I’m convinced anyone can be an audio book narrator

I’ve been diving into a lot of audio books lately. While I don’t mind reading, I find I do enough of it reading the news day in and day out. The last thing I want to do is analyze words in page format for enjoyment. This is why I turn to audio books. And I’m convinced anyone can be an audio book narrator. That’s not a good thing.

I started months ago and joined Audible.com. They get you in the door with a free download. Which is fine. Then it’s about $15/month and you get credits. I maybe go through a book or two a month.

I listen to and from work (about a 9-minute commute each way). So it takes me awhile to get through a 5-hour book. But let me tell you, anyone can be an audio book narrator. I mean anyone. Because some of the ‘talent’ is horrendous.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been around TV News so long that I hear a lot of people talk (including myself). And talk a lot. I don’t generally like the sound of my own voice (especially on radio, for that matter – makes me cringe). And some people’s delivery in this business can make your skin crawl. But the majority have spent years finding their voice, inflection and tone to speak in a conversational way. It’s not easy to read and sound conversational. It takes years of practice.

But in the last 4 out of about 10 audio books I’ve purchased, the time I spend listening to narrator speak is like being thrust into a prison with no options and no freedom. The voice is either too robotic or too ‘pukey’. It’s what we call news anchors and reporters who sound too fake and try too hard; the ‘pukey anchor’ voice. You’ve heard it. Imitate a news anchor and you’ll likely capture it.

But getting a bad narrator just ruins it for me. I’ve shut off three books because I couldn’t possibly sit another minute let alone another four hours in the car with this person. I’m sure they’re nice. But their deliver? I’m sorry, it sucks.

Further, if you just spent a year of your life writing a great book and realized that Amazon gave some joker named Todd the green light to track your book – wouldn’t you be a little pissed? (No offense to Todd’s out there). I would be l-i-v-i-d.

But then there are those authors who feel there work is SO good that only they can deliver the message to the reader themselves. Eye roll. They are some of the worst.

I truly believe there are those who practice the craft of voice-over work and know how to speak to a listener with the right inflection, tone and cadence that’s required for a good audio book. Those people should get the gigs and should be paid well for them.

Maybe I’m just listening to crappy books, therefore I get crappy talent reading the script. I don’t know. I guess I’m just venting. At least these authors will be gainfully employed now that events, industries and even countries are shutting down due to Coronavirus. Don’t get me started on that.

There will be a lot of audiobooks being listened too, I’m sure. Just hope you don’t get some annoying narrator with no talent reading them. You may want to scratch your eyes out. But then then you touched your eyes with your dirty fingers, and that’s how Coronavirus spreads, and….

Never mind. Rant over! Back to the books.

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Josh Benson

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Josh Benson


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