I’m often asked about my journey as a first-time author.

How I Wrote YDNTB is a link I’m quick to share with those curiously navigating the fog of writing their own book. I’ve also began speaking with groups about how Pour Over Publishing was established to support this project.

With the audiobook for You Don’t Need This Book about to hit your ears, a similar rumination on how I planned, recorded, produced, and distributed my own audiobook is in order. Enjoy!

Planning

As Seth Godin mentions in his Advice For Authors, the cadence for an important project starts long before everyone first hears about it. Planning slows down early progress, but vision, preparation, and a willingness to rethink along the way provide value as pieces of a larger puzzle come together over time.

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Audiobooks unlocked my interest reading.

Establishing a strategic cadence for YDNTB was something I’m glad I thought about early on. I wasn’t sure how they were produced, but an audiobook was always going to be part of the YDNTB experience. The sturdy softcover and convenient eBook were launched first, but the time-release effect of a staggered distribution provides a fresh promotional boost, while inviting a wider audience of audiophiles into this exploration of entrepreneurship in the connected era.

Along with a thoughtful timeline, a planned cadence has allowed me to organize each of the individual variables into the overall equation. For example, the ISBN numbers, pricing, and distribution methods are different for each item, but work together at the same time.

Recording

When it was time to hit record, I wish it was as easy as grabbing the book, a cup of coffee, and just reading my heart out. There’s a lot you can do in “post”, which is jargon that describes all the work done to bring original media into a finished state, but quality audio is easier to work with. I thought about renting time in a professional studio. I also considered quiet booths at a local coworking space, but knowing the audiobook recording process was going to take longer than I thought, I decided to craft my own quiet place.

As seen in this YDNTB audiobook preview video, I found solace in the lower layer of my home and with a simple setup, I created a comfortable environment to narrate every word of my book.

Any decent microphone can work, but I used the Zoom H4N Pro Audio Recorder mounted in front of a small isolation shield with sound absorbent foam. A pop filter was then placed in front of the microphone to reduce the peaks as I spoke. To monitor the sound, I used a nice headset from my friends at Astro Gaming. This helped me stay in the zone, but also made sure unwanted noise didn’t sneak into the recording. This attention to detail led to the basement fridge getting unplugged, the HVAC being turned off, clock batteries being removed, and momentary pauses when planes flew overhead. Knowing I wanted to stand to project my voice as I narrated the book, I sat my laptop at eye level and used a silent mouse to scroll through the eBook. The result was a rich sound that listeners will appreciate without distraction.

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Brad Feld read his contribution for the YDNTB audiobook, so you’ll hear his voice within the Entrepreneurial Ecosystems section of the Community chapter!

One big surprise, was how exhausting it was to record an audiobook. I was naive to think I could stand up and read the entire thing in just a few settings. Audiobooks must be read word-for-word for whisper syncing and proper transcription. This meant misread words had to be identified (I clapped to create a spike in the audio waves) and re-read to perfection.

Along with eliminating audio-flavored typos, the inflections from the author are one of the best parts of audiobooks, so I wanted listeners to experience a similar satisfaction with the YDNTB audiobook. This translated the narration into more like an artistic performance! With BENergy poured into every word, a single chapter was usually the longest I’d last before my mind was mushy, my voice became scratchy, and my legs started to tremble. In an effort to make the entire audiobook sound even, I knew I wanted to capture everything within a short window of time, but recording all 37,456 words still took over a month to complete. Even with the extra time this process required, I had a lot of fun narrating my own book.

Production

With hours of recorded audio in place, the real work began.

To provide the most engaging experience for listeners, every sentence received treatment. This was painstaking, but the extra effort allowed me to remove outtakes and the distracting sound of me gasping for air. I also spent time listening to how everything sounded together. This often meant listening to the same sentence many times, which allowed me to optimize the flow felt between each syllable, word, sentence, paragraph, and section.

Attentively starring at audio waves and stitching what felt like endless audio into a polished audiobook was the definition of tedious. I have no idea how many hours were spent and if I have to do it again, I’ll probably hire out this production process. That said, I’m glad I took on the challenge. Like much of the YDNTB story, this was a test of skill, will, and endurance, but resulted in a relic I can be proud of for life.

As each word merged into sentences, paragraphs became sections. Sections connected into chapters and I eventually had the entire audiobook stitched together. I brought every element of the audiobook into a final round of editing to reduce any remaining echoes, peaks, and audible flaws. The complete audiobook clocks in at 5 hours, 30 minutes, and 13 seconds.

Distribution

With a piece of art ready to hear, it was important to make sure my audiobook was easy to find. Along with direct (pre)orders from the YDNTB page, I used the Amazon ACX platform to make sure this audiobook was optimized and available to download on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.

I love how the audiobook fits into the YDNTB universe and I’m proud of how it turned out. I’d invite you to listen to the audiobook while holding a signed softcover for the ultimate experience. I can’t wait to hear what you think!


1 Comment

Mark Burke · December 22, 2021 at 7:33 AM

Congrats, Ben! Thanks for sharing the journey.

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