Writing a book you can be proud of is a remarkable achievement, no two ways about it. But, did you know that having a skilled narrator lend their voice to it can net you an even bigger audience? Yes! Although audiobook recording is one of those things that can slip the minds of most authors, it is an absolute necessity if you want your work to perform at its best.
And this is not just about commercial success either! That’s all well and good, sure, but at its core, audiobook recording can serve to augment the original material. If you do it right, you can add an extra dimension to your book through the weight and gravitas of professional vocal performance.
But aren’t audiobooks “cheating”? Is it really reading if you’re listening? Doesn’t that cheapen the author’s intent and dumb down the whole thing until it’s meaningless?
To make a long story short, the answer to all of those questions is a resounding NO. But, if you want to know why audiobooks are such a good idea that has both artistic and commercial merit, you’ll have to keep reading. And, to top it off, I’ll also tip you off on where to get amazing voice actors for your audiobook projects.
Let’s get a move on!
What is Audiobook Recording?
Audiobook recording is part of a larger profession known as recording voice-overs. Voice-overs, while generally invisible, are pretty much everywhere; think of everything from your favorite animated show to a movie narration, to a PA announcement at the airport, radio commercials. Yes, it seems anything and everything can have a good voice-over behind it. But, in as few words as possible, what is a voice-over?
Our article “Voice-Over: Your Ultimate Guide” provides an excellent definition:
Voice over is essentially an off-screen audio production method.(…) It has endless applications for an array of media. The voice over definition covers a few technical methods. The synchronous dialogue method may be used where the voice over person narrates the action taking place on-screen at the same time. The pre-recorded asynchronous method is usually used in cinema, news reports, and documentaries.
Therefore, it’s easy to see why audiobook recording also falls within this category.
Simply put, it’s a narrative performance where a voice pro reads the book out loud. Of course, it’s not just them checking off a list like they’re reading the phonebook.
A great audiobook consists of:
- A great reading that’s perfect to the last word. No ad-libbing here, unless the original author demands it.
- The use of a voice that can supplement or even augment the original material. As much as you’d love to have Mickey Mouse narrating a Stephen King novel, it might not be the best idea. But Tom Waits doing James Ellroy? That could work. Acting ability is paramount.
- Correct use of intonation, pacing and pauses to create and maintain a good atmosphere.
- Great recording quality. That means ‘oohs’, ‘aahs, stuttering, coughing, or extraneous noises that destroy the mood are out.
Audiobook Recording vs. Reading
Hey, being a purist is not a bad thing per se. I’m not about to say “Get with the times!” and be done with it, though.
What I will try to do is show you why audiobook recording can help you reach a bigger audience without compromising your vision in any way, shape, or form.
First, let’s get the obvious objection out of the way: isn’t reading always better than listening? The answer is no. When experts tested the recall of readers vs listeners, they found very similar results.
Although, yes, reading does let us go over sentences several times. It also allows us to go back and re-focus when we zone out, as well as absorbing more information faster. But, those small details aside, there isn’t really much of a performance dropoff when listening rather than reading. And, considering that not all people learn the same way, a significant part of the population will take to audiobooks much better than letters on a page/screen.
Therefore, audiobook recording is not just about engaging the same readers you already had, but also those who learn better through sound than using their eyes. And that means that, if you cast the right performer, your audiobook can perfectly maintain the integrity of your vision.
The Matter of Attention Span and Time
We’ve said it a million times before, but it begs repeating; people now have hummingbird-like attention spans. And, if you’ve ever tried multitasking while driving, texting, exercising, or anything else, then you know the feeling. It’s not just “reading the paper” anymore, but reading the paper, watching YouTube, texting two friends at the same time, checking out your Bitcoin investments, or any other task you can imagine.
This is another reason why audiobook recording can be so useful. While we’d all love to kick back and enjoy a good book sitting on your porch, modern life usually isn’t quite so forgiving. Meaning, for most it’s a toss-up between listening to an audiobook, or doing nothing at all. Those are the allowances of the times we’re living in.
This is, by the way, supported by science. Our Voice-Over Ultimate Guide (link above) supports this assertion.
Can you hear a smile in someone’s voice? Would you rather read or listen? In an eye-movements study, research shows that 70% prefers listening while only 46.7% rather read on-screen text. The average human today has the attention span of a goldfish. What doesn’t immediately appeal can sometimes cost you your audience, and possibly conversions very quickly.
While “conversions” aren’t the main focus of audiobook recording, it’s true that people still prefer human voices. Empathy, reliability, and that emotional touch are just a few of the perks of having a trained voice actor perform your book as if it were a script.
In the end, it’s about choosing a strategy that wins the most hearts and minds. Both books and audiobooks can (and should) coexist. The end result is much the same.
Why Hire a Professional?
That’s the easy part, really.
Professionals can provide a wide array of dramatic performances, for one. Anything from regular narration (that maintains one voice throughout the book), to a multi-talented performance where the pro can voice several characters, to a cast of multiple actors are well within the bounds of audiobook recording.
Truthfully, this final option ends up resembling a radio drama or stage play more than an audiobook. There are different ways to brew your coffee, so to speak.
But, whatever your style of audiobook, always go with vetted pros. It’s the only surefire option to get what you want. And here are the hallmarks of professional voice actors you should look for:
- They’ve got a good amount of 4 and 5-star reviews. Their average needs to be over four stars, and they need to have completed a decent amount of work. With people who’ve only got two or three reviews to their name, it’s hard to say whether they’ll have any consistency.
- You can easily access their samples. If they’re short on samples, then consider them immediately sketchy.
- They’ve got access to high-quality recording equipment, and know how to use it. This means knowledge of audio tools and editing too, not just a good microphone or a whisper room. Those, though, should go without saying. You want your audiobook to sound its best, so always ask about what equipment they’re using.
- Do they offer any sort of guarantee?
- Is their price competitive? Now, by “competitive,” I certainly don’t mean cheap. Audiobooks don’t come cheap, nor should they; they’re hard, demanding jobs that take hours upon hours on end of endless recording, editing, and re-recording. But that doesn’t mean you should pay substantially above market wages either unless the pro is something truly special. Use your own discernment.
Where to Find Audiobook Recording Pros
Now, getting just one or two of the above is a pretty tall order. Finding all of them? Well, good luck with that. Or, that’s what I would say if I didn’t know about Bunny Studio.
We’re a talent agency that connects professional, vetted freelancers with clients. The way we work? You submit the type of project that you need, and we hook you up with the right pro for the job. Or, you can pick out the pro you want if you’ve got your mind set on just the one. The process is really simple, and you’ll have access to plenty of high-quality samples to make up your mind.
Did I say vetted? That means that you don’t have to worry about things like turnaround, quality, equipment, or anything else. Our pros have covered all the bases, and we make sure they stick to stick quality guidelines. Meaning, we’ve done our due diligence so that everything sounds perfect every time. You just worry about submitting your script, and we’ll take it from there.
And “taking it from there” usually means you’ll be paying a pretty penny. Or at least, you would if this were anywhere else. While, sure, audiobooks aren’t exactly super cheap, we offer extremely competitive prices, and you can choose among a 100,000+ strong roster of voice actors to fit the price range you need. One thing’s for sure: they’re all great.
Speaking of greatness, we also offer a 100% money-back satisfaction guarantee. If the pro’s done the job to the best of their ability and you’re still not satisfied, that’s OK. You’ll get all of your money back, and they’ll still get paid. Call it a gentleman’s agreement.
So, ready to step into the big leagues of audiobook recording? Submit a project with us today and watch the magic happen!