Blonde voice artist wearing red

Audiobook Narration

This portion of the workshop focused on audiobook narration. Each person in the class picked an excerpt that was a paragraph or so in length to read from, rehearsed independently, and then had the privilege of being directed and recorded in the booth by Pat Fraley.
There were some exciting performances, a few surprise interpretations and plenty of beautiful artistry.

I wrote this article about audiobook narration in general mixed with some tips from Pat Fraley and hope that these observations provide some insight for you.
Welcome to audiobook narration, one of the hottest, booming markets in voice over!

The Subtle

This workshop was very enlightening and really gave us all a glimpse into each person’s narrative preferences and style.

Will You Hold To the Contract?

Something that Pat focused on was the contract that the narrator makes with the listener at the beginning of the audiobook. The contract is to suspend their disbelief and bring the listener with the narrator on the journey.

Suspension of Disbelief

Suspending one’s disbelief means that although the listener is quite aware that the narrator is only telling a story, no matter how fantastical, they decide to put that fact in the back of their mind to enjoy the show, suspending their disbelief in order to be entertained and embrace the narrator’s world and a different reality as intended by the author.

If a narrator goes for “big drama”, falters or slips in and out of character, the listener will notice and lose faith in the narrator which breaks the suspension of disbelief.
By maintaining your presence and keeping to the contract, narrators will be able to keep the listener with them and earn their trust.

What Does it Take To Narrate an Audiobook?

Narrating audiobooks is a marathon that requires the ultimate balancing act of artistic and technical endurance coupled with the ability to continuously suspend the audiences’ disbelief.

A Good Audiobook Narrator Will Be Able To:

1. Engage the listener
2. Make and keep a contract with the listener to suspend their disbelief
3. Give a consistent performance
4. Have intuitive timing
5. Develop multiple convincing and separate character voices
6. Be an authentic narrator with an independent voice
7. Interpret the author’s intent
8. Transport the listener to a different time and place
9. Maintain a solid presence
10. Bring the story to life

When those criteria are met, you’ll feel great about your work and can also be assured that your audience will connect with the story, relate to the characters and have full confidence in the narrator’s (ultimately, your) ability to captivate, amuse and delight.

How to Get a Billion Dollar Read

When you are recording an audiobook demo, make sure that there is no sound and no production behind your narration. Keep the sound nice and clean. One of the best things you can do to connect with people for work in audiobooks is networking with audiobook publishers. Some people find that the APA (Audio Publishers Association) is a good place to start for serious narrators looking for audiobook narration opportunities.

Any comments? I’d love to hear from some audiobook narrators about how you got started.

Best wishes,


  1. During the past year, I have concentrated my efforts, both in marketing and refining my skill set, toward audio book work. As a former stage actor, educator, and live story teller, it is the work I love best. It’s hard work, and doesn’t pay that well minute for minute as other voice work, but the rewards go beyond the monetary. I have joined APA, taken a fabulous workshop with Marc Cashman, listened to Pat Fraley’s advice, and consulted with generous friends like J.S. Gilbert, who has shared his wealth of experience. I have been able to get work directly through authors — some established, but most new. My goal is to work for major audio book publishers such as Random House and Audible. Since I live in the NYC metro where it happens, I know I’m on my way.


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