I am a wholehearted convert of the Audiobook. I listen to audiobooks on my commute, when I’m paying bills, when I’m going for long walks, when I’m doing busy work. (Quick Audible.com shout out here!) Naturally, my slight narcissism leads me from “I like audiobooks” to “people absolutely want to hear me read at them”.
So, I started researching opportunities and found Learning Ally. Learning Ally is a non-profit organization that started by recording textbooks and novels for blind and dyslexic students and continues to record thousands of texts for folks with all kinds of learning differences. I went to my volunteer orientation last night and will be starting the intensive training (more info to follow as I go through training!).
BUT, here are some tips on being a good audiobook reader, found on the internet:
1. Prep time – If possible, read the book ahead of time, so that you’re not recording the first time you’re seeing the material. Make sure you look up pronunciations of words you don’t know. Drink water to avoid croaky frog voice.
2. Differentiate characters by changing your voice – You don’t want Dumbledore and Hermione to have the same voice. Even if you don’t completely change your voice, a little change in pitch for characters is key. Also, make sure the characters have the same voice for the whole book, don’t keep shaking it up and making Hermione sound like a squeaking little girl in one conversation and a lifetime smoker in another.
3. Editing and sound quality – As Daniel said at Learning Ally orientation last night, the sound of garbage trucks going on in the background is not great. Make sure the sound is bright, clear, and smooth (and that my neighbor, Steve, isn’t blasting his godawful taste in music through the walls).
4. Articulation and emotion – Articulate, speak clearly and distinctly, and make sure you’re using the right emotions/inflections/pauses that would be natural for the feelings on the page. If your character is despondent, maybe speaking cheerfully and quickly is not the best idea.
5. Thespian your heart out – There is acting involved; you’re telling a story. Most paid audiobook narrators are contracted through SAG-AFTRA, so lots of sites recommend taking an acting class or two before jumping in.
6. Have fun! – You’re reading a story (or a textbook); enjoy it! If you aren’t enjoying it, the listeners won’t either. (No one is that good an actor.)