Have you been told you have a good voice? Do you like to read? You should get paid to read books aloud. Though the journey to becoming an audiobook narrator can be slow-going at first, those who narrate books for a living tend to find it extremely fulfilling.
In this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about getting paid to read books aloud. Where to start, what sites to look at, and how (eventually) to specialize in your favorite audiobook genre.
Let’s get started!
Get Paid To Read Books Aloud: The Basic Requirements
What does it take to get paid to read books online? This career is a fulfilling one, but it’s also highly desirable. A few basic skills go a long way when considering becoming an audiobook narrator.
A Good Voice
The most critical requirement to become an audiobook narrator is a good voice. Now, don’t fret about this one! Generally speaking, most people have a good voice for audiobook narration. It doesn’t have to be particularly deep or resonant or universal. Different voice tones work for different genres.
If you have a high, somewhat pitchy voice, you might not ever break into the history audiobook biz. But, children’s books need narrators too, and someone whose voice is more energetic and childlike would fit in perfectly to this genre.
If, on the other hand, a sickness or chronic habits have affected your voice making it hard to listen, you might want to consider an alternative career path.
A Strong Work Ethic
An audiobook narrator needs to have a strong work ethic and not be afraid of long hours studying a text. Like an actor, the audiobook narrator needs to practice their book like a script, making each line of the text clear and expressive.
We’ll get into this later, but audiobook narrators either earn their money by the completed hour of text, by a flat fee upon project completion, or via royalties. In all of these cases, the work needs to be rigorous and of top quality to make being an audiobook narrator a good choice.
Finally, most audiobook narrator jobs for beginners are 100% remote. This means a book voice actor needs to have the proper equipment and decent studio space to record without tons of feedback.
Luckily, high-quality equipment is available online at affordable prices. This video is a good place to start when seeking advice for audiobook recording equipment.
How To Become An Audiobook Narrator: First Steps
If you have a good voice, a good work ethic, and good equipment, you’re ready to get paid to read books aloud. But how do you begin?
Audible, the company whose well-known audiobook subscription service has earned it enough money to become an off-broadway theater producer, represents “the dream” for many potential audiobook producers. While this guide will detail how you can get there, Audible also offers its own extremely useful tips.
Get Some Credits
There’s always the paradox in the job market today: you need to have experience before you can get a job, and you need to get a job to get experience. How can we circumvent this paradox? The best way to begin for an audiobook narrator is to begin!
If your friends are writing books, ask if you can record them. If you love a particular novel, just record it for your joy and put it online. Having credits (that is, completed projects) will do a lot to build your resume and your credibility (credit-ability) in the audiobook biz.
There are also ways to get your foot in the door while still honoring the audience-focused nature of most audiobook work.
For example, you can volunteer for the blind. You can read news articles and magazines or become involved with longer-form narration through your public library (here’s Washington, DC’s public library as an example).
Alternatively, you could begin by registering through a site like Upwork. At Upwork, audiobook narrators are independent contractors selling their services to the world. Think of yourself, in this respect, as a freelancer starting your own business.
Signing up for a freelance site like Upwork can be a great way to start. Scroll down for the best sites to get paid to read books aloud.
Networking is a word that makes many people’s eyes roll just thinking about it. But networking doesn’t have to be unpleasant, painful, or boring. In becoming an audiobook narrator, networking it’s essential.
There are plenty of conferences and summits for those in the audio production business. As an independent freelancer, most audiobook narrators are not just voice actors but audio producers as well. Getting to know the people in your industry can go a long way towards securing a job.
Build A Website
Though it’s possible to get away without building a website, having a professional-looking domain can be an effective way to share your work with the world and get work.
If you don’t have any HTML or CSS experience, fret not. There are plenty of websites like Squarespace, WordPress, and GoDaddy that sell domains and offer a website-editing platform that non-techies can easily figure out.
Once you have the groundwork laid out and have some credits that you can direct potential employers to, you should begin the application process.
For Audible, it’s best to have a website and several book credits before you apply. You should have a complete resume and at least one two-minute clip of book narration (not radio or commercial) that showcases you at your best.
Best Sites To Get Paid To Read Books Aloud
Now that you know the basics of getting started recording books, you should know what sites to look at to get yourself some work immediately. Here are five of my favorites.
I don’t want to sound like a broken audiobook here, but Audible is a really fine company that anyone would be happy to work for. Apply after you’ve got a nice thick list of credits.
I mentioned Upwork above, but this site is a great place to get started freelancing your talent. You should have some credits before creating an account, as well as a sample to send to potential employers. Heads up: you need to be living in America or using a VPN that makes it look like you’re in America.
ACX is a site, like Upwork, that connects you to the jobs. As of the writing of this article, there are over 1600 titles currently available for audition. ACX has a royalty model that allows them to collect from completed projects, so luckily there are no upfront costs when trying to work with ACX.
Bunny Studio is a reputable freelancer site with plenty of opportunities for new voices and experienced pros. Bunny Studio expects a quick turnaround and conscientious communication but is a free service for all workers. Bunny Studio makes its money by tacking on a commission after your employer pays your user-set fees.
Voices.com is one of the most popular voiceover sites on the web. Voices. com operates with a model similar to that of ACX and Bunny Studio, except that its services are paid for voiceover talent. They do offer a lite version, but it limits your visibility and is just a lobby that shows you how much functionality is behind the paywall.
What does this mean for you? If you are already working with some clients and have some credits, you should feel good about going on Voices and trying to get work. If you’re brand new to audiobook narration, my recommendation is that you start with something free for you.
How To Specialize In A Genre
Tavia Gilbert is an audiobook narrator who specializes in solo-voice multi-character narration. Her advice is instructive for anyone who wants to get paid to read books aloud. If you want to specialize in a genre, for example, if you want to get paid to read children’s books, those are the gigs you should take.
If you’re volunteering, look for volunteer opportunities in the genre you want to record for. Simply by building credits in a specific genre, you develop your credibility in that genre and encourage those hiring audiobook narrators to choose you for the job.
Conclusion – Get Paid To Read Books Aloud
In this article, we’ve covered much of the basics about how to get paid to read books aloud, including how to get started and where to go once you’ve built yourself a nice portfolio.
We’ve listed several sites in this article that would be great for potential audiobook narrators to start with, but not all sites are good for beginners.
Other sites, like your local library’s reading for the blind initiative or a free freelancer site like Upwork, can be a great place for beginners to start.