Voice Actor's Notebook

The making of an audiobook – part 3

So, you’ve followed my advice in part one and recieved the proper training along with knowing if you really want to do this. And you took my advice in part two by searching for novels that fit your vocal style and auditioning for them.

Now in part three, you’ll learn about some very important things you absolutely must do after landing an audiobook job. Necessary requirements that are vital before even starting up your recording software and charging the phantom power of your mic.

There is nothing worse than recording a few chapters of an audiobook and then finding out that the author wanted something slightly different than your audition.

Let’s get started!

Confirm the style with the author

The author may have loved your audition, but there still may be a few things the author may want changed in the actual audiobook. Begin your dialogue with the author by asking what specifically he or she liked about your performance. Get the details.

In addition, ask for specific details about what he or she didn’t like.

Find out about the pace, tone, and style of the narrator. Your audition may have beat out the competition, but that doesn’t mean it was perfect.

For any changes the author wants, record part of the audition selection again using those changes. That way the author can give you the thumbs up before you dig into the whole book.

Ask for the character sheets

Pretty much all authors create detailed character sheets for the major and minor characters. These sheets will describe the appearance of each character (Male or female. Age. Genaral appearance such as tall dark, and handsome or short, overweight, with the looks only a mother could love.)

These sheets should also give the details of each character’s personality.

When asking the author for the character sheets, also ask if he or she could give you some ideas about the vocal style of each. Is the hero, Jonny B, more masculine and macho or more of your “guy next door” kinda… well, guy?

Also, if you can do any foreign accents or dialects, be sure to tell the author which ones you can do. That way he or she has more choices with which to work with.

Note: You usually don’t have to do foreign accents perfectly. Audiobook listeners are usually forgiving if, for example, your British English has a slight American flavor. Of course, confirm everything with the author first!

Read the whole damn book first!

Right after landing an audiobook job isn’t the time to start recording it. READ THE WHOLE BOOK! From cover to cover.

While reading the book you will notice many things. Such as:

  • Characters who begin sections of dialogue before the reader finds out the character’s name. If you didn’t read the book first and take good notes, then you wouldn’t know which character voice to use now would you?
  • Is the character supposed to whisper his words or shout them? Is there a sarcastic tone or one of seriousness? Often an author will write something like this: “Good job, Dan!” whispered Jonny, a little too sarcastically for Dan’s liking. Look out for these and take note of them.
  • Aside from dialogue, what’s happening in the story? Does a sentence foreshadow an upcoming battle in the sentences that follow? Is the narration leading into a romantic scene? Take note and be ready.

Communication is key

Having as much open communication with the author as you can before recording is vital. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Authors will appreciate your attention to the details. Also, encourage the author to ask you any questions he or she might have. Work together on planning out the audiobook. The two of you are a team. Remember that. Also, you may be the one recording it, but it is the author’s baby! Treat it as such — with tender, loving care.

Remember: open dialogue between the two of you is so very important. It will greatly decrease the chances of either of you becoming confused or even frustrated.

And, most importantly, it greatly decrease the chances of you needing to rerecord whole sections, all a character’s dialogue parts, or even whole chapters!

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