7 Tips on Finding A Great Narrator for Your Audiobook

If you’re looking to turn your book into an audiobook, you’re going to need a narrator. This process is not simple; narrators are professional actors who have to be auditioned and selected. This article will give you tips on how to find and choose the perfect narrator for your book.

But first of all, why not narrate your book yourself? A couple factors may make this option seem attractive. Firstly, time. Searching for and auditioning a narrator for the first time might seem daunting; it’s a process that can take weeks. Why spend two weeks hiring someone when you could read the book yourself in that time? Secondly, money. The typical rate ranges between $100 and $400 PFH (Per Finished Hour). If your book takes 20 hours to record, that’s $2000 at the lowest rate. Writers from Stephen King to Anthony Bourdain narrate their own books, even though they have the time and money to hire a narrator. It’s a tempting option, but if you do not have the technology, experience, and skills that professional narrators have, your audiobook will suffer.

Where to start if you do choose to hire a narrator? Like most acting jobs, thousands upon thousands of amateurs fill the narrator/voice-acting profession. They might be cheap and eager, but unfortunately, that usually doesn’t translate to skill.

These tips will tell you how to search for, examine, and pitch to narrators. Remember that creating an audiobook is a two-way process; you can’t just fling your book into the ether and expect a professional result. 

1. Read your book out loud

Before you even open Google, read your book yourself. Yes, I know you’ve already done this. But this time, read it out loud. It might seem perfect to the eye, but once you put a voice to it, you’ll find errors you would never have noticed otherwise. Narrators aren’t magicians, and even if they were, it isn’t their responsibility to fix your mistakes.

You should be able to read your book out loud without a problem. If you find yourself stumbling over wonky punctuation, or struggling to pronounce made-up words, then you need to edit your work again. No matter how great the narrator, their success also depends on your writing ability.

2. Cast your net wide 

Unfortunately, narrators do not occupy the same platform. They are scattered across the internet, and although most have a presence on multiple sites, you will get the best result from searching across multiple at once. This process is usually free, and all it will cost you is your time. 

The best sites for you are P2P (Pay to Play). This means that prospective narrators pay a subscription fee to advertise themselves on the website. The main advantage of this is that only narrators willing to pay are present, which weeds out many amateurs. The main disadvantage is that as the site’s income relies on the number of voice actors they have, so there is sometimes a lot of junk. 

Regarding cost, the client and the narrator usually negotiate the rates for the job. The rates below are what each site recommends, not a set rate. The average rates quoted are PFH.

Here is a list of the most popular sites for finding audiobook narrators.


Logo of Bodalgo.com.png

The major selling point of Bodalgo.com is its professional treatment of their talent. They vet each voice actor to ensure clients are not wasting their time. With only 322 US English voice actors and narrators, it might not seem like a good range, especially when other sites tempt you with thousands of narrators. However, Bodalgo.com reassures you that you won’t be wasting your time. 

This is the best site if you’re looking for professional narrators. Although it has the fewest number, it is the cream of the crop. Your inbox will not be filled with amateur requests, though this does mean you will have far fewer requests in general.

Average rate: $270-360 PFH

2. Voice123


Voice123.com is the oldest site on the list, having been around since 2003. Their services are free for clients and they don’t insert additional fees. However, they do not have the same vetting process as Bodalgo.com, meaning you may get a hundred amateur auditions for every professional one. This means you will have to spend more time hunting through the options. This is an excellent site if you want to connect with a vast number of narrators, as long as you are willing to put in the work.

Average rate: $250 PFH

3. VOPlanet


As a newer site, VOPlanet.com won’t have as large a community as Bodalgo.com or Voice123.com. However, it has plenty of talent available for all stripes.

A disadvantage with many sites is that they require you to contact the narrator solely through them. They do this to generate an air of exclusivity, hinting that you can only contact the narrator through them. However, narrators on VOPlanet.com can publicly post their contact information, so you are free to contact them however you want.

Average rate: $270-360 PFH

4. The Voice Realm


Offering a quick and easy way to search for narrators, TheVoiceRealm.com makes it incredibly easy to connect with narrators. Unfortunately, you probably won’t find as broad a range of narrators as on other sites. This would be a great place to search for narrators alongside Bodalgo.com or Voice123.com.

Average rate: $280 PFH

5. Voiceovers


Voiceovers.com, like Bodalgo.com, professionally vets its voice actors. However, they lean towards smaller professional jobs, like internal corporate videos or advertisements. Although you will find narrators for audiobooks here, be aware this is not the primary market for them.

Voiceovers.com suffers from the same drawback as TheVoiceRealm.com. Being a relatively new company, they do not have as extensive a range of narrators to choose from. 

Average rate: $300 PFH

6. Voices


Voices.com is a controversial place to hire a narrator. You can quickly contact potential narrators, and you will get plenty of responses. However, Voices secretly pockets 40% of fees. This means that you end up paying an extra percentage on top of what you offer the client. This additional percentage does not go to your narrator. It goes straight to Voices.com.

Voices.com hosts a broad range of narrators and makes it easy for you to find them. This is an established business with plenty of narrators to choose from, but be aware of their hidden fees.

Average rate: $200-300 PFH

7. Outside of P2P Sites

Although there are non-P2P sites such as fiverr.com and voicecrew.com that host freelance narrators, they have no enrollment requirements. Although these sites can be useful, be aware that these usually are where potential narrators and voice actors begin their careers. This doesn’t mean there aren’t talented narrators here, but you probably need to do more work to find the diamonds in the rough.

You can, of course, search for narrators individually. Checking Amazon’s “Most Popular” audiobooks is a great place to spot talented narrators. They will likely have their own website, where you can find out more about their work. However, these popular narrators will probably have a packed schedule, so you may find you have to wait sometime before they are available.

Regardless of where you choose to look, your next step is to strategically pick your candidates. There’s no point in just requesting auditions from the top ten results on Bodalgo.com. Each narrator has their strengths and weaknesses that will directly affect the quality of your audiobook.

3. Research your narrator 

Before you begin sending out an audition request to a narrator, take a moment to research them. See if you can find examples of their work online; if they only have a few projects published, it might be worth looking for someone more experienced. However, this isn’t a definite indicator of how good they are; if they seem to be someone that will suit your work, try them out. Newer narrators will likely be cheaper as well. 

At the absolute minimum, you should listen to their published work. Audio samples are OK, but only by listening to a completed project can you get a sense of just what your potential narrator is like. Even the most experienced narrator might not be the right fit for your book. By listening to their extended work you can find this out earlier rather than later.

Take a look at what genre their work fits in. A narrator whose specialization is children’s books might not be the right fit for a gruesome horror novel. With this said, don’t let this make your decision. Narrators are actors, and to be successful, they need to fill multiple roles.

4. Keep your audience in mind 

While listening to auditions or samples, think about your audience. Different voices appeal to different people. Gender can also play a role in this; in general, females prefer male voices that suggest a large stature, while males prefer female voices that indicate a smaller stature. If your book is targeted towards a specific gender, picking the correct voice becomes even more important.

5. Choose your sample carefully 

Once you’ve narrowed down a list of potentials, take a moment to choose what writing sample to send them. Don’t send entire chapters; around three pages will be sufficient.

Make sure to send a dynamic selection. Dialogue between multiple characters will help you get a feel for your narrator’s ability with different voices; background narration will give you a feel for their standard tone. Having a narrator that can voice everything in your book is essential.

6. Give your narrator plenty of background information 

If you want your fictional characters to be represented a certain way in your audience’s mind, ensuring your narrator can represent these traits is of utmost importance. If you don’t explain who the characters are in your sample, the narrator will not know how to voice them.

The more information you can give your narrator, the better they will represent your character. Character bios are a perfect way to ensure your narrator has all the information they need.

Character and dialogue are not exclusive to fiction. If your book includes real people, give your narrator their background. The closer your narrator can get to them, the more natural and authentic your audiobook will sound.

7. Consider your budget

Everyone would like an experienced narrator with hundreds of audiobooks under their belt, but experience comes at a price. As stated earlier, rates can go as high as $400/hr. 

When deciding on an offer, think of how difficult your book is to read. For example, dialogue with multiple accents or languages requires a skilled narrator, who will charge a higher rate. The harder your book is to read, the higher your offer has to be.

Most importantly, choose the narrator that you feel fits your book. Your book is unique to you, and choosing a narrator goes beyond analyzing their technical ability. Find the person who expresses your book the best.