Want to know how to become an audiobook narrator. Discover the secrets behind how to get paid to record audiobooks for money!
Even if you don’t agree with anything else in the article, you will surely agree that the times are changing.
Centuries ago, people used to get hired and paid for their skills. And then degrees came in.
Skills got underrated, and people began to get hired and paid for degrees. Guess what? The skills are back!
This is what I learned when I was dealing with loads of debt. Your expenses don’t wait for your degree to complete and pay you.
Audiobook narration is one of the top 12 most paid skills. Even more remarkable is the fact that it is growing by 25% each year.
The two-digit growth of the audiobook industry year by year establishes that audiobook narration is in-demand. And the demand is increasing as well.
In this article, I have compiled everything you may need to start a career with audiobook narration. The skills you need to work on, how to get started, and what and how to invest in this.
Audiobook Narration: An Introduction
An audiobook is a book read out loud, an audio narration. The voice pro is supposed to deliver the text in an audio form.
This may demand variable nuances and styles if the book you are reading is a form of literature and contains characters.
Or you may be an omniscient narrator, a third-person narrator who is supposed to deliver words only, keeping the same tone throughout.
Who should be going for audiobook narration?
Anyone who needs a career can and should go for audiobook narration. But you get a unique edge if:
- You love language and are fond of reading
- You have germs of acting and singing
- You like to explore characters and novels
- You are ready to put in the effort, commitment, and drive
- You are professional and can manage deadlines
An even more special edge for you if you have a portfolio of doing voiceovers for YouTube videos or experience in stage acting.
To sum it up, if you want a career without significant investment and a years-long wait, audiobook narration is the best option.
You can earn money sitting at home, in a closet, more specifically!
How much do audiobook narrators make?
50 % of a person’s motivation toward a career is based on how much does it pay. Audiobook narration will not disappoint.
The payment methods vary with each platform. You may get paid by:
- per-finished-hour (PFH, you get paid once depending on the number of hours you spent recording)
- Royalty share (The voice pro gets 50 % of whatever the author makes)
- Royalty share plus (A combination of royalty share and PFH)
The most common one is the PFH.
The payment per-finished-hour ranges between $100 and $250.
For a beginner, getting an assignment and learning the process is more important than making money.
For a beginner, it is $100 on average. This is a fair amount but not in the audiobook business! Keep on adding to your portfolio, and you can get better-paid overtime.
On the other hand, royalty share is more of a passive income. You don’t get paid much right away, but you receive money depending on how well that book is doing, even if you are not recording.
Here is an overview on how to become a audiobook narrator:
- Invest in professional recording equipment
- Find a quite or soundproof location
- Pick your audiobook niche
- Research your niche
- Practice being an audiobook narrator
- Find jobs
- Become the best narrator in your niche
We’ll dive deeper into each of the steps below.
Where to get started and the platforms that you may use will be discussed later.
First, you need to know what equipment audiobook narration needs.
This is because you need some samples for portfolio and auditioning to land yourself your first paid offer. And the proper equipment will help you stand out.
Following is the complete list of equipment for a newbie who has no history of doing voiceovers:
- Professional Quality Microphone
Internal mics, Bluetooth mics, headset, or ultracheap mics provide low audio quality and may even hold you back as a beginner. It would help if you had a professional quality microphone such as condenser microphones for your recordings. Condenser microphones are recommended for picking subtle sounds in a studio while dynamic microphones can be used for loud, booming sounds.
- Pop Filter
A pop filter is recommended to prevent the popping sounds in your recordings due to air entering the mic. Pop filter helps prevent air from entering the mic.
- Microphone Stand
Your microphone should be steady-state and flexible at the same time. You should be in your optimal position when recording audiobooks, where you have a clear view of what you’re reading and complete access to the mic.
It would help if you had comfortable headphones to hear yourself recording or delivering to your client. This is even more mandatory for editing your auditions and recordings.
- An Editing Software
Editing software is a must-have. You will need this to edit your auditions, recording, and audiobook chapters. It does not necessarily need investment. There is various free and paid software available. For a beginner, free software such as Audacity is recommended.
- A Recording device
This is pretty much obvious. You need a device to save your recordings on. An iPad, tablet, smartphone, and laptop are good options. A PC could work as well.
A separate, more easily portable device can also be used for recording, and then you can transfer it to your computer
Note: Regarding the recording device, you need to take care of two things:
#1 Make sure the cooling fan of the computer does not distort the recording.
#2 Make sure the recording device is compatible with the editing software you are using and has the appropriate processing power.
- A quiet recording space
Again, this one is obvious. Recordings, especially auditions, should be impeccable. A quiet corner of your house can work, but even slamming doors and wind from a window can interrupt. Closets work best for this.
Once you have committed to beginning a career in audiobook narration and you’re done with the equipment, time to let people know that you are offering your services.
Where will you find people who are looking for your service?
In general, there are two ways you can get started with:
Way #1 Start as a freelancer.
Way #2 Work for an agency or a website.
Start as a Freelancer
Starting as a freelancer means to book clients directly. Where can you find these clients?
- Social Media Groups and websites
There are various pages, groups, and communities on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, where buyers and sellers are brought together. Approach them directly with your proposal and rates. Take one step a time and keep on building your portfolio.
Approaching a client directly is the most fruitful way to offer services and get paid.
#1 You get to keep the whole amount—no commission for a middleman or website.
#2 The quality of your work will get you, long-term clients.
#3 The same clients can contact you again.
- Upwork and Freelancer sites
There are various websites made for freelancing. Upwork and Freelancers are popular ones. Fiverr, Peopleperhour and Workana are the same. Create a profile. And start bidding.
It may require a little bit of patience. You may not end up with a client very first day; even in the first month. But the key is to keep on trying.
- Offer your services on ACX
ACX is the most popular and legit website where you can get paid for audiobook narrations. Beginners at ACX get paid at the rate of $100 per-finished-hour.
For example, if narrating and recording a book took you 8 hours, you get paid $800.
Some people strongly recommend ACX, and others discourage taking this option. But, for beginners, there is nothing better than this.
Pros of ACX
– You can create your profile free of cost.
– Directly audition for each job.
– It never falls short of job opportunities.
– You don’t necessarily need to have a hi-fi portfolio. Instead, it helps you build one.
Cons of ACX
– You have to audition for a new job every time.
– There are no opportunities to carry on working with the same client.
(In other words, long-term clientship and repeat client is not an option on ACX)
– Payments are lesser than the other platforms.
Work for an agency or a website
If you’re lucky enough to have opportunities and links, you can also get hired by a website or an agency. Such websites specialize in audiobooks and need permanent and long-term voice pros. This is an ideal situation.
You get a strong portfolio and certification with this. You will get to learn almost everything. Besides, you don’t even need to look for work for quite an extended period.
With what will you approach a client?
You got people to approach. You are in their DMs. What are you going to show your potential client to ask for a satisfactory rate? Because without a sample or portfolio, nobody is going to hire you.
Even if you successfully bag an opportunity without a sample or portfolio, there are more chances of you ending up with cheap dirty rates.
In addition to peanuts getting paid, you will not even be having a decent portfolio for your future. You may even possibly fall prey to a scam.
The point to be made is that with the equipment you have improvised, record a sample or audition comprising a chapter or two of any book. Approach a client with this sample recording and your expected rates.
How to stand out with your audition?
For an audition that stands out, you need first to develop and polish your voice skills. Because actually skill is where you start. You acquire a skill, and when you sell your skill.
Follow the following tips for a voice that pays you bucks:
Learn to breathe from the diaphragm. Practice it until you get used to this.
Avoid smoking, drinking, and eating foods that build phlegm.
Take courses or watch YouTube videos to learn techniques that can help you beautify your voice. You can also learn to add nuances and variations in your voice. This can help you stand out.
If you are fond of reading, that’s fantastic. And if you’re not, add some reading to your bedtime routine.
Learn and understand new words daily.
Blowing bubbles help refine your voice to a great extent.
The practice is the key!
When you are recording for an audiobook, it may take one hour per chapter. And your audition is going to be even shorter. How can you prove yourself in a small duration? There are tons of other freelancers as well.
Why would someone choose you over others?
There is always room for improvement with skills because you get hired when you defeat the competition, which is getting fiercer each day. To keep up with the race and to keep winning, you need to have a winning skill. For that, practice every day.
Practice hard so that…
- Your voice does not wear out.
- You can go on with the same nuance for a more extended period.
- You can bring alterations in the nuances you offer for different characters of the same book.
Whatever you read, you read effortlessly like flowing water.
You can read in an understandable-to-everyone tone.
Find your niche
You have to look for a niche that suits you better. There are two reasons for that:
Reason #1 Freelancers specific in their niches are hired more. Because they offer expertise in one.
You don’t want to be the jack of all trades and master of none. You must be lacking somewhere or the other. Play on your strengths, not weaknesses.
Reason #2 When finding your niche, use the hit and trial’ method. Say yes to every offer and opportunity.
And, see what works best for you. In the beginning, short-list your strengths. And apply and bid on what fits you better.
Audiobook narration is a job like any other job. It demands professionalism, motivation, commitment, and lots of hard work to get to a point where you can call yourself successful.
It may be new. But it promises you a secure future if that’s what you are looking for!