Audiobook narration is a great way to break into voice-over acting career. In this article, we will overview 10 reasons why you should start doing audiobook narration if you are new to the voice-over industry.
It includes helpful tips and tricks for getting started and it will help you to understand what you should expect when starting an audiobook narration career.
1. The competition is much lower
If you are a starting voice over artist you probably don’t have much experience under your belt. You have probably auditioned for dozens of voice-over gigs with not much success.
The competition is stiff and you can’t compete against large studios with their fancy Neumanns and VO artists owning deep rich voices and spotless articulation. You are just not there yet.
It is okay, becoming good at voice-over takes time, lots of it. Everyone goes through this stage and you should not be discouraged. The good news is, there is still a niche in the voice-over world where you can squeeze in even if you are not on a par with the competition.
It is called audiobook narration and competition is much lower here. I will not sugarcoat it and say it is easy and for everyone, but it is good to get rolling.
Audiobook narration is great for starters because you will find many book writers that are also starting. These fresh book writers are in the same position as you. Probably still owning a day job and doing writing on a side in the hope of someday affording to quit their day job and start writing full-time.
They are not earning much money, if any, from their writing and can’t afford professional voice over talents. Their best option is going to be you. Just look for books that look interesting to you because you will be reading it a lot.
2. You will get lots of VO experience
I’ve already mention audiobook narration is not easy. But it might be one of the best ways to get into the voice-over business. You may not earn much from your first audiobook, but you are sure to learn a lot and that is probably more important at this stage.
If you are starting, you will probably be reading books or scripts anyway for training, meaning you will not get paid anyways. Why not take a chance and narrate someone else’s book. This way, you will be obliged to set up a routine and you might even get paid for something you would, otherwise, be doing for free.
Besides, you will receive an honest opinion from the book author. It may be tough at first, but it is much better to hear honest feedback from a random person than biased feedback from your relatives or friends. It will all make your voice acting skills better.
3. You will learn Audio Editing
Since you are all alone in this, you will be expected to do post work as well. It may look daunting, but unless you are an established actor working for studios it is a necessary skill to learn in the VO industry.
Watch some Youtube videos and learn audio editing. Soon enough you will get a hang of it and it will become automatic. In the end, it is all going to be worth it.
For beginners, I suggest using Audacity. It is a free software capable of everything you need. Once you feel it holds you back you can try using Adobe Audition, which is a paid software.
On the other hand, if you own Adobe Creative Cloud suite, then it is included in the package.
4. You will expand your vocal range
Books, especially if it is fiction, have many characters. Mastering different characters will help you expand your voice over capabilities by increasing your voice range.
It is an amazing exercise, just remember to maintain the same voice for each character. It might be hard at first and you may need to listen to your previous recordings, but it is all going to be worth it.
If you feel confident you can try learning accents and applying them for distinct book characters. Be sure to ask guidance from the author. He or she should help when deciding on how a character should sound.
Here’s an article to help with getting better at voice acting.
5. You will train your endurance
Voice over is not easy and takes patience. Starting with audiobooks right away lets you know whether this job is for you. It may sound easy to just read, but when you begin even 20 minutes of recording takes a toll on you.
Recording audiobooks will help you to build that necessary stamina for this job. Soon enough reading for an entire hour will not look as daunting.
At first, you may notice your voice starting to get tired, but that is normal. With time you will get used to it and stop gasping for air in the middle of a sentence. Breathing will come more naturally and less noticeable.
You will start focusing more on the acting part and breathing will become subconscious rather than an active effort. Remember that at first, it will not be easy, but that is normal.
6. Auditioning is free
While traditional voice-over gigs are often accessible through freemium platforms, ACX allows you to audition for a vast array of books without paying any charges.
It is the largest and easiest website for audiobook auditions. When working for ACX you will have to provide full services including narration and post.
ACX gives you a choice of charging a fixed price or sharing royalties with the author. New authors usually choose to share royalties because that saves them money and if the book does not become a successful hit, they still don’t lose a penny.
However, if the book becomes popular you might earn a significant amount of money for the job, and that is recurring income. I have to warn you though, with new authors it rarely happens. So, when choosing sharing royalties be cautious and critical of what you are going to narrate.
Just a quick tip, when you start doing audiobook narrations on ACX you may want to consider using a nickname rather than your full real name. Even if you haven’t done your best with the narration, at least it doesn’t have your real name on it and it won’t hamper your success in the future.
You can read more regarding ACX in this article.
7. You can record from home
You don’t need to belong to a professional studio to do audiobook narrations. It is nice when you don’t need to worry about editing in post and can concentrate on narrating, but doing all of it yourself will bring you more work, which is what you want.
Getting paid work as a fresh voice-over artist is a hard task, so the more work you get the better.
Also, adding audio editing skills to your tool belt is nice. Hence, working from home is completely acceptable. By the way, did I mention you have flexible working hours and can schedule your day the way you want?
It is a huge bonus you may not consider at first, but as a freelance narrator, you don’t need to worry about keeping a strict schedule. You are much more flexible with your time. Also, skipping on commuting to work will make you just a tad more efficient with your time.
You will need to buy a decent microphone and apply some sound treatment, however. And it will cost some money, but for starters, you probably already own some gear without even realizing it.
Most of us already own a computer and you can get creative when dealing with soundproofing and echo.
Many starting VO artists get creative and use quilts, rugs, clothes and closets to set up their first vocal booth. You are blessed if you have a walking closet, that will make a perfect soundproofing space until you can move on to something better.
Remember, your audience does not see your recording space. It does not have to look all nice and professional. What matters is how it sounds. That is all there is to it.
This article will help you to get the best audio in home environment.
8. It is fun
I have told you audiobook narrating is tedious work, but that is not necessarily true. If you love reading books and acting, then narrating books is fun. You will have the opportunity to enjoy reading many books and also learn and get paid by doing so.
You will most likely face some awful books as well, that is just a part of a job, especially when you are starting. But once you become established, it should get better. And if you feel underwhelmed after a rough streak, go back and listen to your old recordings. You will see how much you have improved and that should keep you motivated.
9. It is a good-paying job
You might not earn enough money to fully sustain yourself when you are starting, but narrating audiobooks is a well rewarding job. You can expect to earn more as you get better.
According to BusinessInsider.com new talented VO artists can earn as much as $100 per hour of a finished product and high-end experienced VO artists earn up to $500 per hour of a finished product.
By the way, if you are just starting, don’t quit your day job just yet. Audiobook narrating is a viable solution to earn a good income, but it takes time. Don’t jump in, expecting an immediate yield.
Take your time to learn and practice. You should look at it as an extra income at first, and then once you get the hang of it, you can switch to working full-time in voice-over.
10. Audie Awards
I will throw this in for fun. Since 1996 audiobooks have their Oscars. Yup. You read it right, it is called Audie Awards and they reward the best audiobook narrators.
There are Audies for the best narration by author or authors, best narration by multiple VO actors and an Audie for the best male and female narration. If that doesn’t convince you I don’t know what will.
To put it shortly, if you are new to voice over industry and looking for some work, auditioning for audiobook narration is the easiest way to get going. Try ACX to land your first audiobook gig. It doesn’t cost, it is fun and you will learn a lot.
All this experience would prove valuable when auditioning for other voice over work, and you will get paid for something you would be doing anyway if you were to start VO career. Good luck!