Interview with a Narrator: Luke Rounda

Narrator Luke Rounda

Luke Rounda just completed Earning without Being Employed: 35 Businesses Anyone Can Start and Run, by Author Jeff Evarts. It is available now on iTunes, Amazon and Audible.

Hi Luke,

Thank you so much for connecting with us today! We are excited to learn more about the voice behind this book!

First, some particulars:

Your Name:

Luke Rounda

Title of the Book You Just Narrated For Us:

Earning without Being Employed: 35 Businesses Anyone Can Start and Run, by Jeff Evarts

What City do you live in?

Jarbalo, KS

IHS: What was your favorite part about listening to this book come to life?

Luke: I’ve always been attracted to DIY and self-employment. A book like Earning Without Being Employed helps evaluate the risks of staying in the rat race versus leaving to do it on your own. Generally speaking, it’s a lot less likely today for someone to take a job when they’re 18 and stay there for years or even until they retire, like our parents did. Now we have the “gig economy” and entrepreneurship and self-employment are on the rise. But I don’t think everyone’s necessarily completely comfortable with this nor do we always know where to start. Having 35 ideas laid out and categorized with all the tedious research/googling done for you already is a valuable time-saver. Also, I enjoyed learning about some of the wilder, “out there” opportunities for work which not everyone might consider.

IHS: How did you get into narrating audiobooks? Did you fall into it or was it planned? Luke: People have always told me I have a radio voice. First I started by volunteering and reading books, magazines, and newspapers for the Audio-Reader program at the University of Kansas. Audio-Reader is a closed circuit reading service for the blind and print disabled. After that went well, I decided to try getting paid for it.

IHS: Do you have a theater background? Is it something you think is necessary to be a success? Luke: I did a couple years of debate and forensics in high school, but I wouldn’t call that a theater background. I don’t think it’s necessary. You learn on the job like anywhere else. Also, for me, the technical side of things is more interesting than the theater aspect. Obviously acting is necessary, but it’s fun for me learning how to produce my narration to sound the best it can.

IHS: Were you an audiobook listener before you started narrating? Luke: Yes. I used to listen to books on tape as a kid at night: Greek mythology, King Arthur, Hank the Cowdog, Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars books (which should’ve been made canon instead of what we got), and more. Also, old time radio (OTR) broadcasts--mostly science fiction anthology series like X Minus One from the ‘50s, or the more contemporary Seeing Ear Theater from around 1999-2000. All of that stuff definitely had an impact on me. It’s not nearly as mainstream as Hollywood or even indie films, but I think it takes just as much acting talent, if not more, and especially if one actor is carrying the entire performance and doing all the voices. The listener gets to enjoy the best of both worlds. You’re hearing the stories but you get to close your eyes and let your imagination create the special effects. It’s not to say movies don’t have incredible stuff these days, but imagination will always win out.

IHS: Narrators seem to each have their favorite niche or genre, and things they don’t like to get into. What kinds of books do you stay away from? Luke: I don’t see myself ever trying erotica or romance. I’m not knocking it. I don’t have a no nude scenes clause in my contract. But if they make up the majority of the book I just don’t think I’d be convincing, even in spite of my incredibly alluring, dominant, masculine, irresistible, sexy voice which makes beautiful women swoon when I read Java code out loud.

IHS: So… authors are kind of a unique breed of humans. Any funny stories about working authors? Luke: I’m not legally allowed to discuss that. Just kidding. Nothing sticks out so far. But I write myself, so I know how perfectionist and protective authors can be about their work. I don’t really blame them.

IHS: Has anyone ever recognized you as a narrator from your voice? Luke: Not yet, but surely it’s only a matter of time...

IHS: Learning to narrate audiobooks can sometimes feel like going through the school of hard knocks. What was a the most unexpected lesson you got in your early narrating career? Luke: Editing is a pain if you don’t have the right tool for the job. I started with Audacity, a popular free software audio editor. It’s great for quick edits or small projects, but it would frequently crash on me while recording books, and it’s just not as comfortable to use nor as feature-rich as a full fledged DAW. Now I do all my production in REAPER and it’s much, much easier and sounds better, to boot.

IHS: Let’s talk reviews. Do you read your reviews and listener comments? Luke: I do. I like hearing that people enjoy what I make. Although, if I get negative reviews, that makes me aspire to be Vince Gilligan (creator of Breaking Bad) about it and never read any of the press, so it won’t influence my work subconsciously trying to please or refute haters. Thankfully I haven’t yet reached the level of success where that’s a concern.

IHS: Do you research an author and book before taking on a project? If so, what do you most want to see? Luke: Once I’m interested in a title, I try to look for sales numbers, good reviews, etc.. All that good stuff. But ideally, I want the writing to click with me. Great and engaging writing is what I most want to see. Especially if there are some juicy, well-crafted sentences or paragraphs in there which just feel satisfying to read... then I know my job narrating it will be easier because I enjoy a bit of a challenge nailing the wordplay. Plus, I know it will be more fun and rewarding to perform.

IHS: Once a book is finished, then the work of marketing begins. What do you do to spread the word about a new audiobook release? Luke: Aside from the old standby of telling friends and family, I try to engage with audiences online: Twitter, Soundcloud, etc.. For instance, after I did a book about Confederate secret ops submarine warfare last year, I searched on Twitter for some of the more interesting stories and names from that part of American history, then tried to engage a bit with people actively talking about it. I also like to post multiple short, high quality audio excerpts on SoundCloud from stuff I narrate, so potential listeners can get even more of a sneak peek.

IHS: Any audiobook haters in your friends or family? People who are avid “page-turners” or those who think listening to audiobooks is not really reading? What do you say to them? Luke: No, I haven’t run into anyone like that. That seems a little silly and pedantic to me. If you prefer reading to being read to, that’s fine--the hardest of the hardcore can speed-read much faster than I can narrate, I’m sure--but there’s no need to slag people who want to consume books a different way. It’s not like it ceases to be a book if someone reads it to you. Plus, audiobooks are just more efficient sometimes. You can listen and clean your living room at the same time. Or instead of head-banging in traffic, you can learn new things while you commute to work. Lastly, I think the more people who choose books in any form over mindless (and increasingly censored) video content or compulsive feed scrolling, the better.

IHS: What were you most worried about when starting out as a narrator? Did the worry happen or was it unjustified? Luke: Probably that it would take too long to read whole books and I wouldn’t be able to meet deadlines. It turned out exactly the opposite.

IHS: And, as a follow up, what should you ACTUALLY have been most worried about instead?? Luke: Marketing is tough. For me, anyway. Being a narrator requires you to wear many hats. My salesman hat doesn’t always fit right.

IHS: So now, what advice would you give those who are thinking about becoming a narrator? Luke: Try reading a book you like out loud. Just sit down at a desk, or stand looking into a closet with clothes on either side--whatever your recording studio is going to be--and read for fifteen minutes or so. If you don’t hate it by then, get a laptop and a mic (the Blue Yeti is an easy choice) and start doing it. It’s pretty easy if you put in the time to learn some audio production techniques.

IHS: Finally, what advice would you give authors who are thinking about doing an audiobook?

Luke: Whether you do it yourself or hire it out, absolutely do it. It’s just another income stream for you, and a well-made audiobook will tap into a new audience of folks who don’t like to keep their eyes open when they read, or who just “don’t have time” in their busy schedules to finish books the old fashioned way. If you don’t want to narrate and produce it yourself, hire me.

Okay, now. We'd like to know your Top 10 Reasons to Be An Audiobook Narrator. And in 10 words or less, Why?

10. Make your own hours. It’s great for night owls.

9. You get to read cool and interesting books for free. And you can pick which ones, too.

8. You get paid to read and learn. It’s like school but in reverse.

7. Hearing your own voice is a daily and constant occurrence. Like internal monologue, but edited, mixed and mastered.

6. Many opportunities for cathartic screaming into a closet. Not everyone has such a good excuse.

5. The arcane, drummed up mysteries of audio production and mastering are slowly unraveled. “WTH is a LUF, anyway?...”

4. Listener comments and reviews. They like me! They really like me! ... when I’m quiet.

3. Royalties. Passive income is how you get rich in your sleep.

2. Working with great authors. Sharing their ideas and lending authority to their vision.

1. Satisfaction and accomplishment. Everyone feels better when they create lasting works.

That's awesome! Okay, Luke: Share with us your Social Media links so our followers so can find out more about you:

Website -

Twitter - @vernacularaudio (not, @lukerounda who is a weird imposter)

SoundCloud -

And your Author Bio?

Luke Rounda is a writer and narrator from the Kansas City area. A wild-eyed storyteller from a young age, he delights in pursuing his natural curiosity wherever it may lead, learning along the way while spinning campfire tales and compiling technical manuals. Luke’s authoritative yet approachable voice can be heard narrating titles with topics ranging from entrepreneurship, information technology, science, science fiction, and political philosophy. In his spare time, he plays guitar and synthesizer. He is owned by a black cat named Hoot.

Perfect! Thank you so much for your time today, Luke!

Folks, we give you: Luke Rounda, master storyteller.



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