Voice Actor's Notebook

The making of an audiobook – part 2

I like to use ACX.com to find audiobook jobs. But choosing which book you’d like to audition for isn’t easy. There are many things you need to take into consideration before warming up your studio and recording your audition.

In part two of the “The making of an audiobook” series, I’d like to talk a little bit about just that — choosing the right book for you.

My assumptions

I’m going to assume that you (dear reader) have already taken the time to get proper training. I’ll also assume that you have a good studio, equipment, mics, software, etc. and know how to use them well. And I’ll also assume that you did what I suggested in part one of this series.

If you have done none of the above, then please don’t waste an author’s time with a poorly recorded and poorly performed audition. Not only that, but it will reflect badly on you.

Find the right fit — for your voice

How would others characterize your voice? A strong and masculine male voice? A sweet and demure female voice? How about the age of your voice: young or old?

When choosing which book to audition for, try to keep in mind how you sound to others and if that sound fits the book’s narrator. Sure, voice actors can change the pitch, style, personality, etc of their performance. But if you have a natural mid-range voice and the book needs a deep, “shake your shoes” voice, then it’s probably best not to audition. You can probably hit that deep, rumbling voice for short bits of dialogue, but trying to do a full-fledged novel in that voice is not only an extreme challenge, but can also stress your vocal chords in a very bad way.

Tip: Audition for books that you believe will fit your natural reading voice.

Find the right fit — for you

Are you into business journals? How about fantasy fiction? Self-help books? Or how about the latest Dan Brown novel? When you start to record an audiobook, it’s going to take a lot of your time, so it’s best to choose a book that really interests you. And especially, a book that is well written.

A few months ago I found a book on ACX.com that piqued my interest. The liner notes really caught my attention. Even the first 5 pages (which were the audition selection) intrigued me. So I auditioned for it. About a week later, the author contacted me with excited praise. The final choice of narrators was between me and one other person. Both of us had performed with skill and had captured the author, so the final choice was purely aesthetic — which voice would be THE voice of the book.

In anticipation, I decided to buy the ebook and do a little preparation, just in case I won the job. But much to my disappointment, the best part of the book was the first 5 pages! The rest of the book could only be described as “a high school student attempting to be Tolkien”.

In the end, I didn’t get the job. But I was actually relieved. I knew that if I had won the job, it would have been a challenge to bring the book to life.

Tip: Audition for books that you are interested in.

Which brings me to my next point…


When you find a book that interests you, go to Amazon.com or the iTunes Bookstore (or your preferred website) and read the reviews. Make sure there are many reviews. A few glowing reviews could mean that the author’s friends and family were the only ones who took the time to read the book. And don’t be squeamish about buying the ebook, either! Read as much of it as you can.

Tip: It’s best to know exactly how well received the book you are auditioning for is, before you even audition.

You thoughts

If you have anything you’d like to add to the topic, feel free to comment below!