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, there is now a much larger avenue for voice actors to find work–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 becoming an audiobook narrator.
Create a unique demo
No different than your reel, a voice demo is key to landing an audition or a job in the voiceover business. 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 give you broader options for audiobook projects. Be sure to update your demo regularly as works come up to keep your brand fresh and relevant.
Get some lip balm
Staying hydrated is one major thing to never forget as a working 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 series, is 48 hours and 55 minutes long, for example. Since obviously a project like this wouldn’t be finished in a single recording session, you 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 outside of work leading up to the gig–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 working in, 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 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.