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The Mechanics of Audiobook Narration - or - Don't Make the Same 17 Mistakes I Made on my First Audio

Hello aspiring audiobook narrators. I’m Monica McIntire and I’m going to explain everything you need to know to be a success at this.

Let me tell you how I started in Audible narration and how I met an expert named Shawn who is my new best friend. It was a dark and stormy time in my career as a cybersecurity manager. I’d been doing IT work for almost 30 years and I was pretty burnt out. My hobby is acting and I’d been doing that for decades but never took the necessary risks to become really successful at it. So my job was getting me down. My wonderful husband Jon saw this, of course, and he sent me an article about narrating for Audible and thought I’d be good at it. And, in my world, it counts as an acting job. It counts in the real world too, you can get an AFTRA card. Insert smiley emoji here.

So, I found an audiobook to tell me how to go about this endeavor. It was pretty vague and lacking in detail but I’ve always been a self-starter so I Googled and YouTubed, bought equipment, downloaded Audacity software, and started to submit auditions through

I had a lot of good feedback and, within a month, I had a two-book contract. And my author seemed to be pleased with my performance. Then I hit a technical snag, which I tried every which way I could to fix. But, having taught myself everything I knew at that point, and having no one to point me in the right direction, I knew I was in trouble. Turns out I knew nothing at all. Except that I was really in trouble.

My author referred me to another of his narrators, who led me to Shawn. In a single evening of emailing with Shawn (he spent HOURS taking me through every single solitary thing he could think of – equipment, recording process, editing and processing steps, software, decibel levels, peaks and RMS, etc.), I discovered that absolutely every single solitary thing I had done every single step of the way was wrong. I now owe him a lot of beers! If that’s what he drinks – I don’t know yet.

So, anyway, I hope my journey will be helpful to you. And now we’re going to pick Shawn’s brain. Shawn is a CTO and programming engineer at a start-up as well as a highly successful audiobook narrator. He’s narrated 24 audiobooks, selling 35,000 copies to date. He’s really smart and he has a great recording voice, plus, you know, experience. I don’t yet, but with his help, I’m about to.

So, this is going to be a soup-to-nuts, all-encompassing Bible telling you everything I never knew about how to be a successful narrator. Let’s begin.

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