How do I get a job recording audio books?
January 6, 2012 11:03 PM   Subscribe

How do I get a job as a "voice" for audio books?

I've had a passive interest in doing this for a while and think I have a good voice for it. Assuming that I do, how do I go about getting into this business. Word is that it is a constantly growing market, so there is always a need for voices/readers/"talent".

There are some things like this that promise to tell you all you need to know, but this just screams scam and I don't want to waste $80.

I live in Minneapolis and can't justify moving for the sake of this, but I'd really like to get into it, even if just on an occasional or part-time basis. How feasible is this?
posted by BradNelson to Work & Money (9 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
There is a place in Montreal that records audiobooks for hearing-impaired and Deaf people. It's done on a volunteer basis, but it certainly gives volunteers some good experience in that field. Apparently reading out loud for recording purposes is more difficult than one would think.
posted by OLechat at 11:07 PM on January 6, 2012

Best answer: Another way to do it as a volunteer is via the Librivox project. (And maybe people in that community would be able to guide you towards professional opportunities?)
posted by snorkmaiden at 11:31 PM on January 6, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Another opportunity for volunteer work is Wikipedia's spoken articles. Maybe a good way to build a portfolio?
posted by Harald74 at 12:03 AM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

Adding on to what OLechat mentioned, most (if not all) states have a Library for the Blind that produces volunteer-read audio books for the blind and people who are physically unable to hold a book. You would have to audition--usually read a page or two using their equipment--and show that you have clear diction and a relatively pleasing voice. No pay, but it does give you an idea of what the job would entail.
posted by lovecrafty at 1:05 AM on January 7, 2012

If you haven't done so already, try the Minnesota Services for the Blind, particularly the Talking Books and Radio section, and see what criteria they need you to meet. It's unclear to me whether it's paid or not, but it's certainly worth a look and maybe even a phone call or e-mail to the agency.

My stepfather is blind and has been a heavy user of services provided by National Library Services for the Blind. This question from the FAQ seems pertinent.

I listen to a lot of audiobooks through Audible. If you browse through their biographies of narrators, most of them have some kind of acting and/or broadcasting background. It's not just about reading aloud, but also about creating characters, and emoting, and engaging with the material so that it's interesting to the listener. It's performing a book. I imagine any time you have spent on stage or behind a microphone, even as an amateur, would be helpful.

I suspect, but I don't actually know, that readers of audiobooks have contracts with publishers rather than Audible itself. You may even need an agent for these things.

I agree with the others in this thread, you may need to get your feet wet through volunteering before you can jump in to the paying work. And even if you don't get paid, it's still a Good Thing To Do.

Go for it!
posted by That's Numberwang! at 1:07 AM on January 7, 2012

I knew a girl in NYC a few years back who read a few books. She was a trained actress, and found auditions for them in the acting trade magazines.
posted by Flood at 5:20 AM on January 7, 2012

Like in acting, professional voice people have demos or reels. My friend is a recording engineer who has his own studio. He does a lot of books and other audio items for money and volunteer organizations like the for the blind and the elderly. I can get you two in touch and he can help. He could recommend you to his clients (which he does with voice talents) when appropriate.

Mail me if you'd like.
posted by Yellow at 5:22 AM on January 7, 2012

If you're open to voice acting, you may want to consider the auditioning for roles in the volunteer-run Pendant Productions as a way of developing a portfolio.
posted by thatdawnperson at 7:02 AM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

My partner does audiobooks professionally. She's also an actress, and she has representation. Almost all the "talent" that does the readings for books published by a major publishing house is a professional in some way, usually an actor (there are some people who do audio work exclusively). Unless you're a serious talent with your own studio, there's not going to be a lot of work outside NYC, LA, and Atlanta.

Here's a basic test of your mettle: pick the worst-written book you own, and start reading it aloud. How far can you get without tripping over your words, while keeping an engaging tone? Professional readers do several hundred pages a day.

BradNelson: "Word is that it is a constantly growing market, so there is always a need for voices/readers/"talent"."

I don't think this is true for anything that actually pays a respectable wage, or isn't what is essentially soft-core porn. More and more audio work, in fact, is being done by "known" actors. It's an unbelievably competitive field.

BradNelson: "There are some things like this that promise to tell you all you need to know, but this just screams scam and I don't want to waste $80."

Total scam.
posted by mkultra at 12:40 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

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