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Choosing the Best Narrator Voice for Your Audiobook Project

Feb 21, 2023
choosing the best narrator for audiobooks

2021 saw the publication of 74 thousand audiobooks — a 6% increase over 2020. Audiobooks have firmly staked out a place in the hearts of even the boat traditionalist book lovers. Audiobooks have become their own singular art form, and both fiction and non-fiction “readers” love immersing themselves in the information, stories, and worlds that audiobooks unlock.

The voices of particular audiobook narrators become a crucial part of what makes audiobooks so memorable and rich. In many instances, a listener will be spending upwards of six hours with this voice actor. The voice in their ears can easily make or break listener engagement. 

So when choosing a narrator voice for an audiobook, we want to look at several factors in play. Before you search “hire audiobook narrator,” here are some useful tips for choosing the right narrator voice for your audiobook.

Know Your Audience

First and foremost, you want to be mindful of exactly who you’re speaking to. Who are you desiring to reach with your audiobook? Is the author writing for children, young adults, or adults? Is the audience primarily male or female? What is their preferred genre? What expectations does a listener bring to this particular genre?

Knowing your audience will help you select a narrator voice that will resonate with them. For example, if your target audience is children, you’ll want a narrator who can capture their attention and hold it for the duration of the book. You’ll locate a voice that is fun, energetic, and easy to understand.

On the other hand, if you’re working to target an adult audience, you may want a narrator with a more serious, mature, or authoritative voice. This kind of voice will be well-suited to conveying the weight and importance of the content while holding the listeners’ attention. 

Consider the Genre

Let’s take a closer look at genre. The importance of meeting or at least acknowledging genre expectations can’t be overstated when you’re choosing a narrator voice. You want a voice whose essence will evoke the precise mood and tone of the story. For example, if you’re writing a mystery or thriller, you’ll want a narrator who can build tension and keep the listener on the edge of their seat. 

On the other hand, if you’re writing a romance novel, you may want a narrator with a softer, even seductive voice. This will help bring the characters to life and make the listener feel like they’re part of the story. In every instance, the voice actor should understand the conventions and appeal of the genre they’re working in and calibrate their style accordingly.

Listen to Voice Samples

When choosing a narrator voice, be sure to listen to voice samples. This will give you a sense of the narrator’s general style, tone, and pacing. Of course, they will likely be able to adjust their style to the specifics of your project, but you want to get a sense of the baseline characteristics of their vocal profile. You can find voice samples on websites like Academy Voices.

Listening to voice samples will also help you identify any potential assets or drawbacks with the narrator’s voice. For example, some voices may come with an accent or quality that, depending on the project, may or may not work well for you and your audience. It’s important to identify these attributes early on as you hone your search for your narrator.

Choose a Professional Narrator

It’s important to choose a professional narrator who has experience with audiobook narration. Narrating an audiobook requires a specific set of skills, so look to see if your prospective collaborator has previous audiobook experience. 

The best audiobook narrators typically have access to high-quality equipment, which is essential for producing a great-sounding audiobook. They may work from soundproof recording booths using high-quality microphones to render a clear, polished sound free from any background noise — an obvious must for professional projects.

Work With the Narrator

Once you’ve chosen an agency-based or freelance audiobook narrator for your project, it’s important to work with them throughout the recording process. This will help ensure that the final product is exactly what you’re looking for. During the recording process, you can expect to provide feedback. You want to articulate these directives in a clear, straightforward way. You may ask them to slow down or speed up their pacing or adjust the tone of their voice in certain parts of the book. 

The voice actor who can easily make adjustments will be the best audiobook narrator to work with in the future. Always be clear and concise, and strive to deliver feedback in the most constructive and positive way possible. Then, with each new project, check in with yourself and your team and confirm that you’ve considered the elements of audiobook narration discussed above. They’re a handy way to know that you’re on the right track.

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