Getting Started in Audiobook Narration


    Join Voice Over Expert Bettye Zoller as she introduces you to “Getting Started in Audiobook Narration”. Bettye is a veteran audiobook narrator and coach who has been there, done that and got the t-shirt. Listen to this snippet from her audiobook about… audiobooks!

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    Download Podcast Episode 46 »


    Bettye Zoller,, Audiobooks, Voice Acting, Narration, Narrators,

    Transcript of Getting Started in Audiobook Narration

    [Opening Music]
    Julie-Ann Dean: Welcome to Voiceover Experts brought to you by, the number one voiceover marketplace. Voiceover Experts brings you tips, pearls of wisdom and techniques from top instructors, authors and performers in the field of voiceover. Join us each week to discover tricks of the trade that will help you to develop your craft and prosper as a career voiceover talent. It’s never been easier to learn, perform, and succeed from the privacy of your own home and your own pace. This is truly an education you won’t find anywhere else.
    This week, is pleased to present Bettye Zoller.
    Bettye Zoller: Hello. I’m Bettye Zoller and this audiobook is about audiobooks, more particularly, narrating them. In a recent study after the American Federation of TV Radio artists found that in the US, paying jobs in the voiceover area of audiobook narration is one of the fastest growing segments of the business today.
    There are special voice techniques required to become a sought-after audio narrator and among these are certainly a heightened sense of text interpretation often facilitated by a background that includes some type of theatrical or dramatic training. You may not be equipped to narrate all genres of audio. What type of read are you best suited for, fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, business or medical or self-help topics, the Boddess Rippers – those are the romance novels so many of us love. Can you voice characters or dialects well?
    If you’re not world-class, don’t do it. It limits your narration scope to choose genres certainly but I believe you have to honestly ask yourself, “What do I want to put on my audio book demo?” And honestly, you should only put on any kind of any demo those things you do the very best. Voice talents must be aware that this field differs markedly from other voiceover job areas. There’s no point in seeking work as a narrator and expecting to get paid for it in the audiobook field unless you are really skilled and really good at reading long texts.
    When you feel ready to do so, consult with an audio producer who is skilled in audiobook production or narration, about creating your new audiobook narration demo. This demo will be much longer than any other type of voiceover demo, unless that’s my belief. The demos that I produce for my clients are between 6 to 12 minutes long and show a wide variety of audiobook literature genres. Those who hire readers insist on hearing longer demos to determine if you can sustain a narration, if you can prolong a characterization, if you have the stamina and also, publishers and audio producers insist on finding out how good you are at reading various types of material. You’re more likely to get work from a small publishing house when you’re first starting out without credits, of course.
    Seek out small niche publishers. A niche publisher is one who publishes only things in a small area of knowledge particularly if you know a lot about their subject. Be sure and tell them that when you submit your demo to them.
    Keep your ears open for audiobook authors or wannabees who are considering creating an audio product of some kind and might use you to narrate it. Network of business and writer’s groups and keep searching for publishers who welcome new people and hone your skills by reading every chance you get.
    Julie-Ann Dean: Thank you for joining us. To learn more about the special guest featured in this podcast, visit the Voiceover Experts show notes at Remember to stay subscribed.
    If you’re a first time listener, you can subscribe for free to this podcast in the Apple iTunes Podcast Directory or by visiting To start your voiceover career online, go to and register for a voice talent membership today.
    [Closing Music]

    Links from today’s show:
    Bettye Zoller Website

    Your Instructor this week:

    Voice Over Expert Bettye Zoller
    Bettye Zoller34 years as a respected university and private educator in voice, speech, theatre, radio-TV, and voiceover techniques along with her award-winning career in voiceovers and jingles has won Bettye Zoller an international reputation that brings clients and students to her workshops and to work in her Dallas recording studio (she’s an accomplished audio engineer/producer) from all over the globe! She is educated through the doctorate (from Missouri University, University of Texas at Dallas, University of North Texas) with faculty positions in the past at Southern Methodist University, University of Texas at Arlington, Dallas County Colleges. She has also studied with famed NYC acting coach Uta Hagen, in Chicago at the “Second City School” and her career began long ago at Metro Goldwyn Mayer’s Hollywood studio school (as a child performer signed to MGM).
    Her voiceover credits number in the many hundreds (she’s never counted!) and range from voiceovers and jingles for national TV commercials to audio books to cartoons, from toys to podcasts to anime. You’ve heard her for decades worldwide! Clients have included American Airlines,Pepsi, Visa, Lifetime TV Channel, The Weather Channel, Pace Picante Sauce, Lionel Trains, Texas Instruments Talking Toys, Seven Seas Dressings, Pedialyte Vitamins, promos for ABC, NBC, and BBC America. She is a Simon and Schuster audio book author, narrator, and producer. She has won ADDYS, CLIOS, GOLDEN RADIOS, and AUDIE awards over the years. She is the author of eleven audio titles sold worldwide and continues to produce new titles annually. She is known for teaching voiceover techniques including audio book narration and production, and her BUSINESS OF VOICEOVERS workshops are legendary with students who credit her with starting them in their lucrative voiceover careers!
    Bettye, with four top male announcers, has written and produced a wonderful CD program entitled “COMMERCIAL$PEAK” featuring interviews and sections announced by guests and male announcers of reputation. The foreword is by Dick Orkin of Hollywood Radio Ranch, a man who is well known in the U.S. as a commercial creator producer as well as Voice Over performer and teacher.

    Did you enjoy Bettye’s episode? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

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    Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Classically trained in voice, piano, violin and musical theatre, as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, her podcast Sound Stories serves an audience that wants to achieve excellence in storytelling. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.


    1. Ms. Bettye Zoller’s text was quite informative, however much of the editing was distracting. In the mid-70s, Tony Schwartz proved the value of his “Audio Design” techniques, including that of the omission of inhalations, to snag listeners via “borderline sublimation.” However, taking all the breath out of a 3:06 piece, as was done here, especially an instructive or a narrative one, disrupts rhythm. Conscious use of breath and pauses are vitally important communication tools. Additionally, such substration leaves the listener gasping for air.
      Moreover, the music chosen for any recorded piece should bolster the text rather than distract from it, as does the selection made for the first 25 seconds of her recording.
      Equal attention needs to be made to the editing of any piece, especially narratives of extended works. I doubt it is the objective of an audio book to leave its listener in a state of agitated asphyxia.

    2. I love Grady’s comments, and agree! It has been said that the essence of typography is the white space. Likewise breathing and pauses on a track convey meaning, or should. I’d say leave most of it in, but if compression is bringing up gasps, then use software or even a push-button (yes, I do!) to moderate the level. Aside from all that, these podcasts are a MARVEL. Big thanks to you at – Howard Ellison, Devon UK.

    3. Hi,
      I’m Peter G. C., for so many years, I love to read books, and every-time I’m reading I used to voice out what I am reading, and maybe because of that hobbit I thought it made my reading accent to be trained and many of my friends noticing my nice reading talent, I just thought, what if I should get job that my voice is the most important? Can you help me? what should I do to be one of your narrators, if I was already one of them, am I be able to be paid?
      truly yours,
      Peter G. C.

    4. As a former speaker,announcer and public narrator in addition to writing my first novel, I am facinated by the opportunity to educating myself on narrating audible books. Do you have any
      inside info on starting this venture?
      I also have been a radio intern and have filled in live broadcasts many times. Looking forward to your timely response.

    5. Please confirm that audio readers are rated according to the popularity of their products and those whose products don’t sell are quickly identified and ostracized by the audiobooks industry, thereby leaving open opportunities for truly well-qualifed and talented individuals like myself.

    6. I was surprised to see this old article still on And editing? Taking out breaths? etc? I did not edit this. The folks at voices did. So all of you who trashed me…who cares…And someone said “1970s.” I wasn’t even doing voice work then. I was a singer.
      Harsh and all of you are WRONG. Blaming me.

    7. Quite frankly, I’m a professional broadcaster and found the article with the accompanying podcast to be extremely informative. I chose to listen to the actual message conveyed throughout the content, rather than spending precious time over analyzing the technical details of how the message was or should have been presented. Absurd. Thank you, Bettye for the great article!

    8. I’m surprised Bettye found it necessary to return to this forum to, ‘Defend’ herself. Anyone who listens to her other work knows that editing wasn’t typical for her. This was a pod cast -the very idea that editing was done at all is actually quite . . . sad. Most podcasts are treated like live radio, and as such – we appreciate the natural feeling of a conversation. This seemed more like an Instructional Audiobook – which, interestingly enough, Bettye introduced it as such.
      Whether or not she was responsible for the editing, I do think it was fair for others to point out the critiques. It helps me as an aspiring voice over talent to make sure I don’t make the same mistakes. Afterall – I’m doing my own editing.

    9. Hi! Betty,
      I have worked over 15 years in Customer Service background with so of the greats.
      Fidelity Investment, Putnam Investment, On Call International, Grainger. Which allowed
      be to speak to thousands of people over the telephone. My Fidelity and Putnam indept conversation with individuals regarding there lifes Investments. And also conversations with On Call International travel assistance with travelers all over the world life threating medical
      situation. And with Grainger well known company for industrial supplier. Many of my conversations I had people telld me what a great voice I had on the telephone. Thousands of people just loved my voice. That being said I want to use my voice in audio books.

    10. Hello. I am currently trying to portrait a character role and narration role in an audio-book. This is not a published book, yet. The author hopes to be up and coming and has written a 400 page book and now wants to create the audio-book for it on his own using amateur actors. I have done numerous theatre work, but never an audio-book. I was excited for this role as I would like to get into voice acting, but it seems I am having troubles with the narration part of the story. I sound very bland. And when I don’t sound bland I sound “cheesy/corny”. I never actually listened to an audio-book so I think I will have to buy one to see how others do it. (though I’m an avid reader) I am interested in any advice you or anyone can give me on how to improve. The book is a sci-fi romance. It’s very raw, but has potential. Not quite my cup of tea plot wise, but the characters are endearing.

    11. Bettye,
      How do I go about discussing a potential book narration project with you? On my website, you’ll find in the top nav bar a description of my protagonist, and under BOOKS, you could scroll down to The Rector book cover, click it and scroll some more and find chapter one.
      I look forward to hearing from you.

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