How to Narrate Your Children’s Book, Yourself

spread1 (1)In our last article, we covered how to have a professional voice actor narrate your children’s book- but what if you want to do it yourself? Well, there are many things to consider when it comes to narrating your own book, and this article will cover almost all of them.

Should You Really Do It Yourself?

Well, like we mentioned in the last article, it depends. Do you have a good speaking voice or any acting experience? Do people often have trouble hearing you or understanding what you’re trying to say? Before you commit to narrating your children’s book yourself, it might be a good idea to have a friend or family member listen to you read your book aloud and tell you how it sounds and what you may need to improve upon. Unless you have a lot of speaking or acting experience, you may speak too quickly or not enunciate your words enough.

If this is a very serious project and you’re willing to invest some money, it might be a good idea to pay for a few lessons with a local speaking coach or voiceover instructor; just a few tips can drastically change the quality of your speaking process and how you approach reading out loud.

A few tips for beginners include:

Speak more slowly than you think you need to (almost everyone speaks faster than they think they do)
Always over enunciate rather than under-enunciate
Smile when recording, and speak as if you were about to laugh (this really helps give your voice energy and charisma)
Act out the various characters in your story with different voices, pitches, tones, and attitudes
This is acting- so have fun!

3The Equipment

To create a home voice-over studio, you’ll definitely need some equipment. First, you’ll need a microphone. There are a lot of good options when it comes to microphones, and a lot of the decision process boils down to how much money you want to spend on your project. There are two major types of microphones for voiceover: USB mics and XLR mics. USB mics, which can only produce low-to-medium quality sound, plug directly into your computer, while XLR mics need an audio interface (and an XLR cable) to interface with a computer.

One of the best entry level microphones is the Blue Yeti, which runs about $99. However, if you want to make your voice sound really professional, it might be a good idea to invest in a Blue Bluebird, which, for about $299, can get you the kind of sound quality that people used to pay 1000s for. If you go with the Bluebird, you don’t necessarily need to buy an expensive audio interface- you can buy an XLR to USB adaptor like the Blue Icicle.

No matter what kind of microphone you get, you’ll need to purchase a pop filter as well. A pop filter is a circular surface, usually made of metal or nylon mesh, that fastens to the back of a microphone to prevent “popping” sounds made by the fast-moving air exiting the mouth during speech.

It’s also essential to have good recording software. Garageband is by far the best audio recording software for beginners, but it’s only officially available on Mac. Unofficially, you can download various types of software to make Garageband work on your PC, but if you would prefer not to do this, there are a variety of PC options for audio recording as well.

Finally, you’ll want a good pair of studio headphones so you can monitor your voice both during and after you record. One great option is the Sony MDRV6, however, there are many good options when it comes to headphones, just make sure you’re getting closed-back headphones and not earbuds.

2_bakThe Recording Environment

Something that may be even more essential than the microphones or recording software you use is the environment itself in which you record. You’ll need a space in which there is limited interior and exterior sound- so if you live or work near a large road, airport, or in a noisy city, try to choose a room that is furthest away from the noise.

You also may have to temporarily turn off fans, heating and air-conditioning systems and other appliances to reduce background noise. The ideal home studio has acoustic paneling or acoustic insulation, but this can be expensive- so you may want to simply line the walls of a small room with blankets or mattress pads.

In Conclusion…

Narrating your own children’s books can be a time consuming and expensive process, but it also can be fulfilling, exciting, and rewarding in many ways. And, as always, if you have questions about children’s book publishing or you think you may need your children’s book illustrated, don’t hesitate to contact me!

4 Responses

  1. Angela Naomi

    Slowly, but surely I’ve been working on getting into voice-over work. Storytelling is one of my favorite types of voice-over work. I will save this blog and share it. Having the right equipment is my next step. I’m a stickler for delivering quality work and will only get serious about voice-over work when I’ve the right equipment. I used to compete in storytelling and have done a lot of character work that required me to read stories while dressed as a character. Great advice you’ve given.

    Reply
  2. Angela Naomi

    Slowly, but surely I’ve been working on getting into voice-over work. Storytelling is one of my favorite types of voice-over work. I will save this blog and share it. Having the right equipment is my next step. I’m a stickler for delivering quality work and will only get serious about voice-over work when I’ve the right equipment. I used to compete in storytelling and have done a lot of character work that required me to read stories while dressed as a character. Great advice you’ve given.

    Reply
  3. Jennifer Houst

    I’ve never thought of this personally, I’ve been told I have a great reading voice or speaking voice but unsure of what step to take next. Glad I came across this article, and If I’m honest didn’t know how much went into narrating. So It’s nice to be able to gain some insights.

    Reply
  4. Kay

    This is just what I’ve been looking for. I have a YouTube channel where I do voice overs for a children show, but it’s all free styling. I want to create a channel that is for professional story book telling. I don’t have any microphones, right now I just use my camera mic. I looked up the Blue Yeti but I want the best quality I can get. I’m so glad you mentioned the Bluebird. I’m going to look into that for sure. Your tips are excellent. I always try to record at night and I definitely turn of the AC. That’s something I learned the hard way lol, it makes a lot of noise on the audio when it turns on in the middle of recording.

    Reply

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