Audiobook Narration can be compared with Marmite. You are either going to love it or hate it. Just because you are an established Voiceover Artist, and have all the bits and pieces that make up an awesome home studio, does not mean that Audiobooks will be for you. Just because you are a trained actor with oodles of stage experience, or a semi-famous face from off the telly, does not mean they will be for you either. Nor does it follow that because you love reading your kids bedtime stories, that this will be the route for you to go in your voice career. Although every single one of those paths of experience can bring a depth and richness to your Audiobook Narration work, they are not the deciding factors in whether this long-form work will be your favourite thing in the world to do, or indeed, indicators that you will actually be any good at it.
If you are a lover of Audiobook work, you will see, as I do, that the hours spent behind the microphone, locked in a booth on your tod, is a creative blessing. The actor in me revels at the chance to play all the parts, to direct the tone of each chapter (or scene), to be the omnipresent narrator and the individual protagonists all at once. I paint every picture, I bring the landscape of the authors words to life. I get to be the old crone, the young male love interest, the baddies, the goodies, the flawed and the ugly. In short, it allows me to create. When I work with a publisher, and have a voice director or producer working with me, even better – I have someone to help me tell the author’s story in the very best way, and point out opportunities to enhance the text with my voice.
I relish that Audiobooks allow me so much more artistic accomplishment than in my commercial and corporate VO bread and butter projects. It works as a fantastic companion to my IVR telephone work, or the eLearning staple of a Voiceover Artist. It has brought a new levels of awareness to my everyday recording habits, and my speech intonation patterns. I have become much ‘cleaner’ in my speech, as a result of teaching myself how to edit and record long-form, and this pays off in dividends when I work on short, snappy corporate jobs, which always seem so much more straight forward, and a nice interlude to a 9 hour long novel. When working from home, I look forward to stopping narrating to do a cheerful radio commercial, as the work is so very different.
If Audiobook work intrigues you, consider applying to volunteer for the RNIB to be a Talking Book Narrator, or even Calibre, or other audio charities. That way, your first experience will be with an editor in a studio where all you have to think about are the words and lifting them off the page.
If you are already pretty efficient at editing, or know enough to competently outsource the production, have a look at Audible’s ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange). Their platform opened in the UK in April 2014, and allows Narrators to audition directly for the Authors (or Rights Holders) on Titles. Try your hand at some short projects under an hour or so, and see how you go.
I’m often at events hosted by The VoiceOver Network, so if you need any pointers, come say hello, and ask me. You’ll probably find me over by the nibbles, especially if there are Twiglets. Once a Marmite lover, always hooked.
Anna Parker-Naples has worked as a Voiceover Artist since 2001, and has recorded from her ISDN studio in Bedfordshire since 2009. A trained, professional actress, and an experienced Audiobook Narrator, Anna is the first Audible Approved female Producer in the UK. She has recorded over 30 titles since she began narrating in 2013. Her commercial and corporate clients include Coca-Cola, Mothercare, Superdrug, Virgin Active, FC Barcelona, Next, La Senza, Aardman Animation and the BBC. She is a member of the International group of VO’s the Voxy Ladies, and is represented in the US and the UK. Anna writes a popular voice blog Shout About Voice! , which was recognised by Audible’s ACX as the top Voice Acting blog for 2013, and was listed in the Top 30 blogs for the VO industry by ‘The Voice For your Business’ Bloglist in 2013 and 2014. You can learn more about her work at www.AnnaParkerNaples.com.