How To Become an Audiobook Narrator 2021 [A Step-By-Step Guide]

Do people say you have a great voice? Have you ever worked as a voice artist or showcased your narrative skills? Many people have impeccable oratory skills, but they haven’t explored their options, such as becoming an audiobook reader.

It is true that for new narrators, the audiobook industry can be overwhelming at first. The truth is, as the industry is currently evolving and growing, it is safe to jump on the audiobook bandwagon. Even the newest narrators are handsomely paid for their oratory skills.

There are certain skill sets that aspiring narrators need to become successful audiobook readers. In essence, aspiring narrators need to develop the following skills to get started in the audiobooks’ realm, such as:

  • Consistency
  • Zeal
  • A solid foundation to understand narration and its avenues.
  • Professionalism
  • Accountability
  • Communication
  • Self-management

The audiobook readers and narrators who have made it big in the industry have all started from the bottom. When a person is exposed to different types of narration, they gain mind-boggling experience alongside preferences.

However, there are specific insights that new and aspiring narrators need to understand the industry. Only then will they take their career to a whole new level.

Choose the narrative that aligns with your voice.

The future narrators have to begin listening to a handful of audiobooks to know how narrative works, for starters. Listening to the audiobooks is essential as they determine how manuscripts are read.

Moreover, listening also enhances audiobook readers’ knowledge to grasp numerous styles of narration. For instance, exposure to audiobooks will aid enthusiasts to perform distinctive voices for all characters. However, there is always the kind of audiobook readers who do not like to alter their voice.

The idea is when you listen to different narrations, you’d immediately understand which route you must take. In addition to this, the audiobook genre is also a crucial element to make you successful.

For narrators, knowing where your voice sits nicely in the genre, whether it is romance or mystery, or nonfiction, could be a game-changer for you. Audiobooks are all about storytelling, entertainment, and providing knowledge. Becoming a good storyteller will take you places in your career as an audiobook narrator.

If you’re not a decent storyteller, you won’t be able to move your listeners via your words. If your goal is to be marketable and wish to have a sustainable and profitable career as an audiobook narrator, then try to be a good storyteller rather than a conventional writer.

Training is a must if you’re trying to become an audiobook reader. Narrating is much different than merely reading a book aloud for the mass audience and listeners. Anyone willing to get into the field would have to invest their time to understand the essence of audiobooks and their narration.

Moreover, you’d also have to invest a little in bringing together recording equipment. Like any other job description, becoming a narrator would require you to be patient and persistent.

Identifying distinctive style of audiobook narration

Technically, identifying the difference between voices is not everybody’s cup of tea. Solo narration is the most go-to type of narration for any aspiring narrator. However, a good audiobook has a variety of narrators or one narrator who has an extensive range.

Suppose each character has a distinctive range of voices. Solo narrators capable of producing different voice ranges can narrate different characters of unique ethnicity, gender, race, and others.

Then there is another narration called duet-narration. As the term suggests, duet-narration comes into being when a couple of actors are heard cutting each other’s lines like characters from animated films.

Think of this type of narration like conventional audio play. Some audiobooks have Multicast, where respective narrators perform different perspectives of characters. Conclusively, the final product is called full-cast production, just like it happens for films, plays, and TV Series.

You can think of this audiobook as a modern-day audio drama where several narrators portray several characters.

Solo-narration is the most sought-after type of narrative which most of the aspiring voice actors or narrators choose. As the years pass by and you gain much experience, you’ll get to work with others. Moreover, you will find yourself in either a full-cast and multicast production with proper exposure.

How To Become An Audiobook Narrator & Break Into The Market?

Dreamscape, BeeAudio, Spoken Realms, Dayan, and ACX, among others, are some of the popular audiobook platforms in the world. Some of the major brands have an in-house studio where narrators walk into a recording studio. On the other hand, companies usually depend on the talents who have a recording set-up at their home.

Take a look at the ways you need to make a living being an audiobook narrator. However, if you’re also looking to have a side hustle to enjoy working rather than a 9-5 job, then becoming an audiobook reader might be the profession that you’re looking for.

  1. ACX or Audiobook Creation Exchange

If you want to get into the game without a hassle, then ACX is the right place to start. ACX is a brilliant marketplace that brings both narrators and authors together. Owned by Audible, and in turn, by Amazon, the platform is reliable and transparent. At the time of writing, the book market is completely saturated. Moreover, everyone is writing these days to have a career or acquire financial independence.

Today, authors prefer their books to be narrated to have an additional stream of income. Due to this, many authors turn to ACX to find professional narrators. For any audiobook narrator, this platform can provide them with an early break at being narrators.

As a beginner, you can be a part of lower-budget projects and begin your career as a narrator. As you collaborate with more authors and gain the necessary exposure as a voice artist, you can move on high budget projects.

  1. Casting Websites

When you decide to be a narrator, there is a chance that you must have signed up as a narrator. Some of these platforms offer audiobooks’ casting calls. The projects that aspiring narrators will find on these websites are perfect ventures for beginners.

The world of entertainment is built upon trust, and it revolves around relationships. The same is the case with the audiobooks industry. For instance, your very first engagement on these platforms might bring you into a diving board that you’ve been looking at. Using all the opportunities as they present themselves to you will set you on the right path.

  1. Audiobook Production Houses

Irrespective of whether you’re a beginner or an experienced narrator, you must have heard of commercial sound production houses as well as movie production companies.

They have an extensive list of narrators that help create audiobooks. Clients are free to choose any narrator they deem fit for their projects. The rosters are mostly located on the online database, which the clients are free to browse.

Moreover, the production house pays fees to narrators, further making you an integral part of the production team.

How do you work with production houses? Well, some production houses offer voice artists and narrators to work remotely from anywhere across the world. If you’re employed at production houses remotely, then you’d have to send the recorded files to your team members for editing, proofing, and mastering.

There is another way. You could also go to production to record audiobooks. If you want to try out your career with audiobook production houses, you’ll be required to send a few sample recordings alongside the description of the work that you’d done so far as a narrator and a voice artist. If you’re good with different accents, genres, and industry-related jargon, you can mention the same in the cover letter.

Many audiobook narrators aren’t aware of SAG eligibility. By the looks of it, by merely doing audiobooks, you can possess SAG eligibility. Audiobook production houses have contracts with SAG-ADTRA, which can help any audiobook narrator find employment in a production house. Moreover, you do not require any Taft-hartley or vouchers to be SAG eligible.

  1. Workshops

Many production houses across the world offer workshops. These workshops are alternatives to join in the roster for direct submission. Joining these classes would get you a chase for immediate compliance. Moreover, taking this class provides you with an excellent opportunity to build and hone your skills.

You can come up with a top-notch demo that you could use to build a strong portfolio. If you impress production companies or authors with your necessary skills, then the sky is just a limit. Upon being impressed with your work, online platforms, production houses might ask you to join in. It’s a complete win-win scenario for you and your potential employer.

Learning is any day better than getting directly into an industry without any prior knowledge or exposure. Your career gets a good jump start that you need as an aspiring audiobook reader. 

Tips To Become A Successful Narrator:

After careful research on the most prominent audiobook narrators’ careers, we’ve curated three tips necessary for successful narration.

Whenever you begin to narrate an audiobook, you’re not just some professional who is doing their job. Instead, your role is that of a guide to tell people a story beautifully. Narrators are tasked to provide the essential guardrails that listeners rely on.

  1. Know the story inside and out

What makes an audiobook narrator special? The ability to know the story’s end before the end approaches. Even before you start recording, you need to know how the story works out. Most audiobook narrators are sound confident because they know how the story progresses and ends.

The sign of a decent narrator is to be in complete control. They are very insightful when it comes to the terrain and the story’s topsy-turvy context. Narrators do not mislead their listeners. Words have the narrator use are measured and deliberate. Knowing everything about a book before you begin narrating, learning the story’s ins and outs could help you become a better narrator.

  1. Paint the picture

Why do people indulge in audiobooks? They like to hear stories. They enjoy stories being narrated to them. The greatest of narrators are experts in telling stories. In addition to this, they also breathe life into any author’s work. The art of narration is to infuse words with meaning and color of punctuation marks.

It is challenging to draw listeners with the voice. Nevertheless, narrating distinctive characters throughout the story is an art that only a handful can master. Compartmentalizing characters and giving them different voices alongside groundbreaking attributes is adventurous. If an account has more characters, then audiobook readers have a fun time exploring different characters, personalities, inhibitions, and complexities. The more characters there are in the book, the narrators experiment with their vocal prowess more than ever.

  1. Be Objective

The sole purpose of an audiobook narrator is to reflect the author’s intent to listeners. In addition to this, narrators also have to keep themselves apart from readers. Being well-informed is your leading superpower to succeed.

The best of narrators tell stories from absolute distraction. They are the perfect spectator, and they’re at an omnipotent vantage point. Narrators can provide listeners with characters’ information, which is not available anywhere. Telling the stories as they are in the most challenging job in the world. People are often biased due to their favorite characters. Presenting the facts and stories are appreciated significantly by critics and experts.

You could also look at some minimalistic lips to get you started as an audiobook narrator.

  • Keep recording your voice and hear it. Refining it, making improvisations to your oratory skills will bring out the best in you.
  • Whenever you’re reading, make sure that you read things aloud, whether it is a newspaper article or a short story. It is the absolute practice that will make you a good narrator.
  • Most voice-over artists and narrators think that they should breathe from their chest while speaking out loud. However, using the diaphragm to breathe while reading an audiobook will make a big difference.
  • If possible, take voice lessons or acting lessons.
  • Try to enact in a play. Even a little enacting will help you understand how to perform for your audience.
  • If you have got a regional accent, get over them. Learn some new accents.

How Does Voice-Over Work For An Audiobook Reader?

Whenever voice-over gets mentioned, the first image that pops into everyone’s minds is about cartoon characters, animated films, and Disney-Pixar films. Celebrities lend their voice to big projects, further making a film an absolute hit. The same goes for audiobook narrators. When it comes to audiobook readers, performing different voices for an audiobook would be enjoyable for listeners.

Narrators are great at oratory skills such as oral reading, speaking, and acting. Using voice artists or readers to narrate audiobooks makes them extraordinarily entertaining and comprehensive. Audiobook narrators work off-camera, and they’re not the center of attention. The only thing that narrators focus on is to make the story fun and enticing for listeners of all ages.

Aspiring audiobook narrators often follow famous voice artists who have dominated the television, radio, theatre, and gaming industry. The career avenue for voice artists is massive.

Equipment To Kickstart Audiobook Narration At Home

Recording studios are available in all cities if you want to register your audiobook. If a producing house hires you, you’ll be treated as a full-time employee. However, if you’re going to work with many people, you could either rent a recording studio or build your recording equipment. If you want to choose to freelance, then it might be a little expensive in the beginning. However, in the long run, equipment will benefit your career significantly.

Here are the gadgets you’d need to start sending and demo tapes to audiobook platforms and get the gig.

  • PC or laptop to send samples, invoice, manage schedules, track email, and clients.
  • Smartphone to have complete access to apps which are used by industry professionals.
  • Voice-over mic
  • Pop filters to block initial breathing and popping while speaking.
  • A mic stands for keeping the microphone steady while narrating.
  • Studio headphones with active noise cancellation to make the recording as professional as a studio.

Now that all the questions are covered, let’s figure out how to find work in the industry and earn it.

The audiobook industry is currently beaming with opportunities for people willing to make a living from doing what they love. Like any other industry, even an audiobook reader should start his/her career as a freelancer.

There are chances that if you’re talented, you’ll be instantly hired by on-demand platforms or agencies. And if you do not get hired, it is even better. You can build your portfolio with your essential skills as a freelancer.

There are several freelancing platforms such as Workana, PeoplePerHour, Upwork, and Fiverr. All these freelancing platforms are in trend now as people are moving to freelance than day jobs.

You can try using all of these platforms at once or only just register yourself in one platform to find clients. When you’re on any freelance platform, use the keyword audiobook to get started.

Moreover, you’ll need samples to start exploring your options. No one will avail of your skills and services if you do not have samples to show.

Influential organizations or clients will significantly verify your portfolio and sample pieces before you start working for them. People who demand good narration capabilities would push you to grow as well.

Final Verdict

We genuinely hope that the guide’s basics can help a voice artist or narrator build a career as an audiobook reader. In how to become an audiobook narrator, we have tried to cover all aspects that an audiobook reader needs to follow to be successful. The only skill you need is a good voice with impeccable oratory skills. You’d also be required to invest in top-notch gadgets to deliver the best audio for remarkable writers from across the world.

We look forward to hearing the thoughts of readers on how to become an audiobook narrator. If you have some more to add, let us know. We’d be happy to cover all avenues related to the even-growing audiobook industry.

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