Do you read the book first?
Of course! You wouldn’t expect actors to perform for an audience without reading the play first, would you? Yes, I read the book thoroughly. I annotate important things that will affect the way I perform in front of the microphone, such as how a character is feeling when they speak, or whether someone is whispering or shouting or crying. I also have a special symbol that I mark next to each character’s lines, so that I know who is speaking and can quickly switch from one character to another during dialogue. If there are any words I am unfamiliar with, or that I don’t 100% know how to pronounce, I research them. It takes a long time to prep an audiobook! Hours and hours and hours, which leads us to:
How long does it take to record an audiobook?
It depends. The more mistakes you make during recording, the longer it takes to record! On average, I’d say it takes one-and-a-half times (1.5x) the finished length of the book. So if an audiobook is, say, ten hours long to listen to, then it will take 15 hours of studio time to record it.
Do you just sit in a recording booth for hours on end, reading out loud?
Do you do all the character voices yourself?
Mais oui! Who else is gonna do it? Except for multi-cast audiobooks, wherein a different actor plays each character – similar to an audio play – every character in the audiobook is voiced by one narrator. Which leads me to...
How do you come up with the character voices?
How (much) do you get paid?
An audiobook is paid PFH – per finished hour. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to read the book ahead of time, research it, mark up the script, prepare all the character voices, then get into the studio and record it, with all of the errors and the stumbles. None of that is “paid” work. Narrators are paid for the finished product. The average rate for audiobook narrators (once they have some experience) is between $100 and $250 PFH.
I love to read. Can I be an audiobook narrator?
Well, for this question, may I refer you to my blog entry from October: How to Start a Voice Acting Career.
Do you have any burning questions that I haven’t answered here? Please put them in the comments and I’ll add them in! Thank you for reading all about audiobook narration. And if you’re interested in listening to any of my audiobooks, you can find most of them HERE. Enjoy!
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So you've got a project. An animated video. Or a corporate explainer. Or a voicemail for your new company. How do you hire a professional voice-over talent to record your script? Can you afford it? Where do you begin? Here are some basic things you need to know to make your project a success, make your voice actor happy, and get it right the first time.
Budget I: How much does voice over cost?
Budget II: How does the voice actor calculate their fee?
What does the voice actor need in order to record?
Revisions: How many do I get?
Go get 'em!
So that's a breakdown of how to hire a voice actor for your project. Good luck!
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1. Get some training
You wouldn’t start hacking away at people’s hair without attending cosmetology school (I hope). And you can’t start recording voice-over without training. Even if you are an experienced actor, voice-over is a different kettle of fish altogether. So take some classes! A quick Google search will show you what’s near you, or there are plenty of online classes available from anywhere. Once you have some general voice-over training, take note of what you have a proclivity for and then get some specialized training (Corporate videos or medical copy? Audiobooks or animation? Video games or voicemails? They all require different techniques and it takes a few years to get those in your wheelhouse.) DON'T let anyone convince you to record a demo at this point. You're too new; your demo will be sub-par. Also demos can be very expensive. Wait till you get some experience before making a demo.
2. Purchase some equipment
3. Audition, audition, audition
New hairdressers (I am definitely pushing this analogy too far but I’m sticking with it on principle) practice their technique on volunteers and low-cost jobs before they start working full-time in a fancy salon. And you need to get some practice before auditioning for bigger and better roles. To do this, join one or two of the mega-sites for voice-overs and start auditioning. Voices.com, voice123.com, VoiceBunny.com, etcetera. Use your new equipment to record some basic demos. Be honest in your profile. Say you're new, say you're training, say you're looking to acquire experience, and audition for pro-bono and low-budget jobs. The goal here is to get your toe in the water, not to get a Toyota commercial.
4. Rinse & Repeat