Reading aloud as a career?
April 15, 2009 9:57 AM   Subscribe

These days, I'm investigating the possibility that I am simply not long for my world in I.T. I was speaking with someone earlier today and he asked me, "What do you like?" Well, there were many answers to that question, but one thing that occurs to me is that I love to read aloud. It's something I enjoy, feel good about, and never have enough time to do. So, my question: Are there professions in which reading aloud is a large component? I know I might be thinking of voice-over work, but I've never done anything like it professionally. What about audiobooks? And while I'm at it, feel free to point out training. I am in Houston.
posted by tcv to Work & Money (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Bingo caller?

Dispatch? (ie for a trucking or cab company)

Story teller at the library?
posted by ian1977 at 10:15 AM on April 15, 2009

Too bad you aren't in Austin, because you could volunteer for Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (they don't have an office in Houston, the Austin location serves several states). It's not a career, but it would be a good way to get experience. I did find a similar group called Taping for the Blind in Houston on Google.
posted by fructose at 10:29 AM on April 15, 2009

Reading out loud isnt a marketable skill. Voice actors are just that: actors. They usually have distinct voices, do impressions, convincingly play characters, etc. Its also pretty competitive and many voice actors work part-time as they are unable to get full time work. I think someone without the acting background and the willingness to pay his or her dues would not do very well in that field.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:30 AM on April 15, 2009

There must be some volunteer opportunities, though.

Reading to children in the hospital? To the elderly in nursing homes? To groups of children in a library?

Or you could make a podcast of serialized audiobooks from out-of-copyright classics. If you have a good voice, that could be a real hit.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:40 AM on April 15, 2009

I interviewed once for a children's librarian position, and man, those guys were really harping on the story times, and how much they needed someone who could really pull it out for story times. Do you like kids? Kids need to be read to, and there are probably a number of jobs that incorporate that. Sadly, I doubt most of them would pay as well as IT work.
posted by booknerd at 10:42 AM on April 15, 2009

Until a paid gig comes along you could volunteer for librivox.
posted by QuakerMel at 10:47 AM on April 15, 2009

You can give audio books idea a try in your spare time.

Check out

LibriVox volunteers read and record chapters of books in the public domain (books no longer under copyright), and make them available for free on the Internet. Practically, this means we record books published before 1923. All our recordings (including yours, if you volunteer for us) are also donated into the public domain.
posted by o0dano0o at 10:47 AM on April 15, 2009

As far as reading for the blind, you can also volunteer at The LightHouse.

I know Lone Star Actors Studio has voice over classes, but I've never taken from them so I don't know what the quality is like. Occasionally a few of the local community theatres have classes, but I don't see any voice over classes right now. Just keep checking around, I guess. You can find a list of local theatres at TheatrePort.

Also, keep an eye on Lone Star Community College, and Leisure Learning Unlimited. Class selection varies at both places from semester to semester.

Voice acting is more than just "reading aloud", though. And as damn dirty ape has already pointed out, it's a tough job market.
posted by rakaidan at 10:50 AM on April 15, 2009

damn dirty ape is correct about the books on tape gigs being for pros. A pal of mine makes a living at it, but she is a trained stage actress who can convincingly change her voice for different characters, etc. (Also, it's *hard*! I remember watching her preparing for an upcoming book that was going to involve more than 25 different accents.)

That said, if you really want to pursue it, guys like this apparently will train you.
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:01 AM on April 15, 2009

I was going to say what QuakerMel said. LibriVox is just the sort of place to get a feel for this sort of thing.

You might also want to become involved with EscapePod and Escape Artists, who are THE market for short sci-fi/fantasy/horror in audio form right now online.

You might also dig around and see if there are any Creative Commons authors you like, who do not currently do audio podcasts of their work, and make yourself available to them to do such a thing for them.
posted by strixus at 12:43 PM on April 15, 2009

Working as a personal reader for a blind person requires a totally different skillset than voice acting or doing books on tape. Nobody's expecting you to emote if you're reading a computer manual or a credit card bill. (And I'm reliably informed that the many wannabe readers who do try to make a big production out of everything are annoying and don't last.)

The day to day jobs are more varied and sociable, but if you want to be expressive rather than informative, look into book on tape opportunities instead.
posted by the latin mouse at 1:11 PM on April 15, 2009

Working in the audio industry, I just have to say, if you CAN get VO work, go for it, as it's ridiculously lucrative. And you never know, sometimes people want guys who sound nothing like what you'd expect.
posted by toekneebullard at 1:34 PM on April 15, 2009

Response by poster: Informative is more my angle. I don't care to read fiction books aloud. So, perhaps that limits my options?
posted by tcv at 2:29 PM on April 15, 2009

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