The last few weeks have been a very unexpected experience for me! I got two jobs narrating two audio books, and uploaded my books to be narrated. That was the main intention, to have my books placed into audio and open it up to auditions. After speaking with a fellow author on Facebook, who happens to be an audio book narrator, I decided to see if there was any demand for British narrators following her encouragement. She was sure British accents would be some kind of ‘hot commodity’ that’s needed. LOL Turns out there is a massive demand!!
I did two auditions, of just two minutes reading a script for two books that interested me, and got both books offered to me to narrate. One from a publisher and one from an author. I thought I’d share both sides of the coin, how to place your books in audio, and why you might also wish to consider becoming a narrator yourself!
Where Do Authors Find Narrators?…
Easy peasy, lemon squeezy…head to ACX’s site this is Audible and Amazon’s website HERE.
Simply log in using your own Amazon account, or set up one under your author/narrator pen name. Then, head to the section which states ‘add projects’. Here upload the details and Amazon will automatically pull your book in, confirm it and that’s it! Then, you need to add a script for narrators to audition with. I recommend not placing your whole MS up there, just copy and paste a sample. It does not have to be the first pages either, you can use a really tense scene, steamy scene etc, to see how potential narrators would handle these aspects of your book. Or just opt for a sample from the first chapter. Either way paste it into the box, or save a Word.doc and upload it. Bosh! Done you’re book is out there for narrators to find.
What Cost Are Involved For Authors?…
None, if you don’t want there to be. Authors and publishers are able to place their book(s) up, and offer what’s called a ‘life long royalty share option’ to the narrator. This means, if you are willing to give exclusive rights to Amazon and Audible you just split all royalties earned from audio sales with the narrator. You’ll receive 20% and so will they, each month for life. The rest goes to Amazon and Audible of course.
Or, you can pay narrators a fee per audio hour they produce. This option will involve costs to you. So if a narrator’s fee is £50.00 per hour produced for example, and your book is eight hours long = 8 x 50.00= £400.00 must be paid to the narrator.
Or, lastly you can offer the royalty share option + an amount for each audio hour, say £20.00. So if your book is eight hours again 8 x 20.00= £160.00 PLUS a 20 % royalty share per month.
There are three options, the first one you have to give Amazon and Audible exclusive rights, with the other two you are free to have your book sold in audio elsewhere. But there’s costs to you. So if you don’t want upfront costs, then don’t go with them.
How Do Authors Find Narrators?…
Once you’ve added your book(s) as projects, fill out the options to decide what kind of narrator you’d like. eg accent, age, type of reader eg versatile, feminine, husky etc Basically narrow down the options to the best voice you feel would be suited, or that you’d like to hear bring your work alive. Press submit and that’s it.
Narrators looking for projects will come across your book(s), and if they are interested audition. You will get an alert of an audition and can hear their voice.
What Happens Next?….
Your book(s) will be up for ‘audition’ and narrators can find you.You should hopefully start receiving auditions and hearing different voices. You can respond to anyone who takes your fancy. You can also search the data base of narrators based on the criteria you selected, then invite them to audition or reach out in some way. Once your book(s) are up, it’s time to either reach out, or kick back and wait for people to find you.
Once you offer a project the narrator has two days to accept, if they do you upload the full MS. Then, they will start working and submit to you a fifteen minute sample of their work, before the deadline agreed. You will then approve it or not, and if you do they continue and you kick back, and wait for your book to be transformed into audio by the agreed due date! Then it goes up on sale once complete and ACX has approved it for quality.
Are Narrators Willing To Do The Work With No Upfront Fee?
In short, yes I was and would do it again. Depending on 1. if they feel your book will sell 2. they have a genuine interest in your book 3. you include in your book’s details what you plan to do about marketing. To inform potential narrators who may have an interest what you’ll do to spread the word. So they can see potential.
Of course there are professional voice actors who are not! And wish to be paid a fee, rather than risk the time and effort, your book sells little or nothing or not what they would have imagined.
My Experience So Far, As An Author…
Well as an author my books have only been up just over a week, I have not had auditions yet, but one narrator did make contact and say she would like to audition once she’s finished up a few books she’s working on this month. I honestly think patience will be needed. That said, I would advise any author wanting to place their work into audio, to be just that patient. Don’t run with the first voice you hear unless it grabs you! Remember you are looking for someone who will bring your story alive, be it fiction or non-fiction. I’m more than happy to wait and hear the right voice and emotions for my work. If you do this, I suggest you do too. This will increase the chances of you being happy, once the audio book is produced. I found that it was a very easy process to place my books up on ACX too.
My Experience So Far, As Narrator…
Wonderful!! Like I said, pick books and subjects that genuinely interest you. One book is non-fiction and is in the esoteric, spirituality, and metaphysics genre so of course I’m loving it! And it’s a short book, just 15,000 words or so. The second is a autobiography, this lady’s story really interests me too. The third, which the publisher emailed me about this week to potentially narrate, is a fiction book in the women’s fiction genre. This should be interesting as it will be a different type of narration voice for me, proper voice acting for different characters! I will review it and see if I am drawn to it and the characters.
The thing is, it’s not as easy as reading out a book, you do need to make it interesting and ‘act’, even if it’s not a fictional book. Think of the listeners, so adjusting your tone, speed and how you wish to present the author’s work for listeners in an engaging way, is key. Secondly, it can take time! To learn the software, to edit, and re-record the words and sentences you stumble on LOL. But it really has been a great experience for me, and would do more for this publisher and other authors for sure.
I am now more than fifty percent through my first book, and hope to get it all l completed this week or next. That’s the other thing, you will agree with the author or publisher a reasonable due date. I recommend, no matter how short the book ask for six-eight weeks on the project. Unless you really feel you could or want to do it in less time.
My advice is take your time, aim for perfection and quality ( after all you want good reviews, and more work from the publisher or author). And you want to do it right, right? You need time to get each chapter correct. I would advise you take more time, and if possible do it in less or at a pace that works for you.
When you start out I would not take on too many projects either, if you don’t have much time on your hands. I only took on two as the first book is so short, and the second is a novel. I would not have taken on two novels in my first attempt at this, trust!
Hence why, the first project that I searched for I wanted only under three hours production time, in the genres I was interested in, So I didn’t bite off more than I can chew. But from the experience, I do feel I could do a full novel with a good timescale, and one that deeply interests me, hence I took on the second book.
What Do I Need To Narrate Books? Could I Do My Own?
Yes, you can narrate your own. In fact the thought crossed my mind to do mine if I did not find a narrator I really liked. In order to narrate books, be it your own or someone else’s all you need is…
- a decent microphone and pop filter. ( Don’t even think about using your computer’s one it’s too crappy). A Pop filter will help to remove mouth noises, and sounds of breathing or inhaling and you DO NEED IT don’t skip it! I would not say you need to buy the most expensive either. Mine cost me under £30.00 with the pop filter. I think about £20.00 and it is ahmaaaaaaaaaaaayzin! Great quality.
- a laptop or PC.
- recording and editing software. Which you can grab free!! One called Audacity. ACX recommend a paid expensive software, you don’t need it all all. I recommend you grab a free software download of Audacity HERE. It’s so simple to use too.
- And I recommend this great ebook on Audio book production by Krystal Wascher . Recommended to me by the author who encouraged me to audition, and I too recommend it. It’s like a Bible and a must have. There are many resources on ACX’s website to help, I say get the book too. Free on Kindle Unlimited to read also. Grab it here.
- A VERY VERY quiet environment, table and chair. This is key, please don’t think that any old place will do. I record in my bedroom ( at the back of the house away from the main road). Choose a quiet room, the smaller the better too.
- Water to drink!
Overall, I think that audio books are great I have listened to them in the past. I also think that as authors it’s great to reach as many readers , via as many channels as you can! So while I am now redoing all paperbacks for my self-published works, I’m also doing audio books. My publisher who I signed with for my historical romance, really, really also recommends that audio is the way to go…. so go for it authors!
On the other hand, if you’re someone who thinks yeah, I have the time and skill or even desire to narrate books I say go for it too. Pick the books and genres carefully, stick to what interests you. Also, think of what your voice may suit also! Keep in mind that fiction work will have characters, so you will need to adjust for this. Male and female voices, non-fiction the author will want a different approach to how their book is narrated.
There is a demand for all accents. So I’ll give this a crack, add to my monthly royalties coming in and have some fun too!
Also, there are things to help you decide on books, such as the reviews it has on Amazon, sales rank, and how established the author is, their marketing plan etc. But at the end of the day, it’s down to you to decide. You may feel a book will sell well, but it may not sell as many copies and vice versa.
Decide if you want to be paid a fee or via royalty share or both! Remember royalty share is for life. Also remember that as the narrator you should invest in the book’s potential for sales too. Promote it once produced, you are a shareholder in it after all!!
Give it a go if you feel you’d enjoy it. Any questions get in touch or drop them in the comments.