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Check This Checklist Of What To Confirm
Before You Begin Narrating An Audiobook

By Tom Dheere
Voice Actor & Coach

Audiobook narration is, to me anyway, the most challenging and rewarding genre of voice over work there is.

I recently started narrating the audiobook Strategy Rules: Five Timeless Lessons from Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs, by David B. Yoffie and Michael A. Cusumano.

Like most of the books I'm privileged to narrate, this one is fascinating. I'm even taking notes as I go. I'm confident that this book will make me a better voice over business and coach. When the audiobook releases, I'll pen my customary blog entry sharing what I've learned.

Meanwhile, speaking of taking notes, it's time to update an audiobook narration production checklist article I wrote a long time ago.

These days, most of the checklist items below are taken care of by the Rights Holder.  But if you're working directly with an author who is new to the process (and maybe you are, too), you need to have your ducks in a row. For instance ...
  • Confirm the deadline and find out if it's flexible in case of illness, computer disaster, personal emergency, etc.
  • Confirm that the manuscript you received has been finalized/approved by the Rights Holder.
  • Receive or convert the manuscript into your preferred format, preferably one that allows you to take notes directly on the page.
  • Read the entire book before you start. If you don't have the time and it's non-fiction, read at the least the first few chapters to get an idea of tone and pace. If it's fiction, you MUST find someone to prep the book so you don't get ambushed with an accent or characterization that the book doesn't mention/reveal until late into the story.
  • If fiction, establish characterizations, genders, accents, etc.
  • If non-fiction, determine if the client wants footnotes or other bits to be read.
  • Get or build a pronunciation guide. I strongly recommend by buddy Adam Verner's amazing tool, Pronounceology.
  • Confirm the audio settings and file format.
  • Confirm the method of audio file delivery.
  • Confirm the Intro and Outro aka Opening and Closing Credits.
  • Confirm the manuscript's page range to begin and end your narration.
  • Send a recording of the first 15 minutes of the book to confirm tone and pace.
  • Confirm whether you or the client will do Quality Control.
  • Find out if the client wants the retakes as separate files or if they want you to edit them in.
Over more than two decades, Tom Dheere - AKA 'The VO Strategist' - has narrated thousands of projects for clients in over a dozen countries and voiced more than 40 audiobooks. He is also a voice over business consultant, a coach at Edge Studio, was the marketing consultant for the Voice Over Virtual online conference, and is also writer/producer of the sci-fi action comic book Agent 1.22.

Agent 1.22


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Comments (2)
James Conlan
2/26/2020 at 10:35 AM
Good list, Tom. Regarding pronunciation, unfamiliar words can be learned in Merriam-Webster's online dictionary. Proper names are often found in YouTube videos, especially interviews with the subject. Foreign words are more problematic; much of what I find online is simply wrong, but perhaps you can recommend the best source. Also I'd like your take on managing time with a short deadline: would you still recommend reading the entire book (a process that may take 3-4 days) if the deadline is 3 weeks? Thanks.
Hugh Mura
2/26/2020 at 6:54 AM
Very comprehensive article for those who would like to venture into this genre.
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