Inside the Audiobook Creation Process with Motivational Speaker Chalmers

The full creative process of creating, recording and producing an audiobook may feel tedious and exhausting to some. For others, it's something they attempt to record over a long week of afternoons in pajama pants on the front porch. The truth is that it can be the former or the latter depending on how you choose to record and produce your work. For accomplished motivational speaker Chalmers, he dove head on into the process with a friend for his first take, which isn't surprising for a man who has spent a lifetime coaching others to create systems to accomplish the seemingly impossible in their life.

We sat down to talk with this dynamic certified personal and executive coach, veteran seminar leader, trainer, and author to talk about his experience recording his first audio book with an audio engineer in his home town in Florida and how the process changed in working with our team to produce his second. His insight is invaluable to anyone considering creating an audiobook of their own. 

Chalmers Brothers in action speaking at TedX BocaRaton

Chalmers Brothers in action speaking at TedX BocaRaton

Q: Well it sounds like the first process was eye-opening for you. So let’s talk about that experience of going through the recording process of your first book yourself.

Chalmers: The first time, my book came out in ‘05 and I did the audio in ‘07. There’s a guy here in Florida that I met in church who is an organ and piano player with a local studio. So, I asked him about recording with his help and he was interested so I went to his studio one afternoon. He laid down the background music for transitions between chapters and I would just read and when I’d make a mistake, I’d look up and say, “Ah, let’s start that over.” It was tiring. I remember the first book was about ten hours of audio when it was all done and even though it’s my stuff and I love it, I would just get so tired reading through it.

Recording more than an hour at a time was hard for me. Even talking for that length of time was tiring. I would notice that my voice would get slightly hoarse and it wasn’t the same quality as when I started. I’m someone whose in front of groups all day as a seminar leader but it was still a challenge to keep my voice quality and keep my energy where I wanted it. If people are listening, it’s important that the reader has energy and is emphasizing and punctuating words and phrases along the way to make the necessary points you’re wanting to make. Without visual contact, visual cues and body language, it won’t convey the meaning you’re wanting it to, especially in a nonfiction book where the intent is to help someone see something differently or shift their perspective.

"The way that something is read is important in inviting someone to consider something different, in inviting them to a new concept and idea."

So, I did many sessions in that first round, probably 15-20 afternoons to get that 10 hours of audio. And I would go no more than an hour each time, which was challenging physically and emotionally to stay fully present and be able to do my best to convey the meaning I was trying to. In this second book that I recorded with you all at Spoken Word, it was very easy. You gave me a list of authors and audio recordings to choose from. I chose a voice actor. You then passed on samples of artwork, modified renditions of the front and back cover. Once it felt good on my end, we were off and running. The team went on to find all of the website and online platforms to place my book and market it in all of these different capacities and that’s a competency I don’t possess so that too was very helpful.

Q: And how difficult was that given that this is your profession, as you said? You’re a motivational speaker and a group leader so how difficult was it to pass your words onto someone else to speak them for you in that second recording process with Spoken Word?

Chalmers: It was very difficult. In my line of work, there are certain ways of saying certain things, with specific points being emphasized in certain ways. It’s all about the power of language so it’s a double loop here, right? We’re using language to convey and the topic itself is about a different way of understanding language itself. So it was very difficult to pass that onto someone else but I trusted the team to provide me with this professional service. With the speaker who ended up reading my book, there are certainly a few parts in which I would have done it differently if I was reading. I would have emphasized certain things differently. What I’m saying in this second book is exactly what I’m saying when I’m in front of the room. It’s verbatim so I know how I want to say it and it’s not like he said it and that’s okay. There are different ways to get a point across. So maybe more than other authors who are not in the business of speaking in front of a room for a living and whose books do not represent a verbatim representation of what they say out loud.  But I still like it very much. It’s a great reading and I’m happy with it.

Q: So how is this audio helpful as an addition to your printed book? Have you received any feedback on the audio versus the print? Different people have different ways of taking information in.

Chalmers: I work with leaders at all different levels in my workshops and programs so I’m working with business owners, CEOs and executives and many of them travel a lot in their work. It’s people like that and so many more that hands-down prefer the audiobook, for convenience of being able to listen while on a plane or in the car or at home doing chores. And there are others that like the tactile form and want to be able to write their notes in the margin. There are always going to be people who like to hold a written book or newspaper. I’m personally someone that likes both.

Q: So would you have any advice for someone coming to this process or thinking about it based on their own business and trying to figure out if this is an appropriate outlet to share their work?

Chalmers: I would say the upside is worth it. It wasn’t that expensive in the grand scheme of things. And there simply is a market of people that want audiobooks. I’ve met these people and know these people and understand that this is a preferred way of getting information and learning. You’re familiar with the term road scholar, right? There are a lot of people that are road scholars, on the road and want to keep learning. So, for that group, this must be made available. It’s clearly worth it if you want to maximize your reach. The same goes for ebooks and Kindles.

Q: Do you have anything else that you’d like to share about your work?

Chalmers: I have at least one more book in me. I’m not sure when it’s going to come out. The first book was a hybrid between a personal development and leadership book and it’s really got one foot in each camp. My second book is clearly a leadership book. I’m trying to help people understand the power of language and recognize our own role as the author of our lives and that these internal conversations that we live in, we’re not just reading them, we wrote them, and they’re not just describing stuff, they’re opening and closing doors. They’re expanding and limiting horizons. That underlying message about language fits very well across the board--on an individual level, for teamwork and in relationships. So, I’m thinking about a third book with a focus in relationships and teamwork or something along those lines. So, all together I'm covering the individual, organizational and relational. 

Learn more about Chalmers Brother work via his website at http://chalmersbrothers.com and take a few moments to listen to his inspiring talk at TedXBocaRaton.