Guest Post: Leslie Nack’s Audiobook Experience

One of the SDWEG presenters in 2016, Leslie Nack, shares her experiences turning her memoir, Fourteen: A Daughter’s Memoir of Adventure, Sailing, and Survival, into an audiobook. I listened to the audiobook, was impressed with the quality of the recording, and assumed she had used a professional studio to record it. When I asked, Leslie explained she had done it herself (well, much of it) and offered to share what she learned along the way. Thanks, Leslie, for sharing with the Guild.

Being married to a mechanical engineer who loves computer stuff, including animation and video and sound, I thought producing an audiobook would be an easy deal – you know, no biggie. And it would have been if my husband didn’t have a job!


As with everything, Amazon has the market sewn up in the audiobook department. And they have made everything pretty simple. I picked the exclusive with ACX contract (40% royalty payment). The audiobook gets distributed to Audible, iTunes, and Amazon, which has 75% of the audiobook market. Plus the return on sales is higher than having a non-exclusive agreement (25% royalty payment) with ACX. Check out the website for all the details.

iTunes Studio:

My husband did all the research (which he’s stellar at) and found all the things we needed to make a professional recording studio in our house. If you want to take this route, YouTube has videos on how to set up a sound studio in your house in a pantry or small room.


I devoured the ACX website because I knew I was going to read my own book. I have a memoir and it makes more sense to read it yourself. Novels are different. ACX has a list of narrators (which you can listen to ahead of time) and producers if you don’t want to read your own book.  I have no idea how much this costs.

I thought my husband would easily be able to record me, and then edit the recordings to take out my breaths and all mouth noises and make it perfect. Turns out those two steps take a long time. My husband’s work got crazy and we had to put the audiobook aside for a time (which turned out to be 6 months).

After months of waiting, and putting it off, I tried to find somebody else to audio engineer my chapters. I wanted my audiobook to come out for my one year anniversary of publishing Fourteen and that deadline was looming.

That’s when I found Sergio. He’s an audio engineer who works in the music industry. He’s done two other audiobooks on the side, and I checked his references. He did a stellar job for me.

He also has a studio where you can record the book if you live in the LA, OC or SD areas. Not sure what he charges for that. To audio engineer my book, he charged $1,400 for 28 chapters and I feel like it was a good deal. It was a lot of work.

Sergio is interested in more work in the audiobook field. His e-mail is Tell him I sent you.

So anyway, now that it’s almost been a year, we are finished with my audiobook. I can’t tell you how relived I am and how proud I am to have finished it. If you endeavor to have an audiobook, it won’t take you that long, I’m sure, especially because you can learn from my mistakes.

The Details

So if you are somebody, or know somebody, who can deal with the technical side of setting up a studio and recording the book yourself, here are the details.

If you need anything else, or have any questions, let me know. I’m happy to help in any way I can.

SoftwareAudacity.  This is the freeware with a very strong wiki documentation presence.  It is a very robust program that has far more recording and editing functionality than we needed.  (Remember that for every hour you spend recording, you will spend 2-3 hours editing afterward).  It is a Windows program.  I do not believe there is an Apple version for it. [Webmaster note: Their website offers versions for Windows as well as partial support for Mac OX (Sierra version) and GNU/Linux.]

Microphone-to-computer interfaceFocusrite Scarlett2i2.  $130.00 from Amazon.

MicrophoneRode NT1A Cardioid Condensing microphone with Pop filter and suspension mic holder.  You want a cardioid condensing microphone for spoken word recording.  $229.00 at Amazon:

Tripod boom mic stand $20 at Amazon or Guitar Center.  You want the microphone physically separated from the table the narrator is using to prevent sound transfer.  That’s the reason for a boom stand rather than a tabletop stand.

I used an iPad to read from.  It is electronically silent and scrolls silently as long as your fingernails don’t tap on the glass.  A computer monitor creates some electronic noise, I think.  We tried to keep all wires out of the studio enclosure except for the mic cable.

That’s it guys. I hope my experience helps you.


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