Recently in Audiobooks Category

Suspicious Mimes by Virginia Brown, Book #3 in the Blue Suede Memphis series

Our favorite part-time tour guide and amateur detective Harley Jean Davidson tries to stay out of trouble. Really, she does, but trouble seems to find her anyway. This time the trouble is in the form of a serial killer of Elvis impersonators. 

Like the other 2 books in this series, my director Drew Commins provided all of the voices for the male characters. Tootsie, the transvestite receptionist, has a much bigger role in this book than the previous ones. 

Of the 3 books, I think I liked this one best. It introduces a new character, 86-year-old Nana McMullen. Let me tell you, is she ever a character! Some of her lines really cracked me up!

As a narrator, I don't want to have all of the fun. I want to tell the story so that the listener is in on all of the jokes and gets to have that same laugh. Many times, we had to back up in the recording so I could re-do the line in a more deadpan manner. 
 
 


Available at Audible.
This Date in My History -- Sunday, 12 January 2003 12:30pm

This morning, I have been wondering "what have I gotten myself into?" I am filled with panic over my audiobook. Casting all of the characters is overwhelming, and the author's comments have only served to confuse instead of clarify...

Not only am I worried about giving voice to 70 speaking people, I am worried about the actual production. What if the sound quality varies between sessions? How will I get everything done in time, considering that I have a two-month turnaround that puts my due date to be the time I will be in NY? My day job will require a trip the week of Feb. 10 to Ft. Lauderdale, and I hate to think of nights alone in my hotel room of editing this book.

Drew and I talked about it at breakfast, and he reiterated his belief in me that I can do all of this and do it successfully. He promised again to help me in any way possible.

I felt better to come up with an action plan for getting this book done. I realized that if I only work on it (recording/editing) just an hour each night that it would get done in plenty of time. 

I have to change my panic into a plan. I will spend this afternoon making casting decisions, and i will do a sound check with several sessions of set-up/take down in between.

This audiobook is a dream come true and just the first of hundreds to follow. I have the talent and skill to do an excellent job on all aspects of the production. I cannot and will not give in to my fears or feelings of being overwhelmed.

Having written all of that, I'd better get started on my plan -- I'm burning daylight!

More at 10pm --

I spent about 8 hours (or maybe just 7.5, but still all afternoon) in my room working on character voices for my book. I first listened to the 2nd tape of Pat Fraley's course on character voices. He described a method of cataloging the voices which I adopted on the book.

After supper, Drew came and listened to me at my request because the process was going slowly for me. I created a database of voice characterizations rather than using individual worksheets like Pat Fraley suggested. I feel more in control of this project with 25 characters in my database and thoughts prepared on a handful of others. I was practicing all afternoon, and am I ever tired!

At some point today, I wondered if I should end my eLance subscription. Is it a sign that I received an invitation to bid tonight on an invite-only project where I was the only person invited? Anyway, I bid on that one and another one tonight; we'll see what happens.


Today's Take-aways:

1) When you feel overwhelmed by a task, break it down into small, manageable pieces. Figure out the time required for each piece so that you can meet your deadline.

2) We all need support from others to help us attain our goals. As Barbara Sher says, "isolation is the dream killer". Barbara notes that sometimes strangers will be less resistant to your ideas and offer you more support than your friends or family. If you are not blessed to have the support of your spouse as I am, reach out to friends or start a meet-up group of other goal-minded people.

3) Always believe in yourself! What you think about your chance of succeeding is perhaps the greatest indicator of your success. To quote Henry Ford:  Whether you think you can or you think you can't -- you're right.


Two of my audiobooks released in December.

Lowcountry Bribe.jpg
Lowcountry Bribe by C. Hope Clark (Book 1 in the Carolina Slade Mysteries)

Threats, a missing boss, a very dead co-worker, a high-level investigation, and a sinister hog farmer... Someone wants to make sure she buys the farm. 

In Lowcountry Bribe, Carolina Slade is a by-the-book manager for the Dept. of Agriculture. A farmer offers her a bribe, and she decides to do the right thing -- report it. Soon, her life and those of her children are in danger. 

As a former career federal employee, I wanted to narrate this book from the moment I saw it. I had great empathy with the main character, and I was surprised by the strong emotions that I felt in many of the scenes.

I also thought the rural setting was a refreshing change from books about city-dwellers. In fact, the author discussed the country setting in an article titled "We Murder in the Country, Too", which you may find interesting reading. With over 13 hours of listening, this book would be an ideal companion on dreary winter days! :)



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Harley Rushes In by Virginia Brown (Book 2 in the Blue Suede Memphis series)

Part-time tour guide and part-time amateur sleuth Harley Jean Davidson is back with another crime to solve. Her Aunt Darcy owns a furniture store and is convinced her partner is smuggling priceless artifacts...until Harley finds him hanging from elk antlers in the shop. It's a light-hearted, fun, cozy mystery. 

As with the first book, Hound Dog Blues, the hero of my life story Drew Commins joins me in the booth and performs all the male parts. We enjoy recording this series and laugh at the interplay in the dialogue. Should I feel concerned that Drew sounds a little too good as the gay transvestite receptionist? :)
My audiobook work has continued steadily all year, and I'm blessed and grateful to report that more are coming! 

In addition to the narration, I did the complete production of each of these books in my stunning soundproof studio. I am so fortunate that Drew directs me on my audiobooks. He is exceedingly good at catching mis-reads, and he also offers guidance about saying lines with different emotion or inflection.


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Drop Dead Divas by Virginia Brown (Book 2 in the Dixie Divas mystery series)

No sooner has Bitty Hollandale been cleared of the murder of her ex-husband than townspeople suspect she may have killed his lover, town bad girl Naomi Spencer. In addition, Naomi's fiancé Race Champion is also found dead. Talk about a fly in the martini!





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Dixie Diva Blues by Virginia Brown (Book 3 in the Dixie Divas mystery series)

Trinket Truevine and her cousin Bitty Hollandale are once again up to their eyebrows in murder and mayhem. This time, the husband of one of the Divas has been arrested for murder. The Divas will stop at nothing to clear him...but what happens at a Divas meeting stays at a Divas meeting!





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Irreparable Harm by Melissa F. Miller (Book 1 in the Sasha McCandless Legal Thriller series)

A smartphone app is capable of crashing a commercial jet. And it's for sale to the highest bidder. A plane slams into the side of a mountain, killing everyone aboard. But, as attorney Sasha McCandless digs into the case, she learns the crash was no accident. She joins forces with federal air marshal Leo Connelly, and they race to prevent another crash.





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Hound Dog Blues by Virginia Brown (Book 1 in the Blue Suede Memphis series)

With a heroine named Harley Davidson, you know this cozy mystery will be fun! Harley sets out to find out who dognapped family dog King (named after Elvis, of course) and quickly finds herself in the midst of a band of jewel thieves! 

I'm also excited about it because my co-narrator who did all of the male parts is also the hero of my life story -- Drew Commins! It was quite a challenge to record both of our parts and then edit it to make it sound seamless. We also gained greater appreciation for each others' usual roles.




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Inadvertent Disclosure by Melissa F. Miller (Book 2 in the Sasha McCandless Legal Thriller series)

In this book, tiny but fierce lawyer Sasha McCandless finds a town divided by the practice of hydrofracking. The town's only judge is killed just as he is about to decide a major issue about the mineral leases. Sasha races to find the murderer and save the town before it's too late.




Subsequent books in each of these 3 series are on tap for the coming months. I'm currently finishing Lowcountry Bribe by C. Hope Clark. This mystery thriller is set in South Carolina, and the protagonist works for the US Department of Agriculture. It should be released in early November.
June is Audiobook Month, and this is Audiobook Week!

To celebrate, a number of audiobook narrators are posting short recordings today in the Going Public project.

This audio project is the brainchild of narrator Xe Sands. Each Friday, new audio is offered  for free download. Xe describes the project as pieces:

recorded purely for the joy of reading something that truly resonates with the narrator and then sharing that joy with others. Pieces are offered gratis on a weekly basis, without compensation of any sort either to the narrator or author.

The project is also a brilliant way to further perfect and market our voices and our talents as audiobook narrators!

Today, I'm presenting the short story "Black Thursday". Author Melissa F. Miller graciously gave me permission to record her award-winning short story, which is the prequel to the suspense/thriller audiobook IRREPARABLE HARM.

In this story, first-year legal associate Sasha McCandless learns that her blessings come at a cost.




When performing audiobooks, one large part of the narrator's job is the preliminary preparation. You need to pre-read a fiction book to know how the story flows and find clues about each character that will help you make good choices about their voice.

You also need to look up pronunciations of words. Since this short story dealt with a law firm, I needed to find out how to pronounce some legal terms.

I usually start by Googling "word pronunciation", for example, "qui tam pronunciation". Usually, dictionaries pop up first in the results, and I may quickly find what I need.

In this example, I found an interesting document from the American Bar Association which explains that lawyers differ on the pronunciation of qui tam. This material was an exciting find since it allowed me to further develop the character in my mind and decide which way he would say the phrase based on the back story I imagined for him.

Narrators Judith West and Heather Henderson collected and created an exceptional resource of pronunciation dictionaries and research techniques that is a treasure trove for any audiobook narrator: AudioEloquence.com

If you have some free time, take a listen to the contributions in Going Public. Like researching pronunciations for your book, you'll never know what you'll find!



Photo:  iStockPhoto/ContentWorks

Recent audiobooks

The new year has started off with a burst of audiobook work! I'm excited to report that 2 books I narrated are now available for digital download on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.


It's Never Too Late To Be What You Might Have Been


It's Never Too Late.jpgThis audiobook is actually the perfect title for this exciting, new phase in my life. IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO BE WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE BEEN by the wonderful storyteller B.J. Gallagher is full of inspiring interviews with people aged 40 and higher who have made dramatic changes in their lives in order to make their dreams come true.

Not only are the stories interesting and inspirational, but each chapter ends with some specific tips for making similar changes in your own life. 

Recording this particular book was a gift to me because I benefitted from reading the chapters on wealth and fitness. Chellie Campbell was profiled in the chapter on attaining wealth. Thanks to her list of 50 abundance affirmations, my new mantra is "People just love to give me money!" Since I've started saying it, it seems to be coming true! :)

It's never too late to have the dream career, attain wealth, fall in love, be healthy, and more! This audiobook may be just the right thing to help you start living the life you were meant to lead!


Dixie Divas


Dixie Divas.jpgWhat could be more fun and intriguing than a murder mystery that starts with a bowl of chicken and dumplings?

Award-winning and prolific novelist Virginia Brown has cooked up a delicious tale about a close-knit group of Southern women who call themselves the Dixie Divas. The Divas gather for chocolate, conversation, and carrying a dead body around town. If you want to know what else happens at a Divas meeting, you'll just have to hear the book!

I loved the characters and vivid descriptions of their charming Mississippi town. My director and I had to stop recording several times because we cracked up over the dialogue! This audiobook is the perfect companion for your spring break or summer trips when you want to entertained while relaxing by the pool or ocean. At almost 13 hours, it's a terrific audiobook to enjoy on long car trips or while doing housework or walking the dog.

After only 2 weeks for sale, this audiobook is currently the #1 bestseller on Audible in the Chick Lit category! I'm also thrilled and honored that the publisher has asked me to narrate the 2nd and 3rd books in the series. Those titles should be available in early summer. 

Speaking of which, it's time to head back into the studio -- the Divas await!
Many new audiobook publishers are only offering a royalty-share model of payment. In this model, the narrator is not paid anything up front and is instead paid a percentage of royalties based on the sales of the audiobook.


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Is a 50-50 split on royalties right for you?


Some people would get irate at the very idea of doing any work without guaranteed payment. They would rant and rave that taking a royalty-share deal makes one a low-baller, someone who is selfishly going to destroy the whole voiceover industry by not charging the appropriate rate. 

I've seen these kinds of arguments in on-line voiceover forums so many times, and I'm not looking to start one here! It's my intention to present reasons on both sides of the table to help you make an informed decision.

Many voice talent are understandably reluctant to undertake this kind of work due to the tremendous amount of time required to produce a quality audiobook.


I can think of 4 other big reasons not to accept a royalty-share agreement:

1) The material doesn't interest me.

I am very selective about the scripts I perform, especially when it comes to an audiobook. Since you aren't guaranteed to make any money, the book can truly be considered a labor of love. Still, I want my audiobooks to emphasize the LOVE part and not the LABOR!

Although I didn't know it when I accepted the projects, the first 2 audiobooks I performed were thinly veiled religious sermons. They also contained about 80% dialogue with a lot of "walk-on" characters whose sole purpose was to advance the plot. I truly struggled in my motivation to finish the books.

After those experiences, I know to use the "Look Inside" feature on Amazon to see how the book flows. If the book looks unappealing, it's not worth it to me to spend my time on it, regardless of whether I'm paid per finished hour or on a royalty-share basis.

2) The material is not suited for audio. 

Point number 3 in this article will give you an idea of the kinds of books that wouldn't make good audiobooks. 

3) The audio publisher has limited distribution methods.

I have accepted royalty-share agreements on ACX.com because Audible.com is the undisputed leader of audiobook distribution. I know my audiobooks will be distributed on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. I also can have faith in Audible's accounting and payment processes.

I have passed on royalty-share agreements offered by new publishers with no track record. 

4) You have responsibility for all of the roles: narrator, audio engineer, producer, director, pronunciation researcher, quality control listener, and marketer. If you can't outsource some of the functions, do you have the time and are you comfortable in performing all of them? 


On the other hand, I can also think of 5 good reasons to accept a royalty-share narration: 

1) You can create something of permanence that will be enjoyed for years to come. 

Not only are the listeners able to enjoy your audiobook, but you may find that you enjoy a recurring, passive income stream from its sales.

2) It's a great way to improve your workflow and become a specialist. 

I loved Kym Dakin's article about undertaking some royalty-share projects toward her goal of achieving technical mastery in audio production. 

You also can explore new genres to see how well you like the material.

3) Productivity equals success. 

According to Lee Tobin McClain in her article The Key to Success: Write More!: Artistic and scientific achievers from Picasso to Da Vinci didn't succeed more, percentage-wise, than other now-unknown creators of their eras; they simply produced more, and thus had more successes. 

She goes on to offer 8 ways to increase your productivity. While her tips are aimed at writers, voice talent can extrapolate from them and apply the ideas to our businesses.

For instance, you can build an expectant audience (i.e., a fan base) with a royalty-share book. I actually did this with a book I performed for LibriVox. I've seen reviews of the book and even received fan mail!

4) What you put out in the world comes back to you. 

I gave that LibriVox audiobook to the world after reading the advice of Eckhart Tolle. I've decided that I would rather get a commercial credit on a royalty-share audiobook than produce another book for the public domain. I have seen my LibriVox audiobook for sale on eBay, but that point doesn't trouble me. 

The commercial credits are important so that I can become an Audible Approved Producer and meet membership requirements for The Recording Academy. Nobody cares how or when I was paid for my commercial credits.

5) You're planting seeds for a future harvest. You never know where the decision will lead. 

In his wonderful autobiography Up Till Now, William Shatner wasn't talking about audiobooks when he wrote these compelling words, yet his wisdom about taking risks certainly applies to this situation:

In 1968 Decca Records asked me if I was interested in doing an album. I hesitated, I wasn't a singer -- but then it was pointed out to me that the first note in the musical scale is do... 

What I decided to was find a selection of beautiful writing and use that as a lead-in to a song that complemented it...Apparently it was a bit obtuse...for most people.... 

I'd taken a creative risk. I'd tried to do something unique, something very different. And I'd learned very early in my acting career that you can't improve without taking risks... 

Decades later, my debut album "The Transformed Man" would lead directly to one of the most successful commercial ventures of my career -- and another album!... 

It turned out that the copywriter on the [Priceline] account, Ernest Lupinacci, was a big fan of my 1968 album "The Transformed Man". 

I am absolutely fascinated as I look over my shoulder at my past at how the simplest decisions I've made have had the most complex reactions. A career is a series of connected events. So when I turned down an offer, I wasn't simply rejecting a job and paycheck, I was completely eliminating the possibility that it might lead to something else. When you turn down an opportunity to work, you're also turning down an experience, maybe even an adventure, and a universe of possibilities.

Two footnotes on Shatner's story:

  • I recommend that you listen to his audiobook rather than read the book. Hearing him tell his story in his often-imitated but imcomparable style is a true pleasure!

  • That fabulous gig as Priceline's spokesperson is about to end, but it lasted for 14 YEARS! Think how much money he made just from that one enterprise! And he never would have had it if he hadn't taken a risk.

I'm not saying that people shouldn't expect payment up-front for an audiobook. I am simply encouraging you to explore the possibility of narrating a book on a royalty-share agreement. Only you can decide how best to build your business. You may find that doing one or more royalty-share audiobooks is a better building block than you had imagined!

Have you done any audiobooks on royalty-share agreements? I'd love to get your comments on the blog!



Photo:  iStockPhoto/LockieCurrie

In May, I wrote about Audible's launch of the Audiobook Creation Exchange, or ACX.com. Audible, the leading company in downloadable audiobooks, created the site because they determined their listeners are voracious readers, and the demand for new audiobooks continues to increase. Currently,only about 5% of books are made into audiobooks. Since ACX is open to authors, I thought a narrator's perspective might help you decide whether to list your title on ACX for audiobook production.

ACX is a marvelous tool to help you exploit the audio rights to your book, especially since the audiobooks will be distributed on Audible, iTunes, and Amazon. However, you should be aware that all books are not suitable for audio. You'll want to consider these factors when deciding to create an audiobook of your book:

1.  The 2010 Audio Publishers Association (APA) Consumer Study shows that audiobook listeners are very likely to be doing something else while listening to the book: driving or traveling, housecleaning, creating crafts, exercising, or working on the computer. 

2.  The Consumer Survey also showed that most people would not buy both the print and audio versions of a book. Any kind of interaction that is needed with the physical book in order to understand the content probably is not a good choice for an audiobook.

Some info could be provided as additional download material, such as illustrations in a PDF document. Still, you can't assume that the listener has a device with a display or that they will take the time to download or view the additional material on their computer.

3.  Some printed content just doesn't translate well to audio. A narrator would be challenged to do justice to material that relies on visual aspects like photographs. This kind of material could be a turn-off to the listeners. Examples include:

    • Questionnaires with a point scale or essay questions -- Many personal development books contain assessments and quizzes that need to be worked on paper.
    • Statistical graphs
    • Textbooks with problems to solve

4.  Audiobook narrators read your book as it is written. You may need to make some changes in the text to make it more friendly to the ear, which keeps the listener in the moment. For instance, if your printed book says "you're reading this book", you might change the verb to be "you're listening to this book."

Assuming your book is a good fit for audio, you next have to decide whether to narrate it yourself or hire a professional voice talent to narrate it for you. ACX has a wonderful FAQ for authors who want to narrate their books. 

I wouldn't presume to advise you on this important decision. Instead, I can report two observations from an on-line discussion that is no longer available. Many people expressed a preference for authors as narrators on autobiographies or books written by comedians. An important comment in the thread was "how is the book best served?"

More often than not, you may decide that the book is best served by hiring a professional narrator. If you take this route, here are 4 more pieces of advice for the casting process on ACX:

5.  You can query for a particular narrator's name, like "Karen Commins", or for certain narrator characteristics, like accent, genre, and pay rate. After you listen to the narrators' samples, you can contact a narrator directly. For your easy reference, here's the link to my ACX narrator profile.

6.  You can post your title for auditions. In this case, narrators will record a short segment of text that you specify. You could pick a section with conversations or straight narrative text. It's a good idea to establish a cut-off date for auditions in your mind. Otherwise, you could receive a staggering number of auditions in a short period of time.

7.  You might get more auditions if you post your project as a pay-for-performance rather than a royalty-share title. While a royalty agreement is highly attractive to an author, many narrators are reluctant to enter into a royalties-only deal because the narrator bears all of the risk.

Past experience taught me that I need to narrate a book that I love. I won't voice any kind of project just for the money, but I am even more selective about audiobook gigs. Audiobook narration tends to equate to a much lower hourly rate than narrations for corporate videos or e-learning projects. 

As a narrator and producer, I would be spending a large amount of time with the book -- at least 5 hours for every finished hour of narration. Therefore, a book with a finished time of 10 hours requires 50 or more hours for me to research, record, and edit the recording. For a full explanation of the time needed for audiobook preparation and production, I refer you to this article.

Given the time involved to narrate and produce an audiobook, I would consider a royalty deal if I'm passionate about the book and want to promote its message in the world. The narration can be its own reward in those instances.

8.  Pick a narrator whose vocal qualities best match the way you hear your book in your head. Just as all books are not suitable as audiobooks, all voices are not suited to read the same material. Wanna hear what I mean? Read this article titled Read Me a Story Brad Pitt: When audiobook casting goes terribly wrong.

I look forward to your comments the blog. If you do decide to post your book on ACX, let me know. I just might audition for it!


9/1/11 edited to correct typo
6/7/12 edited to remove broken link
My email inbox continues to provide fodder for blog articles. Last week, someone sent me this question:

I've been asked to record a 200 page audiobook. I'm not in a union or guild. I do have some voiceover experience. What do you recommend I charge?


Original Answer

While the question you asked seems simple, the answer requires more explanation, as found in this blog post and the one from Paul Strikwerda linked within it.

As basic info, you need to know the WORD count, not the page count, of the book you would narrate. You can figure out the finished run-time based on the word count. For instance, Audible uses an average rate of speed of 155 words a minute, or 9300 words per finished hour. 

Paul's article shows you a formula to calculate finished time. My article shows you how to calculate the real time required for editing to produce the book. As Paul points out in his comment to my article, you also need to add time for preliminary research. 

You'll have to consider all of these factors about the time commitment along with your experience, relationship with the client, training, and studio equipment to determine a rate that is fair compensation. Small publishers only pay $50-100 per finished hour. I would only perform an audiobook at that very low rate if I wanted to build commercial credits. 

I hope these thoughts are helpful. Best wishes for your continued success! 

PS. I have just started a discussion board on my Facebook page. Would you be comfortable if I re-posted this Q&A in that venue? Other people could benefit from the discussion and chime in with their own good suggestions. 


New Answer (WARNING: MATH IS INVOLVED!)


Girl doing math at chalkboard corners.jpg

Apparently, I overwhelmed this person with good information that would require her to actually do some research because she re-posted her question on a voiceover forum within an hour of receiving my reply. 

Here's the simple mathematical formula for solving this problem:

1.  Divide the word count of the book by your rate of speech per hour to get the number of finished hours. If you don't know your rate of speech, Audible uses 9400 words per hour, or 157 words per minute, in its calculation for books posted on ACX.

2.  Multiply the number of finished hours by 6. This number is a very conservative estimate of the number of real-time hours you will spend in preparing to read (pre-reading the book, looking up pronunciations, etc.), recording, editing, and transmitting your book. For instance, a 10-hour book may require 60 hours of your life from the time you read the first word until the last byte is uploaded or mailed to the client.

3.  Multiply the real-time hours by the hourly rate of pay you need to survive. Chances are very good that you will come up with a pay rate for this audiobook that is $1000s MORE than your client wishes to pay. You have to decide how to negotiate a rate acceptable to both of you.


Even with this formula in hand, you still will want to research current audiobook rates. Just enter "audiobook rates" into Google, and you'll get a wealth of information. If you want tips for negotiating a higher price, check out my article Cruising for a  competitive advantage.

Once you know the amount of time you'll invest in the project and the amount of money you need to get for your time, you'll know whether to accept an audiobook project. For instance, I would voice a royalty-share book only if I were passionate about the topic and had the time available for the project. It's always good to be working and gaining credits if your survival needs are being met.

If you have more thoughts on this topic, I'd love to get your comments on the blog! If you have questions on other topics related to voiceover, marketing, or just living your best life, I invite you to post them on my new Facebook discussion board


Photo:  iStockPhoto.com/STEVECOLEccs

updated 9/1/11 to change Audible's word count per hour from 9300 to 9400

Yesterday, I posted part 1 of this topic, in which up-and-coming voiceover talent Linda Velwest asked about the legalities of using images that she found on-line within the audiobook trailer she wanted to create. Even though she is only using her trailer for promotional purposes, she might not be able to use images and music found on-line due to the owners' copyrights.

As promised, today's entry is the rest of the story. In addition to seeing her terrific audiobook trailer created with public domain components, you can benefit from Linda's list of sites of public domain images and music. 

Hi Karen, 

Thanks for your note. When I started working on the video, I just started looking up pictures on the internet. Then I got concerned about stealing other people's work and I got a little obsessed about stealing! You were very clear in your blog that you wanted other people to think about doing the same thing you did, but I was all paranoid! 

So, here it is!




I found a lot of resources for public domain pictures and pictures where it is very clear how to contact the person who has rights to them and what you need to do if you want to use them:







The music I got from: http://www.best-otr.com/ 


You can certainly share my emails on your blog - it would be an honor. Thanks again for your inspiration.

Linda Velwest


As Linda pointed out, finding images and music that are truly in the public domain and free of copyright restriction can be a tricky matter. Cornell University has created a very helpful Copyright Information Center which can help you navigate the copyright maze. In particular, this comprehensive chart lists dates that will help you figure out if something is in the public domain.

With so much material available in the public domain, I'm sure that more voice talent will create our own promotional videos instead of only narrating them for others! I'd love to hear from you if you have created or plan to create a promotional video using elements in the public domain, so leave your comments and video links on the blog!
Recently, I had a wonderful e-mail exchange with up-and-coming voice artist Linda Velwest about creating a promotional video. Linda kindly gave me permission to repost her messages here on the blog so that others can benefit from this discussion.


Hi Karen,

I've been following your blog and I've been voluteering at librivox. My name there is lindavw. I just finished recording my first solo project and I'm waiting for it to be PL'd. I saw the trailer you made for your Alaska book and it inspired me to think about doing one for the book I just did! I hope you don't mind me stealing your idea! It's a good one. 

The book I read is a short YA book from the 1930's about these girls who are in college and their adventures during their sophomore year. I was going to make a video with me talking about the book, maybe taking some lines from the book, and having a slideshow of colleges and college students from that time as the visual on the video. 

I looked up on the internet and found a bunch of pictures of college students from that era. I found some great pictures from a variety of sources - some college handbooks that have pictures of their history, some pictures of movie starts of the time, some cool old pictures I also looked up the legality of using pictures in a video. And I'm kind of confused so I was hoping you could answer my questions or point me in the direction of sources that can. 

I am not a voice actress at this time. I'm taking classes, getting coaching and practicing all the time. But I've never actually been paid for anything. If I do make this video, I'll post it around and use it as a way to promote myself and get my name out there. But I have no intention of getting paid anything for the book or the video. 

I think of it like a school project where I'm preparing to enter the workforce by dong things as similar to how a professional would do it as possible. I don't want to do anything illegal or unethical and I don't know what the boundaries are. 

Thanks for your inspiration and any help you can give me.

Linda Velwest


Here's my response, with some formatting and highlighting added for readability.


Greetings, Linda! Thanks so much for the nice note; you made my day! I love the line in your last paragraph about preparing to enter the workforce. So many people dash off the question to me "I have been told I have a nice voice. How do I get started in voiceover?" without any thought or perusal of the wealth of info on my web site. It's so refreshing to hear from someone who is working at building her skills and taking a methodical -- and wise -- approach to starting a new career. Bravo! 

I'm delighted that you liked my book trailer and want to create one of your own. Not only do I not mind that you are using this idea, I expected and encouraged people to do so in this blog post.  

As you'll read in the comments, one voice talent used the idea to create a trailer for a local art exhibit and landed inquiries about creating a similar one for pay. Video is a very effective marketing technique! 

Also, take some cues from that article about ways to spread the video, as well as publicize your book. My book has been in the catalog for 1 week and has already been downloaded more than 500 times because I have been promoting it. 

Think of the target audience for the book or how it might relate to a group of people, and you can figure out some places where those people hang out on-line. For instance, I posted the info and link to my book in the Alaska forum on CruiseCritic.com because it's Alaska cruise season, and many people like to take audiobooks on a trip, particularly if it relates to their destination. 

I really don't have a lot of specific info I can share about picture copyrights. Generally, pictures on the Internet or in magazines, books, and papers are protected by copyright. You wouldn't be able to use them or a derivative of them legally without permission of the owner. In gaining permission, you might have to pay a usage fee or royalties. 

The same is true of music. You couldn't use something from your own CD collection or off the web. I'll come back to the music in a minute. 

Most of the pictures in my video were from the public domain book I narrated, along with 1-2 that my husband took on our Alaskan cruise. As the photographer, he owns the copyright to those pictures and kindly granted me usage of them. 

However, I also used some images from iStockPhoto.com, which is one of many on-line sites of stock images that you CAN use in your own work. Photographers and videographers upload their work to these sites. You purchase a picture or video clip, and a usage license comes with it. I've also bought and used these pictures in my blog. 

The music in my video was from a royalty-free collection of CDs that I have purchased. You can buy royalty-free music on-line by song, CD, or collection. As with the images, it may take some time to hunt down just the right thing. 

Since you've found images that you like, you can always write to those people and request their permission to use it. They may say yes or no, or they may ignore you completely. 

Sometimes the copyright owner will surprise and thrill you with their response. In chapter 12 of my book, the author included the chorus lyrics from a Stephen Foster song "Old Black Joe", and she described the setting for it. I first planned to sing the song in the narration (I did that with another Victorian song in the book), but I didn't know the melody. 

In researching it, I found a rendition on iTunes that captured the scene to perfection. While the song is in the public domain, and therefore free of copyright restrictions, the performance of it is NOT public domain. The artist has the copyright on the performance. It was so perfect, and I really wanted to use it in my book. 

I found the artist on Facebook and sent a message to him. Not only did he immediately grant me permission to use the snippet, but he offered to help me promote it with Facebook ads! He quite clearly told me that he didn't care of someone lifted the song out of the book and used it for something else. His purpose in recording it was to reawaken interest in these old songs. 

[Important note: Since LibriVox dedicates all recordings to the public domain, anyone could lift your free book and sell it without sharing the revenue with you. See the excellent discussion on Some Audio Guy's blog about this potential downside to volunteering on this or any other site that leaves your recordings in the public domain.]

[I uploaded the pertinent 1:08 section of the chapter with music if you'd like to hear it.] I am proud of the way it turned out! 

I hope these thoughts are helpful. Send me the link to your video when you finish it; I'd love to see it! Best wishes for your health, success, and prosperity!


Linda responded with a great list of sites where you can obtain images and music that are in the public domain for use in your own creative pursuits. She also shared her very cool audiobook trailer. All of these goodies will be in part 2 of this topic, which I'll post tomorrow. Hope to see you here!
Earlier this year, I wrote a popular article titled Reasons to Create Your Own Stuff. In it, I described the audiobook that I narrated for LibriVox and included a link to the book trailer I created to promote the audiobook. I also listed some of the marketing plans I had for the audiobook and trailer among my reasons to create my work in this way.

Two bonus reasons to create your own stuff prompted me to circle back to this topic today:

1) My FREE, 10.5-hour audiobook of A Woman Who Went to Alaska is now available for download from LibriVox or through iTunes as shown on this page.

Bonus reason #1 to create your own stuff:

Copywriters have known for years that the word FREE is one of the most powerful and compelling words in the English language. If you can give away something valuable for free, you can get the widest range of potential buyers to sample your products, which in this case, includes my voice and interpretation, my audiobook production skills, my ability to write an effective script for a video, and my creativity in video production.

2) Rajkumari from Mumbai, India, left a comment on my post 10 ways to get work in audiobook narrationnoting that an audiobook culture is not prevalent in India. When I responded, I said, "If the audiobook culture doesn't exist there, perhaps it's up to you to create it!" 

As I wrote that sentence, I was reminded of the important passage quoted below from Eckhart Tolle's incredible and highly-recommended book A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose:

Bonus reason #2 to create your own stuff:

If the thought of lack -- whether it be money, recognition, or love -- has become part of who you think you are, you will always experience lack.

Rather than acknowledge the good that is already in your life, all you see is lack. Acknowledging the good that is already in your life is the foundation for all abundance. 

The fact is: Whatever you think the world is withholding from you, you are withholding from the world. You are withholding it because deep-down you think you are small and that you have nothing to give.

Try this for a couple of weeks and see how it changes your reality: Whatever you think people are withholding from you -- praise, appreciation, assistance, loving care, and so on -- give it to them. You don't have it? Just act as if you had it, and it will come.

Then, soon after you start giving, you will start receiving. You cannot receive what you don't give. Outflow determines inflow. 

Whatever you think the world is withholding from you, you already have, but unless you allow it to flow out, you won't even know that you have it.


I have found this passage to be true of past voiceover jobs. In fact, Tolle's message was an underlying reason I decided to spend time narrating an audiobook as a service project. You see, I hadn't narrated an audiobook in a while. So, rather than feeling like an audiobook gig was being withheld from me, I gave this one to the world.

It feels great to be able to give!

What do you think of Tolle's assertion that you should give that which you think is withheld from you? Does it apply to your voiceover career or any other part of your life? I'd love to get your comments on the blog!


Like many of you, I love audiobooks and want to make it my major niche in voiceover. A couple of colleagues recently sent me emails asking advice about obtaining more work in audiobooks. As you might imagine, I wrote a rather lengthy reply from which I will add a condensed version later in this post.

At the moment, though, I want to share some hot news with you. The audiobook publishing industry has changed overnight with Audible's launch today of a new marketplace to connect audiobook rights holders with producers and narrators -- the Audiobook Creation Exchange, or ACX

ACX logo.png

ACX launched with over 1000 titles, many of which have real budgets associated with them. You can find titles that interest you and submit an audition, much like the process on Voices.com

However, ACX does not require a subscription fee from narrators. The thought is that the cream will rise to the top. Narration contracts wouldn't be awarded to talent who have issues in vocal delivery or sound quality. 

You can read the official announcement from Audible. For more details, you may want to read today's blog article from my friend and fellow voice talent Dave Courvoisier. 

As promised, here are 9 more ideas culled from my earlier emails to other voice talent that may help you meet and follow up with audio publishers so you can land work in audiobooks:

1)  Obtain publisher contact info and submit your audiobook demo to them. Marketing your audiobook demo is the tried and true, #1 way of getting audiobook work. You can get publisher and producer info from the Audiofile Audiobook Reference Guide (where you can also be listed for a fee) and the Audio Publishers Association, if you're a member of it. Note that you should not submit a commercial demo to an audiobook publisher.

2)  If you already have worked for 1 audiobook publisher, how did you get the gig? Can you replicate those steps to bigger success?

3)  LinkedIn searches can lead to work. Have you contacted publishers directly or asked for introductions to them from among your LinkedIn contacts? 

4)  Volunteer to improve your skills, for instance at LibriVox or for a local organization that reads to the blind. Why not create something because you WANT to, rather than for the money and fame? (The money and fame will come.)  

5)  I went to Pat Fraley's audiobook class in 2006. One idea he presented to the class was to suggest a title (ideally with a movie tie-in) and send a custom demo to a publisher.

6)  Connect with publishers on social media sites.  Commenting on the publishers' posts on Facebook congratulating them on Twitter, etc. seems like a non-pushy way to follow up and consistently get your name in front of people who may hire you. Also, are you may want to become an active member on the Audiobook Community Facebook page.

7)  Think about a value added service you can offer to publishers. How much and what kind of promotion do you do for the other projects you have voiced? How are your video skills? I think if I can show added value to a publisher in marketing, such as by creating a video book trailer, publishers may be more inclined to want to hire me to narrate a book.

8)  Start your own audiobook company and sell your offerings as digital downloads through Amazon. With tons of books in the public domain, you just have to look around for suitable books. 

9) This last one may sound far-fetched, but give yourself an attitude adjustment every day in the mirror. Tell yourself "this is could be the day that an audiobook publisher offers me a narration contract for an audiobook that will get great reviews." Things I've been speaking into the mirror have been coming to pass!


I know that audiobook work, like everything else in a thriving voiceover career, requires persistence, patience, and an attitude of gratitude. I also know that the more I relax and go with the flow, the more things like lucrative voiceover gigs come to me. I can look back over the last 11 years in voiceover and see where I have tried too hard to make things happen. When you try too hard, you actually push away the good that was on its way.

You and I cannot be denied the good that is on its way to us. If I don't have something in my reality now, I know it's on its way to me....like my Grammy for Best Spoken Word after working the ideas in this list!

Can you add some more ideas about gaining work as an audiobook narrator? I'd love to get your comments on the blog!


edited 8/8/12 to fix typo and change link to Audiobook Community
One reason that I am performing some audiobook work on Librivox as a service project is because it allows me to practice some acting techniques needed for effective storytelling in audiobooks.

A project that was recently completed and is now available for free download is a multi-cast drama of The Perils of Pauline. I voiced the role of the heroine Pauline for two-thirds of the book.

I only read the lines for my character. Much like an audition for a radio dialogue spot, I didn't have the benefit of hearing and playing off the other voice actors in the scene. I had to imagine that I had heard the other characters speak and then react with an appropriate emotional response.

This particular project lasted over 2.5 years due in part to lots of casting changes. Editing all of the hundreds of character reads into the narration was a herculean task undertaken by David Lawrence. I enjoyed hearing the finished product.

LibriVox is a great way to hone your narration and editing skills, but you can also volunteer in other ways such as being a proof listener on projects. I am proud to be part of this active, thriving community.
Create your own stuff.

I've written about this theme in the past, but today, I want to show an example and talk about the marketing advantages available to voice talent who choose to cast themselves and develop their own work.

As a service project, I'm narrating the audiobook of A Woman Who Went to Alaska on LibriVox.org. May Kellogg Sullivan wrote the book in 1902 to recount her adventures during the Alaska gold rush at the turn of the 20th century.

Obviously, the audiobook itself is a form of creating my own work. Rather than watching fluff TV shows like American Idol, I choose to spend my spare time this way because:

  • I am improving my skills, both in long-form narration and audio editing.
  • I am being of service to others in offering a free audiobook.
  • I can use the credit in discussions with audio publishers about paying gigs.
  • The free audiobook will be helpful in developing a loyal fan base.
Marketing is a HUGE part of any business. It is especially important when the commodity offered by the business is one's voice. Not only am I creating the audiobook on my own, but I also decided to market it by creating a trailer for it!




Early in my voiceover career, I did a lot of direct mail marketing with imprinted products. While my campaigns were extremely memorable and attracted voiceover jobs to me, they also were extremely time-consuming and expensive to produce.

Here are some immediate marketing benefits of creating this trailer:

  • The book is in the public domain, so most of the images had no cost. I only had to spend a few bucks to obtain the stock images that I used. The music came from my royalty-free library, which requires no residual payment.
  • The video is another method of advertising my voice to people who haven't heard of me or listened to my demos.
  • The trailer demonstrates to clients and prospects that I could assist them beyond voicing their scripts.
  • We live in culture obsessed by and immersed in video. Tell the truth -- when you saw the video in this post, did you immediately click on it before reading any of the text? People say they don't have time to read. Many would watch my trailer who would never read my description of the audiobook.
  • I cross-posted the trailer on Facebook, some LinkedIn groups devoted either to audio publishing or Atlanta businesses, LibriVox, AudiobookCommunity.com, and BarbaraSher.com. Note that most of these postings are targeted directly to 1000s of members in niche markets who may be interested in hiring me for their projects! 
  • I received more responses in a few hours than I ever received from a single mailing.
  • The trailer gave me material to add to my blog, which helps my search engine rankings.
  • Once the book is done, I will update the trailer from "coming soon" to "available now".
In addition, the subject matter of an audiobook can point to even more opportunities for marketing it on-line. In this case, a flurry of TV shows are about Alaska, so I know the public has a lot of interest in that state. One show is even about a group of people currently mining for gold in Alaska -- a perfect tie-in! Fans of these shows gather in discussion forums where I can post my trailer. I also can post it in forums for people who are considering an Alaskan cruise.

Aside from all of these reasons, perhaps the biggest reason to create your own stuff is that it is fun!

I hope that these examples of my spare time projects give you inspiration to create and market your own stuff. I'd love to see your work, so please leave a comment on the blog!
Recently, the talented voice actor Paul Strikwerda asked a question on the highly active discussion board of the LinkedIn Working Voice Actor group about using an e-reader in his recording booth. I decided to re-purpose my answers to Paul's question into this post.

My iMac computer is outside of my WhisperRoom recording booth. I have longed to have a paperless studio and perform my scripts straight off a computer. I can't place a computer in my booth because my microphone would pick up the sound of even the quietest computer fan. My Macbook Pro laptop is very quiet but not quiet enough, and any computer fan could rev up at unexpected times.

I originally wanted a second monitor in my booth. I could either stretch cable 10' or more across the center of the studio floor or wind it a greater distance around the baseboards and corners to reach my computer desk. Due to the size of my WhisperRoom and the door placement in my studio, reconfiguring the studio isn't really an option. I don't like seeing cables everywhere, especially when my stunning soundproof studio is so incredibly beautiful that WhisperRoom features it on their brochure. Therefore, a second monitor is not an option. Wireless monitors seem to be on the horizon, so maybe a second monitor will be workable for me in the future.

The Apple iPad has solved the problem for me. I use the Wi-Fi on it to connect to my wireless LAN in my house. I've been able to read scripts from agents' and clients' web sites, as well as long e-learning Word files sent in e-mail.


iPadStudio.jpg
My view of the world when I'm recording voiceover scripts and audiobooks --
my Neumann TLM 103 mic and Apple iPad


I had an Amazon Kindle, but it didn't work well for me in the studio. It was cumbersome to load a Word or PDF document to it. Scrolling the screen required a click, which could be audible and/or disrupt my flow of narration. I can endlessly and quietly scroll the screen on the iPad while continuing to perform.

I typed my original response to Paul on my iPad, which reminded me of another advantage to it. I was recording a job, and the client sent me some changes in e-mail. I was able to read the e-mail and record the changes without leaving the booth.

My husband is my director, and he also has an iPad. He can keep the script in front of him while maintaining full-screen view and control of Pro Tools on the iMac. When Drew isn't available to help me, I use a Frontier Design Tranzport to control Pro Tools from within the booth, so that's another reason the iPad is a good solution for me.

The only downside I have discovered is that I can't mark the text while recording, like when I want to take notes on direction. I could mark text in Word on my computer before recording. The method is not perfect, but it's superior to printing.

The iPad doesn't have a built-in app that lets you edit text in Word. However, as you might guess, "there's an app for that". Apple's Pages app is the most popular. It can be purchased in the App Store for $9.99 and gives you functionality similar to the MS Office suite. This PC World article has more info about viewing and editing Word docs on an iPad.

Your PC can already talk to the iPad with email. If you're using Outlook, you could set up a Gmail or other web e-mail account. You could then send your edited file to yourself and read the attachment in the booth.

I'm recording an audiobook of a public domain book. I was able to find the book in iBooks by searching on the title, and it loaded in that app. Just like on the Kindle, the on-line dictionary is handy. I can also change the font size and highlight characters' lines within the iBooks app.

I saw a note on the Yahoo Voiceovers list that someone did an audition with an app called PureAudio ($2.99 in the Apps Store) and thought it came out well. When I originally posted about it, I saw only a handful of reviews were available for that app, and most were reporting various problems. Since the iPad is in its infancy, I know that more and better apps will be available over time.

Oh, and BTW -- Drew and I have given up our Kindles. I'm a voracious reader, and I loved my Kindle. After getting the iPad, I didn't use the Kindle. I can read my Kindle books on my iPad with an app. The fact that the iPad allows me to carry around a library of videos, books, and music is an added bonus to its tremendous functionality in my studio.

If you're not a member of the Linkedin Working Voice Actor group, you're missing a lot of fantastic and lively discussions that will help your voiceover career! Another talented voice artist and group owner Ed Victor always "whacks the hornet's nest" with a new and interesting topic each week. Just as Paul asked the question about e-readers, you can post your own questions about any topic related to voiceovers. As always, I'd love to have your questions or comments about this post, so please share them on the blog. 
help
 



Have you read the Health Care Reform legislation that is currently pending in Congress? I haven't read all of the bills. However, I have narrated 5 segments of the various bills as part of the monumental, volunteer effort by professional voice talent to create audio versions of all of the House and Senate bills on health care reform at HearTheBill.org.

In addition to narrating the bills, I have listened to much of them. Anyone can download the various bills and listen to them like an audiobook. The voice talent who donated time, energy, and talent to this project did so without any political agenda. The aim of the site is enable Americans to make informed decisions about the health care proposals. 

As I stated in my profile at HearTheBill.org:

A lecturer once stated that civilization is built with the arts as the foundation.
As a voice artist, it's always my goal
to create lasting work that means something to people.
Since this bill has lasting impact to every American,
I am thrilled to join with my fellow voice talent
to create this recording and make
the proposed legislation accessible to all citizens.

HearTheBill founders Kathleen (Kat) Keesling and Diane Havens worked incredible hours on this increasingly massive project to build and maintain the web site, coordinate the activities of dozens of voice talent, develop and update the recording style guide, blitz the press and obtain top-tier national coverage, and narrate multiple segments, all while continuing to perform voiceover work in their own busy professional lives. Since the Senate is still working on a compromise bill, I'm sure Kat and Diane will call on the HearTheBill.org volunteers to quickly narrate the new bill once it is available. 

If you're a professional voice talent, you can answer that call with me by volunteering to record a segment of the next bill. Not only is the HearTheBill narration important work that serves a vital community need, but the bills are excellent material for a legal demo reel. Think about it -- only a voice artist could start with dry, legislative copy and breathe life into it so that it actually sounds interesting! To apply, just fill out the volunteer application form on the site, and one of the founders will quickly respond to you.

The preparation time needed for these recordings can be significant depending on the number of pages you undertake, as well as the number and type of references to legislation within those pages. The copy is overflowing with abbreviations for other legislation. In order to make my narration sound flowing, I mark my script each time to spell out all of the legal terms according to the Style Guide. 

Here's the list of my recordings to date for this project:

When the next bill is ready, I'll be ready to volunteer again. What about you?
Two weeks ago, the following ad appeared on one of the freelance work sites. While it wasn't on a site aimed solely at voiceover talent, it prompted me to write about the time required for audiobook production.

Hello. I am looking to turn 14000 word e-books into audio and or video format, this will be ongoing work i know it is a simple process to do and can be done free with max and or various softwares, if you have the knowledge and have done this before please reply this will be ongoing work i will pay $40 per e-book converted into audio. If you have a sample of your work please provide it this will help me make my dicission. [sic]

In reading this ad, I'm not clear what kind of work is actually requested. I'm not even sure the ad's author knows what s/he wants. However, 2 things are immediately evident to me: 

  1. a 14,000-word book is about 1.5 hours of finished audio narration
  2. $40 is entirely too little pay to even consider narrating this e-book
Paul Strikwerda, a Pennsylvania voice talent and thought-provoking blogger, wrote a most excellent and thorough analysis of the recording aspect of audiobook work titled Breaking down an audio book rate. He outlines the process for estimating the finished run time and consequently a recording rate based on the pages and words in a book. It's a terrific article that I wish I had written, and I highly encourage you to read it and his other articles about setting rates.

But Paul's article only tells half the story. What about the editing and production aspects of audiobook work?

Since I usually work alone in my stunning soundproof studio, I have to consider my total time commitment when submitting a bid on audiobook work. My rule-of-thumb is that each finished hour of audio requires 4 hours of real time to create: 1.5-2 hours to record and 2 hours to edit. While editing, you must consider the overall story flow when determining tracks, as well as editing pauses for dramatic effect.

If the person who wrote the ad above is expecting a voice talent to narrate his e-book, I can easily estimate that I might need 6 hours in my studio to complete the process. If I divide 6 into 40, I get an hourly rate of $6.66. If that rate looks like a devilish number, consider this point:  At this moment, the US federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.
Do you really want to do voiceover or audiobook work so much that you're willing to make less than minimum wage?

The example Paul used in his blog is a book that would run about 8.33 hours of finished time. I don't think even the world's most accomplished narrator could record an 8-hour book in 10 hours. Not only might the narrator stumble on words, but other influences can stop the recording, like growling stomachs, external noise, and calls of nature. In addition, the vocal chords grow tired after hours of recording. Furthermore, errors like mispronunciations and incorrect inflections are caught during the editing process that must re-recorded and inserted into the edited material. Using my time commitment formula with Paul's sample book, I would actually expect to spend over 33 hours in my studio to complete the assignment!

Establishing rates is always a concern for voice talent and all freelance professionals. Whether you're quoting rates for audiobooks or some other kind of long-form narration, don't be afraid to set a rate that truly compensates you for your time spent on the project.

PS. Speaking of time commitments, I wrote this article on 15 November but haven't made time to record it. I decided I'd rather post it for you now without the accompanying narration than continue to delay its publication.






Reading for success

If you don't like to read, voice-over is not the field for you.

In addition to reading, interpreting and performing others' scripts for pay, I am convinced that the most passionate and successful voice talent seem to have an inherent love of reading. For instance, my friend Bob Souer finds and reads all sorts of interesting things on-line, which he shares with us on his blog. I recently had a discussion with another friend Dave Courvoisier about the merits and pleasures of the Amazon Kindle wireless reading device.

I plan to buy a Kindle for pleasure reading, but I may also use it in the recording booth to perform some auditions and possibly longer material. Since I have remote control of Pro Tools through my handy TranzPort, I'm really thinking of setting up a second computer monitor in the booth.....but I digress.

Any reader of my blog would know that I love words and language. I frequently refer to books that I am reading or have read since they help shape my perspective as a person and voice talent.
"Whatever you want to do or be in life,
you will find the blueprint for success
by carefully reading..."

I have loved books since childhood. I can remember my mother taking me to the library so I could check out armfuls of books. At that time, I could read 50 books in the summer. I still frequently utilize my library card although my time for reading is more limited. These days, I might read 50 books in a year, and I am in the midst of several books at any given time.
I received an inquiry today from someone interested in producing her own audio books. I thought other voice talent might find this an interesting topic and be able to add their knowledge to the discussion.

To obtain the audio rights on a book, you first have to learn who has the rights: the author, the literary agent or the print publisher. I have found that answering inquiries from individuals is not high on the agenda for some large print publishers. You may wish to start by querying the author about the rights. Like all other facets of your voice-over business and marketing, your research into audio rights may require persistence.

The author may need to research his/her contract. One author told me that she wanted to perform her book, so that's another possibility that may occur. A literary agent told me that I may be able to offer the author something like $1000 for the audio rights If the author still controls them. However, I'm sure the exact amount depends on the author, the book's popularity and each person's skills as a negotiator.

Once you have the audio rights and are ready produce the recording, you also have to consider how you want to distribute the book. Will it be on-line, on CD or both? Books on CD require additional planning and money for the packaging. Will you pitch the book to an existing audiobook publisher who already has a distribution channel or forge your own path? 

Recording and editing an audiobook to commercial standards requires a significant commitment of time. A commercial audiobook also requires time and expense for marketing. You may wish to perform books in the public domain for Librivox to gain experience and see how much you enjoy the process before deciding to pursue the acquisition of audio rights for a book. Also, many people gain experience and satisfaction out of volunteering for agencies that produce audio recordings for the blind and print-handicapped. You can search the Internet for locations in your area.

For additional questions about audiobook narration, I encourage you to read the section about getting started in audiobook narration on my web site. If you have more to add on the subjects of obtaining audiobook rights, audiobook distribution and audiobook marketing, I would love to hear from you! I encourage literary agents, authors, audio publishers and voice talent to leave comments so that we all can learn from each other.

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