Want the best audiobook narrator? Listen out for this!

3 min read

If you’re considering publishing an audiobook, you’re in good company worldwide. But the success of your audiobook project largely depends on the voice actor you get to read your content. So you want the best audiobook narrator, listen out for this – although let’s establish some context first…

A day in your life…

Best audiobook narrator: image of coffee press and a cup of coffee
Photo by Zach Ramelan on Unsplash

You get up in the morning, feed your caffeine fix, and turn on your favorite podcast.

It’s relaxing, it’s soothing, it’s interesting, and engaging — it’s an optimal use of your time. Why wouldn’t you tune in to something to help you with personal growth, or to stir you awake in the morning?

Your podcast ends. The day passes. You start to cook dinner, fold laundry, wash the dishes — but you’ve also been listening to an audiobook throughout all your chores. 

Maybe it’s Stephen King, or Matthew McConaughey’s diaries in Greenlights. Whatever you’re doing, you’ve got your Airpods or Galaxy Buds in your ears, and you’re making the most of your time with audiobooks.

With all this time spent on listening to podcasts and audiobooks, you better bet the audiobook narrators have to be good. It’s hours and hours of listening to one voice! 

You know if you listen to any regular Joe for hours on end, you’re already asleep. So there’s a few things to consider when finding the right audiobook narrator! Read on…

Now’s the time

Now more so than ever, Audiobooks are boomingLast year, Deloitte predicted that audiobook consumption would rise by 25 per cent. And we don’t think they predicted the effects of COVID-19 either.

In fact, when presented with the pandemic, eBook and audiobook sales in the UK reached an all-time high.

You’d think that with the commutes to work virtually eliminated, the popularity of listening to audiobooks would drop. But instead, that precious audiobook time has been re-allocated to chores, morning rituals, and the wind-down time before bed.

And aside from the increase in time available for audiobooks, there’s also an increase in the need to listen to them. People need an escape from the grim world of the pandemic. Understandably, they’d rather fall into a fictional world for a while.

The regular

As with any professional voice actor, you’ll want the basics in your package. That includes — but it’s not limited to — good business acumen, professionality, and the right equipment to provide good voiceovers.

Best audiobook narrator: image of microphone and pop screen
Photo by Zach Ramelan on Unsplash

Once you’ve got the basics, then it gets a bit particular. It’s about finding the right balance in a voice. Since your audience is going to be listening to the audiobook for long periods of time, it has to be easy and engaging to listen to.

That means it has to be clear enough to understand, but the words can’t be enunciated too sharply to the point of jabbing your listener’s ears.

You also want your audiobook narrator to have a good flow. It shouldn’t feel like listening to choppy sentences, it should feel like listening to a captivating story!

And then there’s tempo. You’ll want your audiobook narrator to adopt a tempo that isn’t too fast or too slow; it should be just right for comprehension. Which varies depending on the content.

So there’s no exact “right” audiobook narrator that fits all. But generally, you’ll see that when it comes to narrating audiobooks, balance in the voice and ease-of-listening are major factors.

Contextual voice

When you read a story, or any text for that matter, there’s a voice in your head. Hopefully, it’s your own!

If it weren’t your voice, it would be jarring, wouldn’t it? It would be hard to relate to, less trustworthy, and you wouldn’t feel connected to it.

The same applies to audiobook narration. We don’t really think twice about the voice that’s being spoken to us when we listen to audiobooks, but it makes an impact. People pay more attention when it’s a voice they can relate to.

Just imagine, a cheery children’s story read by a mature and rough adult voice. It wouldn’t work, we want the kids to listen, not run away and hide.

Obviously, it also applies vice-versa. You wouldn’t want a gentle, youthful and cheery voice narrating something like Stephen King’s It.

But back to the cheery children’s story: imagine if you could get a child to narrate it. Wouldn’t it seem more authentic, more engaging, and more interesting? Maybe not to you, but to other children, it’s probably easier to listen to! 

It’s certainly hard to find a professional child voice actor, but there are many professional voice actors who do great children’s voices. It’s just a matter of finding them.

Final thoughts

If you find a professional voice actor who’s got the basics lined up, and find a contextual voice for your content, chances are you’ll check off most of the boxes for your audiobook narrator.

If you think about it, a mature voice (actor) will naturally bring out speech patterns and nuances that would be desirable in an audiobook with mature content. Whereas a young voice will naturally bring out the energy and liveliness in an audiobook for youths.

In the end, it’s about finding what feels right when listening as the audience. The more the audiobook narration can pull them into the entrancing world of a book, the better.

Best is, you’ll find them right here on Voice123!