Tag Archives: VO

ACX Guest Post: Andi Ackerman

Last month, ACX met new talent Andi Ackerman while we where out in LA for That’s Voiceover 2013, and she joins us today to help ACX producers learn from her experience. Read on, and let Andi help you avoid some of the mistakes she made in her early in her audiobook career.

Four Things I Learned About Audiobook Production The Hard Way

Most people think of themselves as reasonably astute, myself included.  I may not be genius material, but I like to fancy myself perhaps just a bit smarter than the average bear, or at least smart enough to not have to read instructions. But in truth I always need to read the instructions.

Going against my usual habit, I did actually read the ACX web site pretty thoroughly before accepting my first title.  But that only began to prepare me for my ultimately wonderful, but initially torturous audiobook journey.  Below is a brief summary of four things I’ve learned about audiobook production over the past year.

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ACX Producer Andi Ackerman

1. Amazon reviews only tell part of the story.

Believe it or not, it took me three tries to learn what should be a pretty obvious concept. Everybody has different tastes, and some wonderful books have never been reviewed on Amazon. To make an informed decision when choosing titles to audition for or produce, read as much of the book as you can yourself before you accept the project. (Editor’s Note: ACX producers should feel comfortable politely asking the rights holder for a full script before agreeing to produce the title.)

2. Don’t take on a project that makes you uncomfortable.

Some nonfiction titles that seem innocuous can turn out to espouse points of view with which you may strongly disagree. And in the words of the brilliant Richard Horvitz, the voice is the work of the spirit, or in other words, our true selves.  Your feelings can be heard in your voice.

I agreed to narrate a nonfiction title about holistic health by a credentialed, reputable author.  I love health!  I want people to be healthy!  What could possibly go wrong?  Well, a few pages into the second chapter I discovered the author held opinions about childhood vaccinations that I vehemently opposed.  I could not in good conscience produce that book.  The author deserved a narrator who would help them realize their vision, not undermine it.  And if I had followed my own advice in point number one, I wouldn’t have made this mistake!

There are certain things you have to know about yourself, and I know that I can’t do erotica because I get the giggles. If you don’t care for violence you probably want to stay away from mysteries and police procedurals. You’re going to be spending a good chunk of time with a work so choose a project you like.

3. Editing will always take you longer than you think.

When I first signed on to ACX I had been editing short project voiceover work comfortably, and naively believed an audiobook couldn’t really be that different. It really is that different.  I had a pretty darn steep learning curve with the production end.  Allow yourself more time than you think you’ll need.  Watch the videos on ACX and check out tutorials on YouTube before you start your first book.

4. Don’t get so caught up in the technical end that you forget to enjoy your time with the words.

You’ve been entrusted with someone’s “baby.”  It really is a gift and a joy to be able to create a landscape, a universe, a story with your voice.

Now that I’m wiser and more experienced (but not yet a master!), the work of audiobook production is a joy.  I am grateful to be able to do what I love.  If you’re just starting out on your ACX journey, I hope you can learn from my experience and forge a successful voiceover career.

Help others learn from your mistakes by leaving your best piece of audiobook production advice in the comments!

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!

APE This: ACX and Guy Kawasaki Launch Open Casting Call

ACX and Audible Studios are proud to announce our latest open casting opportunity! Audible studios is seeking a dynamic narrator to perform Guy Kawasaki’s inspiring and comprehensive guide to self publishing, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur. All actors are invited to participate by recording their read of the audition script and uploading it to ACX. Audible Studios and Mr. Kawasaki will select the winning audition and Audible will produce the audiobook immediately upon announcing the chosen actor.

Guy Kapeawasaki is the author of eleven other books, including The Art of the Start and Enchantment, and is the co-founder of Alltop.com, an “online magazine rack” of popular topics on the web.

“I’m happy to be creating an opportunity to encourage entrepreneurial actors. I’m continually amazed at how many great actors are embracing this burgeoning art form and I can’t wait to listen to all the auditions that come in.” Said Mr. Kawasaki.

The audition text for APE can be found at www.acx.com/ape. In order to upload an audition you’ll simply need to create an ACX account. Auditions are open Monday July 22 – Monday July 29 at 5:00PM ET. After submitting your read of APE, browse our 2,900 + additional titles and find your next audiobook gig.  We can’t wait to hear your voice!

Do you think you have the perfect voice for Guy Kawasaki’s APE? Tell us why in the comments!

This Week In Links – July 15 – 19

This week, we’ve collected some interesting and informative links from around the online audiobook world. Share what you learned below, and add your favorite links from this week in the comments!

Producers:

You Know The Voices, Not The Faces – Via CNN.com – Compelling interview with John DiMaggio ( aka Bender on Futurama), Tara Strong (Rugrats, Powerpuff Girls), and Lawrence Shapiro, director of the upcoming documentary I Know That Voice.

Stop Doing The Basics – Via Dan Hurst Voiceovers – Why moving beyond the basics may be the key for your VO business.

Why You Can’t Take Rejection Personally as an Actor – Via Rebecca Forstadt – “If you want to be an actor, you have to roll with the punches.”

Announcing The 2nd ACX/That’s Voiceover! Audiobook Narration Contest – Via The ACX Blog – Exciting opportunity exclusively for attendees of That’s Voiceover!

Rights Holders:

Why Watching TV Can Actually Be Good For A Writer – Via Writer’s Digest – Notes from the panel discussion at ThrillerFest 2013.

3 Keys to Writing Success and Overcoming Procrastination – Via Training Writers – Shelly Hitz offers tips for staying productive.

The Decline and Fall of the Book Cover – via The New Yorker – A look at the history and current state of book covers.

Thanks for clicking! We’ll be back next week with more news and notes!

This Week In Links – July 8 – 12

Welcome to our newest feature: a weekly recap of notable links from around the audiobook world. Whether you’re an actor, producer, author, or a rights holder, we’ve got something good for you below. So, check out our roundup, and share anything we may have missed in the comments!

Rights holders:

How To Launch A Book In 3 Steps  via Duolit. Guest blogger Nick Thacker walks us through the setup and execution of his 3 step plan.

Book Publishing’s Big Gamble – via The NY Times – Big 6 mergers and self published authors are reshaping the publishing landscape.

The 3 Biggest Mistakes of Beginning Bloggers – Via CreateSpace – The basic do’s and don’ts of author blogging.

Couple Saves Their Home With Steamy Romance Novels – Via CBS News – Televised feature on ACX author Jasinda Wilder’s incredible story.

Producers:

Juan Carlos Bagnell on ModernMics – Via SomeAudioGuy – Video reviews of three popular mics used to record the spoken word.

10 Voice Over Twitter Feeds You’d Be Crazy Not To Follow – via VoiceOverGenie – The title says it all, though we’d add our own Twitter feed to this list as the 11th!

Cheap Microphone + $100 Part = Amazing Microphone – via Jordan’s Chopped Thoughts – For all the gearheads out there, Jordan shows us how a little microphone surgery can yield great sounding results.

That’s a wrap. We’ll see you next week!