The number one thing you need to do is FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS. I can’t tell you how many comments I’ve read over the years from casting directors who state they immediately reject auditions where the talent has not followed the instructions given.
For instance, if the audition file should be named and/or formatted a certain way, you should name and format your file EXACTLY as specified. Your ability to follow instructions is a test. If you can’t pass this test on an audition, how can the casting director trust you to correctly submit an actual project? Attention to details MATTERS.
Never submit your VO demo for an audiobook audition! Don’t even submit an audiobook sample from the same genre unless the instructions explicitly state this action is acceptable. Anyone casting an audiobook wants to hear how you interpret and perform the actual words from the book.
If the audition specifies the rate, for instance royalty share, do not audition if you are not willing to work for that rate.
Many auditions specify a particular accent for the role. If you can’t do the accent well, don’t audition. Also, you won’t be scoring any points if you upload an accent that is different than the one requested.
Auditions calling for one gender should not be submitted by any one of a different gender.
Most right holders provide an audition script; it’s a requirement on ACX. Some rights holders will upload the whole book. You are not expected to read the entire book for the audition. However, you should at least search it for any material you would find objectionable.
If you decide you’re right for the book and were given the book instead of a script, you would choose dialogue of the 2-3 main characters in fiction, as well as some of the narrative. The RH needs to hear how you will tell the story. Auditions on ACX should not last longer than 5 minutes.
Only audition when you are right for the book. Otherwise, you’re wasting your and the rights holder’s time.
Thanks to project manager/director Tina Dietz for her permission to republish this information that she originally posted on Facebook.
From the Director/Project Manager’s Desk: 10 ways to get yourself cut from the running for an audiobook narration job
- Sound like you’re in a fishbowl, tunnel, or cavern
- Have the first sound you make be a mouth noise (still twitching)
- Don’t read first words on the audition page (even if it’s “Chapter 15”)
- Be nasal
- Manage to sound both acid and flat at the same time (like a day and a half old cup of coffee)
- Send an audition reel or set of samples instead of the actual audition script
- Email the rights holder/project manager over and over again asking for updates
- Narrate at the speed of being chased by a pack of wild dogs
- Submit an audition that’s clearly the first time you’re reading the copy out loud
Author Josh Steimle wrote the article How I Chose A Narrator for My Audiobook. Thanks to narrator Paul Heitsch for his permission to republish below his analysis of that article which he originally posted on Facebook.
The salient points for me were –
“In some cases I could tell within five seconds there was no way I was choosing a certain narrator.”
Takeaway – if the audition script is longer than 5 minutes, pare it down to sections that reflect what’s most likely to matter to the RH’s decision (see below). They won’t have time or the inclination to listen to dozens of 20-minute auditions looking for that nugget of wonderfulness that only you can create.
“Some of the voices were fine, even great, but the technology they used put them at a disadvantage…. I felt bad for these folks, because my rejection had nothing to do with their talent, and everything to do with them not using the right equipment.”
Takeaway – Does anyone still think that doing their physical space and signal path on the cheap is a clever strategy?
“There were other narrators who were “eliminated” because they never auditioned. They sent me questions through the ACX system but I didn’t have time to answer them so I never received their auditions.”
Takeaway – Never wait to audition when you see a title you think you’d be good for, and that meets your other criteria. If you have questions you can follow up later, but get that audition in their hands ASAP.
“I did not reject anyone due to price or gender. The winner was actually the most expensive…”
Takeaway – Don’t worry about being underbid. Bid what you’re worth. If the client disagrees, they’re not who you want to be working with.
“The winning narrator came close to making me feel as though I were there with Seth Farbman and the other CMOs, hearing their real responses. It felt natural, friendly, authentic.”
Takeaway – Read the audition script, and tease out which aspects are likely to be most important to the RH. And commit to performing *everything* as authentically as you can.
Other resources on this topic:
- Watch this video from Bryan Cranston as he explains the actor’s job in an audition. Also watch this one from Robert De Niro as he shares his advice on audition mindset.
- Read award-winning narrator Jeffrey Kafer’s definitive article 8 Reasons Why You’re Not Landing ACX Audiobook Gigs.
- Award-winning narrator and Deyan Audio Casting Director Tanya Eby shares One Thing Talented Narrators Have in Common.
- An author shared these useful comments on Reddit. However, he oversteps his bounds in item 4 in expecting narrators to do re-reads and take direction. As discussed in this article about workflow, the author/rights holder is not the director and does not shape the performance. Thanks to narrator Paul Heitsch for calling my attention to this thread.
- Award-winning narrator Joel Leslie Froomkin shows how to use reviews before you audition and markup your book during prep in this video.
- Tanya Eby is an award-winning audiobook narrator and a Deyan Audio casting director. She offers excellent advice in these 2 articles on this topic:
- Work with a coach listed in the Coaches Directory.