Audiobook: Basic Narrator Tips
Why is an author writing How to Get Hired as a narrator?
First, I would like to thank the narrators for sending in auditions. This week I am working on hiring a narrator for my fourth audiobook, Lakehouse Déjà Vu. We received 60 amazing auditions. This group of narrators really made it hard to chose! Bravo!
Who Hires Narrators: In most cases, audio rights belong to either the author or the book’s print publisher. Whoever holds the rights is who hires narrators/producers for their books.
During the audition process, I’ve received several questions from narrators and thought I would share a few of my tips. I realized there are several outlets for narrators to learn technical production information, but few answered the basics about the audition. With my simple tips, I hope to help you get hired by the authors turning their books into audiobooks.
Storytelling hasn’t been the only thing I’ve done in my life. As you can see on my website, I was a professional photographer for around twenty years, but you might not have caught why that was one of my early interests in life. Through the first couple years of college, I met a photographer who guided me into a short-lived career of acting and modeling.
I’ll give you a second to pick yourself up off the floor.
Yes, that was my face in the world-wide Sprite advertisement with a small sand bucket on my head in the late 1980s. In the early 90s when Sea-Doo came out with a new jet ski, that was me enjoying the ride. I rollerbladed near Miami beach for a furniture commercial, and I ran from a boulder in Problem Child 2 using some of my stunt training. These are only a few of the jobs I landed, but to land these jobs, I had to go through training. Years of training for acting, stunt work, and how to audition. Many miles were put on my car and many hours were spent waiting for my chance to read for a panel. I am a bit jealous of narrators, because they get to audition from the comfort of their home and probably wearing their PJs.
#1 How should I audition?
The easiest way to answer how to audition for that particular book is read the Books Retail Information listed on ACX. It’s very important to read the description, the idea the author has for the narrative voice, and don’t forget the additional comments section and audition script notes. These are exactly what they are looking for in the audition. The person hiring took their time to write these things down for the narrators to land this job, so, use them!
#2 Should I read the title and chapter title?
Do what you think is best for your audition. However, we (authors hiring) are looking for how a narrator will sound on the finished project. We hire based on a short audition, and if a narrator can provide us hints of what the finished project will sound like, it would be very helpful. So, may I suggest…YES! Authors only have your short audition reel to make a huge commitment, that commitment is on you. Your audition should include the introduction of the book, author, and narrator. Say it as if it was the finished project being uploaded to ACX. Please look up how to say the authors name, if you are not sure then at least introduce the Book title and narrator (your name) before you read the audition script. Place this either before your audition or at the end.
Example: John York intro with music written by Zane W. Anderson. However, don’t add music to your audition, it might be completely wrong for the book. This is the finished product for Once Upon the Rhine.
Why is this important? Authors want to know if listeners will be drawn into listening to the book from the moment they press the play button. Plus, authors spent a great deal of time naming their book, so reading the title is a small form of respect.
#3 First impressions!
We listen to your audition with all these things in mind:
Recording: quality of studio, microphone quality (bright or dark), background and room noise, sound, volume variations or issues, and use of pop filter.
Voice: rhythm, pacing, staying in character throughout, and smooth transitions from one character’s voice to another.
Pronunciation: If there is a product name inside the audition script, make sure you pronounce it correctly. Same goes with the author’s name.
In a message an audition, I read: I am not at my home studio, but here is my audition. My voice is perfect for this book. Enjoy the audition.
May I recommend you not record your audition anywhere except your studio. Always put your best audition out there. If you need to, write the author and ask when they will be closing the auditions. Let them know you are out of town but would love to submit when you can record in your studio. They may look at your bio and samples and decide to postpone closing the audition for a couple days. You never know. Your chances are better if you wait rather than send a sub-par recording.
Here is a made-up example of a message left with an audition that is appropriate and professional. Please don’t copy.
I’m so intrigued and want to read the rest of the book. In addition to this audition, I have samples on my profile, plus on my soundcloud account (account link) and my website is (website link). I will have an opening for your project (date) and it should take # of days to complete. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for any reason. Thank you for your consideration!
#4 No excuses.
A note was sent to my inbox by a narrator giving an excuse of why their BIO wasn’t filled out. Everything was blank.
On ACX, after listening to an audition, I click the name of the narrator to view their information page. A picture is nice but not important to me. However, a bio is important. It gives a brief summary of experience for the narrator, like if they were a sound engineer, an actor, or are school studying in one of these areas. It should answer why are they a narrator, and most importantly, if they are qualified? There are several ways to “catch our eye” with a resume-like bio. Make a statement like: I’ll bring your manuscript to life with a high quality recording so your files are ACX ready and approved. Then follow it up with proof in your bio. If a narrator’s bio isn’t complete, it’s as if a small stick is poking at my brain saying, “If they were too lazy to fill out a bio, what will they leave out of my manuscript?” Don’t let that be in the head of the author listening to your audition.
Bio/Resume help: Before I was in my first commercial or did any print ads, my resume looked blank, but someone taught me to fill in with schooling/training, related interests, and have a unique answer for why I was pursuing this career. If anything, I made myself relatable, they learned my sense of humor, and it was a conversation starter for the interview.
Important: Before uploading your audition make sure you name your file using your name and book name. Most auditions are downloaded prior to listening and you want your name on the file!
#5 A few thoughts to ponder before you press the submit audition button.
Audiobooks become living books when produced with top quality engineering. It’s especially brilliant when narrators can give characters unique tones and sounds, and when the equipment used is high quality, the whole project becomes a well-produced product that can be enjoyed by everyone.
We are spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars on paying a narrator/producer and putting our trust in you to make all of us look good. With a great sounding product, we are better able to sell our audiobooks, and this will help both our businesses grow.
#6 Research the author.
Go to their website. Check out their social media pages. See if they are the right fit for you before you connect or send an audition. If you feel they would be a good fit, then show them in some unique way that you did your homework. I would know right away if someone didn’t visit my website or do any homework if they addressed me in a message as Mr. Anderson. Extra bonus tip, not everyone with initials are men.
We want to know you put a little effort into the project and are interested in not only following it through but helping get it into people’s hands to listen to!
I hope these basic narrator tips help you get hired! Break a leg on your next audition!