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If You Start Crying - Don't Stop Narrating!
And More Tips From BookCon Panel ...
June 14, 2018

By Tom Dheere
Voice Actor, Narrator & Coach

As an audiobook narrator, I've always been fascinated by the processes of other narrators. One place to learn this recently was at the BookCon panel, "Into the Booth," on June 1 in New York.

Moderated by Laini Taylor (author of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series), this panel featured a wide range of narration experience: from narrating one audiobook (Charlotte Voiklis, author/narrator of Becoming Madeleine: A Biography of the Author of 'A Wrinkle in Time' by Her Granddaughters) to narrating over 100 titles each (Marc Thompson of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, January LaVoy of The Diviners series, and Elizabeth Evans of the Throne of Glass series).

The range of experience provided both fascinating and often hilarious experiences and perspectives to share with an eager audience of authors, librarians and fans.

For example, Charlotte, who co-narrated Becoming Madeleine with her sister, talked about the honor of bringing her grandmother's story to life.

One of the other panelists, and I won't say who, has narrated numerous vampire erotica titles, much to the delight of the crowd!

Mark and January talked about the thrill of portraying iconic Star Wars characters Han Solo and Leia. Mark delighted the crowd with his Chewbacca as well as a perfect Admiral Ackbar impression. "It's a trap!"


And here are some audiobook narration tips I walked away with:

1. Remember that audiobook narration is an intimate experience. The narrator has complete creative control, and is free to make all of the performance choices, especially if you're self-directing. Since you can't change the story, exercise the liberty to interpret, expand, and elevate it.

2. Audiobook narration can make you a better actor in other genres. Examine the overlap of building characters regardless of the medium. Always ask yourself: who is the audience? ยท

3. When preparing an audiobook, think less about the attributes of the characters (you can't play tall) and more about the experience the character is going through.

4. Find forums where the fans are talking about the books that you have or will narrate so you can discover why they love it.

5. Audiobook narration is a highly physical endeavor. You have to warm up, eat right, hydrate, power down, and rejuvenate to be effective and have the stamina to narrate regularly.

6. Record snippets of your characters' voices on your phone to file away for future use.

7. If you are so moved by the story that you start crying, don't stop narrating! Unless you're unintelligible, it's a keeper.


This was a lively and highly informative panel. The narrators were engaging, profound, and bring literature to millions of commuters, the visually impaired, or those who just prefer the auditory experience.

If you're in New York City next year for BookCon, I highly recommend attending panels like this. If you're not an audiobook lover going in, you will definitely be one coming out!

To learn more about BookCon go to
Over two decades, Tom Dheere 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, 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 (5)
Tom Dheere
7/11/2018 at 5:30 PM
That's a tough one, Saul! The challenge is reconciling their direction with your skills as a narrator. If they don't trust you to give a good performance without their direction, you may want to move on. At the same time, there is more than one way to be "right". Remember, we're just the vessel but we have egos, too. It's a balancing act!
Saul Reichlin
6/19/2018 at 8:33 AM
I am an experienced, and even award-winning audiobook narrator, but I still find myself working with producers (thankfully not mamy, but enough!) who micro-manage my performance, sometimes to tiresome and frustrating detail. A hint on how to deal with this would be appreciated! I usually just do what they want, but I resent doing something I believe to wrong, just to keep an otherwise good relationship going. Thanks!
Reuven Miller
6/16/2018 at 7:45 AM
On #3, I actually had a producer ask me, "Can you make him sound taller?"!
Michael Sessums
6/15/2018 at 5:38 PM
I love #3, concentrate on what the character is going through. Probably the best way to create a character.
Darla Middlebrook
6/14/2018 at 12:17 PM
Referring to #7 - or if you get the chills or feel nauseous during a violent scene...keep going. Then walk around the room and shake it off, if necessary.
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