Making the wrong hire of any kind can be a regretful thing. Not only do you have a finished or half-done product that doesn’t represent your company/quality/culture/brand, but most of the time you are left picking up the pieces or worse, starting over completely. This can be a very expensive mistake. This happened to us…. more than once, with our audiobook format of Ingredients of Outliers: A Recipe for Personal Achievement. If you are venturing into self-publishing, or are curious about our behind-the-scenes process of making an audiobook, we’ve put together some tips for choosing your audiobook narrator.
Some of the more obvious qualifications. Choose someone who:
- has experience
- has a good review by at least one trustworthy source
- has the right tone
- has good inflection and timing
- commands your attention
- has a good grasp of your manuscript’s message
What we were surprised by were the less obvious qualifications…I will get to those in a second.
As mentioned, we had a few go-rounds. Being an audiobook narrator is no easy job, and proved too time consuming to try and attempt in-house, (ask John) so when we went to hire someone we took a recommendation. This individual was most likely a talented actor, but left many mistakes in their work and after over 6 hours of note-taking and pages of errors, we decided to jump ship and start new with a new narrator and longer screening process. In hindsight, this may have been partly our fault for the type of contract we entered (you can pay hourly for the pre-edited version or finished work), and not having done our due diligence on the best type of agreement to enter into.
What would be really funny is if we inserted a sound clip of the bleeps and repeats from round one of the unedited audio, but I will spare you! What we will leave you with are some of the important things to look for when hiring a narrator. After a lengthier screening process on ACX (Audible.com’s narration service), we found our narrator and couldn’t be happier with his work! Bruce Lorie is an extremely talented and experienced narrator who has done voiceover work with Allstate Insurance and Buick, among other reputable organizations. His work ethic and attention to detail wrote the rest of this article. We were impressed with a few things about his work ethic, but more on the screening process first:
Tips for Choosing a Great audiobook narrator:
- Find somebody who reads with appropriate inflection, appropriate pace and annunciates clearly. Do they sound engaged with the message? Do they sound inappropriately energized- either too slow or too fast?
- Consider how long your audience will be listening to the narration- is the reader balanced in inflection or is listening to them grating on your sanity?
- Trust your instincts, if a narrator just isn’t quite right, even if you can’t pin-point the reason, your audience will pick up on it too, and will be much less forgiving.
- Poll around, have those in your targeted audience as well as those outside of your audience provide unbiased feedback.
- Review a narrator’s demos in similar genres, their recommendations and their experience. Some actors have a following, and if you have the budget you could choose one of these.
- Weigh your options in terms of contracts. Do they edit for you before sending to review? Or do they send raw audio? Can you choose a revenue sharing model vs. a flat hourly rate? The revenue sharing model is obviously better if you have less cash up-front, but be prepared to have less flexibility with your audio’s distribution.
- Do your research. This list is obviously not exhaustive, read forums from other authors in your genre, I really learned a lot about what is successful and what to avoid by doing this.
How do you know you made a good hire?
Upon working with Bruce, we were highly impressed with not only the product, but his work ethic, he:
- is willing to work hard on a deadline
- did his own research on pronunciation, and only contacted us with questions when necessary
- promptly replies to communications
- has an attitude of professionalism when receiving feedback (there is always feedback, with him we had very little)
- was flexible and overall a pleasure to work with
So, do you want to hear his fabulous work? Ingredients of Outliers is available in audiobook version for purchase at Audible Check it out by clicking HERE.
Please also feel free to use the comment section for any other tips and possible pitfalls to avoid in hiring an audiobook narrator!