The Most Important Thing to Consider When Building Your Audiobook Portfolio

audiobook portfolioWhen you’re starting out as a new narrator, you need to build an audiobook portfolio of titles to show any prospective publishers or authors how much experience you have.

The best way to do that is to do ANY titles that come your way, right? Forget how long they are or what genre or anything else. Just get as many titles under your belt as you can. Correct?

100% wrong.

You need to build an audiobook portfolio of quality titles. And the first thing that indicates whether a title is quality is the cover.

Yes, the cover.

We’ve been told all our lives that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Guess what? We do, anyway. And we know this is true, otherwise books wouldn’t have covers!

And for the blossoming audiobook narrator, people will judge you by the cover of the books you do. The quality of the book is a direct reflection on who you are as an audiobook narrator.

The cover is key. Why?

Here’s the scenario: You’ve just attended a mixer and made a great first impression. You now have the casting director of a major publisher interested in you. The first (possibly only) thing they will do is look you up on Audible. What are they going to see? They’re going to see a list of all your titles….. And their covers. And because covers are designed to draw the eye, that’s precisely what will happen. So that casting director will see all of your covers in a nice big list, and they will know if you’re a serious narrator or a desperate hobbyist who narrated a bunch of mediocre titles.

All based on the covers of the books you narrated. You are a product of the titles you narrate. And you want anyone who looks at your audiobook portfolio to think you’re entrusted with narrating high profile titles that sell gobs of copies.

What does a good cover look like? Take a look at the current best sellers on Audible. Are the covers of the books you’re narrating on par with those? Or do they look like something done in a pirated version of Photoshop with the same bland fonts you’ve see time and again? And don’t even get me started on those ebook covers that have been squashed into the square form factor because the author didn’t have the foresight (or budget) to also have a square version commissioned.


Here’s an actual example:

This is a version of Little Women that was published about 12 years ago.

audiobook portfolio

Nothing wrong with it, per se. But very classic-looking, like a book you’d find on your grandmother’s shelf. Nothing wrong with it, but still. Meh. Grandma’s books are dusty.


Now take a look at a new version by my friend, Andrea Emmes:

audiobook portfolio

Guess which one became an Audible bestseller. I’ll give you a hint. It’s the one that looks like a modern take on a new classic. Very Emily Blunt-ish. Appeals to millennials who need to read it for school.

That cover is not only an attractive cover from a sales standpoint, but it is also a stronger statement of who Andrea is as a narrator. This cover indicates she’s a contemporary narrator who can breathe new life into classic works.

See where I’m going with all of this? When you’re building your audiobook portfolio, it’s critical that you have a slew of excellent titles with excellent covers because everything you do going forward is a reflection of who you are as a narrator.

So go forth and speak words! Choose your titles carefully when building your audiobook portfolio and make sure that your books are not only pleasing to the ear but also the eye.


                                      About the Author

audiobook eventsJeffrey Kafer is a full-time SAG-AFTRA audiobook narrator and consultant. He has narrated over 500 books in almost every genre for such authors Clive Barker, Steve Alten, Maya Banks, Gregg Olsen and many others. He has 2 degrees in cinema and broadcasting and spent the first part of his career as a video game tester for Microsoft before following his true passion of acting. He’s been on stage since he was 13 (his mom still has the bellhop costume she made) and currently lives in Los Angeles with his family and dog. Visit him at or checkout his audiobooks at






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