dimension of you by listening. You can become a companion who is chatting over coffee.

I chatted with Troy Hartman, senior vice president at Sweetwater Sound in Fort Wayne, Ind., about these recordings. He offered some useful tips for at-home recordings. Here you go:

  • Record in a small room in your house with the door closed. He recommended choosing a room with no ambient noise like a window air conditioner, air vents or ceiling fans.
  • Set the phone in one place to remain the same distance from the phone.
  • Opt for a room with carpet and no hardwood floors. Carpeting can help to avoid echoes off the walls and ceiling. “Reflections like these mix in with the original voice only slightly delayed, which makes the recording more unintelligible,” he said.
  • Speak with clear diction. He said don’t over-enunciate, unless it fits the style. “The goal is to make the recording sound like you and not a robot,” he said.
  • Don’t speak directly into the phone. Stay roughly a foot or two away from the phone.
  • Try a few tests to find the optimal distance.
  • Consider using an external microphone since it is much better quality than is usually found in smartphones. One example is the iK Multimedia iRig Mic HD, which can be used with iOS, Android, and computers.
  • Avoid barking dogs in the background.

Have you ever tried recording yourself via your phone?

What advice do you have for someone who’s interested in recording their books as an audiobook?

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  1. Hi Matthew – Thanks for posting this! I recorded my granddaughter for a few lines in my book trailer for Cache a Predator. I used my iPhone. It was much easier than recording an entire book because i was able to stop, listen, and re-record over and over again. I loved how handy it was to record. She didn’t like listening to herself though. (We never think we sound the way we do, do we?)
    These are great tips. I think I’m going to try to get her to narrate my children’s chapter book. That might be a lot of fun, and since the main character is only a few years younger than her it might help the book sound more authentic.

  2. Peter says:

    Would you mind telling me what app you are using? I have an iPhone and want to record an audio book using that.

    • Peter,
      I used my Android device’s native recording program. There are plenty of free and pay apps that can substitute a phone’s built-in recorder, but I attempted the most basic, easy and free option to test out the idea. Let us know if you find an app that stands out to you for turning your book into an audio book.

  3. I really appreciate your article encouraging people to record their book and capture this skyrocketing audiobook market.

    However, recording on a phone is somewhat risky, as the software on your phone is really just designed to capture the bare minimum of vocal quality. With very good free software options out there (Audacity and GarageBand to name two ones we regularly use) and good USB mics at a low cost ($50 or less), getting a solid recording on a laptop is really quite possible. I know–I recorded the audiobook version of my book “Recording Audiobooks” using that type of setup and it passed ACX’s QC check the first time around!

    Keep up the great work!

    George Smolinski

    • Thank you, George. You’re right. The vocal quality is super important. I think this post was written a while ago, before I published my audio books. I had a few difficult experiences, so in the end, I knew that hiring the right person with EXCELLENT equipment was important. A few days ago, I went into my closet to record an audio sound bite on Garage Band. I could NOT figure it out to save my life. I gave up. (This was on my MAC.) However, I built 10 landing pages in the last few weeks, so there is that! (It’s a learning curve for all these goodies.) Thank you for stopping by and leaning in to this writer crowd.

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