How To Become An Audiobook Narrator


How To Become An Audiobook Narrator

Are you a book lover, dreaming of sharing stories as an audiobook narrator? If so, then this is your moment to shine!

The audiobook industry is thriving. Some estimates indicate that the global market size for audiobooks will increase to $19.7 billion by 2028. The expansion stems from more smartphone usage, the increase of audiobook platforms, and the high demand for immersive and accessible content.

Listening to an audiobook has never been easier, and the industry is set to explode. So, if you’ve been thinking about a career path in audiobook narration, now’s your chance to jump in!

A young woman reading a book in a coffee shop


The Path to Becoming an Audiobook Narrator

If you love sinking into an audiobook, the thought of becoming a narrator can be extremely attractive. Imagine working comfortably at home, reading books all day, and using your voice to transport listeners to diverse worlds.

Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

Yet, narrating audiobooks isn’t merely an enjoyable job; it’s a labor of love. Recording an audiobook is far from just using a mic to record yourself reading. It demands commitment, patience, and skill, with an hour of finalized audio taking between 4 to 6 hours to create. But the thrill of bringing a book to life with your voice can make the hard work well worth the effort.

Before exploring the steps to becoming an audiobook narrator, remember that success in this field doesn’t come overnight. It requires practice, hard work in finding narrator jobs, and adapting to an ever-changing industry.


Embrace Coaching

“Wait, I need someone to teach me about reading aloud? I read to my kids out loud every night!”

Yes, you do. And you need to pay them for the privilege of teaching you!

You’re not just reading an audiobook, you’re performing it. Narrators are voice actors. Audiobook narration works when the audience can experience an engaging performance that brings characters and stories alive. Even non-fiction books demand an engaging voice that keeps your listeners from pausing the book or daydreaming about something else.

Search for a voice over coach who specializes in audiobooks. Unfortunately, there are no prerequisites to call oneself a coach. Find someone respected within the voice over community, preferably someone who’s an experienced audiobook narrator themselves.

Don’t limit yourself to just one coach. Try acting classes or audition for a play at your local community theater. You’ll need those acting skills, trust me!

As you learn, ask for honest feedback to enhance your skills. Practice reading books you already own or ones borrowed from the library. Work on it every day, and you’ll see substantial improvement.

Eventually, you’ll require a demo. Demos can be expensive, sometimes costing thousands of dollars, so take your time. If you rush to record a demo, it may soon become outdated and won’t reflect your improved skills.

Collaborate with your coach, and only record a demo when they confirm you are ready.

multiethnic actors and actresses rehearsing with theater director on stage


Set Up Your Recording Space

You don’t need a fancy recording studio to produce an audiobook, but a quiet space is necessary. Many novices start by recording in a closet, as the hanging clothes can help absorb sound, minimizing echo and other noise.

If recording in a closet isn’t your thing, you could make a simple sound booth using PVC pipes and blankets. Or you could consider adding sound panels around your room, especially behind and above you.

For a microphone, the Rode NT1 5th Generation microphone is excellent for beginners and professionals alike. It offers both USB and XLR outputs, making it adaptable to various setups.

Finally, choose a recording software. Audacity is a free editing software popular in the voice-over community that fits all your needs.

Set up your space, then consult an audio expert. Too many potential narrators have lost out on potential jobs simply because their audio wasn’t good enough, so pay attention! An audio engineer will give trusted feedback on your audio, and offer quick and easy advice on how to improve it. Something as simple as a well-placed pop filter, or utilizing various breath control techniques, can make a huge difference.

Some will even offer tips on ways to improve your audio editing, which could save hours of work.


Finding Work as an Audiobook Narrator

The internet makes finding audiobook narrator jobs easier than ever, connecting authors and publishers with narrators.

Popular platforms include ACX, operated by Amazon and Audible, where many narrators start their search. But beware of potential scams. Other reputable options include Findaway Voices and Ahab Talent.

Create a free profile on all three platforms. Upload your demos and populate your profile with engaging content. Then, start auditioning for jobs that catch your interest.

Usually, a Per Finished Hour (PFH) rate determines what narrators earn. For instance, if your PFH rate is $250, and you narrate a 6-hour long audiobook, you’ll pocket $1,500. Royalty Share is another payment method popular with authors and publishers who don’t want to spend a lot of money upfront. With Royalty Share, the narrator and the rights holder split the royalties on each book sold.

Talent agent speaking to an audiobook narrator on the phone


Hiring an Agent

After gaining experience and completing a few books, consider hiring an agent. Agents can help you find better job opportunities than you might uncover yourself. Many narrators aim to sign with an agency as early as possible.

Continue collaborating with your coach. As you improve, your coach can guide you on when it’s time to find an agent to help boost your career.


Launching Your Audiobook Career

You don’t need to be an award-winning SAG AFTRA member to succeed as an audiobook narrator. But you do need to put in the time and effort to forge a career in this field.

Hopefully, this has inspired you to embark on your audiobook journey. If you’re an author considering recording your books but are now realizing the amount of work involved, don’t fret! As a professional voice over artist, I’d be happy to talk about your book or even submit an audition.

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