Talking Books: What Does It Take To Become An Audio Book Narrator? August 25, 2016 – Posted in: Blog – Tags: , , ,

Interview with Leonor Woodworth: Narrator of the Logan Series

Audiobooks are quickly becoming an important stream of income for indie authors with the amazon company, AUDIBLE, providing a platform to sell to millions. The production with audible is straight forward and – most of the times – rather inexpensive. But what do you need to look for when choosing a narrator for your book?

If you were running an ad to hire someone to do your job, what would the title and description be? 

WANTED: Audiobook narrator

I am looking for a narrator with experience in acting. This individual should be able to distinguish a multitude of characters without taking away from the storytelling. An avid audiobook listener would be a plus.

Why did you want to narrate books and when did you start?

I love listening to audiobooks. My favorite narrators are Barbara Rosenblat and Kate Reading. My favorite authors (to listen to in audio) are Nora Roberts and Rich Amooi. They/their publishers seem to know exactly what kind of voice will fit their work. I love when I am transported to another place by the storytelling. Audiobooks allow me to do manual tasks (gardening or the dreaded ironing) and have a great time doing them. I am thankful for the opportunity to spread the love of audiobooks and reading in general.

I’ve so far produced 23 audiobooks. The genres include children, romance, romantic suspense, romantic comedy and mystery.

What is the most important part of your job?

The most important part of my job is to produce a high quality narration for the listener.  If after listening to the audiobook, the listener wants to hear more works from the author, then I know I’ve done my job.

What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

I enjoy reading so many fabulous stories and meeting new authors.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Preparing the manuscript for narration. I need to make sure I’ve researched unfamiliar words, names and accents. My desire is to be able to capture the essence of both the story and the characters in the story.

What best prepared you to become a narrator?

The profession of a narrator calls for me to be an avid learner. I’ve had several coaches for narration, audiobook narration, and acting. I’m constantly looking for a new coach, workshop opportunity or audiobook narration technique. I’m always listening to and critiquing  audiobook narrations. I want to continue to strive for better.

How do you select projects?

Believe it or not, the book cover is important. It’s the first thing a shopper sees. Book covers shout ‘I’m a serious author’ or ‘I’m just trying this thang out’. Once a book cover has caught my eye, I investigate the author. Does the author have a website? Is it professional? I look up the book or other books from the author on Amazon. I take advantage of ‘peek inside the book’. What do reviewers think? I also read the ‘about the author’ sections on Amazon and the author’s website. I want to know what kind of person the author is.

Book covers shout ‘I’m a serious author’ or ‘I’m just trying this thang out’. 

How do narrators get paid? (what are the options)

Narrators can get paid in various ways. All narrators have a Per Finished Hour rate. The average is $275/pfh. There a couple of other payment options as well. Royalty Share is when the Author/Publisher and Narrator each earn 20-25% of total sales. The other option is Royalty Share with a Stipend. The narrator is paid $100/pfh (max $2500) in addition to Royalty Share.

What is the capital investment? Does it require a lot of expensive equipment?

From my personal experience, I would say the capital investment is $3000 – $5000.  In addition to high quality equipment (recording/editing software, interface, microphone, stand, booth), you will want to invest in coaches specific to your area of interest (audiobooks, short-form narration, commercial, gaming,….) The key is to stay focused. This is such a rapidly growing business and there are some who will make you think you have to spend a great deal more before ‘you’re ready’ to try.

The key is to stay focused. This is such a rapidly growing business.

If you have a day job and/or children at home – how do you find the time, let alone the quiet time, to work on a project?

I am a full-time voice actor. I work from 9am until 3pm Monday through Friday. I am fortunate to live in a fairly quiet area. I also have a permanent sound treated booth. I record during the day and listen/edit either in the booth or in my office when the family is around. They’re welcome to come in, sit and listen. They even offer great feedback!

Do you work on both non-fiction and fiction?

So far, I’ve only narrated non-fiction. I’d like to move into non-fiction and documentaries.

You recently completed narration for Valerie Davisson’s FOREST PARK: Logan Book 2. What drew you to this project, and can you tell us about any projects you are currently working on?

I was contacted by Hauser Publishing to audition for Forest Park. I thought the book cover was fabulous. I liked what I saw on Valerie’s website and I really liked what Valerie shared with her readers about her personally. When I read some pages of both Shattered and Forest Park, I knew the writing style was professional. I also had the opportunity to communicate with Valerie via personal emails and knew then I wanted to be a part of the audiobook production.


What advice would you give someone who would like to narrate books?

  1. Listen to everything…audiobooks, the people you encounter on a daily basis! Take notes. What do they sound like? What body language adds to their essence? Part creating different characters (tone, pitch) ties in to a facial expression or posture. It helps to call upon real-life experiences.
  2. Hire a respected coach (Edge Studios, Pat Fraley/Scott Brick workshop)
  3. Anything is possible!

Leonor has always been an avid reader and started listening to audiobooks early in her life. Today, she contributes this very fact as well as her ambition to always improve her skills, to her success in her chosen profession. Leonor mainly narrates fiction. She’s produced 23 books and worked on bestselling children literature as well as novels from the following genres: romance, suspense, romantic comedy and mystery.