If you are producing the audiobook in addition to narrating it, you should NOT hold the view that “the customer is always right.”
Many authors have not listened to audiobooks and are not aware of industry norms. When working with an author, it’s up to you to guide them correctly.
You should listen to many, MANY titles produced by big audiobook publishers to hear and learn standard practices for all phases of production. A good place to start your education is with the titles reviewed in AudioFile Magazine. For instance, I have heard ending credits that mention the director, producer, and sometimes even recording studio for the production. Certain publishers will include their web site. However, I have never heard ending credits include the author’s bio or other books.
You may ask producers and publishers if they have a style guide, which may include information about sections to record as well as specifics that the publisher uses for consistency across titles. For instance, a publisher may dictate whether you should say the word “Chapter” when the text only indicates a number or name for the chapter heading.
However, major audio publishers don’t always specify the sections they expect to be in the finished audiobook. If no style guide is available and you’re self-directing, use this chart and the notes below it to determine the parts of the book that you should record.
|Opening Credits (AKA Intro)||✔|
|Praise for book or author||✔|
|Table of Contents||✔|
|Cast of characters||✔|
(he said, she said)
(charts, graphs, appendices. etc.)
|Closing Credits (AKA Outro)||✔|
These guidelines apply to retail products. If you are narrating for an organization that produces recordings that are fully accessible for the visually-impaired, you may be instructed to read the bibliography and other sections that are not normally included.
The opening and closing credits are supplied by the rights holder.
On a multicast recording, you would say all of the narrators’ names in both the opening and closing credits. You wouldn’t say the parts they played. That information is sometimes listed in the audiobook’s description as shown in this example.
In the end credits, you can also say “Original music by Whomever”, “Engineered by SoAndSo” along with the author and narrator. It’s entirely proper to add these people to the credits.
If the rights holder wants the dedication included, it would be recorded at the head of the file after the opening credits, which is typically chapter one in fiction books. You would not re-write the dedication but simply read the words as written.
When the Foreword, Preface, or Introduction morph into Acknowledgements, the entire section may be omitted in the audiobook. The practice is to read all or none of these sections.
If the epigraph or any part of the book contains lyrics to a copyrighted song, you should review Can I sing the lyrics printed in the book? before including those lyrics in the audiobook.
The narrator is not the editor! The rights holder should provide a finished manuscript that is ready to be recorded. In some non-fiction books, the narrator may be asked to extemporaneously describe charts and graphs that appear as reference material. Doing so requires extra skill and time. You may be able to negotiate a higher rater depending on the amount of description that you must supply.
While glossaries usually are not read, the narrator may need to include them in sci-fi or other books where the author made up terms.
You could suggest to the rights holder that they should create a PDF of the reference material that accompanies the audiobook. You then would say things like “See chart E on page 22 of the reference PDF.” Ideally, the rights holder would include a script of these deviations from a word-for-word reading of the text. You could refer rights holders to this guide that shows how to create the companion PDF and this info from ACX/Audible about submitting it.
Footnotes and endnotes also are rarely recorded. As the director, you can choose to include one or more that contain an interesting fact, but you would not be obligated to say all of them. To aid listener comprehension, you would read them in or after the line with the citation, indicating that the info came from the foot/endnote.
Previews of the next book should not be recorded for 2 reasons:
- You may not be the narrator of the next book.
- More importantly, as author Isobel Starling noted in a FB discussion (quoted with her permission):
Listeners don’t like sneak peeks in audiobooks. They choose audio based on the length — and audios are priced on length. If an audiobook has chapter one of the next book in a series, that addition artificially inflates the running time. Listeners feel cheated to find out the story isn’t as long as they were led to believe.
Other resources on this topic:
- ACX provides suggested text for opening and ending credits on this page.