Tag Archives: Pete Rohan

Best of 2013: ACX Storytellers

We’re wrapping up our look back at the best of the blog in 2013 with a countdown of the most popular ACX success stories of the year. The ACX users featured here have been there and done that – and have valuable insight to share on audiobook publishing and production.

Take one last look at 2013 with us, and use the stories below as inspiration for your own audiobook success in 2014 and beyond!

The Countdown

10. Tim Grahl – Author of Your First 10,000 Copies talks rights reform and audiobook self publishing

9. Anti-Matter Media – The studio that produced Josh Kaufman’s The First 20 Hours checks in to offer their tips for aspiring audiobook authors and actors.

8. Rebecca Forster – Author of the Witness series shares 5 essential steps for bringing your book to life as an audiobook.

7. Badwater – Author Toni Dwiggins and producer Christine Padovan team up to talk both sides of this award winning production.

6. Wendy Lindstrom & Julia Motyka – The author of the popular Grayson series interviews her narrator and gets a  snapshot of a typical day in the recording studio.

5. Jared Tendler & Barry Carter – Authors of DIY success The Mental Game of Poker remind readers that ACX also accepts and distributes fully produced audiobooks.

4. H.M. Ward – NY Times & USA Today bestselling author offering marketing advice for fellow ACXers.

3. Arika Rapson – One of 2012’s best producer success stories returns with an update after reaching the 8,500 unit sales mark on ACX.

2. Bella Andre – Super successful ACX author and NY Times bestseller has advice for authors looking to get in the audiobook game.

1. Falling Into You – Our top success story of the year covered all aspects of Jasinda Wilder’s audiobook production, with tips from the author, along with narrator Piper Goodeve and studio pro Pete Rohan.

Are you an ACX success story? Tell us why in the comments, and we might just feature you on the blog in 2014!

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.

LOGO-TOP

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.

workshop-slider

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?

ACX Success Story: Falling Into You – Part 2

When we left off with the key players in the ACX production of Falling Into You, author Jasinda Wilder had chosen narrator Piper Goodeve and her real life beau Gabriel Vaughn to bring young lovers Nell and Colton to life. The two narrators and engineer Pete Rohan got to work preparing the script and began recording.

Narrator Piper Goodeve:

Prepping a book is always a fun process for me. If I have time I love being able to just read the book once without thinking of anything in terms of recording, just enjoying it as a reader, and then go back and read it again with characters in mind, underlining difficult passages, making notes, etc.

Engineer Pete Rohan:

Piper had a really good grasp of the story and characters. In the first chapters I thought that she might have been reading the main character too young but, as she pointed out, at that point in the story the main character was a callow youth. In retrospect it made perfect sense, and allowed for a more dramatic arc for the main character.

Author Jasinda Wilder:

Piper pretty much nails it the first time, every time. That’s part of why I love her so much. She gets the feel and voice of my characters, and accurately portrays them in a way that matches what I had in mind.

a165oxxqungc8e921364913817711Piper Goodeve:

A big part of the prep for me was actually listening to all of the music that Jasinda mentions in the book.  Music is a huge part of these characters and their lives, so it was important to me that I know the songs and what they meant to the characters, and why they were specifically chosen by Jasinda.  I made a mix of the songs (21 in total) and would listen to it on the way to the studio.  It helped me get into the world of the book more completely and embody Nell more fully.

With preparation finished, Piper and Pete began recording the 15 minute checkpoint for Jasinda. Their preparation and professionalism paid off. 

Jasinda Wilder:

I didn’t make any changes at the 15 minutes checkpoint. Listening to the final audio? There’s nothing like it. It’s such an amazing experience, hearing talented actors like Piper and Gabe bring my story to life in such a unique way. I had shivers as I listened to each chapter.

Pete Rohan:

This was my first foray into using more than one narrator, so I was a little concerned with the additional editing work. Thankfully the structure of the book made it a fairly easy edit, as most of the guy/girl parts were broken down into complete chapters. The whole thing came together beautifully if I do say so myself.

Piper Goodeve:

Sometimes at the end of recording it is hard for me to say goodbye to certain characters, especially in first person narration. I found that to be true of Falling Into You.  I was sad to be done with Nell and Jasinda’s wonderful writing.

acx_logo_600x600_smallJasinda Wilder:

Your audiobook is part of your toolbox. When you send out newsletters, post on social media, and do blog tours, make sure you’re mentioning your audiobook. Some people aren’t even aware of audiobooks, so part of our job is to heighten awareness of ACX/Audible, and how awesome it can be to listen to a book performed.

Listen to Falling Into You at Audible today. If you’ve forged an inspiring creative relationship through ACX, tell us about it in the comments!

ACX Success Story: Falling Into You – Part 1

We’ve got something special for this edition of ACX Success Stories. Author Jasinda Wilder, narrator Piper Goodeve, and engineer Pete Rohan are here to share the story of how ACX brought them together to produce the audiobook of Jasinda’s wildly successful “Falling Into You.” The origins of this unique partnership stretch as far back as the launch of ACX in 2011.

Engineer Pete Rohan:

I was working at Audible as an audio engineer when they announced the launch of ACX with great fanfare.  There was a big company meeting were they presented the new site.  I was immediately intrigued with the opportunity to produce audiobooks from home.

Piper

ACX Narrator Piper Goodeve

Narrator Piper Goodeve:

I was recording a series at Audible, with Pete as my engineer, in the spring of 2011. We hit it off really well and had a great time on those books. One day, while we were in session, Kat Lambrix, Audible Studios Production Manager/Producer, poked her head in to tell us that there was going to be an announcement of a new Audible venture called ACX. We took a break from our session and went to the meeting. We heard all the new ideas, the exciting future that this new site would lead to.

Pete Rohan:

To my knowledge, ACX was the first service of its kind. Before its existence I had no way of connecting with rights holders to produce audio books. It just wasn’t an option for me and the narrators that I knew. We had to get work through the studios that were producing the audiobooks. ACX has had a very liberating effect on the industry. That first meeting motivated me to build my home studio, which paid for itself with the first project.

Piper Goodeve:

We left that meeting and looked at each other and Pete said, “If I build a booth, do you want to do this together?” I think I said something like “duh, of course!” I uploaded a picture and samples the next day and started building my ACX profile. I was really excited by the idea of being exposed to so many different titles and I was excited by the prospect of meeting authors directly.

Jasinda_Small

ACX Author Jasinda Wilder

Author Jasinda Wilder:

My friend Hugh Howey advised that one of the first things you should do after hitting “publish” at KDP/CreateSpace is get on ACX and make an audiobook. So, I created an account, picked a title from my backlist, and got going. When I first started looking into narrators and voice actors, Piper’s name came up from several different sources. I knew another writer who’d hired Piper to do her book and just absolutely sung Piper’s praises. So I asked her to submit an audition for Falling Into You and loved her read.

Piper Goodeve:

I knew from the first few messages with Jasinda that she was going to be a great author to work with.  You can tell a lot about someone in your first few messages.  Jasinda messaged me on ACX asking if I would be interested in auditioning for her books. I checked out her books, did some research about her online, read her reviews (which were amazing!), and sent her an audition.  She asked me to do one of her earlier books, as well as the subsequent books in that series. I felt very respected as a narrator and was treated as an important part of bringing her books to more people. She trusted me with her words and characters, and as a result I felt even more eager to give her a great product. She was really excited about working with Pete and I, and about opening up her books to a wider audience with the audiobook format. She trusted Pete and I as professionals.

Pete Rohan:

Pete wVocal Booth_Small

Engineer Pete Rohan in his Queens, NY studio

In the beginning, there was a lot of trial and error, mostly on my part, working out the technical aspects of recording in a NYC apartment. Extraneous noises were a constant issue. There were early challenges of finding the right microphone, soundproofing the studio, producing an acceptable recording, etc.  Piper was very patient. I dragged her to shop for microphones with me, I tried out different enclosures on her. She was my test subject. We soon worked out the kinks.

With the narrator selected and the studio built, production for Falling Into You was nearly ready to get under way. But there was still one more piece yet to fall into place.

Piper Goodeve:

When Jasinda contacted me about doing Falling Into You, she said she needed a male voice to read the Colton chapters, and asked if I could recommend anyone. I was acting in a production of Hamlet at the Tennessee Shakespeare Co. in Memphis, along with my boyfriend, actor Gabriel Vaughan.  Since Gabe is a very talented actor and voiceover artist, and we had brought our mic with us to Memphis, I suggested him to Jasinda and he recorded some samples for her.  She loved them and hired him to do the male chapters.

Jasinda Wilder:

Piper is brilliant. She knows the business backward and forward. She and Gabe, who are also together in real life, have an amazing story of their own, which I just might steal for novel someday. With their blessing, of course.

Production would soon get under way at Pete’s Queens, NY studio. We’ll hear about that, as well as the subsequent success of Falling Into You, in part 2, coming to the ACX blog next week.

Do you have an ACX success story? Tell us in the comments and you might be the next one featured on our blog!