[This is Part 3 of a 4-Part Series on Finding Work as a Freelance Audiobook Narrator]
Other posts in this series:
In Part I of this series about getting work as a freelance audiobook narrator, I showed you that there is a nearly unlimited amount of work in the audiobook industry right now. And while ACX.com is a great place to start building your narrator profile and finding narrator jobs, it’s certainly not the only place you should be looking.
Today, I’m going to share the exact formula that I use to keep my audiobook production calendar full of work.
You have to be careful with this method because you can literally end up with so much narration work that you’ll have to turn some authors away. Start out slow and see what response you get before ramping up your efforts.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, my strategy involves choosing the books that I want to narrate and then emailing the author or publisher directly with my pitch. After doing this for a few years now, I’ve picked up some tips that will make you appear more professional, organized, persuasive and successful if you decide to follow this method.
First things first…
Set up a specific email address for pitching authors.
I started off using my generic email@example.com (no, that’s not my real email address) – but you know, the one that gets 200 promotional emails a day from various stores and newsletters. I ended up missing quite a few responses from authors which made me look unprofessional and flaky — not good.
I recommend creating a new Gmail address (or whatever your favorite email provider happens to be) with“YourNameVO@gmail.com.” The “VO” at the end stands for “voice over” and is commonly using in the voice acting/audiobook narration industry.
Next, it’s helpful if you have some audio samples available before reaching out to authors. Even if you haven’t recorded any books yet, having at least 3-4 short audio samples that the author can listen to is recommended. I show you exactly how to create audio samples (I even provide sample scripts) in my free 5-Day Audiobook Audition Challenge. If you are a new voice artist, this free challenge is a great place to start.
Now it’s time to find books to narrate.
The number one place that I find high quality books is through BookBub. If you’ve never heard of BookBub before, it’s a book promotion service that advertises books to a huge list of subscribers via email. You can go to BookBub.com to subscribe to their service and pick out specific genres of books that you are interested in.
Now you might be wondering, “Why Bookbub?”
Here’s why — It costs hundreds of dollars for an author to have their book sent out through Bookbub’s promotional emails. This means that the only authors who are going to participate in these promotions are the ones who are serious about promoting their books. These books are also likely to be selling well through the author’s own email marketing and social media promotions as well. Otherwise, it would be difficult to justify spending several hundred dollars on a Bookbub promotion.
These are also likely to be authors with a book marketing budget and are typically more likely to be willing to pay a flat rate for audiobook production. They are also more likely to see the big-picture value in having their book available as an audiobook so there’s no need to “sell” them on the idea. If they think you have the right voice for their book, an offer is usually soon to follow.
Let’s say that you’ve found a book title on Bookbub that interests you…
Your next task is to find out if there is an audio version available. The first place that I look is on Amazon. If you go to the books’s sales page you can see all of the different versions that are available. If there’s no audio version available, this is a good sign.
The next place that I look is on Audible.com. I simply type the title of the book or the author into the search bar on the site and see if anything comes up. If not, I might run a generic Google search like — “Title of the Book” and “audiobook” — if nothing shows up, I forge ahead.
The next step is to find the author’s contact information.
This is where things can get a little tricky. The first thing you should do is check to see if the author self-published their book or whether went through a publisher. Here’s why this matters — if the author self-published the book, you can contact them directly. If they went through a publisher, it’s best to contact the publisher to inquire about producing the audiobook because the publisher most likely holds the audio rights to the book.
You can find this information on Amazon in the book’s “product details.” Look first to see who the publisher is. Most established publishers have websites with contact information and you can find them by doing a quick Google search.
You will also want to look at who the book is “sold by.” If it’s sold by “Amazon Digital Services, LLC” there is a good chance that the book is self-published. And sometimes a self-published author will list their own “publishing company” as the publisher.
If it’s not entirely clear who the publisher is, it’s perfectly acceptable to reach out to the author to ask if they have a publisher and whether they hold the audio rights to their book.
Here’s how I find the contact information for authors.
Often, the author will list their email address, social media profiles, a website url, or a newsletter signup link on their “Amazon Author” page. This is always the first place that I look. If the author doesn’t have an Author Page on Amazon or you can’t find a website or email address, the next best place to look is inside of the front cover of the book.
Many authors put newsletter signups in their books now. If you subscribe to their newsletter you‘ll usually get an automated email from the author. You can reply to this email with your audiobook inquiry and it will usually go directly to the author’s own email address.
If all else fails, run a Google search for the author’s name and the title of their book. At the very least, most authors have one or more social media accounts. A great way to start the conversation is by saying, “I’d love to ask you a few questions about your book. Can we chat via email or skype? My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.”
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