Don’t Burp: Adventures in Audiobook Recording

One of a multitude of projects I took on this summer was creating an audiobook.

{This in addition to editing two whole works, writing an ongoing original and fanfic version of a new urban fantasy, building this website… Oh, and getting started on a new 3310 fanfic too. Phew.}  

What possessed me to create an audiobook? Sheer insanity, lol.

I know the popularity of audiobooks has skyrocketed over the years, with more and more people preferring the convenience of listening to content especially while commuting or travelling. I was curious whether there’d be an interest for audio versions of fanfiction works.  Searching the web didn’t yield much.  Archives of Our Own does promote what they call podfics but any other mention of fanfic audiobooks in search results led to some mentions of HP stuff on social media accounts.

Something new and “groundbreaking” to try, lol! Why not? While no voice actor, I figured my low-key Canadian accent and my fairly decent reading skills should be fine to do the job.

How hard can it be to make an audiobook? I remember thinking.  All one needs is a good microphone and a quiet spot, no?


I quickly learned that there is nothing so easy as just “narrating” into a mic.  So without further ado –for any aspiring amateur audiobook narrators out there– let me share with you what I’ve learned so far.

  1. Narrating on an empty stomach is a no-no, unless you need grumbly sound effects in the background.  It’s amazing how well the microphone picks up your gastric processes.
  1. Narrating on a full stomach is also a no-no.  Digestion and talking often lead to an unfortunate… windiness of the lungs? Don’t burp your way through a chapter if you can help it, lol!  Mind you, there’s nothing like a burp to punctuate a sentence with emphasis.
  1. Speaking of emphasis, you may wish to think long and hard about your choice of story if it contains certain kinds of mature content (heh-heh, see what I did there?).  Reading a story solo makes for interesting quandaries when you arrive at intimate scenes.  The question then becomes: How far do you go?  Do you read with emphasis, e.m.p.h.a.s.i.s, or EMPHASIS.  {Bow chicka wow wow}
  1. Here’s one for Murphy’s Law aficionados… the likelihood someone will knock on your door, a cellphone ring in the house, the neighbour’s neurotic poodle start barking, or one of your 20something year olds in the kitchen above drop something heavy on the floor, is inversely proportional to how important the scene you were narrating just perfectly at the moment is.
  1. If you discover you have a tendency to unleash expletives whenever you flub a line (like I do), be very, very sure you are very, very diligent in editing your track afterwards… lest you end up with a colourful “F–” inside one of your paragraphs in an already exported file and have to restart the whole recording all over again.
  1. Foreign language words, bah, no problem, right?  You got this.  It’s not like you haven’t heard it spoken a million times… Uh, no.  Do yourself a favour and double (triple!) check that you are pronouncing a foreign word as properly as you possibly can from the get go.  Not only after 12 chapters when you realize you haven’t 🙄.  

For anyone interested in the (low budget) technical aspects of my project: I use a Neewer NW-7000 USB mic (comes with adjustable suspension scissor arm stand –absolute necessity) which I plug into my regular laptop. You need to have what I call a “spit filter” (a microphone filter shield screen).  Here’s what my mic set up looks like:

Audiobook recording
Neewer NW-7000 USB mic

I use the free, open source Audacity program as my audio track editor with a programmed preset that modulated my natural voice to sound smoother (i.e. less like the 12 year-old I normally sound like). Audacity allows me to import/ export my audio files to create the audiobook chapter videos that I upload to my YouTube playlist. 

I’m more than halfway through the chapter recordings. I hope to be done the whole book in another month.  And while it will never be anything I can market, it has given me the chance to learn quite a bit about recording and creating an audio project.  My deepest respects go out to voice actors who are all the more skilled for making it seem so easy.  

Will I ever try to make another audiobook once this one is finished?  Hmm, never say never but I think unless I can get a budget for special effects and bribe someone with a deeper cadence of voice to narrate, it will have to be just this one for now.

A Brush With Fate by SunInTaurus

*Update (March 2021): I decided to retire the audiobook project. There just wasn’t enough sustained interest to justify the work and effort involved. Time better used for writing in the end. Oh well, at least I learned how to do it. Maybe someday the skills will come in handy.

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September 27, 2020 17:30

I enjoy listening to the audiobook and looking forward to adding more chapters the wav file 😍

Elisabeth Long
Elisabeth Long
September 27, 2020 17:43
Reply to  Jan

You’re a sound reader. 😉❣