Launching a successful career in audiobook narration begins with acknowledging your skills but also knowing where and how to showcase them.
Thankfully, services such as Audible enable you to enter the audiobook narration market with just a few simple steps. In this guide, we’ll show you how the process generally plays out.
Audible and ACX. What Are They?
Audible (wholly owned by Amazon) is one of the most renowned audiobook and podcast streaming platforms worldwide, wherein users have access to a variety of content, in many cases behind a paywall.
Many of the works published on Audible are processed first via ACX (Amazon’s Audiobook Creation Exchange). In addition to operating as a publishing medium, ACX works as a marketplace where Rights Holders, voice actors, and studio owners can look for collaborations. We will place our focus primarily on this last aspect for the purposes of this writing.
Can I Work as an Audible Narrator?
Narrators can work with Audible head-on or through the ACX service.
If you wish to apply directly as a Voice Talent, you should email email@example.com, providing the following:
- A two-minute MP3 sample of an audiobook narration (avoid sending radio or commercial demos)
- A list comprising all the books you have narrated in the past and whether any of them have been featured on Audible
- A link to your website, if you have any
- Your contact information and city/state where you currently reside.
The screening process for becoming an Audible narrator is very demanding. Therefore, your chances of landing a job with them using this route are exceptionally slim. Audible only hires people with the most extensive portfolios and years of experience in the trade, so managing your expectations is virtually mandatory in this instance.
With all that said, the most expedient path to jumpstart your career as an Audible narrator is via ACX, where you’ll get to build rapport with producers and authors. In addition, these projects will eventually end up in Audible, making your voice known across the platform’s user base and staff.
How Does ACX Work?
ACX, as hinted at earlier, allows narrators to look for audiobook gigs in a fairly straightforward fashion. You may choose from a list of narration jobs, each with its specific requirements, deadlines, and remuneration options.
The process could be summarized as follows:
- Step 1: Create a narrator profile using your already-existing Amazon account or after setting up a new one. As you do so, you must fill out some additional information, such as your past works, achievements, and awards. You should also upload an appropriate headshot or logo that can visually identify you before Rights Holders.
- Step 2: Upload your audio samples, preferably audiobook clips. If you don’t have samples from audiobook projects, you could record one using a Public Domain title to give Rights Holders a general idea about your abilities. There is no limit to the number of samples you can use, and it’s advised that you submit as many as possible, covering all possible genres you could work on.
- Step 3: You’d have to decide whether to work on a per-finished-hour basis, royalty share, or both (recommended if you’re unsure). We’ll provide further details below.
- Step 4: Browse for books that you might want to narrate and enroll in auditions.
- Step 5: Provided that the Rights Holder approves your candidacy, you’ll receive an offer with deadlines, conditions, and proposed rates. If you agree to the terms, accept the offer .
- Step 6: You’ll enter a trial phase in which you’ll be asked to record a 15-minute checkpoint of the audiobook. If the Rights Holder approves it, you can then proceed with the remainder of the material. You may also hire other independent contractors to help you with production or vocal work when needed.
- Step 7: Wrap up the recording and upload the chapters as individual files, according to ACX’s Audio Submission Requirements. Make sure that the submitted audio complies with ACX’s “Production Standard Terms.
- Step 8: Provided that you did everything in conformity with the Holder’s requirements, you should be able to receive your payment unless you agreed to a Royalty Share, in which case you’ll get paid based on sales.
You could potentially apply to become an “Audible Approved Producer” (and narrator, for that matter) upon finishing 25 audiobook projects. For the record, Audible also features a “Narrator Hall of Fame,” and those who attain a place in this ranking are far more likely to secure profitable high-profile narration jobs in the future.
How Do I Get Paid? (And How Much?)
As said earlier, narrators who make it to Audible through ACX can choose between a per-finished-hour rate, a Royalty Share deal, or a mix of the two.
PFH rates can range from as little as $10 to $500, depending on your expertise and renown. If you opt for the Royalty Share model, Audible takes 60% of the earnings, and the remaining 40% is equally split between you and the Rights Holder.
What is Expected from an Audible Narrator?
Audible doesn’t have its own brick-and-mortar recording space. Rather, narrators are tasked with furnishing their home studio with their own gear. Hence, while you’ll be spared from traveling long distances in order to record a narration track, you’d still have to spend copious amounts of money on equipment and soundproofing.
Following that train of thought, the ideal setup for an Audible narrator’s home studio should comprise, at the very least, the following components:
- A decent microphone
- A decent desktop or laptop computer
- A professional DAW
- A good output device (monitors or studio headphones)
- An audio interface or mixing console (not mandatory, but highly recommended)
Also, you ought to ensure that the space you pick for carrying out your recordings is noise-free. ACX and Audible take noise very seriously, so any minimal out-of-place sound could be the death knell of your audiobook project.
Another vital factor that goes into the overall quality of your audio production is your performance. To that effect, these are some aspects you might want to work on:
- Style and voice: You might not excel in every style or genre, but you can try to find the ones that you feel most comfortable with and stick with them. You could also develop a voice suitable for other genres if you wish, though be mindful that it might take a while before you can master it.
- Articulation and flow: Audiobooks are peculiarly demanding, for they offer no wiggle room for stutters or pronunciation glitches. You should aim for perfect delivery, eschewing disfluencies and pronouncing each word clearly and succinctly.
- Breath management: You should practice your breathing so that you don’t run out of air mid-sentence. This will help avoid disruptive gulping or swallowing noises, and you’ll also have better control of your voice and enunciation.
- Editing skills: Apart from your vocal performance, you must also hone your audio editing skills and get acquainted with software and hardware audio tools, as you’ll be essentially in charge of all these technicalities in the course of the audiobook’s