A commenter on my article How to Become an Audiobook Narrator asked me:
I am told that I have a great talent in reading and acting…and for some time I’ve been thinking if I should start doing voice overs as an audio book narrator. What kind of skills do I need to acquire or improve on?
I could — and someday will — write an answer that addresses the part of the sentence that reads “I am told that…”. Today, though, I present my (drumroll)…
Audiobook Narrator Self-Assessment Quiz
If you’re thinking about a career in audiobook narration, answers to these questions will help you determine if you’re a good fit for this type of work.
Do you like to read?
If the answer is NO, stop taking the quiz, and start thinking of some other career option. Seriously.
Do you regularly listen to audiobooks?
If the answer is NO, listen to many more audiobooks in different genres to get a feel for the art form before you continue with the quiz. I’d suggest you’d get a subscription to AudioFile Magazine, which is the industry’s standard for professional reviews, and listen to audiobooks that earned Earphone Awards.
Have you ever heard the sound of your recorded voice?
Have you ever read aloud?
Do you enjoy telling stories?
Do you have training or experience in acting or oral interpretation?
Do you love language?
What is your native language?
Do you know more than 1 language? If so, how would you rate your proficiency in it?
Do you like to work independently or with other people?
Are you a self-starter?
Do you consider yourself organized?
Are you detail-oriented?
Are you adept at time and project management?
Are you thick-skinned when it comes to criticism?
Are you curious? Do you like to learn new things?
How do you deal with constant rejection or perhaps even feeling ignored?
How would you rate your comfort and skill levels with working with technology more complicated than your phone?
How does the thought of learning new software make you feel?
How would you rate your communications and customer service skills?
How do you feel when you need to research something?
Are you able to concentrate on one task for long periods?
Are you patient?
Are you a perfectionist?
What are your financial expectations?
Have you ever worked as a freelancer?
Do you have a day job or other monetary cushion to see you through slow times?
Do you have money set aside for start-up and on-going business costs?
How do you feel about constantly networking and marketing yourself to attract and retain clients?
Do you have or can you make a dedicated recording space in your home?
I’ll talk about the importance of each section and explain my thinking behind many of the questions in these posts:
Part 1 — Baseline and Language Skills
Part 2 — Personality/Work Habits first 8 questions
Part 3 — Personality/Work Habits last 7 questions
Part 4 — Financial Considerations
For now, take some time to reflect on each question, and be sure to date and write down your answers! To encourage you to spend the time needed to reflect on these questions and write the answers, I’ve created this free, downloadable PDF of the quiz.
If, after reflecting on your answers, you decide to pursue a career in audiobook narration, your first stop in your journey should be my site NarratorsRoadmap.com. You’ll find an incredible wealth of free information from industry pros to help you learn about this business.
Amy Deuchler says
Thanks for posting. This is a comprehensive list of questions! I particularly like the “Are you curious? Do you like to learn new things?” which is one of my strengths, but I never considered it could be related to audiobook narration until now. The hardest part for me is the “How do you feel about constantly networking and marketing yourself to attract and retain clients?” which is a big challenge for a lot of the introverted creative types who are drawn to narration because it offers them a chance to work autonomously and “behind the scenes”. I’m looking forward to your future posts to find out what question was the most challenging for you.
Karen Commins says
Hi, Amy! Thanks for sharing your reaction to these questions!
I often battle feeling ignored in our super crowded and competitive marketplace. Gaining and keeping the attention of publishers and producers who might cast me for a project continues is the true on-going work of this business. When things don’t happen as quickly as I think they should, I affirm to myself that the right people and opportunities are crossing my path at the right time.
I hope you’ll continue to contribute thoughtful comments like this one to the future posts about this quiz. Thanks again!
I answered ‘Yes’ to the majority of the questions. The only area in which I had to respond with ‘moderate yes’ was flexibility and familiarity with new tech. I’m interested and keen, but take time to get it right. Once I’ve mastered it, though, I’m fine. I’ve done a LOT of on the job learning of new tech skills throughout my working life, so my assessment is founded in sober reflection and self-knowledge.
The chief reason I’d like to absolutely master audio narration is my ambition to turn my own novel into an audiobook, because I HEAR it just as much as I picture it, and it’s stiff with different characters etc.
Futhermore, as a disabled person, I am keen to gradually withdraw from my ongoing work as a tutor and lecturer (travel is becoming ever more problematic), but to continue earning and income that involves LOTS of books, because they are my great passion.
Would love to hear your thoughts on all this.
Thanks for your kind attention!
Karen Commins says
Hi, Dani! Thanks for taking the quiz and starting this discussion! I hope you also read through all of the explanations about the questions:
I wrote about the financial considerations in Part 4. Like any business, becoming an audiobook narrator requires an investment of time, money, and energy. It can take a while to develop skills and attract enough clients to make the work into your sole job.
Since you’re an author who’d like to narrate her book, I suggest you look at my article Should an Author Narrate Her Own Audiobook?, as well as this page of curated articles to help authors learn more about audiobook production.
I hope this info is helpful. Best wishes for your success!
Brett Heinemann says
Great quiz, thank you for the many resources you have put out there for us looking into this as beginners!
I have been a 5th and 6th grade teacher for the past 15 years, and am seriously contemplating whether to start (slowly) into this field. I know a lot of people “have been told” that they would make a good ________or __________, but my favorite parts of my job by far are the read aloud/storytelling/performance aspects, and the kids have been telling me for years that “you should try it!” So, I think I will. Daunting list of things to consider in the beginning, from how to learn the software necessary to the equipment you’ll need. I think I’ll start with how to set up the room I have in mind! Thank you again for the wealth of information and if you have any words of wisdom for someone like them I would surely listen!
Karen Commins says
Hi, Brett! Thanks for the nice note.
In addition to all of the info I’ve written on this site, I’ve launched a new site called NarratorsRoadmap.com. NarratorsRoadmap has links to advice pages from numerous narrators and a treasure trove of other resources that will help you get started in this career. The site is still in development but will include a Knowledge Base and some other unique offerings in the future. I hope you’ll check it out and subscribe to the mailing list for updates!
If you’ll send me your snail address to me via email, I’d love to send you a special gift to kickstart your new career.
Thanks again, and best wishes for your success!