Authors… step away from the keyboards. It’s time to meet your newest writing companion: the microphone.
Sure, the pen used to be mightier than the sword. But we all know that’s been (predominantly) replaced by the keyboard in recent decades. Now, there’s an even newer tool in town. The rise of next-generation technology as a 2022 publishing industry trend has caused dictation to emerge as the latest method for writing books.
What is book dictation?
Simply put, book dictation turns talk into text. By using tools like a microphone or computer application, authors can write more quickly and easily than ever before.
Whether you’re writing a book for the first time or are a seasoned indie author, learning how to dictate a book can save you time and energy. As we know, the indie publishing game is filled with enough challenges – so finding any way to make this process easier is a big win for writers.
What authors utilize book dictation?
If we haven’t convinced you of the power of dictation quite yet, just know that choosing this method puts you in good company. Dictation has been one of the best-kept secrets of popular authors for centuries. Some of the biggest names out there – Winston Churchill, John Milton, Agatha Christie, and even Voltaire – did it.
Thankfully, technology has grown more sophisticated since the times of Voltaire. As we’ll cover in our section on the latest in dictation software, it’s easier than ever to choose this process for writing or brainstorming your next book.
How to Dictate a Book: The Pros and Cons
Are you now asking yourself how to dictate a book, and what it takes to get started? If so, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the pros and cons before you do.
How to Dictate a Book: The Pros
It’s been proven that there are numerous benefits to writing a book by dictation. We’re about to break down the main points for you, but ultimately book dictation is worth considering if you are looking for some much-needed simplicity in the book writing process.
Save time in what is already a long, arduous process
Indie publishing isn’t just about writing. You also have to build email lists, create promo stacks, and embrace the very latest social media trends in the industry. If there’s a way to save time as an indie publisher, we’re totally on board with chasing it! While dictation requires some effort and initial learning, it can be well worth the effort.
Create room for some of your more spontaneous ideas
Is there anything a writer dreads more than the glaring emptiness of a blank Word document? This can be the antithesis of a motivational writing environment. One alternative method? Skip the screen and use dictation instead. While some authors use dictation to write their book once it’s been fully fleshed out, others use it as early as the brainstorming stage to let spontaneous ideas emerge. You can use a digital voice recorder to let those creative ideas begin to roll.
Kiss hunching over a keyboard goodbye — and save your back!
There’s a reason authors seek out at-desk exercises to keep their mind and body equally strong… Typing is physically grueling. If you frequently use a keyboard, you’re probably familiar with the back pain and even carpal tunnel that can come with it. Book dictation is less likely to create these ailments since it involves gentler physical activity.
Dictate anywhere, at any time
Something we love about dictation is that it can be done anywhere. If you’re out on a walk, you can use a phone app to record yourself talking. The same is true for sitting at a desk, riding in the car, or even grocery shopping! Dictation helps make the writing process a bit more mobile than other mediums (like the keyboard).
How to Dictate a Book: The Cons
Punctuation can get… messy
Unfortunately, there’s no writing method that doesn’t come without setbacks. If you’re wondering how to dictate a book, you may be asking yourself how punctuation comes into play in the process. Luckily, dictation software has figured out a way around this. As you speak, you can utilize particular voice commands to denote punctuation. This won’t come naturally at first, though, since this is not how we speak in our day-to-day lives. Some people go back and punctuate after they’re done dictating a section of writing.
There’s a learning curve with varying slope
As is to be expected from any software, there’s a learning curve. Some people may adjust more easily and naturally than others to the various dictation tools out there. As we mentioned, though, we feel the effort that goes into learning these tools is well worth the ease that dictation can provide. There are also countless Youtube tutorials for helping you learn how to dictate a book.
Unusual character or location names? This can make dictation tricky
If George R. R. Martin had dictated Game of Thrones, some software may have struggled with knowing how to immediately spell names like Daenerys and Cersei. Of course, more expensive solutions on the market (like Dragon Professional Individual) have ways to resolve this and can teach in-app AI how to spell these words going forward. This may not be a problem for everyone but is worth noting for some Sci Fi or Fantasy authors.
The Best Dictation Software for Authors
If you’re interested in getting started with how to dictate a book in 2022, you’re going to first need a fully equipped tool belt. We recommend stocking your tool belt with some of the highest-recommended dictation software programs. While some of these tools come with a hefty price tag, others are completely free – and likely already on your computer.
Keep in mind that there are two methods for how to dictate a book: speaking in real-time, or recording and then transcribing at a later date. This list includes dictation software that does either/or.
With a bevy of productivity solutions, Nuance’s Dragon software makes AI speech recognition accessible for any person. For the self-published author, Dragon Anywhere Mobile helps you with how to dictate a book from your own phone. It comes with a one-week free trial, and can then be purchased for $15/month. Not only can you dictate within the app, but you can edit your documents using your voice. Since this option has a free trial period, you can try it out and see if the app works best for you.
Working with a more… flexible… budget? For $500, you can purchase Dragon Professional Individual for your computer. Dragon Professional Individual is commonly listed as the cream of the crop of dictation software.
Speechpad takes the dictation software model and makes it even easier. How does it work?
- Create an audio or video recording of your book.
- Submit it to the real people on Speechpad’s team.
- Get your full transcription back in as little as 24 hours for $1.00/minute. Or get it back in 12 hours for just $1.25 a minute!
Speechpad takes a majority of the dictation work out of your hands. All you have to do is record yourself reading your book. The cost associated with Speechpad means it’s likely worth doing with the final version of your book.
Proving that dictation can be both easy and free, Google Docs includes this option for users working out of a Chrome browser. If you have Chrome set up already, open a Google Doc and go to “Tools” in the top toolbar. From there, find the “Voice typing” option and select it. There’s also the “command+shift+S“ keyboard shortcut to do this. This was so easy, our team typed this entire section using Google Doc’s typing tool.
If you’re looking for a free dictation option that’s not strictly for Google Docs/Chrome users, Speechtexter might be for you. You speak directly into the doc and then watch as your words appear on the screen. Speechtexter even has a helpful guide to punctuation commands on the right-hand side of the page. We personally tested this tool out and found it to be just as helpful as the dictation offering within Google Docs.
Going with a paid option, like Dragon or Speechpad, may be more efficient if your book is written and in its final draft. Google Docs and Speechtexter, though, are more than sufficient if you’re brainstorming or in the early days of writing.
Turn on keyboard dictation from your Mac to dictate anywhere on your computer. You can even set up a custom shortcut to begin dictating with the click of a few buttons. This is built into your Mac and is an easy, free option for trying dictation out yourself.
Similar to Apple Dictation, Windows Speech Recognition is the answer for Windows computers and is available on Windows 10 and 11. Looking at reviews online, this is a free and easily accessible tool attractive to anyone who doesn’t want to break the bank with their dictation.
What You Need to Dictate a Book
Once you’ve selected the dictation software that’s best for you, you’ll still need to get a few other ducks in a row. Before you begin dictating your book, make sure that you have:
Completed notes, or the transcript of your book, if you are transcribing a fully finished product.
A fully charged computer or phone – it’d be a shame to have these die on you mid-dictation!
A microphone, if one is necessary or even helpful for the software you’re using.
A recording device. These are great if you’ll be transcribing your recording yourself, or if you’re using a tool like Speechpad.
How to Dictate a Book: Final Steps
After you’re finished with dictating, you’ll then need to edit. When you’re learning how to dictate a book, remember that this method isn’t foolproof. There will likely be typos or mistakes on the page. More sophisticated dictation software will learn as you continue to use it, though, and AI will get better and better. This will eventually make your job as an editor easier.
If you’re interested in making your writing process easier and faster in 2022, learning to dictate may be a worthwhile effort. It’s never been easier – or cheaper – to do just that. Getting started with some of the free tools listed in this article can help you get your feet wet with dictation.
Have you dictated a book, or used dictation at any stage of your writing process? If so, let us know in the comments below!