August 24, 2023
Mat Prince

Narrating Self-Help Books While Not Having It Together (2 minute read)

By Mat Prince

In my years as a professional, I’ve explored many different avenues to determine the best way to get by. I worked at Lululemon while hiding a secret smoking habit, at a men’s clothing store where nothing fit me, and as a telemarketer selling anti-aging cream to old people. Surprisingly, in the latter example, the job was very unfulfilling. Before I left, I sat there for days, not talking to anyone as an act of defiance. Imagine getting a call from a scamm- uh, I mean salesperson, and THEY hang up on YOU.

One of my most memorable stops was as a freelance narrator of audiobooks. The first one was about a man who had a conversation with God. I had to alternate between the voice of an incredulous man and an all-knowing deity. Guess which one I related to more. One of my favourites was a guide to raising children. I’m not a father, but as I read the material, I couldn’t help but nod my head now and again as my comforting voice instructed new fathers how to relate to their young ones. “Do they know I’m a poser?” I wondered.

I then moved on to a book about procrastination. The first thing I learned is that it gets tiresome having to say that word repeatedly. At a certain point, you take a break when your jaw hurts. The breaks keep coming until your deadline is fast approaching, and suddenly, the lessons you learn while reading the book about putting things off become even more prescient.

The most memorable experience while narrating audiobooks was when I booked a job with an author who wrote a novel about anger management. In this one, they wanted music in the background that encouraged relaxation. I had some extra songs lying around from a meditation novel that required the same, so I sent him a few drafts of what it could sound like. To my dismay, he described himself as getting angry while listening to the music. Not annoyed, not slightly miffed, but rather full-blown pissed off. As I adjusted the music to settle this poor guy down, I wondered who was learning the most during this process. Was it for the average audiobook listener looking to unwind? Or was it the author with a penchant for frustration and the narrator just looking to get by?

In the end, everyone was happy with how things finished up, as was the case with every audiobook done by yours truly. Did the listeners benefit from this tidy bit of business? Who knows. But I could certainly point to one person who, at the very least, became slightly more prepared for children, closer to God, less angry and more aware of the trappings of procrastination.