How to Choose the Right Voice Over for Audiobooks
Audiobook narration jobs aren't just any voiceover jobs. That’s why finding the right voice over for audiobooks is essential to the success of audiobook sales.
Voice-overs for audiobooks. Just imagine doing repetitive or otherwise dull chores. Travelling long hours back and forth on public transport. Sweating your heart out on the elliptical trainer. And doing it all without listening to an audiobook. Can you even remember there not being an audiobook industry?
Audiobooks are mostly listened to when doing something that doesn’t require your full attention or complete focus. When you're doing boring tasks on autopilot, listening to an audiobook makes time fly. You could be traveling by train or bus, folding laundry, waiting in line at the post office...
Have you reached the end of your journey? Are you done with the household work? Or is the next counter at the post office available? Then press that pause button and continue whenever it fits your schedule again.
So far, you have learned when audiobooks are a popular means of spending time, and why that is the case. Now, have a look at the other side of recording audiobooks. How do you find the best audiobook voice actor? Who looks where for qualified audiobook narrators? And what are different characteristics when it comes to the voice over artist or the voice over work itself?
Make clever use of the practical advice provided in this article. And find your perfect voice actor for your next audiobook recording.
Audiobook narration requires skills that are different from other voice over projects. The content and length of the book, number of characters or voices, their emotions and tone of voice affect those skills.
Key factors that will have an influence on your selection of an audiobook narrator are divided in two categories. On the one hand, you have your budget. On the other hand, it concerns the voice actor's experience, voice characteristics, narration style, tone of voice, and spoken languages and dialects.
The evaluation guide for finding an audiobook narrator focuses on developing your listening skills. It also covers reviews and testimonials to get to know a narrator's past voice over work. Referrals are handy because you mostly trust the source and their familiarity with your narration project.
There are multiple ways to pay your narrator: per project or per hour. Hourly rates that affect your audiobook budget range from 10 to 350 dollars. Affordable narrators are easy to find on platforms by applying a search filter.
Tips to work with a new narrator include every form of communication. Discussing specifics on the content of the narration project and giving feedback during every phase are important. You should also stay in touch with voice actors once the audiobook work is completed.
You can find voice actors for audiobooks through online platforms such as VoiceProductions, by checking other audiobooks or their publishers, by visiting industry events, or by going through professional voiceover artists' websites. Listen to every demo or audio recording available online. Make a mind map of your sources and start taking networking seriously if you hadn't already done so.
Finding the Right Voice for Your Next Audiobook Narration
Is someone trying to convince you that finding the right audiobook narrator is just about finding that one voice actor? You just need to select a pleasant voice that can read a book aloud?
Well, they couldn't be any further from the truth. Just compare voice actors in commercials with professional audiobook narrators. The first one has images, maybe even some text written in the commercial itself. An audiobook doesn't. Furthermore, a commercial is a lot shorter.
The character voices in audiobooks are more complex. And the people, sensations and surroundings you would normally imagine in your head when reading a normal book, must somehow be captivated by one or more voices in an audiobook.
This requires a different set of vocal skills. Just like a recording of a science fiction book can be much trickier than that of a non-fiction text. Names and places can be made up. And it may not always be clear to a voice actor how to pronounce those (new) words. Voice actors therefore need to investigate the pronunciation of names or places.
Recording audio for a management or self-improvement book demands another tone of voice altogether. These are not about feeling the suspense that should be built up by different voices in a thriller. Nor should it stir the same emotions as listening to a romantic novel might.
And doing only one unique voice in a natural tone is entirely different from representing multiple characters in a children's book.
If you weren't sure of the importance of finding a professional audiobook narrator, then now you know why.
Key Factors When Selecting Professional Audiobook Narrators
Voice characteristics are elements of a voice that makes that voice stand out from the rest. These characteristics should, however, be matched with the subject and target audience of the audiobook. A children's book with only the deep voice of an adult male will not captivate the audience much. The characters will not come to life.
It could be that your book or its subject is in a niche. How easy would it be if audiobook narrators could be identified by that same niche? Voice characteristics could then be filtered immediately. Listening to demos would no longer be a time-consuming activity. And it would make matching voice supply and demand more efficient.
Language and dialect
Have you watched any Netflix series or movies lately and decided to select the original language with subtitles in English? Did you notice how the entire way you perceived the content changed?
That's something to take into consideration as well with audiobooks. The listener doesn't have any images. He totally relies on you finding a voice actor that can reflect all the elements of a story. Pay attention to character voices that might have different accents or dialects.
The author's vision and message are expressed in many more ways than just the literal words in a book. You should be able to feel where they come from by listening to the person's voice and by sensing the emotions in every line, whether confrontational, passionate, irritated, or sad.
Having a portfolio or platform profile with information on spoken languages, years of experience, and the rate the audiobook narrator charges, works well for both sides. An example of one of these platforms is VoiceProductions.
VoiceProductions offers a vast and easy to navigate database of established, and up-and-coming narrators.
Just remember that if a person wants to become an audiobook narrator and land their first gig, he or she can still be the right one for your audiobook. Experience can come from other narration work. Even if there are only a few hours of experience on a resume, it could still be worth listening to audio demos in a portfolio.
Finding audiobook narrator jobs is a logical next step in many voice actors' careers. Therefore, they might be extra motivated to deliver excellence.
Check out the quality of the voice, and then decide if you want to give aspiring narrators with a little less experience a chance.
Choosing for the latter, instead of established narrators, could have a positive effect on your budget. Although the budget isn't the only thing on your list when selecting audiobook narrators, there is no way around it. Someone who is too pricey will not make it to the next phase of your search and will certainly not be invited for an audition.
Voice Actor Evaluation for Audiobooks
Start listening to voices - as often as you can
If audiobooks are about voices, then finding the best voice to reflect a book's characters asks for trained listening skills. You need to listen to other audiobooks, listen to demos, and train your ears to listen to the differences in tone of voice and technical aspects such as breath control.
Find out what makes one voice stand out from the other. Check if the audiobook narrator has a personal website. Or if any social media posts with examples of past audiobook narration experience are available. Everything you hear will tell you if it's a possible YES or a definite NO.
What do others have to say about the audiobook narrator?
But don't stop there! What do previous reviews say? Are other authors or (self)publishers happy with the result of the finished audio? Were deadlines and specifics of the agreement met? Any quality input regarding a professional narrator is welcome.
It's also not uncommon to ask for testimonials. Furthermore, most audiobook narrators will be happy to provide them. Even if it's just one testimonial, it could tell you a great deal about their previous voiceover work.
Some of the best audiobook narrators come to you via referrals. For example, a colleague within your company has already worked on a project with a certain voice actor. And the job was done so well, that word on this audiobook narrator has spread.
The Audiobook and Your Recording Budget
The cost of hiring a professional voice over artist varies greatly. And no-one decides what your narration budget is but you. Once the project's financials are clear, go through the following payment options.
Payment by the hour
Audiobook narrators usually charge a per finished hour rate of 50 to 350 euro. Why is there such a big gap in payment by the hour? It can mainly be explained by the years of experience a voice actor has under his belt. Also of importance is how many different characters must be recorded, and whether the job is urgent or not.
Payment per project
Sometimes audiobook work is paid per project. The advantage is that you won't be surprised by a much higher invoice at the end of the collaboration. You set a price, and voice actors will do the narrating for that exact amount of money.
Professional narrators cost money, and every so often your budget is tight. Finding affordable voice actors for audiobook narration is easy when using a platform like VoiceProductions. Prices are mentioned when you scroll through the list, but you can also filter on price by setting it from low to high.
Expert Tips on How to Work With Your New Narrator
Communication throughout the project
As with everything in life, communication is key. If you've worked with the same voice actor for years, there's probably no need to extensively discuss every little detail. You know their voice. You know they deliver quality. There's no need for re-recordings. Your narrator does a perfect job, on schedule, and without a fuss.
As with every profession, voice actors evolve once they get more experienced. They may start with only one voice, and develop more voices after a while. So it's imperative to communicate with your voice over talent on the project. But if you're happy with the result of the audiobook recordings, you should stay in touch after the project is finished.
Regular feedback, not just after the narration job is done
Everyone deserves feedback. But It's different when you hire someone who's just started with audiobook narrator jobs. Have them send you a maximum of one hour of reading aloud the first chapter. Then give them useful feedback on every aspect that you notice, good or bad. It will help them fine tune and perfect the audio file.
Make lots of notes while listening to someone's first few steps in the audiobook industry. The positive effect of giving quality feedback will work both ways, even though it takes time and effort.
Useful Sources to Find a Voiceover Artist
Is this your first time looking for a professional voice actor? Draw up a quick mind map to collect useful information. Include the following sources:
Industry sources and networking events - Whenever you get the chance, expand your network by visiting industry events. Collect business cards, and write down sources you might be happy to contact later.
Professional voice over artists - Look for professional websites with portfolios and demos that provide you enough information on whether there's a match with your type and style of audiobook.
Audiobook publishers - Check the narrators hired by other audiobook publishers.
Online voiceover platforms - Don't forget to visit online platforms like VoiceProductions.
After reading this article it's clear that voice overs for audiobooks are completely different from narrating e-learning courses, or doing voice over work for commercials, animated projects and corporate videos.
So start with the key factors and your budget. Then apply all the tips in this article to find your best voiceover artist for audiobook recordings.
Want to be guaranteed of quality, speed and a personal approach? Look no further! Use VoiceProductions. We are happy to help you find the perfect voice for your audiobook and can even set up a casting or help with sound editing!