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How to properly use Sound Effects in your Audiobook

by Chance Bulger

Turning your audiobook into a true film experience is not difficult. By adding music and sound effects to your story, you will engage your listeners even more and will ensure a unique listening experience.   Audiobooks are an amazing tool of knowledge and entertainment for people nowadays. Increasingly, the audiobook market grows around the globe. To bring these stories to the listener’s ears are incredible actors and narrators.

Having someone to read to you is great. It’s part of what makes audiobooks so magical. A voice can really add to the story and sometimes it’s like the reader is in the room with you. Finding ideal readers for your stories is an essential task for the success of your audiobook. You really need to find people who will make your text come alive in the minds of people who are listening.

The readings are an excellent tool for your characters to come to life. Really show up in people’s heads.   Nowadays it is common for famous Hollywood actors to take readings of audiobooks, especially from great classics of literature.

This is a way to increase sales and get even more attention from new listeners. Colin Firth narrated The End of an Affair by Graham Green, Kate Winslet narrated Thérèse Raquin by Emile Zola, Nicole Kidman narrated To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, Johnny Depp narrated Life by Keith Richard and Samuel L. Jackson narrated The Range in Harlem by Chester Himes, just to name a few of the prestigious names.

Adding sound effects in your audiobook

So you found the perfect reader for your audiobook. But how to take a step forward and turn your final product into a truly unique experience? By using Sound Effects, you will create audio illustrations in the heads of your listeners. It will transform your audiobook into a real cinema in words.

By pitching the story through background music, sound design and sound effects, you will guide the interpretation, feelings and emotions in each story told and engage your listeners a lot more.   Many book companies are already conducting this type of audiobook editing by hiring movie studios that creates and edits sound effects. These types of work can be really expensive.

One of the most prestigious children’s paperback publishers in the United States, Puffin Books, for example, makes this type of editing on their audiobooks in partnership with the prestigious Pinewood Studios, which are behind of films like Harry Potter and James Bond. In the video below, you can check out the sound design process and understand a bit more why this type of editing is becoming critical to the upcoming audiobooks.


The power of sound effects in audiobooks

You should keep in mind that adding sound effects on your audiobook should have a professional and personalized production. Sound effects on audiobooks should have a purpose and a relation with the story. Choosing the perfect sound effect for your next project will not be a difficult task by browsing through the SFX music library at

To have a full experience, you must choose the effects that underline what is happening at certain moments in the story and in specific chapters of your book to portray the overall feeling of the novel.   You can listen below the powerful read of the epic fantasy book The Doom Brigade, published in 1996 by the authors Margaret Weis and Don Perrin. The use of the sound effects highlight moments of tension, battles and specific events of the narration, providing an intense immersion in the story.

The power of using sound effects in audiobooks can be also seen in the example below. James Murphy, an audiobook narrator, did two versions of the book Space Hulk: the novel by Gav Thorpe. In the first video, the narration is clear, but without any background music and sound effects. In the second, the addition of SFX and background music gives a unique atmosphere to the reading. You feel a lot more immersed in the story and it’s almost like it’s passing a real movie in your head.

Other ways of editing audio and sound effects in audiobooks are being exploited for even more complex and entertaining purposes. The british youtubers Dan and Phil, turned their audiobook, The Amazing Book is Not on Fire, into a 3D sound experience, giving it an even more special and unique tone to their work. This example underscores the importance of differentiating your published book from your audiobook. They are two distinct publications that reach different audiences.


Endless possibilities on library

At we have a collection of 21,000 Royalty Free Sound Effects available for $ 3.00 each. You will have a world of sound effects at your disposal. The possibilities are endless and you will have a unique product that will lead your audiobook into a different experience than most in the market right now.

Horror Audiobooks

What would be of Psycho without the famous shower scene and the sound of stabbing in the midst of screams? Hitchcock has a lot to thank for the work of the sound editors, since one of the most difficult tasks for any horror story is to catch the attention and create moments of suspense. In audiobooks it’s not different. The narration can not always reach the listener’s emotions and provide that moment of fright, common to these kinds of narratives. Adding  Horror sound effects is the ideal possibility to really create the atmosphere of a horror story.

Horror Related SFX:

wind int whistling horror magic vampire horror death shimmer triple windy eerie crowd screams torture crazy

Intergalactic Audiobooks

When we think of Star Wars, in addition to John Williams’ epic soundtrack, we remember the spacecraft and laser shots in space. And although the sound does not propagate in space, that did not fail to guarantee epic battle scenes for George Lucas. If your audiobook has a story that goes on in space, with intergalactic battles, aliens and spaceships, you just have to look for the tags that best describe your book. In our library you will find the ideal sound effects to create the atmosphere of your work, give life to your characters and add effects to the crucial moments of your audiobook. Moments of tension, romance, climax and endings.


Space Related SFX:

synth rumble space swells s cyber space bounce buzz thunder rumbling in space toy gun laser shot close,lo toy gun laser shot double,low

Kids Audiobooks

Awakening the imagination of children is one of the main features of films and audiobooks aimed at this audience. Just think of why Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was so successful. The colors, the crazy ideas and the sound of the film made this narrative an instant hit when it was released in 1971. For children’s stories, the use of music and soundtrack is fundamental to the entertainment of young listeners. In addition to playful, the sound effects highlights the events of the history and gives wings to the imagination of children. You can find in our SFX library thousands of kid’s related effects. Animal sounds, toy noises and kids background sounds. Explore the great possibilities for the best sound effects for your audiobooks.


Kids Related SFX:

dog barks angry distant echo clinic lobby busy kids toys pigeons away group large fo toy bear bells small move,h cats meow scared hiss wet

Detective Audiobooks

Detectives fiction are filled with moments of tension, gunfire, and chasing. The atmosphere of this type of story became famous in the 1940s noir films. The classic opening scene of The Maltese Falcon would be nothing without the exact use of soundtrack and sound effects. All we have to do is remember Humphrey Bogart lighting a cigarette in his private detective’s office to take us exactly to that environment. Searching for the tags that come closest to your story, you’ll turn your audiobook into a real pulp magazine that would leave even Charles Bukowski excited to hear it.

Detective Related SFX: cannon med big shot crack gun bullet drop bounce mid siren police close away cit radio calls memphis police

Give It A Try With these types of editing becoming more popular, it’s essential for audiobook companies and authors research the costs and types of productions of adding background tracks and sound effects in the product. The variety of sounds available in our library will surprise you. Check out the endless possibilities of sound effect noises for your next audiobook recording. Play with the settings and find the perfect mix to your story. If you don’t find the right noises for you, send us an email and we will help you with the best solutions.

Author: Chance Bulger

Writer, blogger based in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Yann Keerim
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