Would you like to narrate Audio Books? This month I answer subscriber Nick Curtiss’ question about how to become a literary voice.
Nick asks: “I’ve enjoyed your Inside Voice Over newsletters. How do audio publishers select books? Do they use ‘in-house’ talent or audition or otherwise select individually for each book? How might I get some of that sort of work?”
Susan Berkley answers:
Audio books intrigue many voice actors. Recently I had the opportunity to attend a conference sponsored by the Audio Publishers Association and picked up many tips about how to break into this business. Here’s what I learned.
1. AUDIO BOOK NARRATION IS A SPECIALIZED SKILL
Different from commercial voice over or industrial narration, the actor must voice all the characters in a work of fiction, giving each a distinctive voice and attitude. He must keep each character separate and consistent. Acting experience in theatre or movies is helpful. In fact, many big name actors enjoy recording books on tape because they are so challenging and interesting to do.
2. IT REQUIRES STAMINA
Depending on whether the work is complete or abridged, finished running time can range from 2 to 6 hours or more. It takes an average of 2-3 hours to record one hour of finished narration. The typical book takes about 8 or 9 hours to record. Most producers like to do this over a day and a half. It takes a lot to maintain your voice and your energy level in a marathon session like this!
3. BUDGETS ARE GENERALLY TIGHT
Audio books pay by the project, not by the hour. An experienced narrator can make several thousand dollars per book. Audio book producers say they are very receptive to skilled beginners who are willing to gain experience in low-budget projects.
4. THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF AUDIO BOOKS
Fiction, non-fiction, instructional, children’s, dramatic, how-to, business. Some actors specialize in a particular genre. Not every voice is right for all types of books.
5. YOU NEED A SPECIAL DEMO
Your regular commercial or industrial tape will not do. First check out a number of audio books on the market. Pay attention to style and genre. Publishers say they like to hear at least 3-5 minutes of a book. Choose 3 of these segments and make sure they are professionally recored
6. TO MAKE CONTACTS JOIN THE AUDIO PUBLISHERS ASSOCIATION
They will send you a list of audio book publishers and producers across the country that you can send your tape to. Visit www.audiopub.org for details.
Here is an additional link for audio book opportunities:
www.acx.com: Audible.com’s new site for authors who want to produce audio books and narrators who want to meet them.
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