From Authors to Authors: Guide to Auditioning Narrators for Audiobooks

Welcome back to our Saturday From authors to authors series! Today, Isobel Starling will guide you through auditioning narrators for audiobooks. Enjoy the read and we hope it helps!

Producing an audiobook is a daunting process, but this has now been made easier by Audible’s ACX (Audio Creation Exchange) website.  Audiobook revenues continue to grow, so for self-published authors who have a back catalog of titles, it seems sensible to get in the game and have a few titles produce in audio.  A well-produced, polished audiobook can bring new life and new readers/listeners to an author’s work, and in turn, increase sales of e-books and paperbacks. site works in the same way as a dating site – but this time to match authors and narrators.  The audition process is vital in helping the author find their perfect narrator.

ACX, Audiobooks, and Narrator Auditioning Basics

Book projects are posted on the ACX site to alert narrators about new audio projects.  Authors need to be strict and specific when explaining their requirements for their project.  The narrator needs to know specifically what you want — If you want a narrator who can do a Russian accent or sound female, tell them.  It also helps both the author and narrator if the sample script is from a part of the book where several accents are required so that the narrator can display their range.

Post no more than four pages of your book as the audition script.  It is easy to get carried away and want to hear a whole chapter narrated, but you will know within the first thirty seconds if the narrator is right for you, so don’t expect audition samples to cover anything more than a page or two of your story.

After an author has posted their book project on ACX, the site offers several ways for authors to be matched with narrators.

  • Narrators can see a list of book projects and choose which to audition for.
  • Authors can search for narrators on the site and listen to samples with specific ranges of accents – young, old, male, female, and contact any narrator via the site’s messaging system.
  • Also, narrators have profile pages and their email details/websites are listed, so if there is anyone you particularly like you can check out their work on Audible and contact them directly off-site via email and ask if they would like to audition for your project.

To begin the process of finding a narrator, it’s important to know not only the experience and background of performers, authors need to know the production set up for prospective narrators.

  • Are they working from a home studio?
  • Or do they have to pay for recording and mastering at an independent studio?

ACX projects are either ROYALTY SHARE – where there is no upfront payment, but author and narrator share 40% royalties (Audible take 60%)  Or authors can PAY FOR PRODUCTION and get paid 40% royalty from sales.  In this case, audio narrators are paid an hourly rate PER FINISHED HOUR (PFH), and this includes all production costs.  So if a book is 5 hours long and the charge is $220 PFH the book would cost $1200 to produce.  Narrators who have home studio set-ups are generally in a better position to work swiftly because they don’t have to book/pay for studio time to do the audition sample.

Auditioning Narrators for Audiobooks – What to Look for

When authors start to get audition samples listen to them with ear buds and through speakers:

— Pay attention to the production quality – is the sound clear?  Listeners have a range of devices they could listen to your story on – MP3, iphone, computer, tablet, etc. so the production quality needs to be top notch.  Listen for hissing, clicking, breathing.  You should not hear the narrator take breaths.

— Can you hear any background noise when you listen with ear buds?  Noise makes for a bad listener experience, and bad audio reviews can reflect upon your audio, ebook and paperback sales.

— Does the narrator have good performance standards – pronunciation, pacing, and a range of believable accents?

You can accept, maybe, or dismiss auditions on the ACX system until you have a shortlist.  Then comes the tricky decision of choosing one!  It took me a while to find Irish voice actor Gary Furlong, who narrated “As You Wish” (Shatterproof Bond #1) and honestly, I am glad I took my time to find a performer who could do the whole range of accents I required for my series.

Remember that you will only produce the audiobook once, and it is a long-term investment, so it is worth taking your time and finding a voice that can capture your characters, add another layer to your story, and find a whole new audience for your work.

Hear a sample of “As You Wish” Narrated By Gary Furlong.



About the Author

Born in Germany, Isobel Starling spent most of her twenty-year professional career making art in Ireland.  She relocated to the UK and, faced with the dreaded artist’s creative block, Isobel started to write and found she loved writing more than making art.

The Shatterproof Bond series is an Amazon Gay Romance bestseller.  Isobel has just completed her eleventh book and signed French and German and Italian, translation and publishing rights deals for the whole Shatterproof Bond series.  The As You Wish translation “Comme Vous Voudrez” is a best seller on Amazon France.  It was released in German in March 2017, and as an audiobook in May 2017.

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A pleasure to meet you! I’m Alina Popescu, an author, traveler, and hopeless coffee addict. I write urban fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, and sometimes even contemporary stories. A significant number of my books are LGBTQ fiction and romance.

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