This post continues some of what I’ve brought up in past articles with regard to whether authors should even make audiobooks in the first place, but specifically, those Christian authors who may consider narrating your own audiobooks at some point.
I’m not here to talk you out of it, but to give you something else to take into consideration, especially if you’ve never done it before and have yet to do your first one.
Some of you know I’m of the opinion that MAYBE only 50% of authors have any business narrating their own audiobook(s), as most simply don’t know how to read well, even their own works.
Writing and narrating are two different skill sets, and I struggle with my own “imposter syndrome” sometimes as I’m constantly listening to other books both for the content and for learning other narrators’ styles, while continually honing in my craft.
I’m constantly trying to improve at not just the quality product, but the performance of the Christian non-fiction I enjoy working on. Not everybody is going to like every narrator’s voice, cadence, or reading style, just like not every author’s written style and mastery of wordplay will be every reader’s cup of tea.
That said, I’ve narrated more than one book for two different well-known authors and the biggest criticisms my work for their books ever get is that some listeners would rather have heard the author do it themselves. They’re used to hearing Eric Gilmour or Praying Medic preach in person or do live videos online, so their fans have an idea and expectation of what those two sound like.
But instead, some other person (ie, me) is actually the one delivering their book to you in your headphones and it is not enough in line with that familiarity.
I totally get it.
I’d rather listen to the original author when possible, but not all authors know how to perform their book.
Instead, they PREACH their book when they narrate it. And that’s why it suffers.
Preaching and narrating or reading out loud are different art forms and require different planning and preparation. There are different best practices and norms for each context.
I constantly listen to preachers who, when they narrate their own books for the first time, mistakenly assume the same skills and talents that serve them in one area automatically translate into the other. Perhaps some listeners and fans of theirs will prefer that, but most won’t.
I made this grave mistake when I first started narrating my own audiobooks for the first time nearly a decade ago. I wish I could use that memory eraser from the Men in Black movies and go back to everybody who bought my first 4 audiobooks in 2013 and give them the new ones I re-made in recent years. The most egregious example of me trying to preach my book instead of reading it is with The Imperishable Seed of Christ, which I finally just got around to releasing an updated version of.
And don’t get me started on preachers and podcasters narrating an audiobook when they’ve never even listened to one before!
Again, I’d rather listen to the original author narrate their book when possible, but not if they do a bad job at it. I’ll take listening to the wrong voice or cadence of someone other than the author if they do it well.
But Steve, I’m not a preacher and not a Christian, for that matter, so what’s your point?
Perhaps you’re a podcaster or itinerant speaker? In that case, replace much of what I’m saying here about preaching and swap it with other standards, trends and best practices from public speaking in general. While there is some overlap in delivering an audiobook performance with itinerant speaking, there are things that don’t cross over, as well.
But since I work mostly with Christian entrepreneurs and ministers, allow me to close by repeating something I’m always harping on:
The Bible says do all things as unto the Lord (see Colossians 3:23)
Do you think it’s honoring God to put an audiobook (or any format of writing) to market where you’ve not learned the best practices in that market?
Would you design a crappy cover by yourself when you don’t have any design skills?
Do you think it’s honoring to Him if you put an unedited sub-par manuscript out there to market?
Do you think it’s honoring to Him if you don’t learn what steps you could take to get the word He gave you out there or the topic you’d like to impact people with most effectively?
Whether you think so or not, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t avail yourself of resources and tools to improve in all aspects of creating, launching and marketing a book that we might not personally excel in and still provide an quality product with a high degree of excellence.
If you have written an excellent Christian non-fiction book, especially one in the charismatic or Pentecostal niche but that isn’t flaky and/or heretical and would like to hire me to be your book’s narrator voice, read more info about my rates and minimum requirements at this link.
Serious enquiries only, and I don’t work for royalty-share or as a volunteer “for a heavenly reward.”