Many of us may know about voice actors and how they make money. But very few people would know that in recent years audiobook narrator jobs have become a big part of the voice industry.
Looking at the profitability and ease of work, many talented voice actors have shifted their focus towards audiobook narration.
The splendid news is, these jobs are open to all. Even if you are a tyro and have no voice-over experience, getting started is facile. All you need is an amiable voice, the ability to pronounce words properly, some acting talent, and you are ready to go.
So, if you have these qualities and are inquisitive to make money as an audiobook narrator, the article covers everything you need to know about being a narrator.
By the end of it, you will find out what skills and equipment you need, where to find the best audiobook narrator jobs, the earning potential, and much more.
Audiobook Narrators vs Voiceover Artists
Audiobook narration and voiceovers are similar in many respects. However, there are a few key differences.
Similarly, people narrate ebooks and convert them to audiobooks, giving the reader the audible experience of a story.
The audiobook narrator only works on reading aloud the ebooks and recording them.
That doesn’t mean audiobook narration doesn’t require training or practice. However, the efforts and the talent required are far less demanding.
The other key difference between the two is, an audiobook has a narrative form, while a voiceover is always in the active voice or present tense.
Different Types Of Audiobook Narrations
There are three main types of audiobook narrations.
1- Solo Narration
This involves only one person reading the entire book. A single narrator acts as distinct characters in different voices.
2- Duet Narration
This is where two people read different parts of the book. For example, one person acts for all male characters, and the other for all females.
3- Full-Cast Narration
A full-cast is where a group of narrators perform the task. Each one is assigned a distinct character role to play. Sometimes, a person can still read for more than one role.
Besides your skills, the type of narration you do depends on the book, the publisher’s needs, and the narration he wants.
What Do The Audiobook Narrator Jobs Involve?
Working from home as an audiobook narrator, you’ll either work with a production company or directly for an author or publisher.
As a freelance audiobook narrator, most of your clients will be authors or small publishers.
In most cases, you will do the post-production on your audio files and deliver a finished product. However, big production companies may ask you to deliver raw recording with no post-production done at your end.
The exact narration process varies depending on your employer, but usually, it goes in three steps.
1- Preparing In Advance
Your employer usually sends you a soft copy of the book, often in advance, so that you can prepare.
You must familiarize yourself with the book to establish a connection. Study the characters involved and look for any unfamiliar words, accents, and other elements that can contribute to your narration.
Take notes on any specific words or accents, you may struggle to pronounce. Then, do your research, for example, listen to other recordings of similar accents or find a pronunciation guide to help.
Read a few portions of the book and record. After listening to the mock, if you feel satisfied, it’s time to move on with the actual narration.
2- Narrating And Recording
Once you’re ready, grab yourself a cup of hot tea or coffee and find a quiet working place with good acoustics.
Start reading the book aloud with the proper rhythm, intonation, character voices, pronunciations, accents, and everything else required for the work.
To maintain a steady flow, experts always advise completing long pieces of content with each sitting. Always keep a track of your recording software to ensure it’s recording correctly.
Record each chapter separately, as that helps when you work on post-production.
When you’re done narrating the entire book, you can start reviewing and editing your recording to make sure it’s high-quality.
Ensure all the recordings are good and clean in quality with no background noises. Identify the portions where you need to redo.
After making all the required edits and adjustments, you’re ready to deliver to your client and get paid.
Often, when working with big production companies, you mostly will deliver the raw recordings. The companies handle all the post-production work at their studios.
Requirements For Audiobook Narrator Jobs
Audiobook narration is not as simple as it sounds. It’s not just reading the books aloud and recording. When you dig deep into audiobook narrator jobs, you will realize the work is a lot more complex than you would imagine.
To be a professional narrator, though having a pleasant voice is critical, it isn’t the only requirement. Narration is an art form that demands many technicalities.
Skills Needed For Audiobook Narrator Jobs
- Besides a pleasing voice, you must have the tone and the right pacing to keep the narration entertaining. You must speak vividly to bring life to the story and its characters.
- Narrating a book calls for various vocal skills depending on the book genre. For example, non-fiction books often require a narrator to turn the unjuicy text into something energetic. Fiction may require several voices and tones to make the dialogues vivacious. Poetry is all about maintaining the right rhythm, and children’s books demand silly and funny voices.
- You must modulate your voice to portray distinct characters, including the ones of different genders, ages, and diverse accents. Though it isn’t a required skill, it can open doors to a lot of new opportunities.
- To be a narrator, it always helps to have some training as an actor. Whether you studied acting at college or had taken some acting classes, knowledge of acting plays a major in narrating the books efficiently.
- Usually, the books that come of narration are lengthy, so expect to deliver hours upon hours of work each day. You need a lot of dedication and stamina to sit and work continually for extended hours.
- You also need a lot of patience and the ability to perform consistently. Similar to movies, you may have to do multiple takes to get the tone right. After you finish the recording, you may have to do several corrections or changes before you deliver the final output.
- You must possess good organizational skills to track and maintain the continuity of voices, tone, and pronunciations throughout the book or sometimes a series of books. Organization skills are also essential to coordinate with the publishers and other voice actors to get the work delivered on time.
Equipment Needed For Audiobook Narrator Jobs
The requirements for equipment depend upon the type of work and your employer. If you choose to work full time for a voiceover company or studio, then it’s obvious you won’t have to buy any equipment. The companies will have their recording studios for this purpose.
However, if you decide to take freelance work, you will require a home studio setup will the following essentials.
1- Quality Computer Or Laptop
Your computer must have the configuration to handle the latest version of the recording and editing software that you will use.
It also needs to have the correct ports to handle an external mic and headphones, sound, and memory cards.
2- Audio Recording And Editing Software
You need software that can record clean audio with little compression. It must handle all your editing need like reducing background noise, removing pieces of the recording, splicing in recordings from another file, enhancing parts of the audio, and more.
Most companies provide their dedicated software, if not, you can use Audacity.
3- Quiet Recording Space
Setting up a home recording studio can be expensive, but you must find a quiet room in your house with no outside sounds or ambient noises from appliances like fans, air conditioners, and refrigerators.
To get the best recording results, you can cover the walls and other reflecting surfaces in the room with sound-absorbing material which could be as simple as egg crates.
4- Professional Quality Microphone
No matter how great your voice is, your recording will be of no quality if you use a cheap mic. So, always use a high-quality mic for recording.
For the best results, the voiceover experts suggest using a microphone that connects to your computer via XLR, as opposed to USB or wireless microphones.
5- Microphone Stand
This is a must-have so you don’t have to hold the microphone for hours while recording.
6- A Pop Filter
A pop filter or pop screen is usually a circular mesh filter that holds between you and the mic to reduce any popping noises from fast-moving air after we say certain sounds like p’s and b’s.
7- Professional Quality Headphones
Another piece of equipment that you need is high-quality headphones to hear your recording and assess the quality of your voice and background noise while you edit.
How To Become An Audiobook Narrator
As an audiobook narrator, you can work full-time or part-time with voice-over companies or recording studios and as a freelancer. But before you apply for jobs, it’s critical to prepare yourself for the big event.
If you have any previous experience or training as a voiceover artist, you may know all the ins and outs of the job.
However, if you don’t, you must use these practices to break into the industry.
- Set up a home recording studio with all the required equipment.
- Practice voice modulation by narrating books to yourself or someone else in the room. Some people use a mirror and narrate to themselves. Make it sound as if you are not just reading but acting.
- If you are a non-English native, overcome your regional accents or at least learn to hide them.
- Learn to breathe from your diaphragm instead of your chest, so you don’t breathe heavily while recording. It also helps conserve a lot of energy when you work for long hours.
- Buy some skit books or write your own plays and treat your place as if it’s a mini theatre. Act small parts and play various characters at a time.
- It is always advisable to have some acting or voice lessons. Besides learning, it also adds up to your portfolio.
- Make sample recordings of your voice. Stick with the niche you like the most. Like kids, non-fiction, or fiction.
- Do a lot of listening to your recording and practice using the editing software, so you get well equipped to produce the high-quality final outputs.
- You could also rope in the services of a friend or relative to listen to your recordings and give you feedback to improve where necessary.
Where To Find Audiobook Narrator Jobs
Here’s a list of a few websites where you can find the best jobs for audiobook narrators and voice actors. The significant thing is, you can apply as a beginner and move upwards as you gain experience.
Audiobook Creative Exchange is probably the most specialized and popular website to find audiobook narrator jobs.
It acts as a marketplace where authors, agents, and publishers connect with audiobook narrators, sound engineers, recording studios, producers, and other specialists of the voice industry.
Finding jobs is pretty straightforward. Use the simple search function tool, and you’ll find tons of narrator and voiceover gigs.
Besides, there are opportunities to find agents and earn royalties both as an author and voiceover artist.
When working with ACX, you’ll be responsible to produce the complete audiobook, from narrating to editing, and preparing the final output.
The audiobooks you produce will be available on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. You can set your hourly rate or may choose to share royalties with the rights holder. ACX also helps narrators promote their work on social media.
The company is great for beginners, as there are plenty of knowledge resources available on the site. ACX also helps you learn new skills and techniques by allowing auditions for different jobs. You can even use your recordings as samples to land clients outside of ACX.
Voices.com is one of the largest players in the voice industry and is a splendid place to work for audiobook narrators and voice artists. You can find some of the highest-paying audio narrator jobs on the site.
The site works as an online marketplace for voice talent. You can create your profile, upload the sample work, and apply for thousands of jobs.
There’s a free membership that gives you basic access to find jobs. To get priority is search results and to audition for jobs, the company offers a premium membership at $399 per year.
To weed out the scammers, the company charges its clients a premium rate. So all the jobs posted here are legit and scam proof.
Similar to Voices.com, this company is one of the leading marketplaces for narrators and voiceover artists. To be on their panel, you must create a profile and upload your sample work.
They offer both free and paid memberships. Though the paid subscription has more benefits, you can start with the free option.
The company offers audiobook narrator jobs worldwide. They have a unique SmartCast algorithm that invites the best matching talents to the auditions. The company doesn’t take commissions or agent fees. You get paid directly by the client.
VoiceBunny is another site that regularly hires voice-over artists and narrators.
Their application process is quite in-depth, and you need to pass a series of tests to get approved. Once approved, they will showcase your profile to prospective clients.
As an audiobook narrator, you can set your rates, and the company charges no commissions or subscription fees.
Brilliance Audio is a pioneer in audiobook publishing and has been in the business since 1984.
The cool thing about this company is that they regularly hire new and experienced audiobook narrators and voiceover artists.
6- Freelance Marketplaces
Freelance marketplaces are excellent for entry-level audiobook narrator jobs.
7- Traditional Job Boards
You can find several audiobook narrator jobs on traditional job boards too.
Flexjobs is the best place to find several legit opportunities. Also, search Indeed.com, Glassdoor.com, ZipRecruiter.com, Monster.com, and other top job boards for audiobooks narrator vacancies.
How Much Does The Audiobook Narrator Jobs Pay?
As an audiobook narrator, your pay depends on several factors like how well established you are in the industry, your portfolio, and your work experience.
Mostly you get paid an hourly rate. If you work full-time or part-time for established companies, you can expect around $80 per finished hour if you are a beginner.
Experienced narrators can make up to $250 per finished hour, and occasionally even $500 for most experienced narrators. Sometimes, the narrator will get a percentage of the royalties paid to the authors.
A ‘finished hour’ does not refer to the number of hours you take to create the audiobook. Each audiobook may take several hours of recording, rerecording, and editing, but what matters is the length of the final audio track and you get paid based on that.
Some expert narrators say, depending on the number of mistakes, stops, and retakes involved, they take about two hours of recording per one finished hour. As a beginner, it may take even more.
For freelance jobs, the pay is a little on the lower side. However, for beginners, this is a great way to start as on the way you build a portfolio, gain experience, and reputation in the industry. The pay for freelance gigs can range anywhere from $20 to $100 per hour.
According to TheArtCareerProject.com and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, voice-over actors make an average salary of $40,510 per year or roughly $34 per hour.
Tips to Be A Successful Audiobook Narrator
Now, since you know all about audiobook narration jobs, it’s time to see a few tips to become successful.
- Use gestures while narrating. Physical gestures help you express emotions necessary for audiobook narration. Expressing the emotions felt by a character is crucial if you want to be a successful narrator.
- Study the characters, and develop a system to keep track of their voices. Some narrators color-code the dialogues to distinguish them. You can have a similar method too.
- Fine-tune your accent if you are a non-native English speaker. Most of the audiobook narration jobs are from the US. So, practice using the US accent or at least learn to hide the original.
- Before narrating, read the book well in advance and familiarize yourself with unexpected words or accents. This will save you a lot of time in re-recording.
- Learn to control your movements while narrating. Any movement you do could create extraneous noise like your clothes rustling, your desk or chair creaking, or your foot tapping.
- Always make a soft copy of the book and while recording, read it from a mobile or tablet. If you record with a physical book, the sound of pages turning can also make noise.
- Wear nothing into your recording booth that makes a lot of noise. Only wear soft clothes and avoid caps, hats, scarves, rings, bangles, etc.
- Audiobook narration can strain your voice. So plan your recording sessions in a way they don’t strain your voice too much.
- Drink lots of warm fluids to keep your throat soothing. Avoid food and beverages that increase mucus secretion.
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol, especially before a recording session.
- Always have lip balm handy. You may desperately need it as your lips could get cracked and bleeding at the end of each long session.
Where Can You Get Training For Audiobook Narrator Jobs?
Unlike other work-from-home jobs, audiobook narration jobs are relatively tough to get started. You need fine skills and some technical knowledge.
So, as a beginner, it’s always better to get some training or a course before stepping into the field.
If you are interested in taking one, Julie Eickhoff’s free course can help.
Julie has been working from home doing voiceovers and narrations since 2011. She has narrated over 100 audiobooks and earned the status of Audible Approved Producer.
She has worked with companies like Samsung, Best Western, GE, ING, Prentice-Hall, Pearson Learning, Nextiva, and Goodwill of the Great Plains.
Make Your Way To The Audiobook Narration Career
As a beginner, audiobook narration can be difficult to start, but once you gain some work experience and reputation in the voice industry, it can be a rewarding career. The earning potential is phenomenal.
Audiobook narration is only one branch of the voice acting industry. If you don’t get lucky getting audiobook narration jobs, you can try other voiceover jobs. There are plenty available in the market.
That’s it from me. Now, it’s your turn to try these work from home audiobook narrator jobs and share your feedback comments.
If you have questions, please feel free to reach out. I am glad to answer your queries!
Best of luck!