How to Get a Job Narrating Books

by Wanda Thibodeaux; Updated September 26, 2017
To get jobs narrating, you must protect your voice with proper rest, hydration and diet.

A niche in book publishing is audiobook publishing. Audiobooks are audio files of people reading specific texts. Audiobooks are targeted to people who may not necessarily have the time to sit down and read. For example, people may use audiobooks in their cars on the commute to work. People who record audiobooks are professional voice-over actors and actresses. To get a job narrating books, you must learn how to control your body and voice to create mental images and moods for others. Get a good demo CD to send to potential employers.

Sign up for and attend acting and voice training courses. Even though you are not going to be performing on stage, television or film, you still must know how to convey a character. You also must know how to physically take care of and manipulate your body and vocal mechanisms to get the sound you want. You are not truly ready to narrate until you feel comfortable performing both acting and vocal techniques in front of other people.

Practice applying what you've learned in your acting and voice classes. Read excerpts from your favorite texts or even your daily newspaper. Record your readings. Go back and analyze the recordings for their overall impression.

Gather at least five text samples -- both fiction and nonfiction -- to use on a demo recording. The demo recording is a recording you send to employers so they can hear what you sound like. Choose texts you truly enjoy or from which you find meaning, as your connection to the words will come across in your vocal delivery.

Rehearse your selected texts regularly. Explore all the ways you could read them.

Look for a recording studio that can create a demo CD for you. Prices and services vary considerably by location and the experience of the studio workers, so call around and comparison-shop before making a final booking decision. Radio stations, performing arts companies, media companies and colleges with broadcasting programs often know of recording studios in the area.

Schedule time in the studio of your choice and record your narrations for the demo CD. Ideally, schedule several different sessions so that the narrations sound as varied as possible. This is expensive, however, so if it isn't possible financially, just do your best at individualizing every track.

Have your studio arrange your recorded texts in a good order and make copies of your demo CD for you.

Look for companies that need narration voice-over talent. Perhaps the best source of job information is AudioFileMagazine.com, but you also can use resources such as Writersmarket.com and postings on voice-over websites to find employers involved in book narration.

Write a cover letter introducing yourself and your narration-related experience. If you've never narrated before, indicate where you trained. Explain you are interested in narration positions and that you are enclosing your demo CD for consideration. Tell the recipient how to contact you.

Go to auditions held by book narration employers, if required. Usually employers rely on the demos to make hiring decisions, but occasionally, if they're on the fence between good talents, they may ask you and the other artists they're considering to do a test reading.

Continue to look for additional jobs and send out your demo. New books are always coming out, so don't give up if you don't get work right away. Even if you're an excellent narrator, employers look for a specific sound. Sometimes that will be you and sometimes it won't be. Continue to practice and take acting and voice classes to hone your skills.

About the Author

Wanda Thibodeaux is a freelance writer and editor based in Eagan, Minn. She has been published in both print and Web publications and has written on everything from fly fishing to parenting. She currently works through her business website, Takingdictation.com, which functions globally and welcomes new clients.

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