Audiobook Production and Narration

Narrator Wayne June Wayne June Voice Talent Audiobook Producer Wayne June


Audiobook Production and Narration

                                                                                                                               by Wayne June © 2011

Audiobooks currently comprise 10% of the book industry (about $3 billion) and sales projections indicate an industry-wide expectation for sales to nearly triple over the course of the next few years.

The Audio Publishers Association (APA) Sales Survey shows significant growth in retail, wholesale and library audiobook sales. According to the survey, retail and wholesale sales increased 14 percent and library sales increased by 7 percent. Overall sales growth from 2002 to 2003 is up 5.1 percent.

The recent Library Journal Survey showed that circulation for adult audiobooks in libraries gained 13.5 percent in two years, while the circulation of children’s audiobooks rose 10.7 percent. In addition, Library budgets for adult audiobooks went up 6.1 percent and budgets for children’s audiobooks rose 4.8 percent.

These statistics provide encouragement for the author, producer or publisher investigating audiobook production of their publication(s). 

NEW SURVEY! Audio Publishing Industry Shows Four Percent Increase in Sales
APA's new sales survey conducted in the Summer and Fall of 2005 by the independent research firm of Lewis & Clark Research analyzes sales data in 2004 and estimates the size of the current audiobook market at $832 million, indicating overall sales growth from 2003-2004 at an additional 4 percent.

The information here is provided to give a brief overview of the process as a whole and answer some Frequently Asked Questions.

*What are the costs associated with an audiobook production? 

*What is involved in the audiobook production process?  

*What is involved in the audiobook narration process?  

*What is involved in choosing a narrator?

* What are the costs associated with an audiobook production?

According to Judy Byers, author of Words On Tape: "Most commercial recorded products are done in big cities like N.Y., L.A., Chicago or Miami...  $500-$5,000 per finished hour is a range I've seen publishers use." The following four factors combine to contribute to the bottom line:

Studio Time 
Recording Engineer
Talent Fees

Studio time is generally in the $150-$200 an hour range, audio engineers services can often be acquired for around $125 an hour, a producer/director: A few hundred dollars/hr to "the sky's the limit", depending on the individual’s experience, status in the industry, etc. (Studio rates have been declining due to the proliferation of affordable digital recording equipment and subsequent "home studio" set-ups).

Talent Fees can range from $175-$300 per finished hour for professional "unknown" talent to four figures for celebrity talent. (Depending on who the celebrity is, as you can imagine, it can run the gamut of those four figures). Fees are often negotiated based on the scope of the work, intended distribution, type of talent agreement, etc. | Back to Top |
*What is involved in the audiobook production process?

Audio production for the spoken word can have a widely varying production ratio, anywhere from 4:1, (i.e. 4 hours of work for every hour of finished product) to as much as 12:1 (i.e. 12 hours of work for every hour of finished product). Considerations of pacing and style for the delivery and attention to detail in recording, proofing, editing, and mastering are the largest contributing factors.

The process involves the work of a narrator (performance), an engineer (recording & editing) and producer/director (coordination & direction). Post production entails editing, mixing and mastering.
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*What is involved in the audiobook narration process?

In a word: Storytelling. Narration is an art form, the narrator or voice actor is a "voice artist". There are special skills required of an audiobook narrator. The skill set for a narrator or voice actor includes the following "performance tools": Script analysis, interpretation and a range of creative delivery styles for character development and portraying characters and, not least of all, stamina and consistency. A lot of time goes into preparation for an audiobook performance. This includes pre-reading the material, (often creating a database of the characters to be voiced) and going through the manuscript to do the "mark up", putting accent/emphasis marks in for a guide.

In voice acting it is important that the "global" or overall performance flows well and is consistent. The rhythm of each line, each paragraph, each piece of dialogue, each chapter as it unfolds must match the flow that the imagery of the scenes demand.  The pre-read is essential to the execution of this task. At the same time, a fine balance must be maintained,  delivering the necessary emotion, characterization and tone without overshadowing the story. Unless called for in the story, an "over the top" performance can distract the listener and detract from the experience. Therefore the narrator must be able to serve the needs of the role while remaining "transparent".

On a detailed or "micro" level, the accomplished narrator makes choices involving the rhythmic and intonational aspect of the language (prosody), essentially the same way scansion is used in analyzing meter in poetry. Scansion is the analysis of a line for rhythm, emphasis and accent; (accent here refers to syllabic stress, not linguistic accent). Emphasis can be applied through inflection (or pitch), tone of voice (emotional coloration) dramatic pause and  projection (volume - loudness or softness). In the course of recording a single audiobook the narrator will make literally thousands of choices to find the right voice tone, interpretation and rhythm to convey the imagery called for in the scene. The voice actor must understand the author's intent, understand the story line and have the acting and storytelling skills to effectively deliver the end product. Unlike other forms of acting, this has to be done exclusively with the voice; putting a shrug, a smile, a frown in the mind's eye of the listener. An experienced and talented audiobook narrator performs with this level of skill reflexively. | Back to Top |

*What is involved in choosing a narrator? 
As the author or executive producer, you are the person closest to the project, and if the voice "resonates" with you on an emotional level, chances are that it will be the appropriate "type" for the material. In addition to this, however, a narrator must have the skill set to be able to do much more than just read clearly: One must have the understanding and expertise necessary to breathe life into the work. 

Some other important considerations in choosing a narrator are: budget, deadline, narrator's availability, range of related services available (Does the narrator have access to a studio and engineer, e.g.?), attention to detail in recording, proofing, editing, and mastering


| Narrator Wayne June's AUDIOBOOK DEMOS |



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Additional Resources:
| Audiobook Publishers Information at | Art and Science of Audio Book Production from National Library Service (NLS) |
| Audiobook Resources from | Complete Guide to Self Publishing | Words On Tape |AudioBook News
| How To Start And Run A Small Book Publishing Company | The Self-Publishing Manual | How Should a Book Sound? |
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Narrator Wayne June
 Elsewhere on 
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Wayne's Personal Blog

Audiobook Publishing Site

Audiobook Publishing Blog

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About Wayne June:
 Since 1998 narrator and producer Wayne June has been providing cost-effective internet based audio production and narration services for independent authors, publishers and producers interested in streamlining the audiobook production process. 

 Receiving manuscripts by email and  taking direction pre-production by phone, Wayne then sends your finished audio file as an MP3, .WAV, AIFF or in any format, either by FTP to your server or on CD or MP3CD by mail.  Fast, easy solutions for audiobook narration.

 With multi-track digital recording and editing facilities, Wayne produces and voices for any spoken word requirements in the industry. 

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Narration and Audio Production

Wayne June Voice Talent
39 Wells Avenue
Shelton, CT 06484



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