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Yes, You Can Record Your Own Audiobook. Here’s How.

When I finished writing and publishing Where the Hell is Tesla?, I looked at the Amazon.com book page, noticed the absence of an audiobook/CD, and said to myself “Hmmm. I wonder if I could do that myself?”

I found out I could. And guess what? You can too. You, an independent author, can narrate and publish your own audiobook — for free! (Or close.)

I won’t say it’s one-click easy, though. There are many small things to do right, and many small things that can make a recording awful. In fact, here’s a really smart article outlining numerous reasons why you SHOULDN’T narrate your own book. But if you’re still into it after reading that, any author that’s a bit technical can do it, without breaking the bank, using tools you already have (or that won’t cost you an arm and a leg to buy).

Before we get started:

  • You should already have your book done and published. If not, take care of that first and return to this post later. It’ll still be here!
  • You should have access to a computer or an iPad.
  • For my demonstration, I’m using certain gear and software you may not have, and I’m talking exclusively about Amazon, but the general principles will still apply.
  • This is meant to be an overview, not a tutorial. But I’m happy to answer any specific questions you have, so head on over to the Contact page and fire off a question at any time.

Okay, ready?

1. Create an account with ACX. ACX is part of Audible.com, an Amazon.com subsidiary. They help build and manage audio content that gets sold on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. When you start your account, all you’ll need is your bank information (so they can pay you royalties — that’s a good thing), and to find your title in the Amazon database. Once you have your account created, take a look at the Audio Submission Requirements. Basically, know this:

  • You have to include separate opening credits, chapter files, closing credits, and a 1-5 minute sample.
  • Leave silence at the beginning and end of each chapter, and read the chapter headings aloud
  • Reduce noise on the low end, and make sure it’s not louder than -3dB (Don’t worry, I show you how in the video)
  • Export at 192kbps MP3 at 44.1kHz (again, it sounds hard but it’s easy)

2. Get your studio ready. Of course, by studio I mean anywhere you can set up. You’ll need:

  • A computer or an iPad. I use a Mac (my business is copywriting/design/advertising, so Macs are the standard), and as a recording author, this has a great benefit — because every Mac comes with…
  • Recording software. Garageband is the name of the app that comes free with a Mac. For more complicated projects at our studio, we use ProTools, but for a single voice, Garageband is perfect. Easy to use, even for beginners. And it comes free with iPads, too. If you’re working on a PC, you’ll need an alternative. I’ve heard from several people after this post was published that Audacity is freeware and it’s great. That’s not an endorsement, but to let you know that recording options aren’t limited to mac folk.
  • A microphone. You could try to get away with the internal mic on your computer or iPad, but for a cleaner, less noisy sound… you’ll want to have a better mic.  I use an AKG C3000 (about $200, there are a lot of good mics in this price range). But I also have a USB interface called a DUET2 that the mic plugs into (another $600). If you don’t feel like plunking down $800 before you’ve even started, here’s the good news: there are plenty of USB mics that are good enough for this work, and can plug directly into your computer or iPad. I found a great article comparing several, but here’s the quick — for a basic, good sound, try The Blue Microphones Snowball ($55). For a great mic that plugs directly into an iPad as well as a PC, try the Apogee MiC 96k ($229)
  • Headphones. If you want to monitor yourself (not a requirement, but a good idea), you’ll need a pair of headphones. From my experience, basic headphones should be fine.
  • A quiet space. This one’s common sense, and critical. Any extra room noise can ruin a recording, so choose a space with very little ambient noise. Also, open spaces with nothing on the walls can bounce the sound all over. Use blankets, foam, whatever you can to dampen the sound. (We use foam baffling circled pretty tightly around the microphone. You can see it in the video.)

3. Start recording! Fire up Garageband, create a new voice track, and go. Alternatively, I’ve created a Garageband file with the settings I use applied to the master track and first track. You can download it here. (40MB)

This isn’t meant to be a detailed tutorial on Garageband, so I won’t go into terminology, or every setting, but basically here’s what to set in everyday language:

  • Make sure your master volume just hits the “yellow” during loud moments, stays in the mid-to-high green area, and never hits the red.
  • Under Controls (the little dial-looking-button top left) make sure your “noise gate” is checked, and set to around -65dB (You can play with this setting to make sure you don’t get weird-sounding clipping, but make sure when you’re not talking, you don’t hear anything at all).
  • Also under controls, click on the compressor, the EQ, and give yourself a wee bit of reverb. (I show the dials and such in the video, but again, play with this to get the sound you like.)

Okay, when you’re ready to hit the record button and start speaking, keep these tips in mind:

  • Keep the mic about 6″ – 8″ from your face. You can play around with this. When you have to whisper, you can come in a little closer, and when you have to scream or shout, DEFINITELY pull back, and turn your head away from the mic a bit.
  • Make sure you’re speaking clearly, and make as few mistakes as possible. When you make a mistake, if it’s a small one, just leave a breath, say a quick “boop!” and repeat. This keeps your flow going, and gives you a visual cue when you go back to edit — the “boop!” shows up as a little spike in the waveform. For a larger mistake, stop recording, delete that range, and go again. If you do these two, you’ll thank yourself when you have to go through and edit all this!
  • Make sure your pace is not too fast and not too slow. Try it a few different ways, play it back. Let someone else listen to them and compare.
  • Minimize loud breath sounds, lip smacks, tongue clicks, pops and other noises. Again, you’ll thank yourself later when you don’t have to edit out all this. You can also buy a cheap pop filter (it’s in the video) that helps with some of this, mostly the “p” sound.
  • Keep characters, voices, and accents consistent, without making them too over-the-top or cartoony. (Although for my book, a comedy, I purposely went a bit over-the-top.). And keep the energy of performance consistent

Once you’ve recorded your opening credits, create a new track. Then for each chapter, do the same. So in the end, you’ll have a separate track for each chapter. This makes it easier to organize and export.

Note: If you want a quick music stinger for your opening credits, or a sound effect here and there, you can find tons of royalty free music beds and sfx on iTunes. There are lots of sites out there as well, LOTS, so if you feel like digging, go for it. Also for free sounds, my usual go-to site is SoundBible.com. Maybe not the biggest catalog, but it’s FREE, and it’s easy to use/download.

4. Edit and export your recordings. This is fun, but tedious, work. You’ll be taking out extra breath sounds, playing with volume and noise, a LOT. When you’re done (whew!) solo each track and export 192kbps MP3s at 44.1kHz (sounds complicated but it’s a couple of buttons).

5. Upload your files to ACX. Also might sound confusing, but it’s easy. You can see in the video, 1-2-3!

Then, once you’re done, you’re done. ACX takes over and packages up your files, and — assuming you don’t have any problems they come back to you with — they distribute it for you through Amazon, Audible, and Apple iBooks. And you earn a percentage of each sale — in my DIY case, 40%. Amazing!

If you have any questions at all about the process, I’d be happy to answer (or investigate if I don’t have an answer). Just head on over to the Contact page.

About the Book:

SCI-FI ODYSSEY. COMEDY. LOVE STORY. AND OF COURSE… NIKOLA TESLA. I’ll let Chip, the main character tell you more: “I found the journal at work. Well, I don’t know if you’d call it work, but that’s where I found it. It’s the lost journal of Nikola Tesla, one of the greatest inventors and visionaries ever. Before he died in 1943, he kept a notebook filled with spectacular claims and outrageous plans. One of these plans was for an “Interdimensional Transfer Apparatus” – that allowed someone (in this case me and my friend Pete) to travel to other versions of the infinite possibilities around us. Crazy, right? But that’s just where the crazy starts.”

CHIP’S OFFICIAL DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction: the events depicted in the collection of emails did not happen. I have never been in contact with a covert government group attempting to suppress knowledge of the lost journal of Nikola Tesla. I have not been threatened with death if I divulge the secrets contained inside. They did not buy me this handsome jacket (oh crap, you’re reading this – trust me, it looks great on me). They did not come to my place, and liquor me up, and offer to publish this book as a sci-fi comedy novel to throw the public off the trail of the real truth.

Or did they?

I’m kidding. Of course they didn’t.

Or did they?

God, I can’t keep my big mouth shut.

Praise for Where the Hell is Tesla?

Where the Hell is Tesla? has been compared to Terry Pratchett (the Discworld Series), Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and even Kurt Vonnegut (I know, that last one is probably a stretch.)

“If Bill and Ted were approaching middle age (and gotten just this much more world weary along the way), then went on an Even More Excellent Science Fact Adventure, you might get something like Rob Dircks’ debut novel, Where the Hell is Telsa? Smart, funny, and just like its titular scientist, impressively inventive, this is a must-read for anyone who aced science and, even more so, for those of us who didn’t. Which means, quite simply, it’s a book for everyone.”

– Michael Zam, Screenwriting Professor, NYU

“Reminds me of Vonnegut. Yeah, I said that.”

– Ruth Sinanian, Connoisseur of Fine Literature

Amazon.com Reviews…

“An extraordinarily unexpected delight… will appeal to fans of Pratchett and Adams.”

“A wild, witty wonderful ride through a historically accurate backdrop. You will laugh, it’s not dumb humor but very smart.”

“Very entertaining and a great homage to a great scientist. If you’re looking to laugh out loud while reading, then this is the book for you.”

“I was laughing at times and on the edge of my seat other times. The character of Chip is wonderful.”


About Rob Dircks

Hi. I’m the owner of Goldfinch Publishing. After independently publishing my first two books, I fell in love with not only writing, but the new process of publishing. As a copywriter, designer, and developer for over twenty years, I realized I had some skills that might be able to help other authors. So in addition to hawking my own books (feel free to buy them here), I’ll be editing, producing, and promoting the works of other talented authors as well here on this site.

My past? I’ve been many things – author, advertising agency owner, aspiring screenwriter, stock video producer, iPhone app developer, photographer, and more. I was even a Sears baby photographer way back in college. (If I never see another red velvet baby Christmas dress, that’ll be just fine.) Feel free to reach out to me on the general Contact Us page, through the Goldfinch SELECT submission process, or with a request for information on paid services over at Goldfinch A LA CARTE.


  1. Helpful article. Curious if a USB headset would be good enough to record audio? I use them for many video projects and find they keep my audio levels more consistent and minimize (if placed properly) breathing and lip smack sounds. Haven’t tried one on a full book yet.

  2. Hey Rob, great post and video, thank you. I have a book (in paperback and ebook) but its not for sale on Amazon. Do i need to get it on Amazon before I can set up an ACX account and make an audiobook?

    • Hi Andrew! YES, in order to create your audiobook through ACX/Audible, you need to have the book for sale on Amazon. For my latest novel, here’s what I did: I recorded, edited, and packaged up everything beforehand, and AS SOON AS my book went live on Amazon, I started up the ACX project and uploaded the files.

      There are other channels for audiobook sales, but really? Audible/iTunes are the two games in town.

      If you have any questions about getting your book on Amazon, shoot me an email on the Contact page (http://robdircks.com/contact-me/).

      • My friend wrote a book. He gave me permission to record it as an audiobook and then we plan to split the proceeds. Can we do that in the manner described above? Or does the reader and the author need to be the same?

        • Hi Wayne – You can do this no problem. Your friend can open an account with ACX as an author/rights-holder (they will need to have the book in either ebook or paperback format on Amazon already), then just work with you to get the audio files and upload them. Alernatively, you can open an account as a producer with ACX, and they can choose you as a narrator and come up with a deal through ACX (here’s a link to basically how it’s done: https://www.acx.com/help/narrators/200484550). Good luck! — Rob

          • Hi Burk, Good news: you do NOT need another ISBN# for audiobooks. It’s possible that publishers do this as a matter of course, but it’s totally not required. – Rob

  3. BRILLIANT!!! Thank you SO much for taking the time to do this video walk though – I now feel much more confident I can do this myself :o)

  4. Great! Nice stuff!
    After some research I found some online services that provide audiobook productions. At first I was thinking of narrating my own and then have
    http://www.e-audioproductions.com/audio-book-editing do the post production (they have better rates and gave great tips for self recording) but I am thinking of doing a full production with a pro narrator with them now instead. Has anyone had any experience with such services?

    • I don’t think so. But I’m all-in with them on an exclusive, so it’s not applicable to my titles. I’d suggest calling them (1-888-396-6347) or emailing them (support@acx.com). They have excellent support, even for non-customers.

    • Hi Richard! Sorry, I don’t have any custom jobs like that planned. But I DO have a FREE, new podcast if you want to hear more of my melodious voice — it’s called Listen To The Signal (listentothesignal.com). Check it out!

  5. I have tried Audiobook Builder, an app available on the iTunes App store, to create an Audiobook. But the problem is that it comes in as either a single giant file, or many chapter files. All of the Audiobooks from Audible come in as a single file that has a dropdown menu showing the chapters and allows you to jump around by chapters. Is there any software that allows creation of books like that that do not require use of Audible? Stand alone?

    • I think it depends on how you’re going to listen. You can always record separate tracks, load them into your iTunes library, and just create a playlist called “My Great Book.” Or you can use SoundSould (https://soundcloud.com) to do the same thing so it’s hosted in the cloud (you can get a free account up to 5GB I think.) Basically Audible is doing the same exact thing — I upload separate tracks for each chapter, and the software is showing it to you as one big file — basically a playlist. Does that help?

    • I wouldn’t want to say an outright “no,” but I think you’re probably better off buying an external USB mic at least. In any case, you can send a sample to ACX for them to review, so if you think your internal recorder sounds good, they can confirm it for you.

  6. Thanks very much for this, Rob. I was absolutely lost until I found your explanation. I do have one question: do you ever have any problem with computer noise? I’m using an ancient MAC (early eighteenth century, I think). It works fine although it might be noisy sometimes. Also, I wasn’t able to download your master track file because the garageband version is too ancient. I’ll work it out, though.
    Thanks again. I’m now your loyal follower.

    • Hi Jill — I’m psyched you found the post helpful! About your ancient Mac, yes, noise can be an issue. To mitigate it, you can purchase a longer XLR cable, or USB extension cable, to get your mic as far away from the Mac as possible. It’s a little bit of a PITA, moving back and forth between the mac and the mic, but it definitely will help with the noise.

  7. Excellent. Thank you!

    I think I’ll record my Hacking Kickstarter… Non-fiction book this way. I already have a fiction book (The Abduction of Nelly Don) on ACX where I was lucky to find a great narrator. But this time around, I’ll take a stab at it myself. Purchased the mic and anti-pop thingie. Next is the mic.

  8. Thank you! This was a fantastic overview and makes it so much easier for me NOT to be freaked out about recording my own audiobook to go along with my new book. I’m actually pretty excited now. WOOHOO!

  9. Here’s my question, Rob. What if you’re creating an audiobook from a public domain work? In my example: Beowulf. ACX seems to want a traditional version of the book (credited to me) already available on Amazon. As if audiobooks can’t exist on their own.


    • Hi! Yes, that’s the trick with ACX, that I’ll add to a later post — you have to have a book published in the Amazon database under your author name to create an audiobook, even a public domain work. I know it’s not ideal, but here’s how I’d proceed: create a kindle version of the public domain work (you need to add photos or illustrations to make it a unique version according to Amazon’s rules), and as soon as it’s in their database add your audiobook in ACX. Again, not ideal, but within the parameters I think it’s the way to go. Good luck!

  10. Hi Rob! Do you know of any small companies that can do the recordings? We have 20-30 books we want to turn into audiobooks. Btw thanks for sharing!

    • If you’re going the Audible/Amazon/iTunes route, I would actually suggest going directly to ACX for a one-stop-shopping solution. First, you choose a narrator, who is also in most cases their own producer, and you contract with them, and they handle everything. They get either a lump sum dollar amount per finished hour, or a royalty cut (your choice). Here’s a link to the narrators — https://www.acx.com/ss#keywords=&pageIndex=1. Then, you work with the narrator, they master the files, you/they upload them, and ACX distributes the finished audiobook to Audible/Amazon/iTunes. It’s actually pretty straightforward!

  11. Great information, Rob. Thank you. I’ve just completed recording my first book and will begin the editing process shortly. This will help tremendously!

    • I’m not a copyrights lawyer, but I’d think that if you were personally recording a chapter just for your friend to listen to, not to be publicly listened to or sold, you’d be fine. If you decided to promote it to the general public or sell it, I’d think you’d have to start reaching out to the book’s publisher for permission.

  12. Hi Rob,

    Very informative article. My father is a writer from India with many books to his credit. He writes in Nepali language, a language which uses Devnagiri script. I am planning to re-sell some of his titles in Amazon and then get an audiobook of the same, and may use ACX. I was wondering if ACX provides services for audiobooks in languages other than English. Any idea on that?

  13. Hi Rob,

    I’m wanting to record my reading of a book I didn’t write that has been out of print since the 80’s. Planning on a Christmas gift for a friend who loves audio books and this genre. I want to keep it simple as possible but also user friendly. Any way that you’d change your above approach to make it suitable “For Dummies”?

    • Hi! If this is just for a Christmas gift for a friend, first I’d say you better get cranking! Assuming you’re using Garageband, click here to download my blank voiceover file (http://bit.ly/1Gxrvd0), it’ll give you a file to start from, then go get yourself an inexpensive USB mic from a local music shop. (If you don’t have a local music shop, you’ll have to use your computer’s onboard mic. Not optimal, but will work. Then record and edit (since it’s a gift and you don’t have time, I wouldn’t worry too much about perfect edits). Then “Share/Export to disk” as MP3 files for each chapter. You can give this to them on a burned CD, or on a flash drive that they can just copy to their iTunes library. (Or even just copy the MP3s to a folder on their desktop and click on them to listen.) Good luck!

  14. Came for the “how to record an audiobook” bit, which I found very helpful, thank you, was hooked by Tesla, popped over to Audible – and now your audiobook is on my phone! I think that’s a win-win situation!

  15. Hi Rob, thank you for taking the time to put together this wonderful tutorial! I am helping my husband (author & narrator) get setup. We have a newer MacBook Pro with garage band and a USB mic with poper. Looking over the suggested hardware list on ACX – two questions. 1. Do we need an external high drive? 2. Do we need a M-Audio M-Track C-Series 2x2M USB/MIDI Interface given the fact we have a USB mic? Or what are the advantages if any of using either? Thank you, Jean

    • Hi Jean, you’re welcome! I hesitate to go against ACX’s specs, so I’d say investigate all your options, but my take? 1. NO, you don’t need an external hard drive; and 2. NO, you don’t need a USB/MIDI interface. Just plug the mic into the laptop and go. Garageband has plugins for compression, EQ, limiting, etc that help shape your sound. That said, I’m SURE there are advantages to the interface they’ve suggested, and I in fact use an interface because I’m using an XLR condenser microphone that requires one. And note that not all USB mics are created equal — double check this great article I found on more on that (https://ehomerecordingstudio.com/usb-microphones/). The bottom line: as long as what you’re hearing when you export sounds good and clean, you’re on the right track. Good luck!

  16. Hi Rob, This is a fantastic post. Thank you very much. Just about to get my first book up on Amazon as an independent author. It’s a children’s book. One of my best friends, whose daughter has been left blind due to cancer, asked me if I can get an audio copy so she could listen to it. Must admit, I didn’t have a clue how to do it. But your post makes it crystal clear. Thanks again. Off now to buy a mic and get recording and then mine your site for other really useful publishing information!

    • Hi William, I’m not a legal expert, but my understanding is that 1) You can only re-publish a work without the author’s/estate’s consent if you can prove that it is in the public domain, and 2) if it is in the public domain, Amazon/ACX requires you to publish the work again, with some additional unique content, like illustrations. There’s also something out there called LibriVox (https://librivox.org/pages/volunteer-for-librivox/) a volunteer-based organization that produces audiobooks of public domain works. You might want to reach out to them and see if your project fits in with them. Good luck!

  17. I should mention the author is no longer living and the book had limited printing and has been out of print for years. I’m not looking to make money on this. Just as a volunteer reader who would like to share a treasure that shouldn’t be forgotten.

    • Hi Katrina! I’m all for doing whatever you like, so go for it! That said, personally, for longer works like novels, the more I get into sound effects, music, etc., the farther I feel from the actual storytelling. On my short stories podcast Listen to the Signal, I do sometimes use sfx to get a bit more of a “radio play” feeling. Good luck!

  18. Hello Mr. D. Any suggestions re: how to record a song for a framed picture? Want to frame special collage for a lifelong friend. Want to record a song & attach the “song chip” to the frame. NOT selling it, it a surprise bday gift. FYI my spouse is a computer engineer, so I am fortunate to have good in-house technical support if I need it. Any gentle push in the right direction is greatly appreciated

  19. Hi there. I am writing my autobiography but I find it easier to distribute to friends and family as audio files (http://www.stressandgoodtimes.co.uk). I use GarageBand on my iMac. I have a question. I don’t find it easy to insert something that I missed out. Also, sometimes, when listening to the stream, I think of a better way to describe something (I was a trader in the currency markets so some of the things that I did were a bit complicated so needed an explanation). Do you have any advice on how to cut a part-track into the main stream of a chapter?

    • Hi David – I know this might seem too simple, but all I do is draw a selection rectangle around all the clips to the right of my insertion point and move them right with plenty of room to spare. Then I either record or copy a clip into the resulting space… reselect the clips to the right, and drag them back where I want them. Is that what you were asking? – Rob

  20. What about room tone? ACX calls for .5 to one second of room tone, but both you and ACX also call for noisegate, so how is this resolved? Also in your video you show yourself cutting out extraneous sounds but not replacing them with room tone. I would have surmised, prior to watching your video, that each chapter would consist of two tracks: a vocal track and a room tone track. No?

    • Hi Hawes! Yes, I think the “correct” way to do it is to replace cuts/silence with room tone. However, in my experience, I’ve tried to get my recording space as close to silent as possible, so that the noise gate plugin treats anything under a certain limit as silence. That way, when I make cuts, I don’t have to put room noise in its place. (As I said, not technically the correct way to go, but I’ve been doing it with success on my novels and podcast.) I think if you can’t get your space close to silent, then definitely go the room tone route.

  21. Thanks very much for your helpful advice. As an Australian author with books published by traditional publsihers and on Amazon, I don’t think the Audible facility is available for us. Is that correct? Is there any other form of international audio recording of existing, published books you would recommend?

    • Hi Hazel! I’m definitely not an expert there, but recently I talked to the head of product over at Findaway Voices (https://findawayvoices.com/contact/) and if I had that question, I’d start there. They’ve got a big team and a very wide distribution. Comment back and let me know what they tell you. — Rob

  22. Hi Rob, the information you’ve provided in the video is first-rate.

    Question: I’ve purchased a Rode NT-USB mic and am using the GarageBand settings provided by yourself but no matter how hard I try, fiddling with various aspects, I can’t seem to get my audio to sound anywhere near as high-quality as yours. The main difference appears to be the “hissing” or “electrical sound” that’s ever present on all my attempts, though not yours. I briefly used a programme called Loopback, exceptionally easy to use, which removed the hissing immediately but the free trial only lasted about 15 minutes. Might I ask if there’s something I’m not doing within the GarageBand settings, my microphone, or if I need to invest in an audio interface or some programme to fix this?

    Many thanks.

    • Hi Rob,

      I have the same issue as Damian. I used a Snowball, Garageband and your excellent template file, and sent in a sample to ACX. I got a reply from them just now saying my noise floor is too high.

      Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

      Kind regards,


      • Hi Chartreuse! I’m not sure if interference is your problem, though it might be. The first thing I’d try in your case is to apply Garageband’s Noise Gate plugin (http://robdircks.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Screen-Shot-2015-10-29-at-12.22.50-PM.png) and set it to -60dB (you may have to play with that number a bit to make sure you don’t get clipping on your voice). Also try moving your setup into a closet or some very small space temporarily, with blankets hanging or whatever you can do to limit the ambient room sound to an absolute minimum, and moving your computer as far away from the microphone as possible.

        • Thank you, Rob. I will follow all of your advice through. Just one thing I don’t understand. I actually made a sort of tent with throws and a parasol. The more I enclosed myself the worse the echo got. Could you shed some light on the reason for this? In the end, the best place was a corner of a corner sofa with lots of soft furnishings packed around Yet still …the hiss.

          And something else no one states clearly anywhere – what should you read your book from? If I read it from the paperback then won’t I have the sound of pages turning? If I read it from a Kindle or tablet then isn’t that a hard reflective surface?

          I read from an iPad. I connected the mic to my laptop which I put on the floor about 3 feet away (the lenght of the cable) on edge so it kept cool and the fan stayed off. I had the heating off so no boiler noise, desktop off so no fan noise, no household appliances on. I recorded when the neighbours were out or quiet.

          Please tell me if I’m missing any tricks here.

          Many thanks again for your suggestions. I know I can get this eventually!

          • Hi Chartreuse – Not sure about the echo, but if it is a hiss, you might have interference as Damien did. I’d suggest going to Blue at the link/contact I sent and asking them to help you troubleshoot. (And I know it’s not ideal, but if they can’t give you satisfaction, you could return it and go the route of Damien and get the Rode.) As for reading, I read from an ipad for longer work, but for shorter stuff like podcast episodes I read right from my laptop with Garageband (or now Logic Pro) recording in the background.

    • Hi Damian! While I have not used that exact mic myself, I’ve used a Rode before, it’s excellent, and from the Amazon reviews of your model I can see lots of folks using them for podcasting, streaming, etc. successfully — so I think you’ve got a good mic to start off with at least. I’m not a sound engineer either, so hissing/etc I can only offer what I know, that electrical interference can come from lots of different places: a bad cable, speakers, wifi, an appliance in your home, etc. I don’t think you need to purchase an audio interface, as your model is designed to plug right into your pc, so the first thing I’d do is contact Rode (if you’re in the US it’s 562-364-7400, pacific time) and see what they suggest about eliminating the interference. I checked out Loopback, and for $99 it looks great — if Rode can’t help you get rid of the interference, this software looks (at first glance) like a good investment. Please comment back here or email me via the contact page to let me know how this works out, so other folks can benefit from your learning. Thanks!

    • Hi Damien – I also put a call into Rode and spoke with a guy named Victor. He said yes, give him a buzz and he can try to walk you through reducing the hissing (as I said there are lots of potential sources, but off the top he thinks it’s a gain issue). Good luck, and again let me know how it turns out.

      • Rob, thanks so much for your input.

        The Rode NT-USB has no gain control, which has made everything more confusing (I really am very new to this) but I figured it out regardless 🙂

        It’s the ‘record level’, which is found in the inspector but for some reason only appears after turning off the master button. It was set at around 75% as default, which created that familiar fuzz sound in the background, similar to when you turn the volume up on a CD player during a silence. I’ve moved it down to 40%, which has eliminated this sound while still getting enough volume from my mouth.

        Thanks again for your help on this, you went above and beyond. You have a subscriber for life and I’ll make sure WTHIT is the first audio book I purchase.


        • Thank you, Damien! You have just solved my noise-floor issue. I eventually sent back my Blue Ice and upgraded to the same mic as you, the Rode NT USB and still was getting the static and hiss.

          I called Apple and their Garageband department gave me an elimination list to work through. It came down the Rob’s template which is great and solves most recording issues but of course not specific to every setup, so I knew all I had to do was tweak one of his settings to suit the Rode. But which one?

          After much searching I came across a link to your post. I tried it just now, reducing the recording level that was at 100% on the master to 40%. The result: a blissful hush. I am going to create a sample for ACX using Rob’s template with your one adjustment. I’ll report on how it goes but I’m feeling confident. Many thanks to both of you.

          And a special thanks to Rob for creating this blog post.

  23. Thank you for your AMAZING video on Garageband narration. I’m following your instructions but I have a problem with “solo the track and export.” Garageband will export the track but will add time to the end of the track for the duration of the longest track/chapter. So if chapter 19 is 28 minutes long, all exported tracks (chapters 1-19) export also as 28 minutes each. How did you export each track so it was only the duration of that track/chapter?

    • Hi Taylor, First, congrats on recording your own audiobook! Okay, this one’s an easy fix. 1. Turn on “Cycle” (it the little yellow button, I sent you a pick in email); 2. Drag the yellow band out to the length of the track you’re exporting; 3. Then, when you export, click the checkbox that says “export cycle area”. Boom!

  24. Hi Rob, thanks for your great articles! I was wondering if I can use your ” Garageband file with the settings I use applied to the master track and first track” that you made available online, for my own book if I just remove your music and words? Or do I need to start with a new fresh new project and copy all that you have done? Want to be polite and ask permission. 🙂

    Also, if you say that I can use your file, if I add additional tracks that I need will they automatically be set to go and connected to what you have already done. Probably silly questions but just not sure.

    Thanks a bunch,


    • Hi Marilyn, Absolutely! Just delete everything in the file, I only included it so you could hear how my recordings sound. Use it as you wish, no attribution required. When you add additional tracks, you want to choose “Add Track with Duplicate Settings.” (And there are no silly questions!) — Rob

  25. I recorded my own novel in mp3 on a CD. I finally figured out how to create a front cover and label on the CD. My question is, how can I make the CD autorun in order to let listeners listen as soon as they put their CDs in their players? I found no step-by-step, easy-to-understand help on the ‘Net. Thanks ahead of time for your response.

  26. Thank you so much for the information. I help a blind man write books and would like to create his books in Audible (and also my little poem book).

    I appreciate the time that you put into making this information available for us.

  27. Hey there Rob! Your blog is well detailed, you summarize it carefully to make it more understandable. It’s not easy to make a blog like this, but still, I appreciate your work it’s so beneficial to everyone. I’ll make sure to tweet this.

  28. So very generous of you to take the time sharing this amazing and valuable guidance, Rob, thanks! I’m just digging in to creating the audio for my book and don’t think I could find a better launch tutor.

    I notice you appear to be standing in your video. Do you recommend standing while recording? Does that somehow help with breathing or “performing” the book?

  29. My son and I co-authored a non fiction real estate investing book. We have it on Amazon and would like to distribute on Audible. The tone of the book contrast my 35 years of self taught experience with my sons economics degree and millenial views. I think it would require two seperate voices to effectively narrate. We have done lots of video and have recoeding equipment, however we stay very busy and would like to get someone else to narrate. Do you have any idea how much we should budget for 220 pages?

    • Hi Joe, First, congrats on your book! Okay, for a professional narrator, you might pay between $200 – $300 per finished hour (let’s use $250). A 220-page book might be around 40,000 words? That number of words would translate to approximately four finished hours, so 4 x $250 = $1,000. (Don’t quote me on that. 🙂 ) Here’s one place you can start to find your narrator: https://www.acx.com/ss Good luck! – Rob

    • Hi Farooq – I use Garageband on the Mac, and now I use Logic Pro (also for the Mac). I know many people who use Audacity, which is free and you can use it on either Mac or PC. As far as length, I usually put each chapter on its own track in a multi-track file, and each track can be 45 minutes long (I think, it might be even longer). — Rob

  30. So interesting, thank you. I arrived here by chance because I’m trying to find a narrator who can attempt authentic British/American accents. Now I need to rethink the whole project–thanks for your productive, informative, and inspiring post.

  31. Hi Rob,

    Can you or anyone reading this recommend a good isolation shield for around or under $100 for the Blue Ice mic?

    Any leads would be great.

    Thank you,


  32. Oh! Thanks for your sharing! However, if you want to convert your audible audiobooks to mp3, you could try a audible audiobook converter like ‘TunesKit‘. Your method can solve the issue of recording audiobooks instead of converting formats. That one can remove DRM from audible.

  33. Hi Rob
    This is the first time I have ever replied on a blog. The reason is simple, it is very good. I have made a ‘home’ recording booth and received three refusals from ACX due to technical issues. Hum, noise floor, compressions etc… I was using Audacity until reading this and will now download GarageBand for W10. I have thirteen books on Amazon and love reading, as I do it voluntarily for my local Blind Newspaper. Hope GB works as Audacity, though free, has sorely tested my patience. It is ‘record and fix later’ which relays no peace of mind. Thank you rob.

  34. Hi
    .xpadian.com/#pricing leads you through a dance. No good.
    bluestacks.com/download.html is a blank page on Bing
    Andy downloaded but refused their Malware. Why do these people always think our laptops have no security?

  35. Andy…getAndy…seriously?
    Took forever and kept crashing during install. Now, desperately trying to uninstall as my paltop keeps freezing.

    • Hi Marie, Fear not! I believe that Findaway Voices (https://findawayvoices.com) is a way around that limitation. They’re a distributor to Amazon/Audible/iTunes and many more, and I think you can start an account from Australia. I’m not 100% sure of that though, so if you try it, comment back here and let everyone know. Thanks! – Rob

  36. hey Rob — thx for your helpful tips!
    I was also told that my sample’s noise floor was too high — with lots of mouth noise.
    using a usb ATR-2100 with pop filter and garageband, seems I have to crank up the gain — which contributes to the noise floor. (another ACX author suggests Twisted Wave software is better for exporting cleaner recordings?)
    I tried Harlan’s V/O mic with the xlr adapter; a much more sensitive mic, but picked up radio signals from Sutro Tower here in San Francisco.
    I’m in a studio apt, so not easy to create an entire sound booth — was thinking of a better usb mic, like at 2020, or the rode; plus one of those wrap around desktop screens, plus maybe a sound blanket behind me?
    any thoughts appreciated 😉

    • Hi Rik, I’m not a sound engineer, so I don’t have the depth of knowledge on mics and adapters, but I’ve heard from a number of folks that the Rode listed in my post works great. And yes, get AS MUCH padding around you as possible – do you have a closet you can fit in? I’m now using the little space under my basement stairs (a la Harry Potter). It is TIGHT in there, but man the ambient noise is almost nothing, and the mic doesn’t pick up a thing. Good luck! – Rob

  37. Hi Rob, I’m learning a lot from your YouTube video — thank you for making it!

    I hope this isn’t something you’ve already answered above (I skimmed some for it), but I’m wondering if I can monitor my dB levels in GB. Basically, I don’t know how to tell if, e.g., my room tone is coming in under -60dB . . .

    Best, Paul

    • Hi Paul,You might find this post helpful:https://robdircks.com/garageband-settings-for-audiobooks-acx-audible/ Basically, I set the noise gate at around -64db, and that seems to do the trick. (You’ll have to play with it to get it sounding right.) Then, if you want, you can use ACX’s service where they’ll review a file and give you an assessment before you upload the rest. (You will have to re-upload that one file again when you want to send it into production.) Assuming you already have an ACX account (if not create one), call them at 1-888-396-6347. Tell them what you want to do and they’ll generate a specific link for you to follow to answer questions and upload a file. Good luck! – Rob

  38. Thanks Rob for the info about recording audio books. I just released my first novel and starting two more. I have a background in radio and radio production and have Pro Tools on the Mac Tower with lots of toys and a killer Sony C48 mic. I’ve already recorded and released three CDs on my own and love reading script, so this is a no-brainer! Appreciate the time and effort you putting into sharing this video and information!

  39. Great Article ! thanks for sharing . Can you advise on the following. I have a lot of books that I have kept from childhood. I would love to record to an audio book and share them with the world. What would you suggest ? where should i start ? should i inquire with the author and publishing company? .. I would appreciate your suggestions and insight . Thank you!

    • Hi, RociMar. Sounds like a great project, and yes, I would track down the author and publisher to make sure you can obtain the rights/permission before you move ahead. Good luck! – Rob

  40. Is it possible to submit a single chapter to ACX to see if you’ve got everything right before recording an entire book and finding out things are just off enough that they won’t accept it?

    • Hi Pete, Good news — yes, when you’re ready with a sample, ACX offers a service where they’ll review a file and give you an assessment before you upload the rest. (You will have to re-upload that one file again when you want to send it into production.) Assuming you already have an ACX account, call them at 1-888-396-6347. Tell them what you want to do and they’ll generate a specific link for you to follow to answer questions and upload a file. Good luck! – Rob

    • Hi ReShaun, Lots of folks have recommended Audacity. It’s great, and better yet, it’s FREE. (I personally don’t like it compared to Garageband, just not my style I guess, but most people love it.) Good luck! – Rob

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