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7 Lies About Narrating Audiobooks

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  • Dave Corey January 13, 2014, 7:32 am

    Thanks for this, Dan! I’ve been doing audiobooks for the Library of Congress for years. My training ground has been Insight for the Blind in Fort Lauderdale. They do wonderful work, and it’s been extremely rewarding. Those rewards are not limited just to bringing the written word to the visually impaired, but as an actor and voiceover talent it has greatly enhanced everything from cold readings at auditions to breathing life into my commercial work.
    I’ve recently begun submitting auditions to ACX as a result of having met some of the “superstars” of audiobooks at a SAG-AFTRA Convention seminar; they stoked the fire!
    Looking forward to future videos, Dan. Thanks again for your dedication and energy to our community!

  • Bill Fike January 13, 2014, 7:33 am

    Just came across ACX the other day, did a couple auditions, and got an offer. That was quick! Still, I’m dubious about the situation. It almost seems too good to be true, and I’m wanting to learn more about the process, the pitfalls, and the tricks of the trade.

  • Crawford January 13, 2014, 7:55 am

    Dan, thanks for this helpful video.

    My question is that you focus on those who have experience in radio, doing voice overs or acting. What suggestions do you have for those of us who have no such experience and want to do audiobooks?

  • Randy January 13, 2014, 8:27 am

    After having spent way too much time on Voices.com submitting well over 100 auditions w/o ANY gigs, I am anxious to restore my belief in the possibility that I can still regain some of the enthusiasm I had as an on-air radio announcer and stage actor by producing audio books. Just one contract would prove me correct. Bring it on, Dan!

  • Mike Carta January 13, 2014, 8:49 am

    Very timely for me Dan. I’ve been gradually leaning more towards narrations in the past year and am now (I think) interested in doing audio books.

    I’ve considered the opportunities ACX may provide me but didn’t put too much research time into it. I look forward to more your information and videos which I’m sure will shred more of the “unknown veil” that has cast a shadow of uncertainty over a lot of folk who have considered doing audio books.

  • Felton Armand January 13, 2014, 8:50 am

    Dan, great video! I reluctantly decided to view it, but once I started I found the scenarios you presented to be spot on! I too had bought into a couple of the myths you mentioned, such as narration is requires “reading flat” or needing to have a library of character voices.

  • Liz Harris January 13, 2014, 9:11 am

    Hi Dan. Thank you so much for posting this video. Is there a certain type of audiobook which is more suitable for VO newbies?

  • George Wood January 13, 2014, 10:10 am

    Looking for the “cracked the code” video as mentioned at the end of 7 lies….?

  • Abby Elvidge January 13, 2014, 10:33 am

    Thank you, Dan.
    I’m working on my fourth audiobook through ACX, and have two more scheduled to do after that.

    Authors and Rights Holders have been asking for auditions and even extending offers with no audition based on my demos, but I hesitate to schedule too far out, so have politely declined on several.

    Love this work.

    I’m looking forward to moving forward! Thanks so much for sharing your efforts.

  • Patois January 13, 2014, 11:21 am

    Thanks Dan!
    You have whet my appetite for more. You are a great resource. Appreciate your honest straight forward approach. Looking for the next video in the series. I thought I had to be a pro at editing and producing so I have hesitated to audition for any titles.

  • Dwight January 13, 2014, 11:37 am

    Thank you ..I’m looking forward to getting more information! I don’t know how you knew all that stuff about me, but, um, WOW, you pegged it. I’ve been a narrator for the Umano app for over a year now, and would LOVE to get into audio books. Thanks for the info1

  • Dion V January 13, 2014, 12:34 pm

    Sadly, ACX seems to be US-only. Anyone heard of an option for the rest of the world?

  • Susan M January 13, 2014, 1:13 pm

    Thanks for the video, Dan, and I do look forward to the next one. I am writing my own first book, after decades of writing and acting in plays and a few indie film and TV productions. My book is about a rare cancer that’s embarrassing to many of its victims, causing some to delay seeking a diagnosis until it has gone too far. I hope my book saves some lives and makes others bearable in spite of horrific treatments and complications they may require. As soon as that “mission” is accomplished, my hope is that I will be hired over and over by satisfied clients, like the woman who called me today. I did the voiceover and the graphics and editing for a video she hired me to produce. It looks like I’m not going to be dying any time soon. I don’t even have any more active cancer. I don’t take a single medication or have any medical condition. Looks like I’m a survivor… and now I’ve got to figure out what to do with the next several decades. I have learned that it’s not feasible to live on Social Security without a lot of help from family and friends, and now that I’m not dying, it’s time to give back. I do have a need for quick access to a restroom to handle a permanent colostomy so recording voiceovers at home or in my son’s recording studio will be a great way to keep working without holding up production on a movie set when the bag fills up or threatens to fall off.

  • David Gilmore January 13, 2014, 3:21 pm

    Thank Dan, for restoring my faith in the decisions I’ve made to get into audiobook narration. I’m on my 18th with ACX right now, about to start my 19th, and learned/confirmed plenty from your video. VERY excited to continue this process with you. Did you “used to be” a school teacher? You’ve got the knack for instruction!!! After 38 years in THAT business, I started audiobooks about 3 years ago and am loving it. KNEW IT WOULD BE MY NICHE! 🙂

  • Byron January 13, 2014, 5:18 pm

    Great info Dan. Thanks for sharing your time.

  • Cynthia Carle January 13, 2014, 5:24 pm

    This is terrific video and an intriguing field.
    I am, however, a little alarmed about the math test below. Nine, right? Wait. This is a trick question.

  • Cynthia Carle January 13, 2014, 5:25 pm

    This is a terrific video and an intriguing field.
    I am, however, a little alarmed about the math test below. Nine, right? Wait. This is a trick question.

  • Danny McWilliams January 13, 2014, 6:26 pm

    Dan,
    Thank you for bringing insight into an area for which I have had an interest, for some time. I look forward to learning more and exploring the potential of this field. You helped me, immensely, in my radio career, which seems to be winding down, and I trust you will, again, as I cast-off on my next adventure.
    Danny

  • Pamela Johnston January 13, 2014, 11:25 pm

    Hello Dan,

    Thank you very much for an informative video which has reestablished my desire to work in audiobooks. I look forward to learning more!

  • Dan O'Day January 13, 2014, 11:47 pm

    @Dave Corey: Recording books for the blind is a great training ground. My friend Barbara Rosenblat did that for several years, for the Library of Congress.

  • Dan O'Day January 13, 2014, 11:49 pm

    @Bill Fike: Congratulations on landing an audiobook so quickly!

    It’s not “too good to be true” in terms of there being some sort of secret “catch.” But you’re correct in assuming there are lots of doing things there…and some of those ways are less smart than others.

  • Dan O'Day January 13, 2014, 11:53 pm

    @Crawford: Whether fiction or nonfiction, it’s all about telling a story.

    It’s you, telling a story to one person who’s listening while working or while driving or while exercising or doing chores.

    If you’ve never worked in radio, you won’t need to learn to “stop announcing and just talk.”

    If you’re not an actor, you won’t need to learn how to “bring it down maybe 80%,”

    Your job as an audiobook narrator isn’t to read the words. It’s to tell the story.

  • Dan O'Day January 13, 2014, 11:54 pm

    @Randy: Run, run, run from those pay-to-play sites.

    Wait until you hear the perspective of stage actors who are among the beta testers of our program. I think you’ll be greatly heartened.

  • Dan O'Day January 13, 2014, 11:56 pm

    @Mike Carta: Not knowing how or where to start prevents all of us, at one time or another, from embracing a new opportunity…even one that’s perfect for us.

    We’ll do our best to pull back that veil and make the process much less mysterious.

  • Dan O'Day January 13, 2014, 11:58 pm

    @Felton Armand: It’s understandable that some people would think you have to be a master of characters to voice audiobooks, but it’s unconscionable that some “experts” tell people they keep their narrations “inflection-free.”

    Glad I could dispel a couple of myths for you!

  • Dan O'Day January 14, 2014, 12:00 am

    @Liz Harris: Great question! No, there’s really not a “best for newbies” audiobook genre. If you’re just starting out, you should follow a process of exploring and testing various genres and styles to determine which you’re most comfortable with…

    …and which embrace you the most. (You might be surprised at the types of books you’re offered.)

  • G. Michael McKay January 14, 2014, 12:01 am

    Excellent Dan. Great info. Look forward to the next.

  • Dan O'Day January 14, 2014, 12:01 am

    @George Wood: I believe you’re referring to my saying a friend of mine has “cracked the audiobook code.”

    You’ll be meeting him in the next video.

  • Dan O'Day January 14, 2014, 12:03 am

    @Abby Elvidge: But….But….Don’t some people claim it’s impossible really to land good audiobook work?

    How many other voice actors can report that they have to politely turn down some VO work because they’re so busy with the VO work they’re already getting?

  • Dan O'Day January 14, 2014, 12:06 am

    @Patois: I suspect that “fear of editing” is the #1 enemy of people who want to record audiobooks.

    You do need to record “professional”-level audio.

    But it is not difficult to learn. (Those of us in radio or VO do enjoy the rest of the world being amazed that we actually can remove a word from a recorded sentence, but we have to do something to boost our egos….)

  • Dan O'Day January 14, 2014, 12:09 am

    @Dwight: Well, I did have access to your Permanent Record….

  • Dan O'Day January 14, 2014, 12:10 am

    @Dion V: I’m pretty sure ACX will expand beyond the U.S. in the not-so-distant future. But for now, alas….

  • Dan O'Day January 14, 2014, 12:13 am

    @David Gilmore: Thank you for your compliment. I’ve never been a school teacher (and I wouldn’t survive the politics). But I love to share stuff that I happen to know.

    And in case anyone missed it, you’re about to start your 19th audiobook for ACX.

    Hmm. So maybe it’s not impossible after all….?

  • Dan O'Day January 14, 2014, 12:15 am

    @Byron: Thanks! And thanks for risking your time; glad you found it worthwhile.

  • Dan O'Day January 14, 2014, 12:20 am

    Cynthia Carle made that posting only because I chided her about not sharing the video on Facebook, where she and I are supposed to be “friends.”

    She doesn’t care about audiobooks. She probably didn’t even watch the video. She also dislikes puppies, the smell of fresh baked brownies, and long walks on the beach at sunset.

    Just ignore her.

  • Dan O'Day January 14, 2014, 12:23 am

    @Danny McWilliams: You and I sure go ‘way back, don’t we? Thank you for your kind words. If you do see your radio career as winding down, you’re wise to be looking around for something (whether it’s audiobooks or something else) that you’ll enjoy doing.

    It’s difficult for radio people to believe they ever can be happy doing anything else. Radio definitely gets in your blood, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing that ever possibly can give you joy.

  • Dan O'Day January 14, 2014, 12:24 am

    @Pamela Johnston: So glad to hear that!

  • Dan O'Day January 14, 2014, 12:33 am

    @G. Michael McKay: Thanks!

  • Christine Fonsale January 14, 2014, 7:52 am

    Hi Dan,
    Thanks! Questions:
    I’m wondering about the “ACX” in your or your friend’s (upcoming) website…The ACX (sans master class), I found, is a non-union site, where one competes with others, and with one’s rates, which seems to be pretty much what you’re not encouraging folks to do. Did I miss something?
    Also, where can one find more information about union-approved jobs which are open to non-union narrators? Or is that the subject of a future video…
    Thanks again!

  • Dan O'Day January 14, 2014, 10:22 am

    @Christine Fonsale: Good questions, which I’ll answer in order.

    1. If by “union approved” you mean “SAG-AFTRA allows its members to accept jobs on ACX,” the answer is, unequivocally, yes. A union member can accept any job offered on ACX.

    2. If you mean “union coverage” — wherein members accrue credits toward their Health and Retirement funds — not all ACX jobs qualify for coverage.

    I suspect that’s what confuses so many people who mistakenly believe some ACX jobs can’t be accepted by union members. All ACX jobs can be accepted by union members; not all of them are eligible for union coverage.

    In general, we teach our students to identify and audition for the types of jobs that do qualify for union coverage. But despite what you might have heard, there are times when a “royalty share” arrangement can be very advantageous to the voice talent.

    Hopefully in Video #2 I’ll be able to include an example from our one of our beta testers — a union member who accepted a “royalty share” job and did wonderfully well.

    3. Where can one find more information about union-approved jobs which are open to non-union narrators?
    All of the jobs on ACX are open to union members and non-members alike. 100% of them.

    I hope this helps.

  • Steve Krumlauf January 14, 2014, 3:14 pm

    Thanks for the inspirational and encouraging video!

    Funny thing, as someone who started in NBC-TV voice over as a high school senior and then launched a radio career that sputtered out over a half century later, you must be clairvoyant. Your analysis of our feelings after an industry dumping was spot on!

    As someone who loves to write fiction and non-fiction, plays and screenplays, I’ve always thought it would be fun to help produce an audio book.

    California voice over script reading workshop groups I’ve been involved with left me with the impression that most VO types look down their noses at audio book work, dismissing it as too much work for too little money.

    I agree that you can produce decent audio with just a $249 Audio Technica 2020 USB microphone, a laptop computer and free Audacity digital audio editing software. I do it almost every day in my bedroom studio for our nationally-syndicated radio program heard on 652 radio stations, on Sirius XM as well as on the Internet around the world.

    I looked into ACX auditioning some time ago and was totally confused and turned off by all the technical hoops you have to jump through to produce an ACX demo. After watching your video, maybe I need to give ACX a second look.

    I’m looking forward to the rest of your series!

  • Jim Brundle January 14, 2014, 3:30 pm

    Not sure where the “tell me” button is you mention at the end of the video, but I’d like to see more.

  • Christa Lewis January 14, 2014, 7:18 pm

    I am a bit disturbed by this webinar, as I have personal experience breaking into audiobook narration after working for 17 years as a FULL TIME professional vo at an International News Broadcaster. I can personally attest to the fact that a) the learning curve is high. Putting out a professionally edited and mastered 14 hour audiobook is searingly stressful for a newcomer to the technical aspects of audiobook production and I am an “old-timer” to VO in every sense of the word. Even with a 4 year actor training, 17 years full time professional work at the microphone (including years of cartoon work and all sorts of genres) I started at a 3 to 1 recording time (3 hours in the booth to one hour of finished audio) and a 20 to 1 ratio for editing and mastering, PLUS you have to proof your own work (at a ratio of 2 hours to one hour of recorded audio). Also, YOU NEED ABSOLUTE QUIET to record long form. Period. Or else you will be recording your audiobook at 4am (al of which I have done) if you don’t have a soundproof booth. Long form means NO extraneous noises. Helicopters, traffic, leaf blowers, neighbors, etcetera … these all add to the edit later. You need to learn how to “punch record”. good luck finding that in a “free” software. You need to spend money learning from the pros – how to master your audio according to acx’s specs… and You Will Not Enter the Market at $200 per finished hour. You will enter the market at ROYALTY SHARE only. And you will spend quite a lot of time getting that right before someon will pay you to narrate their books .. and only after you have narrated at least 25 of them will any one begin to take you seriously, PLUS due to the deluge of newbies in the narrator market, audiobook publishers will only start to take you seriously after you have about 50 under your belt… So, as delightful as it is to think about making a fortune from a “zero investment” starting point, let me tell you that if you want to make real money narrating audiobooks, you need to 1) Invest money in your recording space and equipment and technical training 2) Have a voice that someone will want to listen to for 14 hours 3) Be able to invest an acting sensibility into your work in order to bring the story to life with all the diversity it requires 4) listen to the truly great audiobook narrators and learn from them 5) have a rock solid audiobook demo 6) think long term. the first year will be rough. There are MANY fabulous audiobook narrators who mentor, teach and encourage (for free). With heart and with reality… It’s a Marathon. good luck and God bless. I did it, so can you.

  • Dan O'Day January 16, 2014, 10:46 pm

    @Steve Krumlauf: And now that excellent Audio Technical 2020 USB microphone can be had for under a hundred bucks on Amazon.

    I understand why you found ACX to be confusing. I’m pretty sure our next video will demystify a lot of it for you.

  • Chuck HIeld January 17, 2014, 10:23 am

    Dan – You mention the thousands of audio books that are produced each year. I would like to know how many are made for sale as CDs and how many are available only by going on the internet and downloading them onto their computer. My friends and family are absolutely not interested in going through that process to hear my audiobooks.

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