– BY SCOTT THOMAS
An Avid Audiobook Listener
The Big Shift: Becoming an Audiobook Narrator
A Narrator’s Legacy
– BY SCOTT THOMAS
– BY SCOTT THOMAS
We’ve all seen them. We’ve heard them, too. The local radio, cable or tv commercial that would make a corpse cringe. Bad audio, poorly written, horribly read. Sometimes, they’re so bad, they are memorable – but for the wrong reasons! That’s why I’d like to discuss the importance of a professional narrator for your project.
There’s a reason you hire the pros, especially when it reflects on your business. You don’t want to seem like you’re cutting corners and sacrificing quality, right? Hiring a professional narrator is no exception.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had well-read, successful individuals (who are NOT voice artists) in my studio to record a script. Every now and then, I’d find someone who was a natural…but more times than not, they tended to sound like robots. Reading. From. A. Script.
It’s not as easy as it may seem. Truly. Now, if you have something like an acting background or experience in public speaking, that might give you a nice head start. However, speaking on stage as opposed to speaking into a studio mic, for instance – those are two different animals altogether. To be successful in the world of voice over, it takes practice, coaching, proper technique, professional-grade equipment, more coaching, more practice and lots of experience pulling it all together. That doesn’t even touch on the technical requirements of a professional-sounding recording.
Like most professions, there are a lot of rungs on the voice over ladder. Someone just starting out in a small town home studio is not going to command the same rates as the twenty year VO rock star who works in downtown Los Angeles. The comparison of the finished work is also likely to be quite different.
The project you’re working on deserves to have a professional touch. If any facet lacks in quality, the entire finished product is at risk of coming across as amateurish.
It’s true. And like most things in life, if you skimp and cut corners on something, someone is going to notice. So, Uncle Carl recording on his tape recorder at the kitchen table probably isn’t your best option.
Every now and then, you find a good bargain, though. I’d like to think that this is one of them. Business narration, explainer videos, commercials, audiobooks. You get a 20+ year VO veteran, at a small market price.
Check out my demos, ScottThomasVoiceovers.com/demos/ and if you like what you hear, shoot me a text or an email and let’s talk.
– 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.
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…
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…
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.