This Screening Process Does Not A Happy Narrator Make

I did an audition recently for a 1 hour audiobook on a topic I’m interested in. The Rights Holder indicated in his notes he had a screening process. This is what he sent, I mean since questions are good, right?


Thank you very much for your audition – it is appreciated. With any new narrator that I take on I do a 3 phase screening process to ensure the right narrator. Please review and answer the following questions.

What specific Mic are you using?
What type of mic is that – Condenser, Dynamic, etc.?
How far away from your mouth is the mic when you record?
Do you use a pop screen / filter?
What angle do you set the mic to while recording?
What system do you have to read the script / audio book?
What is your audio interface?
What are your recording levels set to for your audio interface?
What DAW do you use when producing audio books?
What do you have your DAW input levels and output levels set to?
Do you know the ACX audio technical specifications and standards?
What does your recording environment actually consist of? Be as specific as possible.
What is your noise floor level without processing your audio?
What is the bit rate you will be recording at?
When will you be recording this audio book? Looking for a time window, example: 2p -5p every day.
How long would it take you to complete the first 15 minutes?
How long would it take to complete the entire audio book?
Are you sure that you can meet the deadlines you indicated? I have a Zero Tolerance Policy when it comes to deadlines. I will immediately terminate any contract in which the narrator has not delivered as agreed upon, so please understand this before agreeing to the contract.

Looking forward to hearing back from you.


Um…wow. That’s more questions than asked for a mortgage, or my health screening! I don’t even know what to answer on some of those. And, that’s only phase 1 of 3? What – I mean what the heck are the other 2 like?

So, here was my reply:

Hello *********,
Thank you for your interest in my audition, but I don’t think we would be a good fit for each other.

The only thing necessary for you to know is: did you like my audition enough to think I should be the narrator on your project?

If so – great, make an offer. Seriously, none of my answers to your questions are relevant, are they? After all, I didn’t ask which OS you use, Windows or Mac, do you use a wireless keyboard and mouse, do you prefer to write in the morning or evening, do you sit or stand while typing and how far away you are from your monitor, which editing software you prefer and why, how many books you’ve published, etc.

I don’t need to know the answers to those or many other questions. I simply chose to audition for your project because I was interested in the topic, thought I might learn something useful, enjoy the process and maybe make some money.

Let me offer a quick suggestion, you seem knowledgeable on studio and recording equipment and technique, so why not narrate this short book yourself? 

Best wishes for your project,

And surprise…I never heard back.

So, he likely didn’t learn anything that makes a narrator happy and is wreaking this havoc on some other poor soul not feeling up to standing up for himself. I strive to be a total professional and am all for making clients happy, for going-above-and-beyond – but this is too much.

Let’s do this instead, courtesy of David H Lawrence XVII

How To Make Your Narrator Fall In Love With You
1. Don’t upload the whole book as your audition piece
2. Have a bias for action when reviewing work
3. Use a player that notes the time
4. Don’t micromanage their performance
5. Put their name on the cover art
6. Pay them a stipend if ACX won’t
7. Don’t crowdsource/create a contest around the auditions
8. Help them pronounce everything correctly
9. Get your book proofread and edited by a pro before narration
10. Don’t try to add music or effects to the audio

Next time we’ll explore my rules-of-thumb for keeping writers happy!

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash