Audiobooks: 10 Things Geeky Blogger listens for….

Posted June 17, 2015 by Jennifer in Blogger Guest Post, JIAM | | 36 Comments


Audiobooks: 10 Things I listen for….


Hi y’all! Felicia the Geeky Blogger here to talk about the top 10 things I look for when picking narrators to listen too. I have been asked this question several times over the years. When Jennifer asked me to do a guest post–I knew just what topic to tackle!


My top 10 things that land a narrator on my “forever” list:


1Pacing: This seems like a strange number one but it is the most obvious when listening to a sample. If the narrator is pausing too much, taking too many breaths, or rushing through sentences it can ruin a book. I like someone who is pretty even with their pacing. It makes listening to them in variable speeds easier!

2Emotion but not over-acting: One of the top things for me when putting any narrator on a “forever” list is their ability to display emotion through their voice without making me feel like I am listening to a soap opera. The right amount of emotion can strengthen a story and truly bring it to life.

3Pleasant not Grating: This is a little bit more up to the individual listener but we all have voices that we like to hear tell us a story. However, there are some that sound like nails on a chalkboard to us. It is worth listening to a sample before grabbing a new narrator. You never know which it will be for you.

4Accenting the Accents properly: This is a tough one because things are very regional. Example: I know Irish accents that sound great to me but someone from Ireland would be like “what the heck”. For me, it is southern accents–I live in TX and if someone over does the Texan I can’t listen. So really I like the “not over the top” way of doing accents on a whole. There are always exceptions to the rule (if the story calls for it) but on a whole middle of the road accenting works better for me.

5Minimum (or no) Sound Effects: I can’t stand when there is music at the beginning and end of a chapter, disk, sequence in an audiobook. It tends to pop me right out of the story. If it is a full-cast recording (aka going for more of a radio show feel) then some sound effects are fine. However, they should NEVER over-shadow the performer.

6Consistency in Series (Same Narrator): Though I understand this is not always up to the author or publisher or narrator–as a listener switching narrators in the middle of a series (especially one I love) is enough to make me drop the audiobooks in favor of the print books. I just like consistency in my listening experience.

7Consistency in Series (voices for characters): This is on the narrators, if you use a voice for a character in the series that was perhaps a side-character in the beginning but grows into a bigger role-don’t change their voice. Again I like consistency in my listening experience.

8Unabridged all the way: I can’t believe it but there are still abridged audiobooks being created in this day and age. I want all the words and hours of listening enjoyment!

9Character performance is key: I want a “voice” that is appropriate for the character. If I am listening to an alpha male and he sounds like a prepubescent boy then that can ruin a story for me. Same with strong females that sound high pitched and flighty. The voice needs to fit the character especially when crossing over genders.

10Appropriate number of narrators: There are just some books that call for more than one narrator. There are some narrators (very few) that can carry off the complex, huge number of characters audiobooks. Sometimes it is best to go for dual narrators for books that have huge multi-POVs. Though you have to be very careful in that they are compatible and able to handle when they have “moments” in the other lead’s voice. On a whole though some of my favorite audiobooks have more than one narrator.


These are just a few things that I listen for in an audiobook! What do you listen for?
Thanks Jennifer and gang for having me over for audiobook month!



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Owner/Blogger at The Book Nympho
I coexist with my husband of 15 years, our 11-year-old son and two chilled cats in the Deep South.

After 17 years I've finally finished my BA in English (no I do not want to be a teacher). Before majoring in English I would not have touched anything labeled "classic", but I have enjoyed a few along the way in my college career.

While I hated to read growing up, I am now an avid book reader and audiobook listener. I love rejecting reality one book at a time. I only read fiction within my favorite (at least to date) genres which include: most romance (paranormal, contemporary, D/s, BDSM, M/M)Urban Fantasy, and a few YA (mostly PNR or UF from favorite adult authors, but I'm slowly stepping out of my comfort zone after enjoying a few contemporary YA novels in adolescent literature class I took).
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36 responses to “Audiobooks: 10 Things Geeky Blogger listens for….

  1. Great list! It’s funny because pacing isn’t something that would have made my list a year ago, but now that I’m that much more experienced I realize that narrator’s pacing makes a big difference for me. Consistency is another big one for me.

  2. I don’t remember the book but I didn’t get pass the first 5 minutes. Her voice wasn’t high at all but for some reason her voice hurt my ears. I mean actual physical pain. It was two people, a man and a woman. He spoke, fine. She spoke, tears in eyes. So weird.

    • That will totally distract from the story–I totally agree. One of my favorite narrators did an audiobook while she had a cold. I had to go pick the book up from the library because it just changed the experience for me.

  3. This is a great list, and I realized that I had been subconsciously following along/agreeing with many of your points. One thing I haven’t done yet is listen to samples first – and that is a great suggestion. But I’m basically listening to series that others have recommended, so I’ve been lucky so far!

  4. I hate background noises. I think they are distracting. Changing narrators in a series is one of my biggest pet peeves. I do give a pass if they have someone narrate the first book in the series and then change to a different one because it didn’t work, but find someone to stick with after that. Some of my favorite series have been ruined on audio by changing up narrators. 🙁

    Great post. You and I are pretty much in agreement 🙂

    • Yes I have switched to print on a few series because of narration changes. I will admit that the change in Julie Ann Walker’s series was better for me than the first person so occasionally it works 🙂

  5. Yes to ALL of these! I cannot stand when the audiobook has music in it. It drives me bonkers.
    On the flip side, once (and so far, only once) a narrator was so good at conveying emotion, her trying-not-to-cry dialogue made me cry!
    I’d also add, when foreign words are in the book pronouncing them like a native speaker.

    • ^5 Music just makes me think I am watching old TV where they would music Que everything. While it works for me with TV–in audiobooks not so much!

      I am listening to a book right now with a LOT of Russian in it. After being to Russia it sounds a little off but I will give him a B for effort 🙂

  6. I agree with almost all of them. My first experience with PNR on audiobook was my last and I blame the narrator, he over-acted, especially the sex scenes. It was so bad, I never listen to PNR again and since then I fast forward sex scenes too.
    The “Character performance is key” reminds me of The Others series. I love the books, I think is currently my favorite series, but I hate the audiobooks because of the narrator. She makes the hero sound like Scooby Doo and I hate it.
    I also don’t like when they change the narrator mid-series. It makes me feel kind of lost.
    Another thing that gets me bonkers is when there is not a noticeable pause between chapters, especially when there is change of characters. I want to know who is who at all times and sometimes the narrator’s voices are so similar that without a proper pause is very easy to be confused.

  7. I agree with the sound effects thing and the unabridged. I recently listened to Love Letters To The Dead and it was abridged and while I enjoyed the story, I got very frustrated at the beginning and end of each disk. I’d start stopping the CD when I would hear it beginning or skip forward over the beginning just to avoid it. LOL

  8. I don’t listen to audio books, but these are great points. Especially the accents. I will find it distracting if the accents are obviously faked or overdone.

  9. Oh the accent thing. I listened to a fantasy book and for some reason some characters talked with this bad bad Russian one and I was all nooo

  10. I have NO idea how abridged audiobooks exist. I may hate detail in some books, but I mean, it’s there for a reason, right? I feel like the story would be missing something if there were huge parts cut out. And yes for the same narrator throughout the series! Especially if the narrator is awesome. I just wouldn’t be able to listen to a series anymore if the new narrator sucked. And with the sound effects, I kind of wish that horror audiobooks had more sound effects. lol. I feel like they might be scarier that way!

    • I never thought about for Horror—they might actually work there (music ones)!

      I figure abridged are for the same people who buy cliff notes (though I don’t see the point in either). You miss the meat of the story when you do that!

  11. I can’t stand any of the background noises or extra music. It really irritates me. Also the pacing. I’m reading a series now, where book one seemed so rushed. Half the time I didn’t know who was talking and we’d run into the next chapter without a pause, just a real quick “chapter 2” and speed into the text. Book 2 is much better, and its the same narrator, so she must be getting the hang of it. I also can’t stand changing narrators in the middle of the series after I’ve gotten used to the characters voices one way.

    • I think that can be true–a narrator learns as they do more and/or gets feed back and makes adjustments. I am sure that if I listened to some of my favorites their first few books weren’t as good as they are now. I usually give a narrator 3 different tries before I knock them off my list permanently.

  12. Ichabod Temperance

    I am considering releasing my books in an audio format. This list will help me watch for potential pitfalls.
    Thanks Felicia and Jennifer!

  13. I agree with all those things, but I don’t mind sound effects as in guns being fired and glass breaking, cause that really was what made me excited about my first audio I listened It was an Alex Cross book by James Patterson and I thought that was so cool..really gave the book a detective novel feel. 🙂 The music I can do without. 🙂

    • You know I don’t mind those kind of sound effects as much as music ques. Guns or trees falling really sometimes add to the performance. Music drives me nuts –cause I always think opening/closing credits which pops me out of the story LOL

  14. Yes on the accents!!! Some of them drive me crazy. Especially southern ones. And I really dislike when they switch narrators midway through a series. I want continuity dang it. Great points. My other thing is background noise. Sometimes you can here where they stop recording and it will pull me out of the story.

      • I’ve not had background noise but I’ve listened to a few where you can tell they had to go back in and edit a scene or made that’s where they started the next day and the volume, bass, etc was off for a little bit. Sometimes it sounds like they are in another room or too far away from the mic.

  15. Jonetta (Ejaygirl)

    You’ve put together a comprehensive list, some on here I hadn’t thought about.

    Voice tone is highly important on my list of “musts” in a narrator. I’ve listened to a few books where the narrator’s normal voice tone didn’t match that needed for the story (happy, perky high-pitched voice for a book that was creepy and suspenseful). If the tone isn’t right for the genre or story, it’s distracting.

    I also can’t stand to hear a narrator swallow throughout the book. It’s my “nails on a chalkboard” experience, sometimes permanently throwing me out of a story.

    Pacing can also be an issue. I’ve listened to some books where the narrator didn’t pause in the right places and ran the dialogue together so poorly I couldn’t distinguish who was talking or when another character had started. I can manage if it’s too fast or slow but if there aren’t appropriate inflections, I get lost.

    Thanks for a GREAT post!

    • On pacing, you nailed it. It can be the other way–if they tend to run everything together and give everything the same weight it is just as bad as pausing. I think the best narrators nail this but even if I were to listen to their earlier works it takes practice 🙂

      Oh the swallowing (or sniffling or nose breathing)–all 3 of those drive me bonkers 🙂

      • Pacing is key. I don’t like it when a narrator doesn’t pause between scene or POV switches. And if they don’t change their voice much for each character it can be confusing as to which character is speaking.