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How one can Develop into an Audiobook Narrator

Whereas readers and writers have skeptically watched the fluctuating publishing business lately, one literary market has caught us all a bit without warning: audiobooks.

An audiobook (typically stylized as “audio e book”), just like the title suggests, is a recording of a e book that readers can hearken to. Someplace alongside the trail of prolonged commutes and ubiquitous smartphones, a marketplace for audiobooks erupted — individuals who don’t in any other case learn a lot.

Whether or not you’re on a treadmill or have a pair hours to kill earlier than boarding your flight, audiobooks are a good way to slot in studying and leisure. To not point out, it’s a pleasant reprieve from gazing a display screen all day.

How one can Pursue Audiobook Narration as a Profession or Aspect Gig

Whereas this market explodes — audiobook gross sales totaled a surprising $1.6 BILLION in 2021 and hit 10 straight years of double-digit income progress — you might be questioning how one can get a chunk of the pie.

Whether or not you’re a budding voice actor or seasoned recording skilled trying into easy methods to turn out to be an audiobook narrator, we’ve obtained you coated. On this article, we’ll contact on the business as an entire, what you want to get began and, after all, how a lot you will get paid.

First, let’s deal with a few Audiobook-101 matters.

What are the Most Fashionable Audiobook Platforms?

Like we talked about, audiobook reputation has been on the rise for a couple of decade. This booming market makes it crucial for authors and publishers to get conventional books into audio kind ASAP and on the most well-liked platforms: Audible (owned by Amazon) and iTunes (owned by Apple).

Enter Amazon’s Audiobook Artistic Alternate (ACX), which connects audiobook narrators with books to relate. Like different publishing companies you’ll discover at Amazon — CreateSpace for print-on-demand books, CDs and DVDs; and Kindle Direct Publishing for ebooks — ACX simplifies the method of manufacturing an audiobook from begin to end (you’ll be able to view their complete information right here on easy methods to get began)..

So, to recap, two of the highest gamers within the business are Amazon and Apple *quelle shock*.

With that mentioned, there are fairly just a few indie audiobook publishers on the market, too.

SUMMARY: You’ll be able to publish audiobooks by giants corresponding to Audible and iTunes, in addition to smaller homes.

How Lengthy Does it Take to Document an Audiobook?

Talking of “from begin to end,” how lengthy does it take to truly document the factor?

To place it bluntly: It relies upon. And it may differ primarily based on quite a lot of elements.

As an illustration, should you’re working with shoddy tools (the place you could have to desert recordings or re-record usually), you’ll add to your complete time. Whether or not or not you’ve got a house studio or have to hire area can muddy up your timeline, too. Whether or not it’s your first or five hundredth recording can even add to your tally.

A 350-page audiobook will likely be roughly 10 hours of audio, and take about 35 hours to document and edit it, in keeping with Sound Adventurer. Author Peter Mitchell noticed various numbers, and primarily based on the common knowledge he noticed, he discovered it took round 3.5 hours — of each recording and enhancing  — to reach at one hour of polished audio.

SUMMARY: It may possibly take anyplace from a pair hours to a number of days (and longer) to document and edit an audiobook, relying on quite a lot of elements.

How A lot Can You Make Recording Audiobooks?

So, equally, the information varies right here. Relying in your years of expertise, the place you’re positioned and whether or not or not you’re a union employee can have an effect on your wages.

ACX doesn’t set or advocate charges for producers to cost. However, it does level out many narrators are members of the SAG-AFTRA union, which generally units hourly charges. If you happen to’re a reasonably new narrator, you’ll be able to count on a per completed hour (PFH) price between $10 and $100, in keeping with Backstage. Extra established narrators can earn between $100 and $350 PFH, per the publication. Some staff additionally obtain a royalty share or break up for his or her pay.

Total, charges are inclined to differ by writer, producer and challenge. Writer Roz Morris tells authors to count on to pay round $200 PFH for audiobook narration. If you happen to verify Certainly and gig-work websites, you’ll discover a vary of responses there, too.

SUMMARY: You may make anyplace from $10 to $350 an hour, relying on the challenge and your expertise. You can too discover gig and full-time salaried work for voice professionals, and cost will differ.

Tools that Audiobook Narrators Want

In fact your voice is necessary in relation to narration. However it’s not the one software you want to achieve success within the subject.

If you wish to turn out to be an audiobook narrator, you want stable tools. And in relation to tools, there are just a few good objects you want to get began:

  1. A laptop computer or PC
  2. A high quality microphone
  3. Headphones
  4. Audio enhancing software program (corresponding to Audacity or Storage Band)

You may wish to buy noise-canceling attachments, objects to raised sound-proof your private home studio and a microphone stand, to call just a few.

The Ins and Outs of Working as an Audiobook Narrator

Now that we coated some floor, let’s dive deeper. We’ll contact on how voice professionals can discover work on this subject, put together for jobs and extra.

How one can Develop into an Audiobook Narrator: One Lady’s Story

Actor Kris Keppeler has been doing voice-over work for over a decade.

“I obtained began by freelancing and bidding on work,” Keppeler mentioned. “I bid on a brief audiobook and obtained that, and it went nicely. When ACX got here alongside, I began auditioning there… It’s taken a bit of bit to find the place my voice matches.”

Based mostly on her expertise, Keppeler shares some recommendation — and warnings — for anybody fascinated with doing audiobook work.

Kris Keppler is pictured in this photo she took of herself.
Kris Keppler is an audio e book narrator who has labored on greater than 50 e book initiatives. Photograph courtesy of Kris Keppler

What You Have to Know Earlier than Auditioning

Earlier than you spend months auditioning to land your first gig, we’ve got some suggestions that will help you get began.

“My voice simply matches with audiobook work,” Keppeler mentioned. “Actors are particularly tuned in for audiobook work, by the character of our coaching.”

That’s as a result of actors learn to voice a number of characters, mandatory for fiction narration particularly. Even for nonfiction, performing coaching may help you animate narration and make a e book attention-grabbing.

“You positively should have some coaching,” Keppeler mentioned. “If you happen to frequently hearken to audiobooks and like them, that’s a great start line. However it’s a must to have an actual want to do this sort of work, as a result of it’s loads of work.”

How is narrating an audiobook totally different from simply studying a e book aloud?

“Whenever you learn a e book, you’re seeing and listening to issues in your thoughts,” she mentioned. “Whenever you’re narrating that e book, what you’re seeing and listening to in your thoughts it’s a must to then vocalize. That’s not simple!”

As a result of an audiobook listener depends completely in your narration, portray the image excellent (and assembly the writer’s imaginative and prescient) is significant. It’s a definite distinction from different voiceover work, like commercials, the place photos or video complement the narration.

Due to this want to attract the reader right into a made-up world, narrating fiction requires performing abilities. Not everyone seems to be reduce out for it.

However, “nonfiction has its personal problem,” Keppeler mentioned. “Generally what you’re studying is type of dry, however you continue to should make it attention-grabbing.”

She says it doesn’t essentially matter whether or not a e book is attention-grabbing to her.

“At this level, whether or not it’s or not, I’m narrating it and discovering the attention-grabbing bits for me and placing it into my voice,” Keppeler mentioned.

Even should you don’t take pleasure in the subject material, you’ll be able to nonetheless benefit from the course of of manufacturing the e book for readers.


  • Performing coaching will be helpful to voice performing.
  • Commonly hearken to audiobooks to choose up on approach.
  • Since a listener will likely be following your voice (and gained’t have visible cues), it’s a must to vocalize what you’re seeing and listening to in your thoughts for them. It is a skillset by itself.
  • Apply, apply, apply! And don’t really feel unhealthy if a sure style, or narrating usually, isn’t for you.

Be taught Correct Approach

Earlier than touchdown her first gig by ACX, Keppeler submitted auditions to the platform for nicely over a yr.

Why does it take so lengthy to land a gig?

A few of it, Keppeler says, is simply studying easy methods to narrate appropriately. “I had some teaching that lastly introduced me to the purpose of doing a reasonably good job.”

Writer Joanna Penn recorded the audio variations of a few of her personal books. If you happen to can’t afford teaching, she affords some suggestions for rookies at The Artistic Penn that will help you get began.

Some methods to think about:

  • If you happen to’re new at recording, schedule classes just a few days aside to make sure you have sufficient vitality.
  • Attempt to keep away from dairy earlier than recording. Identical goes for meals like peanut butter or something that clogs up your mouth or throat (yeck!).
  • Attempt to modulate your respiratory so that you don’t find yourself holding your breath. This has an actual impact on stamina.


  • It might take some time (months and even years) to get your foot within the door.
  • Think about hiring a voice coach.
  • Bottle your vitality forward of recording classes so your voice will likely be recent.
  • Keep away from sure meals and drinks earlier than you document audio.
  • Be taught correct respiratory strategies.

Discover Your Area of interest

As soon as she’d mastered the audiobook studying strategies, Keppeler mentioned, she needed to discover her area of interest.

She used trial and error. She took no matter narration work got here her method, and listened to consumer suggestions. When an writer appreciated her voice, she knew it was a great match.

“In voice-over usually, there are such a lot of totally different genres,” she mentioned. “Most individuals discover you’ve got sure specialties and sure ones don’t match.”

As soon as you realize your voice and which genres are the very best match, she says, jobs come way more shortly.

Solely audition for gigs that suit your voice, and the success price is far larger. You’ll be able to even seek for books by style.

“I’m turning into a little bit of a nonfiction specialist,” Keppeler mentioned. “[When it comes to fiction], it’s laborious to study to do the totally different voices… Fiction books are closely character-based, so that you’re going to should deal with [those] except you’re employed to work with a gaggle, however that’s not that frequent.”


  • Discovering the correct area of interest will take some trial and error.
  • Take heed to consumer suggestions and don’t be afraid to experiment with totally different genres.
  • When you discover a match, keep on with that area of interest so you’ll be able to develop in that specialty.

The Challenges of Audiobook Narration

A few of the work concerned goes past simply recording the voiceover. “Particularly should you work by ACX, it’s a must to do the manufacturing your self,” Keppeler mentioned. “[That’s] enhancing and mastering your self. There’s a technical studying curve.”

Audiobooks require hours and hours of enhancing, making them way more labor intensive than loads of different voice-over work.

“What I discovered enhancing smaller jobs contributed loads to having the ability to bounce into audiobooks,” Keppeler mentioned.

So that you may contemplate beginning small.

Search on-line for voiceover jobs — you’ll discover promotional movies below 5 minutes or company coaching movies of 5 to fifteen minutes.

Even on-line course movies requiring just a few hours of voice-over are a lot shorter than most audiobooks, which run nearer to 10 to fifteen hours. Hone your abilities on smaller jobs and work your method as much as the lengthier initiatives.

What about contracting the technical stuff out to an audio editor? Keppeler says that for what you’re paid, it’s not often value it for an audiobook.

You’re anticipated to document, produce and ship a completed product. Any further aid you usher in will reduce into your pay. Keppeler says you’re higher off simply studying to do it your self.

The Artistic Penn additionally affords a few enhancing suggestions:

  • Keep away from web page turning noises — learn from a pill, Kindle or different digital machine.
  • Flip off any units’ Wi-Fi connections and set them to Airplane mode to keep away from static noises. (They might be there, even should you can’t hear them.)
  • Every ACX file must be a single chapter of the e book. It’s simpler to document these as separate recordsdata reasonably than reduce it up later.
  • The ACX technical necessities imply it’s a must to add just a few seconds of Room Tone in the beginning and finish of the file.


  • Recording audio will be labor-intensive work.
  • Think about mixing smaller audio jobs into your workload.
  • You’ll be able to pay for audio editors and different professionals that will help you with the completed challenge, nevertheless it’s usually value studying these abilities to maintain extra of what you earn.
  • All the time concentrate on  — and keep away from — any extra noise when recording.
A man records audio at a recording booth.
Getty Photographs

Incomes Royalties for Audiobook Work

Keppeler says most freelance audiobook work will likely be paid in royalties. As you may guess, this reduces an writer’s upfront value — in addition to their threat in hiring you.

Whereas ACX could also be a great place to seek out the work, the pay is often decrease, particularly in contrast with freelance dealer websites that aren’t devoted solely to audiobook narration. Whenever you document an audiobook with ACX, you’ll select between setting your personal per-finished-hour price or splitting royalties 50/50 with the rights holder (often the e book’s writer or writer).

If you happen to cost a flat price, you’ll be paid upon completion of the e book. Royalties are paid month-to-month primarily based on gross sales from the earlier month. Principally, Keppeler focuses on quick books she will shortly full. And she or he will get paid a flat price of about $100 per completed hour, reasonably than royalties.

“I’ve achieved royalty offers however solely on ACX with quick books,” she mentioned. “I don’t wish to tie up my time, since you [typically] make little or no on royalty books… I’ve 4 royalty books [on ACX], and about $20 trickles in each quarter.”

Whether or not or not a royalty deal pays off is basically primarily based on an writer’s platform, The Artistic Penn factors out. Analysis an writer earlier than signing an settlement.

If you happen to’re simply in search of a fast job and aren’t involved with long-term gross sales, you’ll be able to work with an writer no matter their viewers. Set a flat price, and get your cash when the job’s achieved.

However if you wish to develop a long-term relationship with an writer and also you’ve discovered somebody with a large viewers, you might be higher off with the royalty deal.

Long run, you could possibly make way more cash in gross sales royalties. Your working relationship with the writer additionally will likely be strengthened, since you’ll be invested within the e book’s success.


  • Freelance audiobook work is commonly paid in royalties.
  • If you happen to document an audiobook with ACX, you’ll usually both set a flat price or break up royalties with the rights holder.
  • There are pluses and minuses to royalty offers; determine what is going to be just right for you.

The place to Discover Audiobook Work

As with every freelance work, reserving a gig immediately with the consumer in your community permits you probably the most autonomy in setting your price.

Connecting with a consumer by a contract dealer like Upwork and Freelancer affords much less autonomy and often decrease charges than working with somebody immediately.

Bidding by an trade web site like ACX affords the bottom of each. “I solely exit to ACX once I don’t produce other paid work,” Keppeler mentioned.

ACX makes it troublesome to attain one of many staples of profitable freelance work: repeat purchasers.

Keppeler mentioned the platform isn’t actually set as much as join authors with narrators long-term. As a substitute, you audition for every job. It eliminates an enormous alternative for narrators to work with an writer on a sequence or future books.

What ACX is good for, she mentioned, is constructing your portfolio. If you happen to’re simply getting began, the platform offers you a chance to hone your chops.

Apply your narrating and enhancing abilities by auditions, and enhance from writer suggestions. When you land just a few gigs, use these as samples to land purchasers elsewhere.

As audiobooks improve in reputation, Keppeler is seeing extra audiobook work seem on Upwork. Freelancers, she says, are typically higher for normal voiceover gigs, however not audiobook narration.

Whether or not you wish to be an audiobook narrator, do voice-over work in a recording studio or do one thing else within the audiobook business, there’s by no means been a greater time. Try job postings, casting calls and freelance work, and community with different voice actors.

Start auditioning, and see what occurs. Put that nice voice of yours to good use!


  • You discover audio gig work on platforms corresponding to Upwork and, and on exchanges like ACX.
  • Your previous gigs will aid you land future (and probably extra profitable) alternatives.

If you happen to’re simply getting began in voice-over work, strive shopping Upwork for smaller initiatives you need to use to seek out your voice, construct your technical abilities and develop your portfolio.

Or attain into your community, and get artistic to seek out freelancing gigs by yourself.

Ceaselessly Requested Questions (FAQs)

Listed below are the highest FAQs concerning audiobook narrators and audiobook narrator jobs.

How A lot Does an Audiobook Narrator Make?

A voice actor could make about $10-$350 an hour to document an audiobook. Relying on the gig and a bunch of different elements, compensation will differ per particular person and per job. Seek advice from the part “How A lot Can You Make Recording Audiobooks?” on this article for extra data.

How A lot Do Audiobook Narrators Make a Yr?

Associated, it will rely upon quite a lot of issues, out of your years of expertise on the freelance circuit to what kind of salaried job you get. The vary is anyplace from a pair hundred {dollars} to tens (and even tons of) of hundreds a yr.

How Do I Develop into an Audible Narrator?

Amazon has a information for budding Audible audiobook narrators.

Can Anybody Be an Audiobook Narrator?

Technically sure, although you’ll improve your probabilities of getting employed with coaching or teaching, a number of apply and previous profitable work you’ll be able to showcase. Typically, being an audiobook narrator can be an aligned gig for voice-over artists, vocal expertise and different voice actors.

Dana Sitar and Kathleen Garvin are contributors to The Penny Hoarder.



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