So you’re convinced you need an audiobook for your nonfiction work? Excellent. Thinking of recording it yourself? Think again.

The following is a guest post from Bradley Charbonneau.

Dear nonfiction author,

I realize that I already probably convinced you to narrate your own nonfiction book and you’re probably mid-sentence right now with the microphone in front of you and Audacity open.

But just in case you’re the type to hem and haw or just feel like doubting yourself some more, here are 5 reasons you should just hand over the manuscript to a pro and let them narrate it.

  1. Pro. Because they’re professionals. It’s what they do. It’s their job. It’s not your job (at least not yet — do you even want it to be?). Do you fill your own cavities? Probably not. But could you? Well, maybe with some YouTube videos and those tools you have to fix watches … No. Stop. Just leave it to the pros. In fact, we don’t even need 4 more reasons, this one is enough said, right? No? Fine, we’ll do 4 more.
  2. Performance. Sure, you can read. You can even read aloud. Maybe you played the back-up lead performance in your high school play. Maybe. But an audiobook is a performance. It’s a show. Your written book is words on a page and that’s it. The reader hears only the words on the page. But now there’s an entirely new and different element involved: voice, sound, audio. There are things like pause and tone. Pacing and even breathing. Can you read your book in an entertaining or at least not-cringe-worthy fashion? What if you went to the theater and they read in monotone voices from a script? You’d probably walk out. Here’s more: Engaging narrators can help turn “boring” books into engaging stories.
  3. Fans. Do you have fans? Lots of them? The die-hard kind who will read anything you write? Awesome! How many? Oh, will they also listen to anything you record? Yeah, there’s that. Back in my scenario where I decided to go it on my own, I didn’t specifically mention it, but in my research, one of my responders said, and I quote, “I would read anything that Simon Vance narrated.” Did you read in between the lines there? The part about how she didn’t say “Oh, I’d also read your book.” Uh, no. She’s basically saying she’d read your book if (and only if) Simon read it. But if you read it? “Sorry, who are you again?” Fans. Some audiobook narrators have them. Lots of them. You don’t. No, really, you don’t.
  4. Work. It’s a lot of work. Remember the dentist in #1? Keep in mind that the dentist fills cavities every single day. You probably don’t (unless you’re a dentist). Do you know what -23dB means and how to fix the audio files if you don’t get it to -23dB? Audiobook narrators read and stop and start and re-record and possibly edit and tweak and cough and back up and delete and continue and … get the idea yet? It’s work. Lots of it.
  5. Time. Did #4 not scare you off? Do you need me to add more? How about ACX Requirements? Maybe a little head and tail time? Do you really want true silence or can you adjust it to a bit of room noise? Which is better? If you have years in order to do this, no worries. But if you’d like it done on a deadline, guess who’s going to get that done? What is your time worth? Shouldn’t you be writing anyway? Have you noticed that famous writers often have the same narrators read all of their books? There’s a consistency there. You look forward to Author X read by Narrator Y. If you do it yourself, are you willing to keep going? You’re going to write more books … aren’t you?

Still on the fence? Here’s a happy medium:

Decide to let others decide.

Record the first few minutes yourself, and then audition a professional narrator to do the same first few minutes. Then give both to a few listeners or impartial judges to hear which they prefer. The auditioning process is free (if you’re going with Findaway Voices) and can be a great test before deciding.

Oops, I may have convinced myself to hire a pro.

What do you think? Have you narrated your own books or have you hired out a pro? How did it go? Are you going to stick with that strategy or might you switch it up in the future?

Let us know.

How are your own audiobooks doing? Looking for more sales? Don’t have any audiobooks yet? Stuck on how to get started? Hire a narrator? Do it yourself? Do you enjoy getting royalty checks from companies you’ve never heard of? Want to learn more? Check out Audio for Authors to tap into the booming audiobook market.