How Do I Get a Job Reading Books on Tape?
Ever listened to a voice narrating an audiobook on a long car trip and thought, "I wonder how they got that job?" It seems like easy money, but voice-over narrators are hard-working professionals. Recording audiobooks likely entails reading aloud an entire novel or nonfiction book, often with multiple takes necessary to correct errors.
As with so many other careers, the best place to begin your search may well be online. A search for "audiobook voices" will yield an impressive number of results. Some websites, such as voice.com, allow you to create a profile, upload audio samples of your voice and browse available assignments. Many sites also connect potential narrators with those who need voices for projects. Producers of books on tape can select a recording artist based on his audio samples.
It's important to note that if you do not have audio samples, you'll need to record them yourself or hire an audio engineer. Prepare a number of samples reading from different sources and in different styles. Diversity of samples can open the door to different types of recording opportunities.
Advertise and Network
Many professional audiobook voice-over artists maintain websites showcasing their talents. If you wish to pursue a serious career recording voice-overs for books on tape, consider setting up a website to cater to potential clients.
Often the author of the original work will be asked to approve the selection of narrator. Some authors read their own books aloud for audiobook source material. If you are interested in doing a voice-over for your own work, contact the publisher to see if this is a viable option.
As in any field, making contacts is one of the most important steps to success. The Audio Publishers Association offers membership for a fee; in return, members gain access to notifications, opportunities and connections in the audio-publishing field.
Your local library or university might offer a way to build your resume before approaching professional audiobook publishers. Many libraries and colleges offer programs for hearing-impaired patrons, and have a consistent need for those willing to record audio texts. Consult these local sources to see if such opportunities exist in your area.
In the meantime, work to develop your craft. Audiobook narrators need to be engaging, to develop a sense of timing and to possess the patience and stamina needed to read through entire works of various lengths. Practice narrating so that you'll be ready for that first assignment.
Annie Lee Tatum has been a freelance writer since 2008. Her poetry and articles have appeared in "Ace Weekly," "Kudzu" and various other publications. Tatum received her Bachelor of Arts from Eastern Kentucky University in 2002 and her Master of Arts from the University of Louisville in 2008. Interests include anthropology and cooking.