I Narrate Erotica Audio Books On The Side And It’s Not What You Might Think

I recently started narrating audiobooks for websites and apps as a side hustle. However, soon after I started, I noticed that a large percentage of the jobs I was getting were from authors who’d written romance novels, most of which contained a lot of erotica. I was unsure at first, but I gave it a shot and it’s been an eye-opening experience.

  1. Yes, there are a lot of sex scenes. Everyone’s first question when I tell them the title of the books I’m narrating is, “Are there a lot of graphic sex scenes?” The answer is yes and no. Just like movies or TV shows, some books have more sex than others. Some have sex in every chapter while others only have one or two. It just depends on the book and the storyline. That being said, I don’t solely narrate erotica and romance novels, but they are my predominant bread and butter.
  2. It doesn’t feel like erotica when I’m narrating it. Of course you hear the sometimes graphic and detailed descriptions of the sex and romance when you listen to the recordings back, but when I’m recording it, I kind of go on autopilot and am just completely focused on recording. There’s a lot of tedium and detail that goes into recording and editing audiobooks and it requires a good amount of concentration. When I’m reading a chapter and it’s particularly dirty, it honestly doesn’t faze me—it’s just part of the job.
  3. I definitely use a pseudonym. One thing that I was concerned about was putting my real name to some very racy material. As a writer, I cover many topics, some of them quite risque, and attach my name to them all of the time. Still, audio narrating somehow felt different. I would hate for someone to Google my name, see a recording of something sexual, and develop any preconceived notions about me that are less than flattering. Thanks to a suggestion from a fellow narrator, I now use a pseudonym for all of my audiobook recordings. I can still tell people that it’s my voice when I want to, but now it’s my choice who gets to know what I’m recording and it makes me feel better about the situation.
  4. It’s not as easy as it sounds. When I told my friends about this new job, many of them just assumed that all you had to do was talk into a microphone. To be fair, before I did real research on audiobook narrating, I kind of thought the same thing. A more appropriate job title would be audiobook producer because not only are you narrating the book, you’re editing all of the sounds as well. It’s very time-consuming and pretty exhausting because you have to record, then listen back, then edit, then upload, and the whole process actually takes hours. It’s definitely not a quick and easy gig, which I think a lot of people would be surprised to learn.
  5. There’s more to them than just porn. Even though I’ve always been an avid book reader and love all genres, I’ve never been a reader of romance novels. They just never piqued my interest; I always assumed they were basically word porn and would contain nothing but page after page of dirty, descriptive sex scenes. I was wrong. Sure, there are some very graphic sexual moments in some of these books, but first and foremost, they’re stories about love. They’re about the romance between the characters and a lot of the time, it’s not just dirty but intimate and sweet.
  6. It’s changed the way I look at erotica.  I think a running stereotype is that women who are sex-deprived and bored in their romantic relationships read erotica novels as a form of fantasy and escapism. After reading a few, though, I’m not so sure that’s always true. I’ve realized that there seems to be a certain pattern among the male characters. Yes, there’s a lot of sex, but above all, it’s about a couple who totally adore one another and usually, the man treats the woman like a queen and is completely devoted to her. This, I think, can be much more appealing to women than a bunch of steamy sex scenes. It’s the idea of a man committing everything to winning over the woman he loves. Who doesn’t want that?
  7. I have a higher appreciation for erotica now. Before I ever read any of these books, I never really took them seriously. I just assumed they were corny and laughed them off as another type of pornography. Now that I know more about them and what some of these writers stand for, I have a deeper understanding and appreciation of them. They’re books just like any other and all writers know that writing anything takes a great deal of time and commitment. Just because the stories might not be what I typically gravitate towards doesn’t mean I can’t respect them and admire an author’s courage to put themselves out there in this way.
Shelby is a journalist and fiction writer raised in the South but built for the big city. She's a book nerd (well, an overall nerd, honestly) and coffee addict and obsessed with all things leather and lacy.

She has a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies from Sam Houston State University and worked for her university newspaper, The Houstonian, as well as serving as a producer and part-time entertainment anchor for Cable 7 Huntsville. You can follow her on Twitter @shelby777.