Audio books constitute a unique branch of the publishing industry: novels, short stories and non-fiction read aloud by an actor, then recorded and sold as CDs or MP3 downloads. It's surprisingly creative work--the performer puts his own spin on the words of an author through inflection and characterisation--but it can be tough to find a full-time job in the industry. If you want to work recording audio books, have a plan and be prepared to follow through on it.
- Skill level:
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Study acting by taking classes at your local college or university, or by taking community classes in your area. Audio recording is a type of acting, and if you want to excel at it, you need to learn the formal techniques. If possible, pursue acting as a profession: finding an agent, auditioning for plays and commercials in your area, and building your resume through practical experience.
Work on your vocal techniques whenever you can. In addition to formal study through acting classes or performances, you can hone your speaking voice through volunteer work: reading to kids at your local preschool, reading to the blind, or reading in rest homes for the elderly.
Create a demo CD of your vocal work. It should stress your range and ability to work on multiple types of audio books. Record samples expressing a wide variety of tones, emotions, accents and characters. You can do this through a professional recording service if you have the means, or simply by using a home computer with a recording function.
Make contacts at talent agencies, small publishing houses and acting guilds. Audio book producers often contact agents and actors' unions when searching for readers, and contacts with a given publishing house can inform you when a new project is going forward. The better you network, the greater your chances of finding an opportunity.
Distribute your demo CD to any of your contacts who you believe can help. Check in with your contacts periodically to see if they've heard anything, or if they've passed your CD on to someone in the know.
Maintain your enthusiasm and optimism as you move through the process. Like acting, audio recording work can be extremely tough. A good attitude not only helps you persevere, but pays dividends during long recording sessions when you need to stay fresh and upbeat for hours.
Tips and warnings
- If you want to record vocal work as a job, move to a big city where opportunities are more common: New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, London or the like. You can find opportunities elsewhere, but larger industry hubs provide more chances for networking.
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