Tag Archives: narration

This Week in Links: June 19 – 23

For Rights Holders:

Online Book Tours and Why You Should Do Them – via Book Marketing Tools – An online publicity tour is an especially great way to promote your digital audiobook.

Book Promotion: Do This, Not That: June 2017 – via The Book Designer – Amy Collins is back with her monthly look at the right and wrong way to spread word of your words.

Good Book Publicity Is A Marathon Not A Sprint – via BookMarketingBuzzBlog – VOs use this same analogy when talking about audiobook narration, so prepare to take long view of audiobook promotion.

Average People Recreating Romance Novel Covers is Utterly Hilarious – via Viral Thread – Can you judge a book by these covers?

The Power of Podcasts – via ACX – Learn how one ACX author created a blueprint for promoting his books to natural listening audience: podcast fans.

For Producers:

The Seven Worst Mistakes Beginning Voice-Overs Make – via Paul Strikwerda – “I really wish I had known a thing or two before I started speaking for a living. Here’s my top 7 of things I did, before I knew better.”

4 Things That Will Make Your VO Clients Love You – via Dave Courvoisier – “You’re in a relationship with your clients (in fact, that’s likely how you got them…right?).  Sure, it’s a business relationship, but still…it’s human-to-human (H2H).”

What to Consider in Evaluating Your Voice-Over Potential – via Edge Studio – Taking a look at all the aspects of a good voiceover performance can help you understand what areas of your delivery you need to improve.

The Importance of Proper Input – via Marc Scott – In the end, the career you take is equal to the career you make.

Highlights From The 2014 Narrator Knowledge Exchange

At the end of May, 50 ACX producers joined us for a day of learning and networking at our Newark, NJ offices. These lucky attendees were treated to a day of hands-on training in audiobook production techniques and performance skills, and had the chance to audition in person for Audible Studios’ award-winning production team.

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Author Julie Ortolon and ACX head honcho Jason Ojalvo.

Best-selling author Julie Ortolon kicked off the day in a brief interview about her experience in the audiobook industry. Then, breakout sessions let attendees dive deep into performance and technical topics, featuring small-group instruction from the Audible Studios staff, and everyone got to audition for an Audible Studios producer before heading home.

Check out our video recap of the event, then tell us where you’d like to see our next Knowledge Exchange via the poll below.

We truly enjoyed spending the day with these wonderful producers and are already working on ways to make the next Knowledge Exchange even more fun and informative.

Bonus question: What would you like to learn about at the next Narrator Knowledge Exchange? Tell us in the comments!

ACX Studio Gear Series: Home Studio Setup – Part 2

Today, we’re wrapping up our continuing series on home studio setup with a look at studio construction. We’ve polled ACX users who’ve set up home or professional studios, as well as members of the Audible Studios teams for their expert tips on constructing your own studio (and managing your time and work once you’re up and running!).

ACX: What did you learn from setting up your own studio?

Peter A. Rohan: I learned that it’s important to know my enemy.  In this instance, I had two. The first was an unacceptable amount of noise when I recorded (aka a high noise floor), and the second was excessive room reflection. I had too many reflective surfaces, the sound waves were bouncing off of every wall, and my New York City apartment was too noisy to record in. After a lot of trial and error (and money spent), I chose to build my own vocal booth.

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Brick Shop Audiobooks: It’s important to establish your budget and do your best not to go over that. You need to be focused on your art, not your credit card bills.

Peter A. Rohan: Right. With minimal construction skills and a much lower budget, I was able to construct a vocal booth that gave me much better results than any of the available pre-fabricated options. The most important decision I made was to build it myself. My initial investment was about one-fifth the price of the cheapest sound booth that I could find for purchase.

ACX: What advice do you have for an actor looking to set up a home studio?

Darren Vermaas, Audible Studios Post-Production Associate: Treat your recording space. A lot of people think they simply set up a microphone and go. In reality, no matter how nice your microphone, preamp, and DAW are, and how fantastic your voice sounds, it will all go downhill if your room does not have some treatment. That means putting up some sort of sound absorbing materials to stop room reverberation and early reflections.  When someone listens back to your audio, you don’t want them to be able to visualize the room you’re sitting in. Treating a room can be as simple as hanging up a bunch of packing blankets and creating a makeshift vocal booth, or as extreme as purchasing professional, application specific sound absorbing panels. There are also products like this Reflexion Filter that will do a lot to minimize sound reflection.

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Rob Granniss, Brick Shop AudiobooksAgreed. You’ve got to start with treating your space. There’s no point in getting high-end audio equipment that can hear a pin drop if you have 18 wheelers passing by every 5 minutes. Some of my favorite cost-effective treatments are bookshelves loaded with books, which provide a great refraction pattern and nice dense absorption; hanging moving blankets; and raising the floor if necessary with tires (lay them flat – think of a box of a dozen donuts to visualize it) with some kind of wood flooring on top. It may be hideous on the outside, but draping the blankets on top and making a “door” with the blankets can close you off pretty well and is a good place to start.

ACX: What about once a studio is up and running? How can actors set themselves up for success?

Brick Shop Audiobooks: We found that it’s important to grow naturally. We started with 1 or 2 books a month, working nights and weekends on projects. When we began getting more work, we took time off our day jobs and then eventually moved into a dedicated space. We’ve been constructing more recording booths and editing stations as our production has increased. Staggering it out as we have, we didn’t end up with a large debt hanging over us during the beginning by borrowing a lot from a bank and working just to pay interest.

Darren Vermaas: Distractions are a work killer!  Working out of your home is convenient, but can also be a huge distraction. If you can get out of your areas of distraction, you will get a lot more done. Disconnect your WiFi if you don’t need it while you work. Facebook will be there when you’re done recording. Don’t edit on a comfy couch because if you’re like me, you’ll want to take a quick 15 minute nap and get back to it later. Last but not least, don’t wait until the last minute. You’re your own boss so there is less pressure, but don’t take advantage of your own time.

Brick Shop Audiobooks: Another lesson is that audiobook production, as all businesses, is about people and communicating respectfully. Much of our day is filled with correspondence to make sure authors, narrators, and our engineers know what’s happening in production, and that their needs, whether artistic or schedule-related, are being addressed. The more attention you pay to this, the fewer problems you’ll deal with later down the line.

ACX: Thanks for the killer advice, folks!

Have you set up your own studio? What did you learn in the process?

The Great ACX California Adventure

We’ve just returned from Tinseltown, meeting producers and actors at That’s Voiceover, the one-day voiceover acting career expo, at the beautiful Director’s Guild of America in Hollywood. Over the course of a whirlwind day, guests attended panels on how to work the mic, presenting from the red carpet, and making a living with audiobooks, hosted by ACX.

Audible VP and head of ACX Jason Ojalvo moderated narrators Scott Brick and Shelby Lewis as they gave their best tips for breaking into the audiobook business and succeeding. If you couldn’t attend, here are a few of our favorite insights.

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Photo credit: Jeff Fasano

Breaking into the Industry

Shelby’s and Scott’s paths to success in the audiobook industry were very different. For Scott, “it [was] all about getting the audition.” The right contact lead to the right book that helped him get his next gig, but he added, “14 years later, it’s so much easier. You make a demo, you put it on ACX, and you can get a job the same day.”

“Once you get your foot in the door, you tend to stay in the room,” agreed Jason.

Shelby was discovered by Audible in 2011 by submitting her wild and crazy audition for Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland during that year’s That’s Voiceover audition contest. Her first audition led to more projects through both traditional audiobook publishers and ACX. “It’s truly a 9-to-5 job whether you’re in a closet or a studio,” she said.

On Acting Versus Storytelling

Scott and Shelby also discussed two approaches to their narration technique. For Shelby, she likened it to choosing between performing sitcoms and Shakespeare. “It’s not that one’s better than the other. They’re just different.”

Scott added: “It’s all storytelling. Doing an audiobook is like shaking hands. Two people do the work. What I’m doing when narrating the book is asking the listener to take me by the hand and work with me. If you’re authentic, that’s what matters.” When asked if he ever performs character voices, he recommended bowing to the context and genre, and if it’s called for, meeting the challenge enthusiastically.

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Photo credit: Jeff Fasano

Preparation and Recording Advice

In the booth, Shelby shared a tip she’d been taught by Scott on good hydration: “Take a sip of water after each page, even if you’re not thirsty,” reminding that dehydration can take hours to overcome.

Scott also recommended using printed manuscript pages in the booth to perform because that helps keep track of how far he’s read and reminds him to take breaks. On an iPad, he can scroll for long periods before realizing how much time has gone by. He also recommended no more than two pages on your mic stand to prevent your voice from straying too far from the mic as you read the first and third pages.

Jason’s advice on preparation was to read the text before beginning your record: “You don’t want to find out on the last page that your English detective was actually Scottish.”

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Photo Credit: Hannah Wall

We truly enjoyed meeting so many of you at That’s Voiceover and hearing your success stories! We’ll leave you with one last photo: no trip to California would be complete without a requisite stop at world-famous In-N-Out Burger.

What’s your best tip for those just breaking into audiobooks? Tell us in the comments!