How to Write Effective Pitch Emails to Authors for Narration Work

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[This is Part 4 of a 4-Part Series on Finding Work as a Freelance Audiobook Narrator] 

Other posts in this series: 

In parts I, II, and III of this series, I shared my personal methods for finding an unlimited number of good paying work as a freelance narrator, my number one tactic that makes it easy for authors and publishers to say “yes” to having you narrate their book, and I also shared my favorite free tool for sharing and promoting my audio samples in emails, on my own website, and on my social media profiles.

Today, I want to bring this series full circle by showing you exactly how I send effective cold pitches to authors and publishers. The biggest reason I want to share this with you is because it works.

This is how I get the majority of my jobs as a narrator. It’s how I make my living. One of the things that I love so much about this business is that you don’t need to pay for advertising or have a large audience to make a good living as a narrator.

The one thing that you do need if you want to be successful, is the confidence to reach out to prospective authors and publishers and offer your services.

But I know that when I was getting started, reaching out to an author I had never met was intimidating-  

“I’m not sure what to say?”

“What if I don’t say the right thing?”

“What if they say no?”

These are the things that ran through my head for months before I sent my first cold pitch email to an author.

If you are having similar thoughts, then this post is for you because I’m going to show you exactly what to do and say to sound professional in your pitches.

Ready? Here we go.

An Overview of An Effective Pitch

I’ve found that my most effective pitches consist of six main parts:

  1. Introduction
  2. Benefits for the author
  3. Praise for the book
  4. Why choose you?
  5. Description of services
  6. A “call to action” or instructions for next steps

Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps to find out why each one is important for an effective pitch and how you can incorporate these elements into your own pitch emails.

Part 1: Introduction

This is where you tell the author who you are, what you do, and why you are contacting them. You can do this using one or two simple sentences, like —

“My name is Krystal Wascher. I am a professional audiobook narrator and I noticed that your book, (Title of Book) does not have an audiobook version available on Audible.com.”

Part 2: State the Benefits

In the next section or paragraph I describe the benefits of having an audiobook available in places like Amazon, Audible, and iTunes from the perspective of the author.

These are things like —

  • Earning more royalties,
  • increasing the book’s visibility,
  • boosting the author’s reputation or authority, and
  • reaching a new and growing potential fan base.

If you are not already aware, the demand for audiobooks by listeners is growing at a remarkable pace. In fact, it’s the fastest growing format of digital media in the world right now. But creating an audiobook is nowhere near as easy as creating, say, a Kindle book. What this means is that there is less competition in the audiobook space for authors and it’s easier for them to standout and sell more copies of their book.

Many authors aren’t aware of the opportunity that exists with audiobooks right now. Therefore, if you can educate them and let them know that they are leaving a lot of money on the table by not having their book turned into an audiobook, you are much more likely to win them over and get the deal.

Part 3: Praise the Book

Most authors spend months, or even years writing their books. In many cases, they’ve poured their heart, soul and energy into this work. So, I think it’s a good idea to compliment the book in some way to show that you respect the work that they’ve done. Give the author the sense that you are willing to invest time, care, and creative energy into the book to make it great.

Before writing this section, you should read the book’s description on Amazon, take a look at the free preview, and read a few of the reviews if any are available.

This should give you a sense of what the story is about, who the characters are, and the general vision that the author has for the book. It’s not necessary to read the entire book before sending an email, but by doing some quick research to find some aspect of the book to compliment the author on, it shows the author that you have a genuine interest in their book.

Part 4: Why They Should Choose You

This is where the research that you did in Part 3 becomes very useful. By looking at the book’s description and reviews, you should have a good sense of the tone of the book and who the characters are.

I often say something like —

[Fiction Book]

“I think my voice would be a great fit for your main character, (name of character.) I feel like I can really connect and relate to her struggles.”

OR

[Non-Fiction Book]

“I think my upbeat vocal tone would be a great fit for this book.”

This is also the perfect place to link to audio samples of similar work or your customized sample of the title.

Part 5: Description of Services

In this paragraph you should tell the author exactly what services you are willing to provide. Many authors get confused when it comes to narration. They’re not sure if they need a voice actor and a producer, or if just one person can complete the entire project. If you can provide production services as well as the narration, that is a time and cost savings benefit for the author that you should highlight.

You could say something like–

“I offer a full audiobook production service that includes narration, editing, audio mastering, and file preparation so there is no need to hire a seperate voice actor, editor, audio engineer, and proofer — which means a significant time and cost savings for you.”

Next, it’s time to talk about money.

I like to send this information in the initial email. I know that I personally hate when businesses “hide the ball” when it comes to pricing, so I’m always upfront about it. Also, this email may prompt the author to do some additional research on costs of comparable services, and since my rates tend to be more reasonable than many other production houses, it’s highly likely that the author will come back and accept my offer.

I usually offer two different payment options:

  1. A flat rate option, and
  2. A royalty share option.

**Keep in mind that if the book isn’t ranked very well on Amazon, you might not want to offer a royalty share option.

Here’s how I approach the money conversation —

“I offer two different full service payment options:

Option 1: Flat rate payment of $150 per hour of finished audio. This rate is based on the length of the completed audiobook, not the number of hours spent working on the book. For example, if your completed title is six hours long, your total production cost would be $900.

Option 2: No upfront cost to you with a royalty share split of 50% of audiobook royalties from Audible.com, Amazon, and iTunes. *I only offer this option for books that I believe will sell very well in the audiobook marketplace, therefore I’m happy to offer a royalty share option for your title.

Note what I did here in Option 2 — By telling the author that I only offer a royalty share option for books that I believe will sell well, I’m getting them to think about whether the royalty share deal really is the best bargain since many authors are inclined to immediately choose the “no upfront cost” option.

Part 6: The Call to Action or Instructions for Next Steps

This is the last paragraph of your email and your opportunity to seal the deal. At this point I like to add a timeframe into the equation to prompt the author to act sooner rather than later.

Here’s how I do it —

“I currently have an opening in my production calendar this month. If you are interested I could have your audiobook completed by (XX DATE). But I would need to know by (XX DATE) to have adequate time for your book to go through my four-step recording, editing, mastering, and quality control/proofing process.”

This dialogue forces the author to consider your services immediately as opposed to putting off responding to your email if they are, in fact, interested. You are also demonstrating why you need a certain amount of time and that you have a systematic audiobook production process in place. This makes you appear very professional and organized.

At this point you’ve introduced yourself, shown personal interest in the author’s book, demonstrated why you are a good fit for the book, offered samples for the author to listen to, described your service options, and given them a specific time frame for working with you. By doing all of this, you’ve made it very easy for them to say “YES!” to hiring you to produce their audiobook.

All that’s left to do is to give the author one last instruction to contact you —

“If you are interested, please contact me at your earliest convenience. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.”

And that’s it. Sending cold emails to authors and publishers doesn’t seem so hard anymore does it?

The last thing that I want to talk about before I close out this post is, “What if they say no?”

This was a fear that kept me from moving forward for a long time. But I realized that you can’t be successful if you aren’t willing to get turned down once in a while. It’s just part of business. In fact, if you aren’t getting very many “NO’s” you’re probably not working hard enough. So celebrate your rejections — they are a sign that you are putting yourself out there and that you are on the path to success. 

I hope this series has been helpful and that you actually try out some of these methods and tactics because they work!