Narrating Your Own Audiobook

By Richard Rieman of

There are a few good reasons to narrate your own book, and some reasons why you should not.

Why you should:

  1. It’s your book and your words, so you can tell your story best. You know your characters, your story or subject, and the thinking behind your words better than anyone else.
  2. You keep more money. If you pay a narrator, you will either share royalties or pay them upfront to produce your audiobook.
  3. When you narrate your own book, your audiobook’s royalty payments go to you (after your publisher or ACX takes a big chunk of it).

You can be your own narrator if:

  • You are a trained voice actor
  • You are a professional actor
  • You have a background in public speaking
  • You are a radio air talent or news anchor

None of the above? Then get a professional to do it—please. It really is a lot harder than it looks. You could perform surgery on your own brain, but wow, what a mess!

What if you have been told what a great voice you have? Having a good voice is a very small part of audiobook narration. Even experienced voice-over talent can struggle when they try the long-form audiobook narration format. Imagine a bunch of reviews on your book page complaining about the narrator. That’s not something you want your readers to see.

OK, if you are going to go ahead and narrate your own book, here are some tips: First, take the test created by top audiobook narrator (and one of my inspirations) Sean Pratt, who writes in his blog at

Set up a table and chair, along with a book or music stand, in some confined place in your home, i.e. a walk-in closet, alcove, or facing into the corner of a room. Put the book on the stand, grab a lamp or something to shine on the text, and then turn off any overhead light. What you’re doing is mimicking what it’s like to be in a sound booth.

Now, read aloud for at least three hours a day for the next two weeks. If you stumble on a word, stop … and begin that sentence again. If you come across a word, phrase, or person that you don’t know and can’t pronounce, stop … go online and look it up … NO GUESSING! And don’t just drone on and on, people! Your job is to entertain me, the listener, so keep up your energy, delivery and tempo. Got that? Good! That’s the test.

Now that you’ve passed the test, listen to the playback. That will go a long way to tell you whether you should narrate your own book!

About Richard Rieman

Richard Rieman of is an audiobook self-publishing consultant, a top Audible narrator, and an in-studio producer of authors narrating their own titles. Richard is author of “The Author’s Guide to Audiobook Creation,” Gold Medal Winner of the 2016 Global eBook Award in Writing/Publishing.