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  • Julie Eickhoff

3 Truths about Audiobook Narration

The world loves audiobooks. People love listening to them and audiobook narrators love producing them. In fact, I’d say that’s the number one reason I hear people saying that they want to get into doing voice overs – they want to narrate audiobooks.

Some people have a passion for acting and love the idea of portraying characters in fiction books (that is sooo not me), some people have heard audiobooks that they thought were terrible (maybe that was me trying to do fiction! 😊) and they vow to do a better job. Or maybe (and this is me) I love learning and I don’t have time to read for fun. I narrate chiefly non-fiction. I get to learn new stuff all the time and get paid for it!

Regardless of your reason for wanting to narrate an audiobook, there are a THREE TRUTHS that all narrators should keep in mind that will help you enjoy the experience even more. Here they are:

1. PREPARATION IS THE KEY TO YOUR SANITY. You want to get yourself in a mess and hate life for a few weeks? Ignore organization and preparation prior to recording the audiobook.

Here are a few things your can do prior to recording that will make the entire experience go faster and be more successful.

For starters, read the book. Read the WHOLE book. Sometimes there are twists in the end that will affect how you record from the beginning. That character “Chris”, yeah he’s a guy, not a girl.

Know who your characters are and keep notes on their development throughout the story.

Are there words you don’t know how to pronounce? Learn how to say them correctly before you have 25 occurrences of them to correct. Do you even know how to pronounce the author’s name?

Also, set up folders on your computer to keep your audio files all nicely organized.

2. BE REALISTIC WITH DEADLINES. Audiobook narration is the marathon of recording. This is the long-haul, and there are lots of things to consider when agreeing to deadlines.

First of all, it takes around 3 hours to narrate, edit and master 1 finished hour of audiobook. So, you just agreed to narrate a 4-hour audiobook. Think you can do it in a day or two? I can’t! Or at least, I really wouldn’t want to.

Everyone’s voice is different, but if I’m recording long-form narration, my voice will last a good hour (with plenty of breaks) before it starts to sound different. It wears out a little. If you want the whole book to sound the same with your best voice, you probably won’t be able to record all day long. Plus, you’ll have the best results if you record at approximately the same time of the day each day. My morning voice is a little different than my afternoon voice. And, you may have other voice projects (or auditioning) you need to complete each day with your best voice. So, give yourself a comfortable schedule with a little wiggle room. Because you still have to edit and master!

3. STAY HEALTHY. Don’t let this one go in one ear and out the other. Hydrate, exercise and don’t ignore your family.

The pressure of a looming deadline and loads of pages to read can stress me out big time. I don’t miss deadlines…ever. Being late makes my blood boil. When I’m in the middle of an audiobook project, I suddenly feel like I don’t have time for anything else. The house becomes a disaster area, mail piles up on the counter, nobody has clean laundry and I become very crabby.

I’ve really worked to improve on this over the years. I have to take care of myself first. Eat right, hydrate, exercise, keep the rest of your life as organized and you like it to be and then work on the audiobook. That’s why the appropriate deadline is so important. You’ll produce a better audiobook (and not lose your marbles) if you stay in charge and take care of yourself.

Oh, I have lots and lots of other tips for you and I will share them down the road. But that’s enough for today. Now, GO AUDITION FOR SOMETHING. And good luck!

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