The Path to a Successful Audiobook Performance
It was the July 4th weekend in 2014 when Izzard Ink set out to make a successful audiobook. We needed to find a professional narrator. But how could this be done?
A 4-page sample from True Stories from the Files of the FBI was posted on a very popular audiobook site. There were two options. One is to split the royalty with a narrator or pay upfront a flat fee per finished hour (pfh) of narration. Splitting the royalty with a narrator is the cheaper option but the best narrators like to be paid upfront for their work.
We varied the pay range from $100pfh to $400pfh to attract more experienced narrators. Within 20 minutes of posting the book’s sample we had our first three narrators submit excellent auditions. Within three days we had almost 100 narrators submit audio samples and had to cut the audition time short. Many of the sample auditions were from amateurs. How do you decipher amateurs from the professionals?
We had a team listen to every single sample and replied back to every narrator. By engaging with each narrator we were able to get more information such as their experience level and the rate they required. We were amazed at what some of the people wrote back.
One narrator asked for $350pfh and said he could have it done within three days, as he would need to go back to his day job. The professional narrators wrote back with their experience and a more realistic time frame. The audiobook would need to be edited, listen to for quality and then mastered for Audible, Amazon and iTunes.
So what makes for a great narrator?
Look at Mark Deakins as a prime example of a great narrator:
Mark’s background is very impressive as he has read many books for Random House and has studied theater.
Second, Mark knows audiobooks are about the performance and not just a narration. With Bassam and the Seven Secret Scrolls Mark submitted his audition with authentic accents. He was able to work well with female and male character voices.
Third, Mark spent hours reading over the book and preparing for the performance. The best narrators will spend time studying the manuscript and prepping the outline of the performance.
Fourth, listeners can tell is the narrator is passionate about a book or not. With Prophecy and Modern Times narrated by Mark Deakins we received multiple letters from fans thanking Mark for his performance. They stated that his passion is something they would have never felt if they read the book.
Fifth, make sure the audiobook is edited and listened to by somebody else for quality. Izzard Ink does suggest that authors listen to the entire book before it is available for sale.
These are a few helpful steps is making sure have a successful audiobook performance and not just another poorly performing narration.