Don’t keep dreaming about becoming an audiobook narrator – it’s time to take the plunge!
Maybe you like to tell stories, or you’ve been told that you have an exciting voice. Perhaps you are looking for new acting experiences, or you simply love to read. Either way, you want to become an audiobook narrator, and we don’t blame you!
Audiobook narration allows for plenty of opportunities. Reading fun and interesting stories, voicing characters, meeting writers, knowing that people are listening to you for entertainment, and the chance to work from home are all top contenders for why narrators love to work on audiobooks.
So, let’s discover how to turn your audiobook narration dreams into a reality as we explain the best methods on how to become an audiobook narrator.
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Why Audiobook Narration?
In our modern world, many readers are gravitating toward audiobooks. This form of consuming information has become more popular as users can fit it around their busy schedule or listen while performing other tasks.
From famous authors to amateur creators, the audiobook industry lets everyone tell their story. You could find yourself narrating the next big mystery novel, a children’s tale about ogres and witches, or a non-fiction book concerning a notable historical period.
Audiobook narrators don’t always rely on this one medium as a career. Many use audiobook narration as a freelance job amongst other voice acting opportunities or as a side gig to something completely different. An audiobook narrator can earn anywhere between 10 and 250 dollars per finished hour of work. It all depends on experience, the client, and the platform. You also must be organized, talented, punctual, and able to meet deadlines to fulfill the role – but this all comes with a bit of practice.
What skills are needed for narrating audiobooks?
Before diving in, it is crucial to understand the skills needed to narrate an audiobook. There are four vital skills you need to become a successful audiobook narrator:
You aren’t just reading; you’re performing. Even when it’s not for an audiobook, voice acting is not simply speaking out loud and recording it. The script you read from has the purpose of entertaining, selling, or educating. Using your tone, style, pitch, and vocal characteristics, the ability to act out a story that is not yours is essential for narrating audiobooks.
Despite not being able to be physically seen in an audiobook, it is still vitally important to act with your voice. Pick up a book, and read as one of the characters. Does it sound realistic?
Range, impressions & versatility
The ability to create different voices, accents, and dialects is vital when narrating an audiobook. There will be times when you are narrating a story, and you may need to read the dialogue on behalf of different characters.
Being able to embody the character entirely is imperative. You might have to act out a scene where three characters with entirely different voices are having a conversation. The ability to easily switch in and out of character is necessary for many types of books, and this skill will help you find work.
Talking all day might sound easy on paper, but once you get into the thick of it, you may find it is more complicated than it looks. Simply reading a book out loud while making minimal mistakes, staying in character, and holding a steady pace can be difficult. You may end up recording yourself for up to six hours a day, so it’s important that you can physically do it and keep your energy consistent.
We suggest you read the book beforehand and take notes on any words, names, and locations you were unsure how to pronounce. Do your due diligence and research ahead of time so that pronunciation is correct and nothing surprises you during the recording.
Now that you have the skills down, it's important to practice. Nobody can narrate an entire audiobook flawlessly on their first go. One of the best practice methods is simply reading from books and scripts. Record yourself, see how it sounds, compare it to others, and go after work when you’re ready – practice makes perfect.
How to get started
You’ve learned, practised, and you’re ready to narrate your first audiobook, right?
If you are ready to take the next steps, it may be time to consider making a voice demo and investing in some equipment. You might want to set up a home studio, invest in a microphone, a set of headphones, a pop filter, and all of the essential recording equipment you need.
You will also need a computer to edit your recordings on, and the ability to download software. See the image below to compare different audio software that fit any budget:
Finding work as an audiobook narrator
There are several routes you can take to find work. Many will assume that the answer is to seek representation. However, securing representation with no experience is essentially impossible. So, how do you find experience with no agent?
Many new voice actors will sign up to freelancer platforms such as Upwork, Fiver, Guru, and Freelancer to find their first gig. This can be a good idea to be immediately considered for a job. However, no guidance will be provided during your first steps, and the market is exceptionally competitive. In this case, there are some questions you need to ask yourself and research first – Do I have everything I need? Do I understand what a client will be expecting of me? How much do I charge?
Online voice-over platforms such as Voquent specialise in the industry, with content and resources to help you on your way. Another added benefit is that you will not need to audition for every role going. On Voquent, you will create voice Demos so that casting directors can hear your pre-recorded work. If they use the Demo search to look for an audiobook narrator, and you have examples tagged audiobook, then your Demos will be available for their consideration immediately.
Tip: providing versatility in your Demos will give you the best chances, allowing you to be discovered in all kinds of searches. You might not only want to narrate audiobooks but also videogames, cartoons, adverts, and more! The more varied Demos on your profile, the more potential to get booked!
Networking online and in person is another option. This can be a vital step in advancing your career, and we suggest doing this in combination with your other efforts. Create a website, market yourself using social media, and put yourself out there.
Becoming an audiobook narrator can be fun, creative, and exciting.
There are various methods of becoming an audiobook narrator, and there is no reason not to try them all. Freelance sites, casting platforms, and self-marketing are the best places to start – just make sure you get plenty of recording practice before your first client and remember to develop those core skills continuously.