Audiobooks: A Labor of Love
Audiobook narration is what piqued my interest and, eventually, opened the door to the wider VO industry. Honestly, it all started with the thought: Is there some way I can get paid to read? Reading is one of my absolute favorite past times. I particularly love reading epic fantasy and science fiction, though I do enjoy a variety of non-fiction genres—like biographies, history and social issues, and Christian faith/theology—as well. While audiobook production is far, far more than simply “reading for pay” (especially if you do all your own editing and mastering, too), this was the notion that got me to start exploring the world of VO.
After probably a year and a half or so of said exploring—along with taking online courses, dabbling in marketing, communicating with others in the VO industry, and getting some one-on-one coaching—it seems especially fitting that my first official gig is narrating a series of audiobooks. I’m the kind of person who likes to see things come full circle.
As I mentioned, audiobook narration is much more complex than simply reading out loud. To start, I read the book in its entirety to get a feel for the shape of the story and to better understand the characters and their arcs from beginning to end. As I read, I take extensive notes on the characters I will need to voice, as well as marking words or names I'm sure how to pronounce.
Following my initial read-through, I begin recording, chapter by chapter. In this phase of life, between working another primary job and not having a legitimately soundproof recording space, my prime recording time is late into the night a few times a week. I generally spend 3-4 hours in my cozy little cave, knocking out as many chapters as I can do well in one session.
With recording done, I move on to editing—actually listening through each recorded chapter and removing mistakes, adjusting spacing and pacing, and inserting pick-ups (re-records of lines that I misread in the initial recording). Once fully edited, each track gets mastered with a handful of tools that go through and fix things like mouth sounds and clicks, as well as optimizing my sound levels.
From there, I save the final draft of the chapter, which is submitted upon completion of the entire project. Repeat until complete. Whew!
As I near completion of producing my very first audiobook and reflect over my process, it’s really astounding to see how much I’ve learned in an arguably short amount of time. It has definitely been challenging at certain points. There have been (and continue to be) moments where I question whether I can actually do this. As I watch my progress move along with each completed chapter, though, I am reminded that the only way to become the person I want to be is to simply do the work, learn from mistakes, and keep getting better.
I’m excited to share this project with you all, hopefully soon. And may it be the first of many!