Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Pink Chair: Q2: A quota is imposed on a narrator: ▢ True ▢ False

A few weeks ago, I received a letter of inquiry from a potential narrator. It contained four questions that the person wanted answered:
1. A narrator is paid by the: ▢ hour ▢ page ▢ book ▢ other
2. A quota is imposed upon the narrator: ▢ true ▢ false
3. Per year, the number of books a narrator submits is:
▢ fewer than 10 ▢ greater than ten (on average)
4. A good narrator can expect an annual income of:
$ __________

Question one was answered last week; and now we move on to tackle question two:

A quota is imposed on a narrator: ▢ True ☑ False

The answer is "False": To the best of my knowledge, no audiobook company imposes a quota upon a narrator in terms of books submitted. In fifteen years, I've never heard of a publisher requiring x number of books from any of their narrators; So when I read the question the first time, my reaction was puzzlement. I also happened to have briefly entertained visions of myself on board a slave galley ship with a megaphone and whip in hand, yelling "READ!" to a bunch of narrators furiously reading while seated on benches, while a big drum sounded out a beat in the background... :-)

But do audiobook publishers impose other kinds of quotas? I heard that one audiobook publisher required it's potential narrators to have narrated x number of audio books for other companies; and to have earned x number of Earphone Awards; but looking at their roster online, it's clear that if that was ever true, it's certainly not now.

An imposed quota implies that it is the narrator's responsibility to draw assignments and complete them. In reality, the studio director casts the audio book and checks to see if a narrator is willing and able.

Can a narrator narrate too many books for an audiobook publisher? Yes. When a name appears with too much frequency in a catalog, it signals to customers, librarians and others a lack of diversity in the talent pool, a lack of casting creativity and/or suspicions that the audiobook publisher can't get anyone else.

On the other hand, if you put ourself out there as a narrator; but keep turning down assignments for whatever reason, then the probability of you being called again is negligible.


UPDATE: As le0pard13 pointed out, this is actually Ben-Hur, NOT Spartacus;
but you know what? From where I'm standing on deck,
"READ, SPARTACUS, READ!" sounds better than "READ, BEN-HUR, READ!"
I dunno why, maybe it's the /t/ and /k/ sounds, more aggressive somehow
Anyway, I'm keepin' it :-)

Next week on The Pink Chair:


  1. Thanks for answering these questions. It's great insight for those of us who don't know anything about the audiobook making process.

  2. Great eye-opening series about narrators and the audiobook industry, DEC. I'm looking forward to the rest of your answers.

    p.s., that's Charlton Heston as Judah Ben-Hur from BEN-HUR you have pictured above, not Kirk Douglas as SPARTACUS.

  3. Here's the issue. "Read, Spartacus, read!" sounds better, but I can't see Kirk Douglas holding up to the strain the way Charleton Heston would. LOL! I love each and every one of these posts. :-)

  4. I too love this series -- even if I'm a bad commenter.

    Also wanted to say welcome to What's in a Name 5. Hope you have fun picking titles.

  5. Okay, so most importantly: who would NOT recognize that photo from "Ben-Hur"? RAMMING SPEED!

    Secondly, yes, I've also heard publishers telling narrators they have to have x number of titles under their belt before being hired -- and then seen them cast first-time narrators. I think it's just a stall tactic / gentle rejection / hedging-of-bets. You know, like saying you have to bring back the Wicked Witch's broom before you can see Oz.