Audiobooks are recordings of books read aloud. They are, in essence, a form of audio narration. The voice pro receives the book and reads it word-for-word, conveying emotion and nuance as if reading from a script. Some audiobooks entail affecting the voice of an omniscient narrator throughout, even when reading statements and dialogue by characters. Others require the voice of one character throughout, maintaining their narrative perspective.
Some, though, necessitates an even more involved approach, bridging the voice between narration and voice acting. This is when voice pros need to voice different characters. Whilst they don’t really have to be chameleons, there needs to be enough nuance and detail to tell characters apart.
Out of all the fantastic job opportunities there are for voice actors, one of the most popular is recording voice overs for audiobooks. Everybody loves to read books, and initially, it seems like it’s an easy job – after all, all you need to do is read a book aloud, right?
Well, it’s not actually this simple – there are many things that you will need to consider if you want to know how to become an audiobook narrator. Don’t worry though, because we’re going to be exploring exactly that.
It doesn’t matter which voice over jobs you apply for, every client is going to expect you to produce a voice over of exceptional quality. There is no room for error here, as the customers who purchase an audiobook want to hear the content, with no background noises interrupting the experience.
The best way to ensure that your audiobook voice overs are as professional as possible, is to choose the right recording environment. If you are recording from home, you’ll need professional equipment. You can read more on how to set up your own professional home studio here. If you already have some equipment and want to upgrade, here’s some advice for you.
Don’t forget that in addition to the hardware, you will need voice recording software. Programs such as Adobe Audition are commonly used by professional narrators to record audiobooks, so ensure that you are equipped with software such as this, or else your hardware will be useless! Learn to use it, watch some online tutorials (YouTube is your friend) on how to produce the audio files in a professional manner, and you’ll be one step closer to your goal.
Of course, recording an audiobook in a professional recording studio will yield the best results (and comes with a hefty price tag too). Audio Narrator of The Year award-winning voice actors such as Adjoa Andoh will always use such facilities. The biggest advantage of recording an audiobook in a professional studio is that you’ll have either a sound engineer or an audiobook producer with you. They might be helpful in giving you some artistic directions or simply catching any misreads. When you’re recording in the studio, you don’t have to worry about the post-production. The engineer will take care of that once you finish the recording, which means that you can solely focus on your artistic performance.
This may seem a little obvious, but if you are planning to record voice overs for audiobooks, you’re going to need to find some clients! This may consist of finding agencies or companies that specialize in the conversion of books to audiobooks.
Firstly, ask around voice actor friends to see if they would be happy to pass you over to any of their connections. Some of the best audiobook narrators got their start in the industry simply because they knew the right people, so you should consider this too!
If you don’t have any luck with that first step, do your own research. Find the names of the companies that produce audiobooks and get to know the people who work in their audio departments. LinkedIn is the best place to get this information. The biggest audiobook production houses out there include Audible, Penguin and Harper Collins to name a few. There are also plenty of smaller companies that you can target. They will be the best place to start if you haven’t got a lot of experience in narrating audiobooks yet.
Don’t forget to ensure that you have your voice reel ready to send to these clients. They’re not just going to take your word for it that you have tons of experience with narration works; they are going to want evidence, and your portfolio is a great way to show this off. Choose the material that you send them carefully. Choose the genre you feel most comfortable with and get to know what type of audiobooks your voice will be most suited for. For example, If you’ve got a young voice, you’ll probably be best for recording children’s books or teenage literature.
Practising Voice Overs for Audiobooks
As we mentioned earlier, voice recording software for an audiobook isn’t as simple as just reading a book aloud. The experience is intended to sound natural and pleasurable to the listener, and they are paying for these qualities in the recording. Therefore, you will need to take care and attention in the way that you are narrating a book – match your tone and delivery to the topic of the content you are reading.
Typically, a client will provide you with directions as to how they want you to read certain sections. Most of this should be clear within the context of the book, but they may have particular guidelines that they want you to follow. You should consider these very closely, and practice reading sections of the book according to the guidelines.
Professional artists always read the book in advance. The most important thing about recording an audiobook is PREPERATION. You can’t just turn up in the studio without reading the book first. It will slow down the whole production and no studio can afford this. An actor has to know what tone they will use throughout, what accents are required, how many characters there are in the book and how to present them to the listener. Reading an audiobook is a true performance, and requires artistic flair to deliver an engaging end product.
We hope that this guide on how to do voice overs for audiobooks has been helpful to you. We’re not going to tell you that it will be easy, as getting work in this industry can be a difficult grind that takes tons of networking and practice. However, we are confident that if you search for the right clients, set up a professional home recording studio, and practice reading audiobooks in a professional manner, you will have an aspiring career as an audiobook narrator in no time. We wish you the best of luck!