How to be an Audiobook Narrator
With people cramming as many hours into their days as possible, our content has become more and more audio-driven. This has led to the rise of audiobooks and podcasts as a way that many of us take in our information. If while listening you’ve wondered how to be an audiobook narrator, then read on to learn more about it.
Before beginning my jobless income journey, I was doing a lot of driving for my job. During every drive, I was playing audiobooks and filling my head with useful information that I wanted to learn. This got me wondering how to get a job reading audiobooks.
How to Become a Narrator
Luckily for me, I had been a musician my whole life and had the equipment and skills necessary to record myself. I went home and googled “how to be an audiobook narrator” and thus began my Job Free Paycheck journey.
Now I have produced over 80 audiobooks. I have done projects that paid upfront, and I have other projects that I receive royalties from each month.
That first step got me started down a path that changed my life.
There are many types of narrator and voice-over work available. Here we are focused on audiobooks specifically.
When it comes to audiobooks, the big name is Audible. Being an Amazon company gives them some major weight in the game. If you are going to record audiobooks, it makes sense that this is where you would want to be.
How to be a Narrator for Audible
As it turns out, it’s actually pretty darn easy to be a narrator for audible audiobooks. Audible has a site called the Audiobook Creation Exchange, or ACX. You can access this site at ACX.com.
This is the site where audiobooks are posted, either by the author or publisher. Potential narrators can audition for these projects.
Anyone can register and be a narrator, but you have to actually land one of your auditions before you’ll have anything to narrate.
How Much do Audiobook Narrators Make?
Through ACX, there are two ways a narrator can be paid.
PFH stands for Per Finished Hour, and is where you get paid a given amount per finished hour of audio. The amount is agreed upon when you accept the contract. You will be paid upon completion of the audiobook.
PFH Pay (Per Finished Hour)
On ACX, many authors and publishers are looking for budget work, so $50 PFH is the most common rate they are trying to offer. However, there are plenty of projects available in the $100-$200 PFH range, and even some available in the $200+ PFH territory.
For a little perspective, you can assume each hour of finished audio will take you around 3 hours to complete. This is including recording and editing. If you’re brand new it will take a bit longer. If you’re experienced it may go a bit faster.
Royalty Payments (Passive Income)
The other way to be paid is royalties. With royalties you do not get paid upfront for completing the book. Instead, you will get a percentage of the profits every time the audiobook sells for the life of the product.
With royalties, how much you make depends completely on how well the audiobook sells. Before auditioning for a project, you can see its current seller rank on amazon as a book and e-book. This will tell you a lot about its potential performance as an audiobook.
Some projects I did when I was first starting out haven’t made hardly any sales in all this time. Others have made me consistent monthly income since publishing. That income may be small, or in the case of some successful projects, could be well over $100 per month for just one project.
Recently, ACX released the new royalty share plus pay, where you can get both royalties and a PFH rate when the project is finished.
How do You Get Payed?
Royalty checks will be direct deposited to a bank account with a routing number. Your PFH pay will be through PayPal.
If you are only using audiobook narration as a side hustle to earn some extra income, I recommend going for the royalty pay and creating a passive income stream.
If you need money now, or plan on using narration as a main source of income, then you probably want to do PFH work.
When performing PFH work, if you have to audition for every project, it will make it very hard to create a consistent income. Instead you want to build relationships with clients. Sometimes this will result in return business where one person could keep you busy for weeks straight.
A simple tip to make sure you always have work available, is to do a certain number of auditions each day, week, month, etc. This is dependent on how much work you want to land. Be careful not to overburden yourself and start having a hard time reaching deadlines.
What do you Need to Start Narrating Audiobooks?
There are two sets of things you’ll need as an audiobook narrator. Skills and equipment.
Some of the skills you need for audiobook narration are obvious. You must be able to read well. You’ll need a good articulate speaking voice with proper pronunciation. You will need an extensive vocabulary.
Some of the other skills you may not have considered at first. You will need audio recording skills. Then you’ll need audio editing skills to create the finished audio. You’ll need to understand about acoustics and creating a proper recording environment.
Wow that seems a bit daunting now…. but honestly, it’s not that complicated.
Not to say it’s exactly simple either.
However, I turned my mom onto it and she landed her first project within the first few days for $70 PFH. Of course, she got the advantage of using my nice equipment and vocal booth! Not a fair comparison to someone who is truly just starting out.
Now you know the skills you’ll need, but what about the equipment?
The most obvious part that everyone knows is the microphone. Today though, you have the option of getting a USB microphone that plugs straight into your computer. If you’re just getting started and budget is a concern, this is the route I would suggest in the beginning.
If however, you have a bit more budget available, or you know you want to take this to higher levels quickly, I recommend going the traditional route. Here you will require a microphone, a cable, and an audio interface.
Those items will be what is called your input chain. Your input chain records your voice, converts it to a digital signal for your computer. In your computer, your voice shows up as waves in your DAW. These are the next two items we need.
Your computer is where everything is based. You will do your editing on your computer. Also, you will record to your computer. Basically, this is the motherboard of your setup.
On your computer you will have a piece of software called a DAW, a Digital Audio Workstation. This is the program in which you will record and edit your audio.
To work on your audio properly, you’ll need to make sure you can hear it clearly. For this, you’ll need a decent set of headphones. Although, I’m not talking about some cheap earbuds. Rather, you need a decent set of recording headphones from a reputable brand, like the AKG 5050, an industry standard.
Ok, got it all now. You’re ready to record! Well, not quite.
Unfortunately, that’s only part of the story. If you record now, it’s very likely that your recording will be….well, terrible. Just as important, in fact, more important than your equipment, is your recording environment.
This can be the most difficult part to get right. If your environment sounds bad, so does your recording. Only so much can be solved during the editing process.
There are many options available to try to clean up your recording environment.
One cost-effective option is to get a reflection filter like the shield from Sterling Audio.
This can be great if your environment is not terrible sounding overall, but just needs a bit of dampening for the reverberations.
If you need more help than that, then you may need to build an enclosure for you or your mic.
There are other ways you can get started with narration audiobooks, but if you follow the steps I lined out in this article, you’re sure to have an easy time making your first money from narration.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out to me directly and I’ll help in any way I can. Dean@TheFreelanceResource.com.
Also, please share this article with anyone else who you think may find it useful. I want this information to help everyone who is looking for it.