Three Things I Learned Recording My First Audiobook

  • Brad Holbrook |
  • Oct. 19, 2020 |
  • 2:25 p.m.

Three Things I Learned Recording My First Audiobook

I know a lot of actors who do voice over work.  It’s a natural fit for a lot of us, and similar to doing commercials, has solid money making potential, even though it’s probably not the reason we became actors in the first place.  

With Covid, about the only kind of work actors can still get is voice over.  And it’s totally doable at home.  Side hustle just got more attractive.

I only recently learned of the website, which is the Audible site where published books find narrators, and vice versa.  You don’t need an agent or manager.  You submit auditions to any book listed all on your own.

I’ve never considered audiobook work, but this seemed like a good time to give it a shot if there ever was gonna be such a time.

I found a novel listed on ACX, submitted an audition, and was awarded the contract to produce the book.  Three months later, the audiobook (Hume’s Fork: A Novel) is available on Amazon and Audible.

It was a daunting project, but one that checked a lot of boxes for me; it was acting, it introduced me to a whole new world of technical stuff (I’m a tech nerd), and I could set my own schedule and work from home.

If this is something that might also appeal to you, let me mention a few things you should know.


Yes, totally doable in your home, but there are important things to know.  It’s gonna cost a little do-re-mi.

Buy the best microphone you can afford and learn how best to connect it to your computer. (You’ll need an interface and there are many to choose from.)

Figure out how to mimic a “sound booth”, a place in which all sounds other than your voice are eliminated.  Many people use a closet. There are voice isolation cubes available on Amazon.

For me, this process took a few weeks to adequately address, which seems like a lot of time and energy to invest before you can even submit your first audition, so it’s a bit of a roll of the dice.

The problem is you really can’t just fake it until you get some traction.  Your audition needs to sound like your finished work and if there are car horns honking in the background of your audition, it’s not likely your audition will be taken seriously.


Those actors I know who’ve long had voice over careers generally haven’t had to be their own engineers.  Either they’ve gone to a recording studio where their only task was to read the copy and someone else did all the editing and mastering of the final product, or they managed to “phone it in from home” using their own equipment, generally sending in “dry” tracks for an engineer to work with. 

You know, the easy part.

For ACX audio books you have to be your own engineer/producer.  Meaning, the product you deliver must be the finished work.

The hard part.

Fortunately, there are a lot of helpful videos on YouTube that can walk you through most of it.

I stumbled upon the Booth Junkie channel and pretty much let that guy be my mentor. 

There are many others. He uses Reaper as his software, which is overkill for recording an audio book since it’s really designed for mixing music (much more complex), but I learned enough of it to make it work.

There are terrific tutorials on using Reaper, by Booth Junkie and many others.


The book I did is a typical length for a novel.  Listening time is 9 hours, 16 minutes.

Ha!  How long do you think it took to create it?  About ten times that!

But that’s mostly because I was learning as I went, becoming more efficient along the way.  The next novel will take me about half that time.  Still, you don’t want to underestimate what the time investment is because the ACX projects have deadlines.  Reasonable deadlines, but deadlines. I was given 6 weeks.  It took all of that.  

As a supplemental money maker, at-home voice over is ripe with potential for actors. But if you don’t find the challenges engaging it’s not likely you’ll be happy with the way the numbers crunch.

ACX is filled with what I’d politely call crappy books that I wouldn’t find to be worth the effort to record, but there are others that are.  

Even when we get past the pandemic, I’ll still be looking for voice acting opportunities, and enjoying the ones that come along.