Learn more about how to become an audiobook narrator.
What is an audiobook narrator?
An audiobook narrator is a voice actor who uses vocal performances to interpret an author’s written words and create an unforgettable experience for listeners. Professional narrators bring stories to life by skillfully maneuvering their tone, inflection, and pacing to convey emotions that transport listeners to new worlds. These worlds are filled with captivating characters and immersive storytelling that listeners may never want to leave. Since audiobooks for entertainment and education have risen in popularity, talented narrators are always in demand. As a result, the audiobook industry offers many opportunities for aspiring narrators to hone their craft and build their careers.
How to become an audiobook narrator
Learning how to become an audiobook narrator is the first step toward a booming voice over career. Audiobook narration is the perfect path to pursue if you’re a natural storyteller. However, mastering essential skills like breath control, endurance, and natural-sounding articulation is critical to excel in this craft. Additionally, investing in the right equipment, such as a high-quality microphone and soundproof recording space, can make all the difference in producing crisp and clear recordings that meet industry standards. With dedication and practice, you can establish yourself as a skilled audiobook narrator and open the doors to other exciting voice over opportunities. Here’s our guide on how to become an audiobook narrator in 3 steps.
A fluent, coherent narration is crucial for audiobook narrators. One way to achieve this is by mastering breathing techniques to avoid post-production editing. Some common vocal pitfalls to avoid are plosives (a sound made when airflow in the lungs is temporarily blocked to the mouth and nose), loud breathing, throat clearing, and mouth noises like clicking or popping sounds. To improve your breath control, try diaphragmatic breathing (breathing deeply into your diaphragm rather than shallowly into your chest) and proper posture, like sitting upright and pacing and pausing strategically throughout your narration. You can increase your chances of becoming a sought-after audiobook narrator by consistently honing your voice quality. Try these simple breath control exercises to get started.
2. Build up your vocal endurance
Some audiobook narration jobs can be demanding and involve countless hours behind a microphone, recording pages and pages of audio! This requires endurance and stamina to avoid straining your vocal cords. Building vocal endurance, however, is much like building muscle at the gym. You must follow a routine that balances the right exercises with rest. Try doing vocal warm-up exercises before recording, taking breaks during long recording sessions, and drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated. The goal of an audiobook narrator is to sound as smooth at the close of the day as you did at the start. And maintaining a consistent voice quality without damaging your vocal cords starts with learning how to take care of your voice.
3. Master the art of natural-sounding articulation
Audiobook narrators must transfuse “heart” into written ideas infusing emotion and personality into their delivery. Matching their voice to a character’s age, attitude, and tone is essential to creating an immersive experience for the listener. For instance, a seasoned detective may require a rough, gravelly voice, while a cheerful children’s book character may need a higher-pitched, animated voice. So avoid forcing a character’s voice with vocal fry and emphasizing the wrong words, which sounds unnatural and jarring. Instead, aim for a natural delivery that seamlessly merges with the storyline and brings the characters and their dialogue to life.
Attending audiobook workshops and conferences helps sharpen your narrating senses. Experienced voice actors in attendence share valuable industry insights on different audiobook narration styles and techniques. These tried and tested strategies, and voice care tips help narrow down your job search. Additionally, some voice actors opt to work with a voice over coach for guidance to prepare for specific roles or gigs. Further, listening to audiobooks exposes voice actors to different styles, tones, genres, and techniques successful narrators employ. You can understand how to pace your delivery, infuse emotions infuse life into characters. Overall, listening enhances a voice actors ability to deliver a compelling and engaging narration to listeners.
How to start getting audiobook narrator jobs
To start getting audiobook narrator jobs, consider volunteering to read at the library or local and industrial events and use these to build your portfolio. Next, focus on networking at voice over events and conferences to connect with other professionals and enhance your recourse toolkit. You can also advertise your services on various platforms or create a website to spotlight your name and services. Consider signing up for voice over casting sites, platforms like Voice123 and contacting audiobook production houses to offer your services. This helps you build your reputation and start landing narration gigs with practice and persistence.
Resources for audiobook narrators
Several resources are available to improve your skills and succeed in the industry. Online forums like the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) community connect you with other narrators to gain industry insights. The Audiobook Publishers Association (APA) offers resources such as industry news, networking opportunities, and professional development programs. You can also take advantage of resources like audiobook-specific voiceover training courses, books on the art of narration, and workshops focused on improving specific aspects of performance. Social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and others also offer opportunities to connect with industry pros and stay up-to-date with news and trends.
Overall, becoming an audiobook narrator requires dedication and critical skills like breath control, endurance, and natural-sounding articulation. Learn from industry pros at conferences and workshops and use voice over resources to gain invaluable industry insights. With these tips, you’re ready to launch your journey as an audiobook narrator in the exciting world of voice overs.
Start by participating in voice over classes/workshops to improve skills, then network with publishers and authors to gain industry insights and work on building a solid voice over portfolio.
“Audiobook narration is acting. It just happens to be done behind a microphone. The voice you were born with is uniquely yours. If this is something you really want to invest your time and energy in, then know your voice, know your worth, and let the world hear it. Take a class and learn the trade.”