Speak the first draft of your book

woman lecturer in Africa“The thing is, I’m a much better lecturer than I am a writer” said one person I am coaching.

Well, then. You should start by recording yourself speaking!

Some projects will result in a blog, and go no further. Some projects will result in a podcast or vlog on YouTube, and go no further.

Some people will take what they’ve recorded in any medium, and massage it into the shape of a book.

The best news is, you don’t have to be a good writer to create a good book! Ghost writers and editors are there to help you get the words out. It’s an unusual industry: there aren’t many other jobs at which you could hire someone else to do the heavy lifting and still get the credit yourself. Unless you’re a VP, perhaps.

Two options for recording your book

  1. Dictation software has gotten a lot more accurate. I have used Dragon Naturally Speaking to speak a rough draft into my phone when my hands are busy. Beware that it picks up background noise such as dishes clanking, and tries to make a word out of it.
  2. Voice memos or any other simple audio recording. SoundCloud is an online audio sharing platform where you can store the sounds. You can record them right from your phone app or onto the website. I lost a file in progress though, and that was very frustrating.

Technology for dictating your book


Recording with a program on your phone or computer is what I recommend. There are decent free ones such as iTalk and QuickTime. And there are inexpensive programs with more features, such as Garage Band and Audacity and others.
Google the options and pick something that is easy for you to use.


mic snowball

Avoid recording using the built-in mic on the computer or phone. They are not great quality, and they pick up a lot of background noise from fans that makes transcribing very hard.

Get at least a headset. I picked up a $70 semi-pro mic with a USB plug for recording my podcast. If you listen to the first podcast and the fourth, you will hear a big difference in audio quality. The snowball mics available at office supply stores and computer stores seem to produce decent quality. A few podcasters use them too.

Steps to recording your book

  1. Jot down the questions you want to answer, or the key points you want to cover. This is your outline.
  2. Record your answers. Speak at a relaxed pace, and speak clearly.
  3. Transcribe the recordings. This can be outsourced pretty cheaply.
  4. Revise the written draft. This can also be outsourced to a ghost writer (or some editors). Be sure to pick a pro who understands your goal and your outline and is familiar enough with the topic that they’ll get the jargon and phrasing right.. Do not skip this revision step, even if you are the world’s best speaker. Ideas flow different when read, and spoken language tends to be much more complex than what people are comfortable reading.
  5. Have it read by a couple of discerning readers. Sure, your mom can read it — you deserve a dose of love and admiration — but what you need is a reader who will tell you what’s working and what’s sucking. An editor can do this too; look for a substantive or developmental editor.
  6. Have it copy edited, laid out, then proofread. Have cover art made.
  7. Release it to the world.

Of course, the last two steps are a lot more involved. We’ll get into that later.

Podcast your way to publishing success

Terry Fallis recording his book for release as a podast — his recipe for publishing success.If you choose to share these “lectures” that you record, those recordings can become part of your marketing plan. Humour award winner Terry Fallis recorded his entire novel himself, and released it as a free podcast. Besides reaching a whole new market (of audiobook listeners), Terry found that giving away his work was great for promotion.

I also asked him if reading the work aloud had any impact on his editing. You’ll read more about the benefits of this in a later post on revising your own work.


This post is part of series on publishing your own book.

Watch/ listen to this guy’s explanation. It’s pretty darned good, and has additional detail that will help you get started.