Narrating Tips

Preparation

  • Use a headset with attached microphone, a low-cost PC headset is a good choice. Built-in microphones pick up too much noise. Set your microphone about two inches to the side of your mouth to capture a clear, crisp voice. Too close and you may get distorted clipping sounds. Too far away and the microphone will pick up background noise again affecting recording quality.

  • Consider your posture. Standing up whilst recording will make you feel more energised and you'll be able to breathe better. However, you can sit, as long as you sit up straight and do not slouch. Try sitting on the edge of your seat with your feet on the floor, it will force you to keep your back straight. Try not to move too much as sounds of rustling clothes or the squeak of your chair can be picked up.

    Avoid the middle of the room where resonance builds up. Similarly, avoid hard surfaces like wood flooring, desks, windows, tiled and concrete walls. Hard surfaces create echoes that are picked up by your microphone. Carpet, curtains, and furniture will help dampen the room and create a better sound environment. Consider draping a towel over nearby hard surfaces, just while recording.

  • The right recording environment. Large rooms with high ceilings, big windows, tiled or wooden floors are not ideal for recording an audiobook. To combat echoes, choose a smaller room with carpets and soft furniture, and close the curtains. One ideal location would be a small cupboard filled with clothes.

  • Find somewhere quiet. Nothing will spoil a recording more than the sound of unwanted traffic, or the dog barking for its dinner. Get rid of unnecessary noises. Turn off machinery, close windows, tell housemates to be quiet. Narrate when the children are in school or after their bedtime.

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Reading aloud can make your mouth dry very quickly, so keep hydrated. It is better to drink water at room temperature, not too cold. Avoid coffee or carbonated drinks.

  • Record a demo. Always do a quick demo to test that everything is working properly and that it sounds good. It is very easy to record, listen, and even re-record your narrations using the Litphonix app, so be sure to do a few recordings to see what sounds best before continuing and finishing a whole chapter. It helps to close unnecessary applications.

  • Relax. Practise reading the lines before hand so they make sense in your head. Use the Previous Line and Next Line buttons to read through the eText before recording anything. This will help you to avoid stumbles or misreadings. Read at a steady pace and don't rush your words. Pretend you're reading to a friend and you're enjoying it. It is better to listen to someone who is interested in the book, than someone who isn't. Having a smile on your face as you read does come across in the audio.

  • Don't worry over mistakes. If you make a mistake, such as misreading a word, just take a breath and try again. You can re-record any line, just press the Restart button. Or, if you have already saved the narration, simply press the Previous Line button, re-record the text and press the Save and Next button to complete the re-recorded narration.

  • Do a couple of takes. You might find it takes you a while to get into the swing of recording, but that's okay. Do multiple recordings and choose the best one. Listening back to your own voice will help you realise if you have made any mistakes or are inconsistent. You might be over eager in your recordings and press the Save and Next button too soon, cutting off the end of your narration, so take your time and press the button when you know you've finished reading.

Recording

  • Research the book. Make yourself familiar with the time period and the location. Your knowledge will become apparent in your recording.

  • Visualise the story as you narrate. Don't just think of it as recording an audiobook. Enjoy the story as it unfolds. Your enjoyment will come through in your speaking and engage the listener more closely.

  • Be that as it may, be a steady reader, don't let the action of the story affect your pace. You may find yourself speeding up as the action unfolds, but keep it paced, otherwise the listener may get lost in the excitement. Keeping it slow can also add to the suspense, having the listener lean forwards and eagerly anticipate what is going to happen next.

  • Try to read the book beforehand. Knowing how a book ends can help you to know how to read the beginning. Similarly, there might be a character with an androgynous name, it is better to know whether it is a boy or a girl before you start reading their dialogue in an inappropriate tone.

  • Keep it simple. While you can do voices and accents it is important to not go over the top and make it distracting or comical, and remember to be consistent. If you give a character a deep voice in Chapter One don't forget and give him a different voice in Chapter Five. Likewise, if you give a character a cockney accent be prepared to do it throughout the rest of the recording.

  • Know how to pronounce character names, places, and words you are unfamiliar with. Once you've started reading be consistent, it will distract a listener if you suddenly change how you say the main character's name.

  • Take your time over your narrations. Listen to your own narrations multiple times as you narrate an audiobook to ensure you are happy with your recordings. Your narrations will only be published and available for people to listen to on the Litphonix app once you have recorded a complete chapter and are a registered user.

A Final Note to Narrators

Please note that some of the texts available on Litphonix have been edited. Such things as forewords, prefaces, authors notes, epigraphs, and footnotes may have been removed. Similarly, texts that were published as separate books, parts, or volumes have been combined, but the chapters remain. This is to allow for a more streamlined narration and easier listening.

Please also be aware that some of the texts available on Litphonix include songs, poems, and foreign languages.

The texts have been scanned and put through the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) process, this may cause simple typos, for instance, the letters 'r' and 'n' running together to make an 'm'. It may even cause missing spaces. While we have endeavoured to find and correct all these errors, there may still be some hiding in the texts.

While narrating you may also find spelling errors, this may be because of the OCR, or that is just the way words were spelt in the 19th century when some of these books were first written. Likewise, names of places may be different, or the context of certain words might have changed. Many of the texts also include colloquial languages, thank you Dickens, so be preprepared to do accents.

Hopefully, spelling errors and typos will not be a problem for Listeners if the Narrator is well-prepared.