Musings at the Mic
– BY SCOTT THOMAS
Have you ever run a marathon? To narrators and voice actors, audiobook narration IS the marathon of voice overs. On average, we’re talking around five hours of continuous recording every day – day after day, possibly week after week…and that’s just to complete one project.
Finish one, start another.
Audiobook narration is not for everyone. For one thing – narrating a book is definitely not a case of someone just going through the motions and spitting out words from a page.
Audiobook Narration is Storytelling.
In the history of the world, how important is storytelling to human beings? I mean, who doesn’t love a good story, well told?? I think I read somewhere that the earliest form of entertainment for us humans was sitting around in a group with someone telling tales of hunting and gathering and barely escaping saber toothed tigers and what not. Ya’ know…storytelling!
Obviously, audiobook narration is storytelling, but more specifically, it’s reading the words on a page.
Know the words, tell the story…
Fiction and Non-Fiction.
Even non-fiction titles have elements of storytelling. All good narrators engage the listener by truly connecting with the script. Even if it’s a non-fiction account of the history of paint drying, your job as a narrator is to speak the author’s truth, and make it compelling. However, I’ve heard it said that there’s a fine line between truly connecting with the story, and overacting – so beware. Gotta’ find the sweet spot.
More on that down the road…
Generally, there are two categories of books: fiction and non-fiction. Bear in mind, most audiobooks are read cover-to-cover by one narrator. Yes, that means performing all the characters in fiction stories. You could be looking at a 100,000 word story containing dialogue with several dozen diverse characters, possibly with many different accents and dialect…plus, opposite gender characters, young or old characters, human and superhuman beings – you perform them all.
If you think you can handle that, then fiction might be in your wheelhouse.
If you lean less towards acting, and more towards narrating, you may be more comfortable with non-fiction. Either way, though, one thing you have to have is stamina. Not just with your voice, but with staying connected to the script. Can you endure recording for five or six hours in one session, all while being focused and engaged with the script? Yes? Then, read on…
Audiobook Narrating – Next Steps
First, you should know upfront that audiobook narrating is not the highest paying form of voice over. At least not starting out. Making $500 per finished hour is a good rate, but it’s rare to hit that mark early on in the game.
Next, I highly recommend finding a reputable voice acting coach who specializes in your category of narration. She or he will be able to guide you in the finer details of audiobook narrating (and there are many). Having multiple coaches and mentors is likely to happen as you navigate these waters. This is good. It’s what’s supposed to happen.
Finally, check into ACX, which is the author-to-narrator “match-maker” owned by Amazon. There are others that you’ll soon discover during your search, but ACX is a good place to start.
Unlike other forms of voice over, narrating audiobooks is a labor of love that endures through the ages for all to see and hear. I think it’s pretty cool to imagine that one day, my great-great-grandkids will be able to hear the stories I brought to life.
Makes those long hours acting like a marathon runner seem kinda’ worth it.