7 Tips on Selecting a Narrator for Your Audiobook
An audiobook is an excellent way to take your story to the next level. No matter what you’ve written—high fantasy, field research, or anything in between—an audiobook lets you breathe new life into your book. With online stores and collections, audiobooks are an extraordinarily accessible medium that helps bring your words to new audiences. However, a good portion of your audiobook’s success relies on your narrator’s talent. They must be concise, appealing, and pleasant to listen to if you want to hold readers’ attention and draw them into the contents of your book. Choosing a narrator is an important step for your audiobook. To help you make the best decisions, here are our tips on selecting a narrator for your audiobook.
Listen to Other Audiobooks
You’re going to listen to voice over demos and auditions throughout this process. However, before you do that, you should also listen to samples from other audiobooks. Choose a few of your favorite books—including ones in the same genre as your story—and listen to their audio versions. Pay close attention to the narrator. Listen for details that are relevant to your own book. For example, if you have a dialogue-heavy story, notice how each narrator handles different characters speaking. Write down what you do and don’t like about each performance and keep these in mind when making your own decision. This information will help you get a feeling for what other writers in your genre have done and what you want to do with your own audiobook.
Keep Your Average Reader in Mind
Your narrator’s voice needs to appeal to your readers. Consider your genre and your readers’ demographics and find a narrator who best fits. For example, if you’ve written a young adult novel, a majority of your readers will better relate to a younger voice. If your audiobook is full of research or essays, you want someone who sounds serious and credible when reading a lot of data and technical information. Whoever you choose should sound authentic and relatable to your audience. Ask yourself whether your narrator would likely read your book in their free time. If the answer is yes, then they are probably a good choice for your audiobook.
Make the Most of Auditions
During your decision process, you should give several of your top candidates a segment of your book to record. This is an important step, as it lets you see how each voice over actor interacts with your story. Make sure the script you give your candidates is representative of key aspects in your story. You want to use this part of the process to have each candidate demonstrate the skills you want to see. Are they great at portraying your gorgeous descriptions or poetic language? Do they nail your main character’s voice and personality? If there are any factors of the narration that you’re most focused on or concerned about, include them in this audition demo.
Listen to Character Voice
Your characters are often the heart of your story, which means your narrator needs to portray them extremely well. While listening to demos and auditions, pay attention to the voices each candidate gives your characters. Accents are a huge part of this. If a character speaks with a certain accent, it needs to sound authentic. If it isn’t, your readers are going to cringe at the voice and not connect as well with that character. In addition to character accents, pay attention to the mannerisms, emotion, and overall personality your narrator gives your characters. Do they sound real and engaging or is it hard to distinguish them from the narration? Does each character have their own voice and persona? Make sure your narrator does justice to every single character on the page.
Look at Their Experience
As with any hiring decision, your voice over actor’s resume matters. You don’t necessarily need to hire the candidate with the most experience, but it’s always a good idea to look at any past projects. If they have published audiobooks that they’ve worked on, find them and listen to how they sounded as a narrator. Look for their work on websites such as Audible, where you can read listeners’ reviews and get a good idea of how their narration did or didn’t work in the past. Keep in mind that a more experienced voice over actor is likely to have better access to quality recording equipment, which helps you get the best sound possible for your audiobook. However, in the end, the most important part is that you enjoy the voice. If they sound like a good candidate—and they’re passionate and engaged about your project—they're probably a reliable choice for your narrator.
Ask Your Fans
If you've already published your book by the time you’re creating your audiobook, consider asking your existing readers who they’d want to hear as a narrator. Even if their top choices aren’t possible, it’s good to get ideas about who they have in mind to best represent your story. You can learn a lot about the kind of tone or performance they want in an audiobook through this question. Keep that information in mind as you choose a narrator. After all, this project is as much for your loyal readers as it is for yourself and your story. It’s also a great way to announce or promote your upcoming audiobook.
Trust Your Own Opinion
All of these tips on selecting a narrator for your audiobook come down to one important question: who do you want to hire? No one knows your story or your characters as well as you do, which makes you the best judge as to whether a voice fits or not. If you ever get overwhelmed with all of the options and considerations before you, remember that if you like the voice, you’ll probably also like the end results. Trust your instincts and opinions and you’ll find the best choice possible in the end.
If you’re looking for a narrator for your audiobook, Internet Jock can help. Our talent line-up helps us stand out among voice over companies. Search our narration demos today to find the perfect voice for your audiobook.