What does my prep process look like? How do I prepare to record an audiobook?

I love getting books ready to record. The first step when I’m working with an Indie author is, I like to hear from them! I want to hear who they feel the characters are. I like to ask for some descriptive words about them. Sometimes authors will give me examples of how they imagine the character and I try to honor that in my narration if possible. After that (or if I’m working with a publisher), I start in with my reading.

As I’m reading through the book, I have a document up that has a list of the characters. Next to each character, I write descriptions or anything that might be helpful in portraying them through my voice such as accents or speech quality or even just personality.

I also will highlight or look up words that I’m unsure how to pronounce. If it’s a book such as a fantasy and I’m able to, I go to the author to learn how to pronounce things, otherwise I use a lot of really cool resource such as Forvo or Youglish.

If a character has an accent I need to learn, I will research this as well. If it’s one I am already decent at or one I feel confident in, I usually just brush up on it, otherwise I may hire a dialect coach. I’ve even hired people with that native accent to read the lines for me for my personal practice so I can hear the exact words using the dialect I’m learning.

Then at this point, I am ready to record! I get in the booth with my notes and manuscript and I go for it! I might play with voices here and there but I usually go with what I’ve envisioned or played with outside the booth.

I do know that other narrators prep more or differently than me, such as highlighting the entire script or every character in other colors. I even know some that hire preppers to help get them ready. There are so many ways to prep and as long as you are prepared to step into the booth and bring those characters to life, than go with what works!