Why do people gather around fires and tell tales? Because we crave stories. It’s why we read, watch movies, and listen to audiobooks. And, it’s why I transitioned from writing to narrating two years ago.
After I published my novel, Freeing Colt, through BookLocker.com, a loved one identified an undiscovered talent of mine: Narrating. He liked to listen to me tell stories. A few days later he sent me a link from a YouTuber named Kat Theo, who explained how to audition for and earn money narrating audiobooks through acx.com, the Audiobook Creation Exchange.
Narrating isn’t simple. There are pros and cons, just as with writing. But, if your goal is storytelling, narrating can serve as an exciting and challenging side hustle, or even develop into a career.
I auditioned for twenty-five titles before I received my first acceptance email. Being a writer prepared me for rejection. When I received my first acceptance email, the author, Debra Coleman Jeter, proposed I narrate both books in her Sugar Sands Series. There was a huge learning curve and I logged 40-hour weeks while recording my first audiobook. But, if you’ve written a novel, or consider yourself a career author, you know what it means to commit to something because your heart won’t let you quit.
So, what do you need in order to channel your talent into narration?
1. A PLEASANT-SOUNDING VOICE
Subscribe to Audible, buy an audiobook through Apple Books, or check out an audiobook on CD from the library. YouTube has some clips of audiobooks available, too. Really study these narrators’ voices. Think about why their voices appeal to you. Practice and develop a tone that makes listeners want to keep listening. Multitask while doing housework or driving.
2. A STUDIO
Hang on, now. Don’t talk yourself out of this idea because you don’t have a sound-proof professional studio. My studio consists of sturdy quilts and blankets hung on a curtain rod, stage poles, and screws drilled into the walls. It’s about 5 feet by ten feet. You’ll need a laptop to read PDF manuscripts, a professional microphone, pop filter, mic cable, mic stand, and recorder.
3. AN ENGINEER OR ENGINEERING SOFTWARE
I hired an engineer to professionally edit and master my files. He uses the free audio software programs Cubase and Audacity, which include an ACX check so you’ll be sure to follow their specifications. Your files have to adhere to ACX’s sound requirements or they’ll reject the entire audiobook. But, you can absolutely learn how to engineer your own files if you have a tech mindset.
You’ll have to prioritize time to record and edit auditions. You may have to audition many times before receiving an acceptance. How does it pay? There are three ways. First, you can get a royalty share contract. You’ll only make money if the book sells. Think of it as paying your dues.
Once you’ve demonstrated superior performances, you can start asking for per finished hour (PFH) contracts, where the author pays a flat fee, or royalty share plus, which includes both PFH and royalties.
At the heart of all this is a yearning to tell stories, to tap into the age-old need to transport someone to the realm of the spiritual, magical place called the imagination. If this resonates with you, go for it.
Christy Lindsay is a professional audiobook narrator and author of “Freeing Colt,” published by BookLocker.com. Her narration credits include Elk Lake authors’ Wonders of the Galaxy: A Collection of Cosmic Tales and Debra Coleman’s Sugar Sands Series books, Joy After Noon and Song of Sugar Sands. These books are available on Audible, Apple Books, and iTunes. She is currently narrating Colorado Treasure by Derinda Babcock, Winter Queen by Erica Marie Hogan, and Where Love Blooms by Elk Lake authors. She has an additional twelve books lined up.
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