Audiobooks are catching on with particular vehemence in recent years, gaining the consent of an increasingly varied audience of users . Their success is due to many factors, but it is certainly to be found primarily in their versatility, or in the possibility of adapting to the lifestyle of each of us. Not to mention the social function of supporting people with visual impairment at all levels of severity.
Such a widespread diffusion of this new reading trend corresponds to an ever greater search for readers, or rather, for storytellers and speakers , capable of transposing both the contents and the emotions of a literary work in audio format, through their own voice and theatrics. If you think you have the right skills and you’re wondering how to become an audiobook reader , know that you’re in the right place! I have decided to satisfy your curiosity with this article, revealing all the secrets of this new profession.
In the following paragraphs, I will show you what it takes to become the narrator of an audiobook, both in terms of technical requirements and instrumentation, and also provide you with ad hoc suggestions to achieve your ambition. At the end, I will show you which are the best sites to look for work in this area and the different solutions that the Internet offers to gain visibility and assert one’s professionalism. What are you waiting for then? Sit back and enjoy reading this guide. After all, reading could be your new professional outlet!
How to become an audiobook reader
To know well how to become audiobook readers, you must first be masters of the subject: for this reason it is advisable that you know well what an audiobook is. By definition, it is an audio recording of a book read aloud by one or more narrators. In some cases it would be more correct to say recited , especially when the narration takes place through the mouth of a professional actor, as often happens for the most famous publications.
Audiobooks are born with a very specific social function, namely that of supporting people with reading problems who can range from blindness to simple visual fatigue after a hard day’s work. The phenomenon soon took on wider dimensions and broader connotations, coming to capture the attention of a much more numerous user than the initial one. Just think of the typical condition of a worker stuck in traffic, who takes advantage of the situation and the availability of the stereo integrated in the car to listen to an audio book.
The market has therefore been able to “seize the opportunity”, creating companies dedicated to the production and distribution of audiobooks on a large scale, in agreement with the publishing houses. In fact, it is often the latter that define and package the registration of the final product, in order to also manage everything concerning copyright , in particular the so-called DRM licenses , introduced to block the possibility of copying a file freely creating an unauthorized duplication.
It is therefore good to keep all these notions in mind when entering the job market for this particular profession. If you want to learn more about this topic, I recommend reading my guide on how an audiobook works.
How to become an audiobook reader
In the following paragraphs I will show you all the information you need to know how to become an audiobook reader and, in particular, you will see what the essential requirements are, what the working tools are and how to create demos to thus create a portfolio to present to publishers and customers to offer you the best.
The qualities of one’s voice and storytelling skills must necessarily be accompanied by acting skills and suitable working tools, which make one’s work profile credible. In short, the more you take care of the details, the more you will be able to distinguish yourself in an area in which it is important to combine skills, preparation, experience, methodology and the right attention to the technical and technological aspect.
To become an audiobook reader it is not enough simply to have a good voice. The requirements to be taken into account are diverse and encompass a variety of areas. It certainly doesn’t hurt, but it’s always good to take into account the fact that a narrator must also and above all possess an innate passion for reading , such as to allow him to become a vehicle for transferring the emotions contained in a literary work to the listener. For example, having a theatrical training can certainly have an advantage in this sense, and make the interpretation process more natural.
At the same time, a certain quality in diction is essential , in order to make all terms clear and defined, especially when dealing with reading non-fiction works. If necessary, a narrative voice must be as free as possible from dialectical cadences and inflections , which however could be useful when dealing with characters or works closely linked to the territory. Therefore, it is not necessary to completely erase one’s roots, but simply to learn to control them.
The suggestion I give you is, therefore, to train yourself as much as possible on all those rules concerning the correct pronunciation of a word: open or closed vowels, more or less sweet sounds, they are all details that can make the difference when you intend to apply for this profession. There are many courses, even online, that you can take.
Knowing more languages then becomes more important than one might think. Several foreign words are an integral part of our lexicon, but are often not pronounced properly. I advise you not to underestimate this aspect, and to practice as much as possible both in listening and in pronouncing at least the most common terms. And if you are multilingual, this will certainly help you a lot in your new profession. If so, you might find apps for studying English or other languages interesting.
In short, there are many requisites, but the good news is that there are also many possibilities for acquiring skills , above all thanks to the wide training offer , also available online, in many of the sectors that I have just explained to you. If you feel that you have gaps in some of the aspects described, but you absolutely want to realize your dream of becoming an audiobook reader , strongly consider the opportunity to take an acting, diction, speaker or voice-over course. They are all professions closely related to that of storyteller, and could also be useful in other contexts.
In this chapter I will provide you with clarifications on what are the technical tools indispensable to an audiobook reader to produce their own demos or, in any case, to carry out the profession independently. There are not many, but it is good that they are chosen with care and skill: it is essential to produce quality audio files to be as presentable and marketable as possible.
You will absolutely need a reliable computer to produce and manage your audio files, perhaps using the integrated sound card as an input, but if you want to obtain a higher quality level you could consider buying an external sound card to make your little one even more professional home recording studio. If you want some specific advice, read my guide on the best sound cards.
A microphone must inevitably be connected to the computer , and here we enter an extremely delicate subject. The microphone is the main tool of this profession, and it must be able to capture the expressiveness and depth of your voice as much as possible. With an external sound card you will have different connection solutions available, as it provides XLR and TRS inputs. Otherwise, the advice I can give you is to prefer a condenser , perhaps USB to connect it directly to the PC, as it represents an excellent compromise between cleanliness and depth, and they are also among the most used in recording podcasts.
Furthermore, with the anti-pop filter they are equipped with, you avoid acquiring annoying sounds that can be generated by the movement of the lips. For a more complete picture, however, I suggest you read my guide on the best microphones for streaming.
Now is the time to equip yourself with the right software . There are numerous programs suitable for the purpose: one of the most used and widespread is undoubtedly Audacity , perfect for audio recording. It is also compatible with all operating systems (Windows, macOS and Linux), free and open source. It also has excellent potential and is more than sufficient for the production of content with voice only.
It also allows you to add effects, sounds and music to further enrich your audiobook. If you want to learn more about this topic, I have prepared a special guide for you on how to use Audacity. If, on the other hand, you want to have a broader overview of software of this type, I suggest you read my guide on voice recording programs.
Good. Now all you have to do is connect a headset to your computer or to your external sound card, to monitor the development of your narration. Also in this case, don’t settle for generic headphones, but opt for a model capable of isolating you properly, with closed earcups , capable of guaranteeing you a good level of listening quality and a certain level of comfort. How do you say? Not sure what fish to catch on this particular topic? Don’t worry, just read my guide on the best headphones to resolve any doubts.
Making a demo
Now that you have obtained all the necessary equipment and feel that you have what it takes to start this promising profession, it is essential to proceed with the creation of a demo , or an audio file with the narration of one or more parts of a book, for demonstration purposes. Before proceeding with the recording, make sure you are in an isolated environment , free from background noise and sudden disturbances, which would force you to cancel what might have been a good job. Windows and doors therefore closed, away from noisy neighbors and cohabitants.
I also suggest you do a short test recording to verify the correct setup of your home studio. All it takes is a rustle from a badly connected cable to screw up hours of work! Then close all open programs on the PC, especially those that use the sound card, in order to dedicate all the computer’s resources to this activity .
In the preparation phase, divide the text you intend to read into several manageable parts , in order to check the result as you go along and, above all, to refuse. Consider, already wanting to project yourself into your future occupation, that an average audiobook lasts about 12 hours, but the making process takes much longer.
Another piece of advice I can give you is to record several different demos , trying to cover as many types of works as possible. You could attract attention with both an essay and a novel, or perhaps find a better performance in a thriller than a children’s book: every genre needs its narrators, and it is essential to be aware of their aptitudes for consolidate your skills and improve where you encounter difficulties.
Finally, another possible way forward to practice this profession more is to offer yourself as a volunteer at associations supporting people with difficulties, such as the elderly or visually impaired. In this way you will have the opportunity to practice, produce various demos and, at the same time, render a very important service to the community. All you need to do is do a simple search on the internet to find several opportunities of this type.
Sites to find work as an audiobook reader
The profession of audiobook reader, as we have seen, offers the interesting possibility of being managed independently from home. In fact, many of the sites that offer job opportunities in this area are part of brokerage circuits for freelancers . Each of these job marketplaces provides for the payment of a commission when a specific assignment is proposed or accepted. Therefore, check the costs, commissions and payment methods of these services on a case-by-case basis. Below I list some of the best sites to find work as an audiobook reader .
Upwork is a marketplace for digital skills , and one of the most authoritative platforms in this sector. It has dedicated an entire section of its site to the profession of audio narrators, which you can access directly to consult the profiles available from this page. This is to give you the measure of how much this profession is spreading nowadays.
To register, however, click on the Sign Up item you see above. On the page that will be presented to you, you can authenticate yourself with a Google or Apple account by clicking on the relevant buttons on the central screen under the heading Get your free account . Otherwise, in the last item work email address , you can enter the email address you usually use, also for work matters.
Once you have completed the registration steps, you need to complete your work profile. You can import a PDF of your LinkedIn profile or fill it out manually. If you don’t know this professional Microsoft social network and want to know more, read my article that explains what Linkedin is.
Once this procedure has been completed, you will have access to the Upwork dashboard, where under My Feed you will already find a selection of jobs available based on your skills. Being an American platform, but spread all over the globe, you will be able to find various job opportunities from all over the world.
To the left of the bulletin board you will find the My Categories menu , where the areas in which you are proposing are listed. If you want to change it, just click on the pencil icon at the bottom of the list to add new ones or delete those entered by mistake. On the right-hand menu, under My Profile , you can edit your profile using the View Profile button .
I strongly advise you to define this aspect as much as possible, inserting all the characteristics that can make you stand out in this context, and to thoroughly detail your personal portfolio of experiences. Also in the right-hand menu, you can make or not your profile visible and available, using the respective Visibility and Availability buttons .
Fiverr is another interesting solution for freelancers, but unlike other companies in the sector, in this particular marketplace it is the user who creates his own offer, placing it on a virtual bulletin board visible to all customers looking for certain skills. You can then create several offers, such as one for a children’s book narrative and one for a computer manual, to capture the attention of more potential customers. You will also need to define the average completion times of the work, and your price. It is an international site, used both abroad and in Italy.
To register, access the home page, then click on the Join button located at the top right to start creating your profile and your personalized offers. You can create your account directly using your Google , Facebook and Apple credentials , or enter your email address in the Enter your email address and click Continue .
After completing the registration procedure, you will access the Fiverr main screen, but to start proposing yourself as a freelancer you will need to click on the Switch to Selling button located at the top right. Now you can create your Gigs , i.e. the presentations of the digital services you intend to offer. To do this, click on the top menu under Gigs and, on the next page, on Create a new Gig .
This will open a screen where you can start creating your very personal proposal. Before starting, I advise you to survey the Gigs already present in your area, to determine how much competition you will have to face and, why not, to get ideas.
In this way you will avoid replicating proposals for which the offer is already saturated, and you will create other more personalized and original ones. For a complete guide on how Fiverr works, I highly recommend reading my article on how Fiverr works.
Audiobook Creation Exchange
Amazon ‘s Audiobook Creation Exchange project deserves a separate chapter , through which you can also offer your ebook in audiobook format on the famous marketplace, narrated with your voice, allowing customers to quickly switch from listening to reading. By accessing this page you will be able to discover the different tools that this platform offers. In this particular case, therefore, you already have a piece of writing created by you and of which you hold the rights, which you simply want to present also in audio form: you just need to create an account, proceed to upload the audio files and the cover and, subsequently, to the publishing on Amazon and Audible .
Speaking of Audible, as you well know it is one of the most important audiobook distributors on the Internet. Unfortunately it is very difficult to collaborate directly with this audio streaming service, as specified by Audible itself in its FAQ. In most cases, in fact, the narrator is selected directly by the publishing house, if not by the author of the book himself. However, nothing prevents you from taking a look at the bulletin board of available job offers.
Other sites to find work as an audiobook reader
Did the sites mentioned above not satisfy your desire to become an audiobook storyteller? Don’t panic: there are other valid solutions you can turn to.
- Freelancers . It is another well-known reality in the world of freelancers. You can consult the bulletin board with all the job offers from this link, filtering the results of your interest using the right keywords, but I recommend that you create a profile starting from the relevant registration page, also to be able to receive real-time information on your email address, if any, all offers, selected on the basis of your skills.
- Voice123 . It is a specific marketplace for voice-over skills , therefore it embraces all areas in which it is necessary to insert a voice-over in audiovisual content, including audiobooks. By accessing this page and clicking on the JOIN AS A VOICE ACTOR button you can start the registration and profiling process and, at the end, consult the voice-over opportunities offered by the platform.
- Peolpeperhour . Peopleperhour uses the same mechanism seen for Fiverr. It will therefore be your task to create the most attractive offers possible, perhaps taking a look at those of other professionals to get ideas and realize the target. From the main page click on the button Freelancer? located at the top right to register, start profiling and start offering yourself as an audiobook reader.