So many people are constantly on the go, and they don’t have the chance to sit down and read a book. While nothing actually beats snuggling in and reading a book, there is an alternative. The audiobook is a great way to still get your book fix, and continue to go about your busy day. People can listen to voice over books in the car, on the treadmill, walking the dog, and doing household chores. With the wide variety of titles and talented narrators, voice over books are a great alternative to the print book or even a very nice supplement.
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This post has been updated in August 2021.
What are Voice Over Books and How do You Use Them?
Voice over books, or audiobooks, are books of any kind that are read and voiced over. Often a famous actor is the one reading the book, other times lesser-known voice over actors do the reading. Either way, it is a great alternative to reading when you just don’t have the time to sit and read. Many people think this is a new concept, but some type of audiobook has been around for a long time, whether on records, cassettes, or compact discs.
According to AudioPub.com, the first audiobook came about in the 1950s when Caedmon Records was formed. This New York-based company was a pioneer in the audiobook industry. It has come a long way since then, making its way from records played on record players to cassettes listened to in Walkmans to CDs played over car stereos. Now the format is different and much more convenient with digital audiobooks, and the libraries of titles are huge.
Voice over books are easy to listen to with a device such as a phone or laptop, and they are easily downloadable. People enjoy listening to voice over books in the car during commutes or trips, at the gym, or while cleaning the house or walking the dog. Basically, these books are available at any time in any place. You simply download from an app and are ready to listen.
Who Listens to Voice Over Books?
With busy lifestyles, it’s not surprising that many people who once read print books are turning to audiobooks. But people who never took the time to read those print books are now also reaching for the voice over books. While the age span of listeners is broad, young adults are high on the list of audiobook listeners.
An article on Publishers Weekly.com shows the popularity of audiobooks among younger listeners, with 55% of all listeners being under the age of 45, and a little more than half of “frequent listeners” (a term which remained undefined and unquantified in the initial press summary of the report) being between 18-44 years-of-age.
Again, much of this has to do with multitasking. Listeners can accomplish more while listening to a voice over book rather than reading a print book. The busier someone is, the less time there is to read.
Who Narrates in Voice Over Books?
Narration is all-important in audiobooks. The voice needs to captivate the audience while capturing the personality of the characters and the style of the book. Some pretty famous names have taken their turn doing voice over books, like Lin-Manuel Miranda, Claire Danes, Nick Offerman, and Reese Witherspoon. But plenty of small name actors do this, too, and it doesn’t even always take an actor.
Have you ever encountered that random stranger with a voice that could lull you to sleep or that you can imagine speaking on the big stage? Maybe that’s a perfect fit for a voice over book narrator. Have you ever heard s a perfect candidate for a narrator for voice over books. Plenty of people do this for full or part-time jobs, either on a freelance basis or working for a publisher or producer.
Often, actors will take on more than one genre of work, but audio narration is a major field to work in. Voice over books area a big part of this field, along with advertising, documentaries or animation. In fact, for any type of actors, whether they work in theater, film, or tv, audio narration can increase their skills in any other field. With the focus on the voice, along with the emotion and tone it creates, this is an excellent way to hone the voice for any other voice work.
Often more than one voice actor will work on voice over books. Sometimes one actor will do it all, shifting voices for dialogue, but other times its a collaboration. This collaboration can provide a nice tone to the book, and there is now worry for the listener to figure out who is talking. Each actor voices a different character.
What Makes a Successful Voice Over Book?
Just like any audio piece, the success of voice over books heavily depends on the narrating voice. A great voice can make all the difference. Think of a bedtime story. Who would you want reading it to you? Someone with a captivating voice with a smooth flow. Someone who can draw you in and keep you there. And someone with clear diction and easy to understand pace. It’s more than just pronouncing the words. The listener wants emotion, suspense, passion, or whatever the story evokes. If the book is nonfiction, the voice over actor still needs to be captivating and make what could be dry material interesting.
One interesting component that an audiobook has over a print book is the narrator’s expression. When you are reading a print book, you see the words and read them as you see them. Often things like sarcasm or dry humor are overlooked. However, in an audiobook, the narrator can express these nuances clearly with his voice.
The closer the narrator can come to the feelings of the characters and/or tone of the book, the more successful the voice over book can be.
How Do You Become a Narrator for Voice Over Books?
Does this sound like something you’d like to do and you’re wondering how to get started? RealWaysToEarnMoneyOnline.com has some great advice for getting started in this industry. Here are a few tips:
- Practice. Practice reading out loud whenever you can. Try to make it sound as if you’re not reading, but instead, telling a story. Do all sorts of readings, from children’s books to thrillers to nonfiction.
- Record your voice. Record yourself doing some readings and play it back. See how it sounds and what you need to work on.
- Take acting and/or voice lessons. A professional can teach you not only the correct ways of using your voice but also of breathing to enhance your tone. There are plenty of benefits to voice training.
- Learn how to overcome or cover any accent you may have. The best voice is a neutral voice, unless, of course, you reading in dialect. But perfecting a neutral accent is a great start.
An important factor here is connecting with the reader, especially in fiction where you are becoming a character (or multiple characters). Remember, when people read, they create character images in their heads, including voices. In an audiobook, the narrator has to create those and stay true to the character throughout the reading.
Once you’ve perfected your voice, it’s time to seek work. Whether you do this on your own or through an agency, you’ll want a portfolio of your best work. Then it’s off to create those voice over books. Many people do this full time, while others do it as a supplemental or part-time income. With the right equipment, many people do this from home so it’s an excellent way to earn either extra cash or begin a career in a growing field.
A Few Secrets to Becoming a Great Voice Over Narrator
If you’ve decided this is something you’d like to try, here are a few industry secrets to incorporate into your readings. First off, know that your hours may be long and tedious. Often readings are done in just a few sittings to maintain the tone consistently throughout. Your hours may be long, but they’ll be rewarding.
Get to know your characters beforehand. You shouldn’t just jump in and start reading because you’ll want to emulate the character’s voice to suit them. Take the author’s descriptions to heart and work the characteristics into your voices.
The more you love reading, the better you’ll be. When you are familiar with books, styles, and genres, you’ll be more comfortable and adept for this job.
If you are recording at home, keep background noise to a bare minimum. You don’t want the dishwasher running or the dog barking in the background, so create a recording space that is quiet and when there is noise, take a little break until it passes.
What is the Future of Voice Over Books?
Audio and voice over books are doing very well. The future here is bright. With the convenience and accessibility of voice over books, along with the busy lifestyles people are leading, the number of people listening continues to grow. Yes, people still read print books, but the audiobook realm is a growing one and one where voice over narration continues to be a necessity.
Some researchers report that listening to books can increase one’s critical listening skills and improve vocabulary. Hearing new dialects or name pronunciations instead of trying to figure them out in print can aid comprehension. Audiobooks and strong voice overs can bring books to life and the future of them has a strong, vibrant outlook.
The Bottom Line
Sure, it’s hard to beat cuddling up with a book on a rainy day or relaxing with one on the beach, but audiobooks are a new alternative. They are easy to attain, easy to listen to, and can open up your world of literature and reading when you just don’t have the time to read. Plug in to an audiobook on your commute, your bike ride, or even at the beach.
Whether you want to be a listener or a voice over actor, this is a continually growing field. Strong narration is key to the book’s success, and if your talent is there, give it a try. You may have a new career on the horizon.
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