Getting a Gig as an Audiobook Narrator

Hey friends, and welcome back! I have some exciting pieces of news for you before we jump into the post. As always, if you are only here for the content related to the title, scroll down and you see the beginning just under one of the awesome pictures supplied from Pexel. (I know I have said this before, but if you run a blog and are not using Pexel, you are missing out. All their images are free and do not require attribution, but I like to show them some love every now and then to spread the word. Also I am not affiliated with them in any way.)

This summer has been crazy busy for me. This is actually the first post I am writing since being back home from all my travels around the American southeast. During the last couple of months, my short story, “Error Network Down,” earned an Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future contest (2nd Quarter, 2017). In addition, I finished the rough draft for my fourth(ish) novel (I say “ish” because even though I wrote over 80,000 words in novels two and three, I technically haven’t finished them yet), and I had an audition accepted to be a narrator in a fullcast production of a short story at PodCastle. If you are interested in listening, check out “All the Cuddles with None of the Pain” by J.J. Roth.

The last bit is obviously going to be the focus of today’s post. For all of you book lovers who’ve been interested in jumping into the world of professional voice acting and narrating, here is how I got my shot.

Getting a Gig as an Audiobook Narrator

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I am sure that many people find their way into the voice acting world with deliberate intent, but that wasn’t really the case for me. If I am being truthful, a large part of probably had to lie in the fact that I knew some people within the industry (in this case it is PodCastle where I am an Associate Editor at). Still, the process is similar for those who want to try it out.

I would advise you to research and see if some of your favorite short fiction magazines do audio versions of their stories. Most pro level genre magazines do, though not all openly say that they are looking for narrators. The Escape Artist family of magazines are ones that have audition info on their websites.

Basics to the Audition

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All they want is a simple recording of you reading. While some of the audition is going to be based off of your reading skills, the majority is based of off how the recording sounds. When it comes to entry-level narrator gigs, you are not going to be going to a studio in order to record. Instead, they want to make sure that you can record something of decent quality with whatever setup you have at home.

I wouldn’t advise using a built microphone. They just don’t sound good in most instances. My microphone is a Yeti Blue Blackout Edition and it sounds fantastic. Do your research and figure what microphone best fits your price-range but I would suggest that the microphone is a compression rather than dynamic as compression mics are better equipped for vocals.

Once you have your audition recorded, you might notice a decent amount of background noise especially if you use a compression mic. If you can easily notice cars outside, horns blaring, or maybe the tv from downstairs, you will likely need to try again when it is more quiet.

In addition, you can try a couple of different home sound-proofing methods to help dampening some of the background noise and give an overall better recording.

  1. Try to keep your microphone as far away from your computer as possible. Compression mics pick up even the smallest noise including the fan spinning to keep your computer cool.
  2. Try to record in an area with a large amount of fabric on the surfaces in order to dampening any echo bouncing off the floor and walls. A perfect spot that almost everyone has access to is a closest. Simply push some shirts to the side and you’re halfway to a makeshift recording booth.
  3. Try to construct a sound-proofing box to put your microphone in. Below is a picture of mine and it is simply eggshell packing foam packed inside a plastic box, which my microphone sits inside.
  4. Finally, throw a blanket over yourself and the microphone as you record. This provides on last barrier to sound slipping from the outside world and finding a way into your recording.

Even with all these steps, I can guarantee that some sounds will still slip in. It’s fine. In addition, you may notice a constant hum or hiss in the background. This is actually a pretty easy fix by playing with the EQ in post-production. If you want more info on how to remove that little bit annoyance check this article published by the RX Audio Cookbook. 

Submitting an Audition

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Once you have a polished reading, you can send it out. This isn’t like book submissions and you don’t have to be an exclusive narrator for any one publisher. Instead, you can use your audition and send to as many companies that you find who are looking for narrators. This might change how you introduce your audition (as you wouldn’t want to say the audition is for one magazine and send it to another) but it eliminates the need to constantly re-record.

Often, companies will accept an audition before they actually have a story lined up for you. This means that they want to use you, but they need to wait until they have something that fits your voice. In this case, you wait around, send out more auditions, and eventually you will get an email offering you a gig.

Read the story and make sure you like it. If you don’t then decline. If you do accept and then read it out loud before you try recording it. This will highlight areas the sentences were you will stumble and also let you know what words you need work on for a pronunciation. Finally, take a swing at the thing.

Don’t worry about getting it perfect in one take. If you mess up, clap so you can see the area that needs cut, go back to the last paragraph, reread and continue on. This approach allows you to go back in and cut all of your mistakes rather than scraping the entire thing because you stuttered in the second to last sentence.

If you are interested in auditioning for narrator position below are a few links to the magazines that I know are currently accepting auditions. Good luck, and I hope everyone is having an amazing day!

 

10 thoughts on “Getting a Gig as an Audiobook Narrator

  1. Jumped over to read your great post from Don’s reblog – thanks to you both. HOWEVER, only a man could “push aside a few shirts” to make room enough to step into his closet for use as a recording booth – lol! Have you SEEN what an average woman can stuff into a closet?

    Seriously, good info here – thanks a bunch for ALL of it. (Now all I need is to figure out where else to put most of my clothes.) 🙂
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good information and tips! It’s something I’ve been considering, but I was planning on doing recordings of my own work first. Pop filters are also a good choice and cheap at around $5-$10. I had no clue how abrasive the letter “p” sounds in a recording. An old stocking works, too, I’ve heard 😊

    Liked by 2 people

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