A face made for audiobooks

Ramit Sethi

This is what I spent all day today doing.


My first day recording my audio book. Notice the pre-prepared table full of voice goodies.
I’m happy to announce that we sold the rights to the audiobook version of I Will Teach You To Be Rich. Even better, I’m doing the recording myself…which I thought might be an interesting story to tell.

It turns out that the publisher that bought the audio rights (they’re different than the book publisher) wanted to get this onto the market as quickly as possible using a professional voice actor. But I know you guys — and I talked to a ton of iwillteach readers on the media tour — and it would just be weird to have some dude reading my book. The publisher wasn’t convinced. It turns out that lots of authors think they should read their book, only to get in the studio and have the voice of the Kool-Aid Man after his bachelor party in Vegas. So get this: They made me audition by reading pages of my own book. This is when I knew I had not arrived.

Anyway, apparently it went ok, because I’m in studio for the next few days recording the audio book. I knocked out 65 pages today and the entire thing should be out in a few weeks. I’ll be releasing tons of audio excerpts as soon as I can.

Interesting notes about recording an audiobook:

  • They typically estimate 3 minutes per page. I’m currently doing 2 minutes per page, about 4-6 hours/day
  • Anytime there’s a mistake, we start on the prior sentence, rather than coming back later and re-recording
  • There’s a separate set of audio editors and proofers who will literally compare every recorded word with the text in the book. If I ad-lib at all, a producer notes it so it’s not flagged as a mistake
  • The microphone is extremely sensitive. “You know when you were on the radio for NPR?” they asked. “That was nothing compared to this mic.” If you crack your knuckles, it gets picked up clearly. If you move, the sound of your shirt gets picked up. I told them I’m going to wear a nylon track suit tomorrow to make them start crying.

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  1. David

    This is great news. I plan on buying it for my brother ASAP!!

    I’ve also recommended your book to several of my coworkers. They are straight out of college, have been working for 6 months, and still have not taken advantage of the ESPP and 401K match, etc. They still think the word “invest” is scary.

    BTW, it took me a while to realize why you had this picture of this gorgeous lady on your page. I was like, “Yes, Ramit, I approve. Can we get this more regularly?”

  2. Charlie

    Really cool post. I’d personally like to see more of your thoughts on doing all this different media stuff.

    And dude, blow up that picture of Megan Fox. It’s too small.

  3. Vikram

    Loved the post title 🙂

    This recording stint actually sounds like a stressful gig!

  4. Brian

    Maybe it’s just me but audio books not read by the author are a major deterrent. I’m glad you’re sticking to your guns on this one. Voice actors just can’t put the original enthusiasm and passion of the author into it. It’s a big disconnect.

  5. Enrique S @ The Corporate Barbarian

    “The microphone is extremely sensitive.” This reminded me of a netmeeting that I attended. The presenter’s speech was full of static. I figured it was just a bad connection. We later found out that it was his shaggy beard that made the scratching noise on his headset mic.

  6. Mark Wolfinger

    Good news.

    How do you handle data in an audio book? I’ve been thinking of doing an audio for my book.


  7. Elizabeth Feuer

    Hmm. You’re taking 2 minutes per page and usually it’s three. I guess that means we’ll have to listen at warp speed?

  8. caroline

    Well, as a voice actor myself I know there a ton of great talents out there for this kind of work, and i’m bummed that someone in my field didn’t get an opportunity to bring life to your words. (And no, they would not necessarily sound like ‘the Kool-Aid man after his bachelor party in Vegas’ although they could if that’s what you wanted them to do) Still, love that the book will be available as an audiobook, too! Congrats!

  9. JT

    Hmmm…I haven’t bought the regular book but I would probably buy the audiobook. I run in the mornings and I like using that time to listen to audiobooks or podcasts so that would be perfect.

    I like fiction audiobooks read by a pro – but for non-fiction stuff I prefer having the author read it. That’s just my opinion.

    Good luck with the recording, don’t wear the nylon track suit – I want to listen to a clean recording 🙂

  10. Richard Davies

    Thanks for sharing this interesting insight into the process of recording an audio book.

  11. Sra

    Sweet! You know, I may actually buy the audio version even though I’ve read the print version, because I find your voice pleasing. In a financial expert type of way, of course.

  12. susan

    You talk too fast.

  13. The Weakonomist

    I hope you’ll be on audible, it will put me to sleep like most audiobooks but I’ll get through it. And you definetly have a face for audio. You know what this means, you’ve got to do a podcast next.

  14. joe tyron

    what’s with the chick with your book? and the other chicks with your book at the flicker pool!!

  15. J. Money

    Dude, you should totally *sneak in* some words or some random reference and then have us go looking (listening?) for it. It would be awesome. Like, Levar Burton awesome! Who’s apparently on twitter now? @LevarBurton

  16. Amy Barnes

    LOL @ the tracksuit comment. They would cry. I am preparing to record lots and lots this summer. Good luck to you!

  17. ellfel

    Hey, don’t know about your voice but obviously the publisher liked it. In my experience of listening to audiobooks the ones that I liked the best were the one’s where the actual author read the book. In a book like yours I think it makes the book more credible. Good call!

  18. ellfel

    Hey, don’t know about your voice but obviously the publisher liked it. In my experience of listening to audiobooks the ones that I liked the best were the one’s where the actual author read the book. In a book like yours I think it makes the book more credible. Good call!

  19. RT Wolf

    That is a real picture of Megan Fox with your book, Ramit?

  20. Tillman

    Wow, I am glad to see the audio version coming. I bought Escape Cubical Nation on audio and love it. I have a copy of your book that I am half way finished reading, but the audio version will be great for reading a second & third time.


  21. kiwi

    would love some of the original ‘ramit-style’ content at some stage soon please. I’ve bought the book but am starting to get a bit over book-hype… ramit, come back please!!

  22. Ben


    In other news… I called Comcast today and asked them politely if they could lower my bill. I was paying $138 a month before my call. After our 5-minute phone call, I’m now paying $70!! THANK YOU!

  23. Doctor S

    This will be the first audio book I buy, never really been into them but its worth a try.

    Add this one to the list of ways you know you have done well in life…

    “When Megan Fox gets caught by the paparazzi holding the book you wrote in your hand.”

    Congrats on that!

  24. Jessica

    What does Megan Fox need the book for?

    Also, I saw your face in motion for an extended period on Attack of the Show. You’re not an eyesore by ANY stretch of the imagination.

  25. MaylaSaathi Tillackdharry

    Who is Megan Fox?

  26. Danielle

    One of the worst audio books I ever tried to listen to was “7 habits of highly effective people” read by the author.

    Sorry Mr. Covey but I wish your publisher had made you audition for your own book recording like Ramit had to!

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