Everyone has a talent they would like to monetize, but isn’t it the dream of every reader and book lover on the planet to get paid to read books aloud?
Imagine yourself back in grade school. Popcorn reading (you called it that at your school as well, right?) was on the agenda for the day, and it was an excruciating wait as each paragraph bounced to the students before you. You wait, your finger on your paragraph, ready to astound your fellow students and your teacher alike.
When it comes to you, your reading is practically a song. You pronounced that four-syllable word with ease and grace. Your heart pounded in your ears but hearing your teacher tell you what a nice job you did at the end of it was worth every second of anxiety.
Reading aloud is a skill, and thankfully, it’s one that’s highly sought after. As the icing on the cake, it can also be a very lucrative side hustle, as you’ll see below from all the different options for you to make money reading books aloud.
How to get paid to read books aloud
If your goal is to get paid to record audiobooks, you need to research the various platforms to pick one that you’d like to become a reader for. Whichever one you choose, the process is pretty similar for each of them: make an account, create a portfolio, and audition for projects.
As you’ll see below, there are a few different platforms looking for readers to record audiobooks. Keep in mind that while each platform will have broadly similar requirements, and the competition may be steeper on some more than others.
As such, it’s worth doing your research to see where you’re most likely in with a shot.
ACX is the foremost platform on the internet for audiobook voice talent, and luckily, becoming a reader for ACX is easy, though establishing a reputation may take a lot of time, effort, and luck.
After signing up, create your profile to include relevant experience and upload samples that show your abilities. After you have a solid profile, you can start auditioning by recording a few minutes of the manuscript.
After getting your gig, you’ll start recording the book. The rights-holder must approve the first 15 minutes of your audio, and then you can finish the project and get paid to read books aloud with ACX.
Audible has the biggest audiobooks selection on the internet and sells straight through Amazon, so getting your voice there would be a big win. To make money on Audible by reading books, you can start by signing up through ACX.
ACX is Audible’s publishing platform, so to become a narrator for Audible and get paid to record your voice from home, simply follow the process of signing up and creating content through ACX, and your final product could be distributed on Audible, iTunes, and Amazon.
To see the kind of great content you could produce yourself one day, check out this deal where you can sign up for a free 30-day trial for Audible. With this, you’ll get one free audiobook – that you can keep forever, even once your trial ends!
3. Findaway Voices
Projects created on Findaway voices are primarily indie projects, meaning there’s a little bit less competition, but it’s the leading company for self-published authors in the US. To begin with, you’ll create your account as a narrator.
On your profile, you’ll be asked to select a Per Finished Hour (PFH) rate. Some suggest starting as a beginner at around $85-$100. After this, you’ll finish your profile by which you’ll be recommended for projects.
If you are selected, you’ll then sign any relevant agreements, download any notes from the rights-holder about the production, and then perform and upload the extended sample. Once approved, you will be able to finish the project.
Voices.com claims to be the number one marketplace for voiceover talent, so there are plenty of paying customers and companies looking for narrators. Not only is it huge, but it matches you with jobs just based on your voice profile.
To make an account, sign up as a freelancer. Afterwards, you’ll fill out your profile in a way that makes you appealing to companies looking for voice talent. Once your profile is complete, you’ll receive job invites.
Receiving invites or replying to a job listing will allow you to write a proposal and upload a response file. These are essentially your audition pieces that will allow rights holders to see if you’re right for their project.
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5. Bunny Studio
Bunny Studio, unlike its competitors, pays you for auditioning. Promising a turnaround time of only 12 hours for paying clients, each second counts. While they don’t charge subscription fees, they do take a percentage of your finished payment.
To get started, you’ll sign up with the platform including all of your narrating skills and preferences. Once you complete your profile, they send a project that you have 48 hours to complete. This is your audition for the site as a whole.
You have four total chances to become a pro with this audition, but if you’re accepted, you’ll be able to create your portfolio, audition for projects, and get matched with clients like on every other platform so you can start to get paid to read books aloud.
This AI-driven platform uses your profile to match you with clients; however, much like sites like Fiverr, you can post your individual jobs for different price points under the Audiobook voice talent category and allow clients to purchase specific packages.
To sign up with Peopleperhour, you’ll create a profile as a freelancer. Like Bunny, Peopleperhour requires an application in order to approve you for the website. Once approved, the algorithm will match you with clients looking for your specialties and project characteristics.
You can search for projects manually, but you can only submit 15 proposals per month for free. Buying additional credits will enable you to apply for more projects.
7. Brilliance Audio
Though Brilliance Audio has been around since the 80s, it is now an Amazon company and is one of the leaders in audiobook production. As an independent publisher, it has a separate catalog of books and audio, but its products can be purchased through Amazon and Audible. As such, working for them essentially involves you being able to get paid to read books aloud for Amazon.
To start to get paid to read books aloud with Brilliance, you must email the company for an opportunity to audition. As the company boasts higher quality audiobooks, entrance to the site’s staff of performers may be tough. That said, their performers are comprised of beginner and expert narrators, so you still do have a chance to find things like voice over jobs for beginners from home through their platform.
Brilliance has a menu for project creators to vet and select their voice talent. They create their order, and Brilliance arranges for the project to be completed.
Upwork is an extensive network of easy freelance jobs in every category, and audiobook narration is one such category. With a huge network of paying clients and the ability to tailor your profile down to your most specific talents, freelancers will never feel at a loss for opportunities.
Creating an account with Upwork is easy, and for the most part, it’s free. Freelancers can pay for additional “connects”, which is their fee for submitting proposals and auditions, but non-paying members get a few free ones each month that roll over if they go unused.
To snag jobs where you get paid to read books aloud, clients can reach out to you based on your profile, although the bulk of your work will be reaching out to clients and submitting proposals. After you’re selected, you’ll work one-on-one with the client to produce the final product.
9. Voice 123
Voice 123 is one of the largest voice acting platforms in the world. Some seriously major companies hire voice talent through this site, including clients like NBC, Coca Cola and The New York Times.
While this often means that many of the jobs on there are for things like voiceovers on TV shows and in commercials, they also have a ton of narration jobs. You can get paid to read books aloud as a beginner here, but you’ll be asked during the sign up process to identify the level of experience you have, just so potential clients are aware.
Signing up is free though and, given the level of some of the clients on here, it’s definitely worth checking it out.
If you start your own YouTube channel, you can actually make money reading books aloud. Booktubers, as they’re commonly known, earn money from things like ads and affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing is when someone clicks on your link to purchase something that you’ve recommended and you get a commission for this. You could easily include your own link to the book you’re reading, allowing your audience to buy it themselves – and helping you to make money in the process!
There is, however, an important catch.
Can I read books on YouTube and get paid?
You can’t read books on YouTube and get paid if you don’t own the rights to the content, if the work isn’t in the public domain or if you don’t have permission from the rights holder, as this is a breach of copyright.
This means though that if you meet any of those requirements, you’re in the clear. In particular, it’s fine to get paid for reading books aloud on YouTube by reading books in the public domain.
Books in the public domain don’t have a rights holder to determine if you can monetize their content. This means that you can read books that aren’t copyrighted any longer and monetize your channel to make money from ads or sponsors.
Determining if a work is in the public domain depends on when it was written, whether it was published, and whether the author’s name was known. If do, however, you find a public domain work and want to record yourself reading it aloud, then you can upload your recording to YouTube and monetize it.
According to Youtube’s Help Center, the only other way you can monetize a book you’ve recorded is if you get permission through the rights holder.
If a book is still in circulation, you should probably contact the publisher, not the author. If a book is self-published, you can contact the author to ask permission.
This option for earning money in this way doesn’t only apply to Instagram, to be fair. After all, you could do the same thing through Facebook Lives, Twitch or other similar platforms.
That is, you could make money reading books aloud on Instagram, whether it’s through a video you put on there or an Instagram Live.
For instance, let’s say you start an account about kids books. You could easily get paid to read children’s books aloud on there, appealing to parents who may be looking for some healthy screentime for their kids.
Again, though, there are some important points to keep in mind here.
Is it illegal to read a book on a live stream?
You must be the rights holder or the book must be in the public domain for you to read the book aloud on a live stream. The only exception to these rules is either if you obtain permission from the rights holder or abide by the Fair Use doctrine.
If you have no intention of monetizing your stream or channel and don’t take donations while reading, you may be able to use the book while abiding by relevant fair use guidelines.
To be perfectly clear about whether your reading of a book can be protected under fair use, it must follow one or more of these four guidelines:
- Your use of the material is expressed in a new way that adds meaning to the original material, and it is not being used commercially.
- The material is primarily factual, not fictional.
- You’re borrowing small bits of the material, not using the whole thing or even “the heart” of the work.
- Your use of the material doesn’t harm the copyright owner’s ability to make a profit from their work.
An example of something that could be considered fair use and possibly even monetized would be if you read small portions of a book and added analysis or educational commentary on those pieces.
If, however, the publisher and copyright owner already have educational material on that piece, you might be competing with them and be in danger of violating fair use and copyright laws.
12. Your own site
Launching your own site is a great way to make some extra money – so why not combine it with your love of books?
There are plenty of ways to earn money through a site about books. The most obvious one is reviewing books and then providing links where people can buy the book, letting you earn a commissioni n the process.
And, of course, you could definitely combine this with reading the books aloud, at least in part, to give people an idea of what the book is about. Just make sure that you keep in mind some of the points mentioned above about either needing permission, sticking to books in the public domain or complying with the Fair Use doctrine.
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13. A podcast
There are plenty of great podcasts out there about books and listening to them makes it feel like you’re in your very own book club with the podcast host – and their thousands of other listeners, of course!
Many of these podcasts involve people reading parts of the book aloud (don’t forget what I said above though about this to avoid getting into hot water), so why can’t you do the same?
That is, you could either launch your own podcast or see if you can go on to an existing one as a guest.
This would actually be a great strategy to combine with some of the other options I just mentioned, particularly if you launch your own social media or YouTube channel or your own site about this, as you could use this as a way to promote your own channel and get more eyes (or ears!) over there.
Other ways to make money reading books aloud
If you’re looking for even more options where you can get paid to read aloud, these sites are also great for this and entirely legit:
- Brilliance Audio
- Internet Jock
- Mandy Voices (formerly Voices Pro)
- Spoken Realms
- Spoken Realms
- The Audiofile Audiobook Talent & Industry Guide
- The Voice Realm
- VO Planet
- Voice Crafters
- Voice Jungle
How much do book readers get paid?
Most book readers are paid per finished hour. That means, if one finished hour of an audiobook takes two hours to record, you’ll be paid for one hour. Your earnings will thus depend on the length of the text you’re narrating and how long it takes you to read it.
In fact, according to ACX, taking two hours to record one hour of an audiobook is very standard, so don’t expect to be paid based on how long you work in this field.
Many beginners start at around $85 per hour. However, as you gain more experience or if you join a union compared to working freelance, you’ll then start to earn more. Some end up earning up to $250 per hour of narration.
Some narrators elect to get paid through royalty shares. Choosing to get paid through royalties could be risky if you aren’t sure the book will sell many copies; however, you could miss out on a lot if you record a best-seller and only get paid the PFH rate.
Narrators get paid more per finished hour as they create portfolios and acquire a reputation. Narrators charging $400PFH can make several thousand dollars per finished project.
Are there jobs that pay you to read books aloud?
For the most part, to get paid to read books aloud in English, freelance work is the most widely available with the lowest ceiling of entry. Platforms like Upwork and Fiverr are the most obvious options, but with thousands upon thousands of members, getting consistent work isn’t easy.
However, you could luck into a salaried position as a reader, although perhaps don’t expect this as this isn’t the norm.
One way to get paid to read children’s books aloud is through hospitals, charities, and schools. Many of these positions will be for non-profits not likely to pay for your services, but finding work as a literacy director or school librarian would allow you to read to children.
This also has other opportunities, like where you can get paid to read books in English to adults learning it as a second language. In either case, you’d potentially be able to get paid to do it without having to work as a freelancer.
Other avenues to pursue could be nursery home or daycare attendants, but reading aloud wouldn’t be your only job responsibility.
How much can I get paid to read books aloud?
As a freelancer where you get paid to read books aloud, you can earn up to around $250 per finished hour. For salary positions, a literacy director has a salary of up to $60,000 a year, while a literacy coach earns around $44,000.
Similarly, elementary school librarians have widely varying salaries, largely depending on the state. The national average is around $55,000 – although, of course, getting paid to read books aloud wouldn’t be your only task in this role.
Freelance is a little more difficult to estimate. As a beginner reading for $85 PFH, if you devote yourself to reading full-time and can produce a finished 8-hour audiobook in 16 hours per week, you could earn around $33,000 a year working less than half of a full-time job.
A narrator with a greater reputation who sets their rate at $400 PFH to produce one 8 hour audiobook a week could earn $154,000 a year. It should be stated, however, that getting consistent work on such a regular basis is pretty rare.
Can you make money narrating audiobooks?
Yes, you can make money narrating audiobooks, with a number of platforms paying good money for people to record themselves reading these aloud. The exact amount you’ll make, however, will vary depending on your experience, the length of the book and how long it takes you.
After all, if you’ve ever listened to an audiobook in your life, just think that someone would have had to originally record it – and almost certainly got paid to read that book aloud. So why couldn’t that someone be you for future books?
Can I make a living reading books?
Yes, you can make a living reading books if there is enough consistent work. While a salaried position in this field isn’t the norm, contract or freelance work can net you around $600 a project without any prior experience.
However, finding work consistently enough to pay the bills is a hurdle that can only be jumped with time and dedication. Emily Woo Zeller, a full-time independent contractor, reads for 5-6 hours a day, making a living entirely off of audiobooks (with other occasional passion projects in between).
Her first Audible project was released in 2009, and since then, she’s accumulated a portfolio of over 500 Audible audiobooks.
With time and dedication, you too can build prestige and a portfolio, and these things will help you stay busy as a contractor and make a living reading books.
Do I need prior experience to get paid to read books aloud?
No, you don’t necessarily need experience to get paid to read books aloud, although having a portfolio helps. Many platforms require you to submit audition pieces and so, on there, your actual skills will be more important than any prior experience you may have.
That is, while experience can help in order to show your portfolio to potential clients, it’s not strictly necessary to have experience in order to be hired to read books aloud.
Of course, for careers such as literacy coordinators and librarians, some qualifications and prior experience in similar positions will be necessary. However, you can get started in freelance jobs where you’re recording things like audiobooks with no experience – although talent will help.
When rights holders are shopping for talent and asking for auditions, or when you’re auditioning for books you’d like to narrate, your experience is just one piece of the profile. On ACX, your experience and accolades show before your audio samples, so having the experience to show can still be important to getting auditions.
However, if rights holders make it past your profile and into your samples, the quality of the pieces you narrate is really what will tell the rightsholder that you’re the right person for their project.
How do I record myself reading a book aloud?
Recording yourself reading books aloud can be done with very little investment. All you really need is a quiet space, a microphone, and basic editing software. Beyond that, you’ll need a lot of practice, trial, and error.
1. Create a good recording environment and sound setup
First, you’ll need to set up a recording studio that will give you quiet, balanced audio. Wherever you choose to record, this has to be your home base.
Even a small change to a different room in the middle of a project can change the quality of the audio. Test the levels of your voice when recording on your iPhone by using an app or watching the spikes on your audio with your Voice Memo or another recording app.
According to home studio professionals, your levels shouldn’t exceed 50 to 75 percent of the way up the meter, meaning that if you see spikes hitting the top of the bar while you’re recording, your audio is going to be unbalanced.
To eliminate outside noise, set your microphone up away from anything that makes noise, even brown or white noise like fans, computers, appliances, or other equipment that emits a hum. Once you’ve found a quiet space, test your audio, again and again, to see if you can get quality output.
2. Read the entire piece before you start recording
To get a good idea of who a character is, and therefore how to voice them, you should read the entire book to understand who they are. Not only that, but you may need information found later in the book to know how to read certain scenes and whether you should emphasize words that are more important than others.
You should know your project inside and out before you sit down in the studio, otherwise, you could make a major time-wasting mistake in interpreting the book. This could cause the rightsholder to send your initial sample back or that could force you to re-record content when you see something you missed.
If you read the entire book and find that one character has important background information that could change the way you read them, you may need to do additional research.
This could mean that you read more about their nationality, practice their accent, or simply watch content that could help you understand them better.
3. Practice each section like it’s a monologue
As an audiobook narrator, you’re not just reading. You’re acting. Not only do you want to emphasize the right words, get the right tempo, and create a smooth listening experience, but you want each character to sound right to the reader.
Dialogue will be the most practice and research-intensive part of the job. Practice and record small sections at a time. You can piece the audio together as you edit later, but make sure that each section is as good as it can be before moving on to the next one.
If you’re having trouble mastering a section, it may be a sign that you should take a break or come back to that section. Make sure to label each recording extremely specifically, so you can keep track of each take.
4. Edit your sound to the best of your ability
There is plenty of free audio editing software out there capable of trimming clips, piecing them together, and enhancing the quality.
When you record, keep your files to the length of one chapter to make editing and exporting a little easier. Make sure you make your recordings lossless through your iPhone before uploading them to a program.
For beginners, there are a few things you can do in post-production with editing to make your voice sound better. To enhance your audio, you’ll need to equalize, normalize, and compress, then normalize again according to Mike Russell, who’s a music and radio professional.
The purpose of equalizing your audio is to get rid of unwanted sounds and make your voice more prominent. Normalizing will make volume consistent throughout the piece, and compression will lower the highest peaks of the recording and make them quieter.
From there, normalizing again makes the adjusted highest peaks consistent throughout the recording.
5. Export lossless audio
Exporting with the most optimal settings will be different for whichever program you use. Exporting to Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) is a good rule of thumb to avoid losing quality as you export.
If you upload to Youtube or another platform, you will lose quality on that file, so exporting and uploading in the highest possible quality will limit the loss you experience.
Some publishing platforms may also require high-quality recordings of which FLAC files should be able to measure up.
Final thoughts on how to get paid to read books aloud
It’s certainly possible to get paid to read books aloud simply based on the fact that audiobooks exist. As these people aren’t working for free, this means that you, too, could feasibly make money narrating audiobooks.
Of course, the amounts that book readers get paid don’t always start super high but, with some practice and by building up your portfolio, it’s certainly possible to make a living reading books.
Just make sure that you’re doing this through legit platforms and that, if you try to do this yourself somehow, you’re not falling afoul of any copyright laws.
For example, some people have tried to get paid to read books online on YouTube and get paid, but without the permission of the rights holder, you could accidentally be looking at something illegal if you read a book on a live stream, for example.
But those are some pretty exceptional cases. For most people interested in jobs that pay you to read books aloud, you’ll find a bunch of sites and similar platforms where you can get paid to do just that – a perfect way to combine your love of reading with your love of having extra money!