Voice Over Education Blog

February 2014

What's Your Motivation?

The voice over industry… we all know that it is a place to make some fast and easy money with minimal investment. I already have a voice! I know how to read! Audacity is free! I can buy a USB microphone for less than $100! What more could I possibly need?


Here are two things I’ve been hearing and seeing quite a bit lately. First, people in desperate situations hoping that becoming a voice over talent will be the answer to all of their financial troubles. Second, people commenting (complaining?) about the amount of money they need to invest, in an effort to be or remain competitive.

At one time or another, nearly all of us have dealt with financial or other challenges. At the time I left college and went to recording school, I owned: a small pickup truck, a mattress, three milk crates (which held my clothes and some books) a small refrigerator and not much else. I lived in a crappy apartment with two (usually intoxicated) roommates. I rented P.A. equipment to set up live shows and saved every extra dollar of income (sometimes a dollar was all that was “extra”) to start buying microphones and cables. Slowly, I began to acquire some critical pieces of gear. I was passionate about what I was doing and wasn’t going to let my circumstances get in the way of achieving my goals.

Tips for Growing into the Growing Audiobook Field - Part 3

NOTE: This is part three of Johnny's article. To read part one, click here. To read part two, click here.


If you are good at this genre and want to do it, you are going to need a place to work. Many narrators today work out of home studios. If your home has some extra space, you may be able to create a usable studio. It is true that some producers will call you in to their studios and have you record there -- with the benefit of having a director and/or engineer. But recording in the producer’s studio is becoming less and less the norm. If you are willing to work only on evenings and weekends, many sound studios will rent studio space for very reasonable amounts during those periods. Look into that.

Tips for Growing into the Growing Audiobook Field - Part 2

NOTE: This is part two of Johnny's 3-part article.   Read Part One.   Read Part Three.


If you want to be an audiobook narrator -- study acting. Actors must always be in learning mode. Our field of study is humanity and the human condition. That takes more than a lifetime to master, so get to it. When people learn that I am a narrator, they frequently ask if I am still acting! Yes!!! Audiobook narration is an organic acting experience. You have a guide -- the author. You have an instrument -- you. You have an audience. You create the roles -- every character -- and you control the pace and vocally create the author's world for your unseen audience. Even in nonfiction, you must “play” the narrator. If you’ve never tried an acting class, look into one for beginners. There are various sorts. Some are better than others as a foundation for voice over. I suggest one that focuses on scene study or improv, but any acting-based class is good in that it gets you out of your own head and makes you create. Voice-training classes? Sure! Audiobook narration classes? Absolutely!

Tips for Growing into the Growing Audiobook Field

NOTE: This is a multi-installment article. Stay tuned next week for Part 2.

Audiobook production and sales have swelled lately. Which is, indeed, swell for the similarly growing number of actors and hopefuls wanting to work in the genre. Because, as in any acting field, typically there are more actors than acting job opportunities.

So every actor needs to explore every avenue available to his craft – especially considering that not every actor is a good match for audio book narration, even within the community of trained voice over artists. Those of us who narrate audio books regularly look askance at the idea that "anybody can do it" – pretty much the same way that all trained voice over artists feel when ordinary people say anyone can do other VO genres. We all know it’s not true that just anyone can walk in off the street, step up to a mic and do what we do. In fact, if the idea weren’t so naïve, it would be offensive. While the ability to read and speak the English language is a fine thing, it is not enough to succeed as an audiobook narrator. In fact, neither is VO training in most other genres sufficient. It helps, but audiobook narration and acting is such a specialized genre that it requires additional insights and skills, even a different sort of demo.

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