Should I self-narrate?

Your voice is a valuable, recognisable addition to your brand. It is also of course a big part of who you are and how people perceive you. If you are an expert, coach or speaker in your field, then it’s almost a no brainer. A great example is Hillary Clinton’s audiobook ‘What happened’ where she muses on the results of the last US election/debarkle. Who else’s voice would you expect to hear? It’s her story to tell.

And it’s a big story!:

The author’s voice

The avid reader’s ideal is curling up on the sofa with a good book. Does this sound familiar? The feeling of escape, the holding of the book, the smell of the pages and the immersion of your inner voice and imagination. We construct and voice our own version of the author’s intent.


But life gets in the way sometimes. The couch opportunities can be few and far between. We’re travelling, walking jogging, keeping house, mowing lawns or stuck in the peak commute – SWT – sheer weight of traffic. Even as a passenger, the spectre of being ‘car sick’ keeps our head out of a novel. We miss lectures, are verbal learners and speed readers and listeners.


And don’t forget the communication premium that comes with the storyteller’s voice – dramatic effect, intimacy, familiarity, intonation, pausing and expression. It’s the reason we suggest authors narrate their own writings – they are after all, your words, meanings and feelings.

On bringing authenticity and emphasis to your book reading:

Many times published author and narrator of some 1,300 audiobooks talks about his experiences in this article:

The primacy of listening

In the 16th century, the development of the printing press was perhaps a key factor in the reformation of the Christian church – used to great effect by protestant’s like Martin Luther. Accessibility came in the form of free printed ‘flyers’, bible passages translated from Latin and of course public speeches and debates. Yet another chapter in our very human quest for freedom of thought, speech and access to knowledge.

In those times, literacy was a skill taught only to the elite and powerful. Despite this, communication through storytelling has carried knowledge across generations without the need for reading or writing. We first start understanding our world by hearing about it.


We now consider literacy a fundamental human right, but you really can’t master it in the early years of life. We learn to listen, then talk, then read, then write. Again, listening is our earliest – almost innate – learning tool on the path to literacy. We just have to start there first, then we can use all 4 skills in combination.

Read about the ‘Socratic method’ and storytelling perspectives in this article:

Audiobook sales trends

Now. Did you know.

International audiobook audiences are growing year-on-year at 40% in the UK, 30% in the US, where sales in 2016 were $1.7 billion and $2.5 billion in 2017?

Annual audiobook sales growth is approaching 20% in Australia.

And from the last annual Small Press Network conference. They officially welcomed self-publishers as members and predicted that audio books are expected to be the next growth format.

And the book giants are right behind it. Here’s a recent article about the Amazon Echo:

and the day Amazon bought Audible:

The publication triangle

So I guess it’s about taking advantage of rapidly growing international demand and a changing publishing trend. Why not use ‘traditional’ storytelling to share your experiences, expertise and give voice to your brand.

Along with your book and eBook, an audiobook could be the third essential piece in your publication triangle.

But why stop there…? What’s old is new again. Audiobooks on vinyl:

Audiobook and podcast market

Nearly half of frequent audiobook listeners in the US are under 35, adding depth to the market now and into the future. And many of those listeners are using multiple sources of audio for their entertainment. Those who listen to both podcasts and audiobooks, listen to twice as many audiobooks.

In this article, how males appear to be driving sales:

Speed listening

In addition to the convenience of a portable library on your phone, tablet or PC, software developers have been producing tools to enable ‘speed reading’ for audiobook listeners – one cryptically called: ‘Faster Audio’. The reader can complete an audiobook in 75% 0r 50% of the time by increasing the pace of narration without altering the pitch. Your three hour audiobook done and dusted in 90 minutes without having to listen to Alvin from the chipmunks!

An interesting piece on how audiobooks have grown in comparison to other formats:

Reading alternatives

So as not to incur the wrath of the largest single group of audiobook listeners out there (the paperback readers) and probably not surprise them either, my own Facebook polls indicate paperback format is the clear leader with not much between eBooks and audiobooks. If you have the option to jump into bed with Jules Verne or curl up with J.K. Rowling, it’s still your first choice. But, more and more people are choosing to jog around the block with Stephen Fry, drive to Dubbo with Hilary Clinton or catch the train with Michael Portillo! And of course, you can begin reading your ’who dun it’ with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and finish it with the dulcet tones of Benedict Cumberbatch.

Some folks love their audio with a passion. Check out this article:


It was revealed by the Audio Publishers Association during a presentation in 2017, that 56% of audiobook consumers are doing ‘nothing else’ while listening. Suggesting perhaps that aural learning is not just passive in its nature. Just like reading, it can command your full attention. And there may be learning benefits too. Michele Cobb at the Book Expo in 2017 said: “It helps you understand context, vocabulary, and pronunciation” Other areas, such as listening while heading off to sleep (50%), doing tasks around the home (43%)  and exercising (27%) all rated highly too, but there is a distinction to be made. And it is to make between reading and listening.


It was also revealed by the Book Publishers Association during a presentation in 2017, that 100% of paperback consumers were ‘incapable of doing anything else’ while reading. What a shock! Reading engages your entire attention.

Try this interesting article about audiobooks and driver attention:

Harry Potter audiobook can keep motorists alert on long drives: study

Vocal expression

Even without the benefit of body language, we have a raft of vocal tools used with words to express our message. Now we all know that the……….. pause……….. is the classic attention seeker (do you notice what I did then?) We might ever so gradually increase the speed and the pitch with which we are speaking to build to an important point… then just before delivering it – pause – then state the point in slow, deliberate, emphatic, low tones. All this to deliberately engage and emotionally connect with your listeners at an intimate level. All the information conveyed without need of visual support.

Some impressions from a first time listener: