Audiobooks have become an increasingly popular medium with the advent of smartphones and apps like Audible that have evolved into the literary equivalent of Netflix and Hulu. Indeed, many great voice actors are now–reading or performing novels, short stories, biographies, Shakespeare, and everything else that can be transcribed into audio.
These voice actors have to treat their auditions and jobs differently than film or stage actors. Here are five tips for actors who are interested in audiobook narration.
Create a unique demo
No different than a reel, a voice demo is your primary tool to present your work and skillset. The quality of the audio is perhaps even more important than if it were a video reel, and including a diverse array of genres and media will show your range and capabilities. Be sure to update your demo regularly to keep it fresh and relevant.
Get some lip balm
Staying hydrated is one major thing to never forget as an actor, especially for voice actors. But quenching your thirst with a constantly full bottle of water isn’t all it takes–you’ll need to make sure your lips stay just as moist as your tongue and throat. Keep moisturizing lip balm in your bag and don’t forget to keep it close to you and your mic while in the recording booth.
Preserve your stamina
Audiobooks can be incredibly lengthy–A Dance with Dragons, the 1,016 page-long fifth book in the Game of Thrones is 48 hours and 55 minutes long, for example. Since obviously a project like this wouldn’t be finished in a single recording session, an actor will need to prepare for hours of exercising your voice. Everything from smoking to eating cheese could have an effect on your vocal cords, so doing everything you can–including minimizing speech leading up to the recording session–is important. You’ll also need plenty of rest and sleep to make sure your energy never wanes during these epic recording sessions.
Reading more books in the genre you’re recording, whether it’s mystery novels or military histories, will help you get a feel for the rhythm of the writing, something you will be translating in your own tone and cadence. Of course, the best thing to do before an audiobook recording is to read the actual book you’ll be working on–that way no surprises show up, whether they are tough pronunciations or an author’s awkward sentence structure. Unless you’re doing a cold reading, you normally would review a script before performing it; audiobooks are no different.
Behind every great audiobook is a great director, monitoring their performers closely from the control room, or perhaps even from within the recording booth itself. Make sure to take their direction closely, and also to work collaboratively with them–like any other performance, two-way communication with your director is key to bringing out your best. This is especially important in fiction audiobooks, where often you’ll be performing scenes that would fit right in on a stage.Tips to Become an Audiobook Narrator by Ludovic Coutaud