When the prep is done it’s time to start recording. Most pro studios estimate that it takes two hours of recording to produce an hour of finished audio, and expect a narrator to complete around three to three and a half hours of finished audio per working day. This takes discipline, concentration and stamina. Of course the schedule can be more flexible when a narrator is recording in their own studio – but the concentration and need for consistency still applies!
Every narrator finds their own way to deal with the challenges of recording an audiobook, but I suspect if you were to ask twenty narrators twenty questions about how they prepare, you’d probably get twenty different answers! But I think that there are some universal truths that 99% of narrators will observe…
Of course the audiobook narrator is telling a story – but that is really only the beginning. Each person in the book must live vividly in the listener’s imagination as a believable and unique person with a separate and clearly identifiable ‘voice’ that not only fits their character as described by others, but also allows the listener to understand each character’s motivation, feelings and emotions and their role within the story.
Audiobook narration is one of the biggest challenges facing any actor. Not only is the narrator responsible for telling the story, they’re also responsible for creating and playing every single character in every book, page after page, chapter after chapter. Every character has to be believable and unique and the interpretation of the people in the book and that narrative must all remain true to the author’s intent. A challenge indeed!
When an audiobook is recorded in a mainstream audiobook production facility, the studio time allocated is normally two hours for each hour of clean finished audio recording. When a narrator is working solo without a producer, generally the time required to record each hour of audio is significantly more. Then proofing, editing and mastering needs to take place.
If you own the audio rights to your book, or have acquired them from your publisher, you have the choice of working with an audiobook production company, or hiring a narrator and producing the project yourself. Helen Lloyd explains what that entails.