Finding your perfect narrator

Done! You found me! Just kidding.  I very well may be the right guy to bring your story to life on audio, but make absolutely certain with this can’t-miss strategy  to find Mr. and/or Ms. perfect.

Finding the right audio book narrator seems like a simple task, but there’s a good bit to consider.  When you don’t know what you don’t know, it’s difficult to avoid common pitfalls until it’s too late- and all the marketing and beautiful cover art in the world won’t save a mis-cast book when the negative reviews start to roll in. Use these tips to help you make the best choice:

1: Acquire Target

Find your great voice by shopping Audible, stalking audio book user groups on Facebook  and Instagram. Write down the names of the narrators whose samples you love for your characters, and do a quick search on Google and social sites. It’s our job to be as easy to find as possible. If you can’t find a narrator, that tells you something right there: They’re either very exclusive (read: expensive) or 

2: Look for Versatility

As important as it is to find your perfect hero or heroine voice, don’t forget that he or she will also perform other characters, even in a dual narration.

Hang out in audio book fan groups and watch for members to bring up pet peeves. One big complaint on male narrators is when they make caricatures out of female characters: nasally, falsetto, or unnecessarily whiny. Female narrators also draw ire for making male characters sound simple and one-dimensional. Find narrators who treat your characters with respect. 

When offering audition material, be sure to also include secondary characters important to your story. A good narrator should be able to deliver a nuanced version of every character, and allow you to easily distinguish who’s talking.

3: Let’s talk about sex, baby… 

I know more than a few authors who have a tough time writing sex scenes. That makes sense. Sex (the good stuff, anyway) is VERY personal. Your narrator needs to be able to convincingly live the scene. Nothing will take a listener out of your story quicker than to hear a self-conscious narrator say “Oh. God. Yes. Spank my ass” as if they’re narrating a lawnmower manual.

…And Comedy…

 Legend has it that director- screenwriter George Seaton said  to veteran actor Edmund Gwenn on his deathbed: “This must be terribly difficult for you.” Gwenn replied: “Not nearly difficult as playing comedy.”, just before expiring. Hence the saying,  ‘Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.’. Comedic timing is very important, and your narrator should get your sense of humor. 

EVERYBODY DOWNNN! (in my best Arnold voice)

If you have a lot of action in your story, you’ll need someone with the ability to scream without screaming on the mic. That’s a pro-only technic that conveys excitement and aggression without distorting the mic and ringing off the walls. 

…and love.

Conversely, when you hear a whispered “…Because I love you the moment we met…” – it takes technique to make the words powerful, subdued, and yet still audible.

4: Check That Rep

A good narrator will  stalk you. Not in a ‘gaze-lovingly-through-your-window-while-you-sleep- way. The judge told me ‘stop that’, and I’m all about law and order. No, we check out your social network status, books on sale, rankings, how well you market your work- stuff like that.   Especially if you’re looking for royalty share collaboration. 

Apply the same vetting process to your narrator.

 Find them on  Audible. What a great free resource to listen to their samples, see their portfolio, and check out their average rating. How many reviews mention the narrator’s performance? If you see reviews that say ‘I look for audios narrated by her!’, that’s a promising sign. 

Join a few Facebook fan groups of audios in your category. Often, members will post polls or statuses that say ‘Who’s Your One-Click Male or Female Narrator?’ You’ll see a lot of the same name pop up, but you’ll also see names that are new to you. If the fans dig them, they’re worth checking out.

Also,  ask around among your author friends- they can tell you how well they liked the performance, if the narrator is responsive, and how well they meet deadlines. You know – professionalism.

5: GTV (Google That Voice)

Web, social media presence is important too. If your narrator is active in promoting their titles, they will be a promotional asset for you too.

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments. I hope that helps in your quest to find that perfect narrator. Can’t wait to hear YOUR story!

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Troy Duran

The right voice right now

Contact me

Phone: (314) 754-7478
Email: td@speedofsound.com

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