If you love books and want to get paid to read books out loud, it may seem like a pipe dream. But, it’s actually totally possible – and not that hard to find gigs.
Reading out loud is something practically anyone can do. And if you have a voice richer than dark chocolate or a sought-after accent, even better.
Try one of these ideas out for size, and you might find yourself with a fun side job and a happier bank balance to boot.
It Begins With With Audiobooks
Narrating an audiobook is, at its simplest, where you get paid to read books out loud. But the skill requires more than simply reading words on a page. Since there is no visual element to an audiobook, it’s up to your and your dulcet tones to add emotion and breathe life into each character.
How Long Does Reading Out Loud Take?
Reading a book out loud for recording and payment takes longer than simply reading a book for enjoyment. One hour of finished audio can take up to six hours of recording and engineering time.
That includes preparing a script for easy reading, the recording itself, editing audio, and any post-production work. Depending on which platform you choose to work for, that work may all be done by you, or you may just be doing some aspects of it.
Unless you are highly experienced and sought-after, you will likely handle more of the grunt work. Still, the work can be lucrative, interesting, and fun.
What Should I Read?
There’s no point in reading War and Peace for money if you find this genre boring. Similarly, it’s not a good idea to narrate romantic fiction if your passion is dragons and magical kingdoms.
Start with the genres you read for fun and are enthusiastic about. It’s easier to play the role of an elven king, a femme fatale, or a crime detective if it’s your jam, to begin with.
And you will likely find that the more books you read, the better you become at a certain genre. Once you become established in that niche, you can become super-specialized, and you can get paid to read books out loud for a better wedge of cash.
Platforms That Pay You to Read Books Out Loud
You’re ready and willing to read — now, how do you actually get paid to read books out loud? Searching for audiobook narration jobs online is the easiest and fastest solution. Check out one of these websites to get started.
Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX)
Audiobook Creation Exchange, or ACX, lists audiobooks available for auditions. These books get published on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.
According to ACX, about a hundred thousand books are published yearly, but fewer than five thousand are produced as audiobooks. However, their goal is to turn audio rights into something lucrative for everyone. ACX believes that most books deserve an audio edition, and most authors and rights holders deserve to benefit from the additional revenue stream.
Narrators are key to making this happen, and ACX is actively looking for them; even if you are not someone with experience, it’s a great place to get paid to read and start making your mark.
Narrators get paid to read books out loud in one of two ways, depending on their preferences. They can be paid a per-finished-hour rate or share royalties from sales with the Rights Holder. ACX says the majority of posted payment rates range from about $200 to $400 per finished hour.
The platform is simple to use. Here’s what you need to do:
- Create a profile and upload some killer samples of your reading so authors can find you
- Set your payment preferences; a rate per finished hour, shared royalties, or both
- Start searching for books you want to read for money
- Apply for an audition
The reader who impresses the Rights Holder most will receive an offer, and from there, you get paid to read books out loud! Easy huh?
After getting started on a job, you must first provide a fifteen-minute checkpoint sample and respond to feedback; then, after gaining approval and the green light, you can go ahead and record the rest of the book.
ACX is one of the most popular platforms for finding work and reading books out loud. Backed by Amazon, it has the oomph and reach needed to turn your passion for reading into several hundred dollars or more a month.
As a side note, ACS is also a platform that makes working with other studio professionals easy.
If you want to focus strictly on narrating without getting into the nitty gritty of production and editing, at some point, you’re going to need an editor or an audio engineer. ACX offers independent contractor agreements so you can manage expectations and end up with high-quality work.
Overall we recommend starting your reading-out-loud journey here.
Findaway Voices is made for audiobooks and is based on an open marketplace, allowing authors to find voice actors and narrators by filtering through samples.
As a narrator, you can completely customize your profile page with tags, images, audio introductions, and samples and showcase your past work.
The tag system allows you to find work more efficiently and specify languages, accents, tones, and more. So if you have a strong Glaswegian accent, can sing like Mariah Carey at Christmas, or are a master of a deep southern drawl, this is the platform for you.
As for payment, with Findaway, you set a flat rate without royalties and get paid to read books out loud via the platform.
Findaway Voices works well with Spotify, the music app that recently launched an audiobook feature. This means your reach as a person that gets paid to read will be that much further.
Voices is a platform for more than just audiobooks, so if you are also interested in voiceover for films, animation, video games, or training videos, you can expand your options and explore other ways to read out loud.
You have the opportunity to create a free or paid profile on Voices. Those with a paid membership will be automatically matched to jobs that match their skills profile. Free profiles have to dig to find ideal gigs.
Just like ACX, you’ll want to fill your profile with portfolio samples and audio demos to show you’re the next hot thing in the audio world.
Voices pay out earnings via PayPal however the payment is initially held by Surepay – a payment protection service to ensure you never get ripped off. After your client agrees on a quote and schedules, you go ahead and do the agreed work.
If the client wants to go off-piste and starts demanding extras, or out-of-scope requests, you can make sure the request and the additional cost are all recorded and tracked on the platform.
Bodalgo is another voiceover platform featuring everything from audiobooks to explainer videos, and more.
If you are multi-lingual, this is an excellent site for you to get paid to read books out loud in another language. The platform boasts over ten thousand professionals speaking more than 80 languages. All native speakers are certified to prove they are competent in the language so a few Duolingo lessons won’t cut it here – you need to be proficient!
This platform is not ideal for beginners. Bodalgo is looking for trained, experienced voice actors, so bookmark this one for when you’re at an advanced level.
Voice Jungle, offers voiceovers for audiobooks, e-learning, commercials, phone messaging, explainer videos, animation, podcasts, and more. Talent is only contacted when they have a paying job, and there is no listing fee to join.
According to Voice Jungle, there are no auditions, and payments are processed promptly.
If you want to try this platform, you will need a home studio and recording practices that meet Voice Jungle’s quality requirements.
If you want to do things on your terms and not worry about another platform’s rules and regulations, you can go rogue and freelance instead. Upwork, Fiverr, and Guru are all excellent places to showcase your talent and set your own prices.
However, the drawback here is that freelancing means you need to hustle more to get yourself known. Although an advantage is that you’ll have less competition to deal with.
Getting Started Reading Audiobooks
If you’re excited about the potential of this side gig, we’re excited for you! We suggest starting with one of the easy-to-use, well-known platforms like ACX or Findaway Voices.
While it is tempting to sign on for every single platform listed above; we say hold your horses. Situating yourself on one platform and work to establish yourself there.
If you are an audio recording wizard and produce a professional. high-quality job, you’ll soon become a big deal. Soon, you’ll be fighting off offers to get paid to read books out loud and will be able to cherry-pick the best gigs.