Advice for narrators from our lead casting director.
A narrator’s Findaway Voices portfolio is their single most powerful tool for getting auditions for Findaway Voices productions. While there is a lot of nuance to how you may want to present yourself, this post outlines our general best practices for optimizing your portfolio to earn more audition opportunities and to leverage it as a branding tool.
As we start, remember that as a narrator, you can always update your portfolio using this link.
In many ways, your bio is your personal brand, so be very thoughtful about what you include, especially considering we have a 750-character limit! Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Think about your audience. Put yourself in an author’s shoes and think about what information would be most helpful or meaningful to know when finding the right voice for your book. You are trying to sell yourself to authors looking for a narrator to bring their book to life, and the details you provide here, as well as the tone you share them in, are a big part of how you’ll do that.
- Sell yourself! Tell the audience about your accomplishments and past audio awards, your previous productions, your skills and/or specializations. How many books have you done? Have you produced books with major publishers? All of these details can help you stand out.
- Be aware that not everyone knows the “jargon” of vocal work, so keep things clear and concise in layman’s terms!
- It does not hurt to add a personal touch that authors can relate to. However, you only have 750 characters to sell yourself, so be thoughtful about how much of this you include.
- Finally, stay on brand! Make sure that your bio is consistent with your narrating personality. Additionally, a full bio can result in information overload, so have someone else you know review your bio and make sure it’s not disjointed, confusing, or off-brand.
We get a lot of questions about headshots, the value of headshots in voiceover work, and the benefits of using headshots vs branded icons.
Ultimately, our guidance on headshots is this: Use something (a picture of you, a logo, or other graphic image), and have that thing be a high-quality image.
That does not mean you have to go out and get a professional headshot or pay to have professionally designed graphics commissioned (if you do that is still fantastic). However, ensure that whatever image you use looks professional, as every piece of your portfolio is sitting in front of the author as they consider you for their performance.
Your PFH Rate
As you can imagine, the overall cost of production is a very big part of an author’s decision-making process. How you set your rate is completely up to you, and the Findaway Voices team cannot provide any guidance on specific rates. We strongly recommend doing your homework as you consider your rate, and have a few thoughts below on what you should be thinking about.
First, ask around and compare yourself to comparable narrators. Consider, for example, your catalog of past performances, any awards you’ve won, the quality of your recording environment and the finished audio files, and the rates for the narrators with your particular performance skillset (some specialty accents and tones can merit a premium in the market).
Second, keep in mind that any audiobook produced through Findaway Voices must be fully proofed, edited, polished, and mastered to our technical specifications. Because you’re paid based on the final duration of the audio, not the time it took you to create that audio, you’ll want to be mindful of both your time investment and the cost of any editors or proofers (if you use third parties).
Any rate changes to your portfolio instantly take effect, but with how our casting and audition process works, it may take some time to see the results of a change play out in terms of seeing more/less opportunities. You’re welcome to change that rate at any time on your portfolio, but it is generally a good practice to honor any rate an author sees that you’re currently engaged with (e.g don’t change your rate during auditions or mid-series, etc).
Your samples are the most impactful element of your portfolio, as they act as direct demonstrations of what you can deliver to authors. My advice: quality, variety and regular updates!
Audio quality is essential for any samples you submit to Findaway Voice (not just the general samples on your portfolio, but for audition samples and extended samples in further stages of production). The audio should be performed and edited to the best of your ability to showcase a realistic view of what authors can expect when they book you for production.
Variety is critical when it comes to samples and their contents. You will be included on recommendation lists for a wide array of possible projects across genres, character types, age ranges, etc. Having a good variety of samples loaded that our casting team can point to in author discussions is incredibly helpful. I can see the appeal of including multiple samples that highlight a particular strength or performance style you’re particularly proud of, but consider that you can only have up to 10 samples loaded at any time, so consider how wide of a net you are casting!
Including samples across genres is encouraged. This especially applies to some our more popular genres like Romance, Mystery & Thriller, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Self-Help, and Young Adult. If you don’t have a past performance in a genre you’d like to start performing in, consider performing a sample just for that genre, and remember that you can use past auditions a sample if you’d like.
Having a variety of samples also applies to language and accent skills. We receive many projects that have specific accent or multiple accent requirements. The narrator casting form you fill out helps inform our casting team that you could do an accent, but if you don’t have a sample loaded that highlights that capability, authors are much less likely to request an audition from you.
Finally, consider accessibility and clarity. In a casting list with 5–10 other narrators, all with anywhere from 3–10 samples, there is a lot of content for an author to consider! Clearly labeling your samples with genre, accent/language type, title, performance style, etc, can keep them browsing your samples instead of moving on to the next narrator.
This is the name that authors will see when considering you. If you have a pseudonym that you want the author to be aware of (especially when searching for your prior works), you can change this under ‘My Account’. and that name will be what authors see while reviewing your portfolio.
However, do make sure that the name you use in your ‘Payment Profile’ and associated tax forms is always your legal name.
How often should I update my Portfolio?
I recommend considering the contents of your profile quarterly. That does not mean you necessarily need to change things that often. However, if you have new production techniques to highlight, performance elements or accents that you are proud of, or just think that it is time for change, it is great to approach those on a regular basis. We have found that regularly shaking up your profile can really help improve the overall quality and visibility of you, your brand, and your skills to both our casting team and authors!
We hope that you found these suggestions helpful! With a thoughtfully prepared portfolio on the Findaway Voices website, our casting team will be able to find you more audition opportunities as we line up the perfect voices for every book. Additionally, consider following us at @findawayvoices, where our team will occasionally post tweets highlighting high-demand narrator needs!