Preparing for an Audiobook Audition

This past weekend I auditioned for an audiobook on ACX only to discover the author was taking her favourite auditions and posting them on her Facebook page for fans to vote on. She took it down later that day but I was not happy about the situation.

I’d heard of this sort of thing happening. I know some narrators who even include verbiage specifically asking that their auditions remain private.

I could go on about how this might actually be breaking the terms of the ACX contract. How SAG-AFTRA has specifically deemed auditions as private, not public performances. Or how some narrators use a pseudonym and this is a violation of privacy. Instead I thought I would talk about the audition prep I normally go through for a book.

when I find a book I might be suited for, the first thing I do (if it is royalty share) is check the sales ranking and how long the book has been out. If it seems as though I can make my money back on the project, I will take a closer look at the book.

Is the cover professionally done, or does it look cheaply slapped together? I personally try not to judge a book by its cover, but a cover can be indicative of the quality of the writing and how much work the author is willing to put into promoting it. I check to see what the reviews have to say. Sometimes I will even check what kind of promoting the author has done already.

Finally, I spend a few minutes reading the preview pages on Amazon. This will tell me if I like the writing and if I really do think I’m a good fit for the book. It also might give me some insight into characters that can’t be found in the audition script.

Assuming all of that checks out, I will then download the audition script and read it through aloud. Again, I’m checking to see if this is a good fit for my voice. What can I bring to the performance? If there’s pronunciation I have to research, I’ll go ahead do that before recording.

And that’s about it. Then I record the audition. I don’t worry too much about characterisation unless the author has given specific notes about it, or if I already have a clear image of the character. Mostly my performance is broad strokes. I haven’t read the whole book. I may not even fully understand what is going on in the scene. All I can do is analyse the text and make the best choices based on what’s in front of me. To me an audition is 90% about my voice. If my voice doesn’t sound right, the author will know right away and discard it. If I can get past those first few seconds, I can showcase my range.

Once the audition is recorded, I listen through for mistakes and record pick-ups if needed. I then finish cleaning up the audio and I master it so the author knows what to expect of my finished sound. Next I upload to ACX and write a quick cover letter. It takes me about 45 minutes to do this one audition.

So as you can see, despite the work involved the audition is still very rough. I’ve never read the book. I can’t gauge how characters should speak. All I’m doing is making educated guesses. Which brings me back to those (thankfully) rare authors who see no problem in publicly displaying auditions. An audition is just that: an audition. Not a finished performance. It’s a job interview. It’s not meant for the public domain, and when an author places it in the public domain, that narrator’s name and reputation is suddenly being judged by one Unfinished performance.

Not cool.

Good Intentions and all that….

So much for staying on top of the blogging. It’s almost November. How did that happen?

Well, it happened while producing several back-to-back audiobooks as well as other VO projects from August to now. The End, Take No More and Hannah and the Gods of Olympus all were released during the month of August.

And despite a week break (took a drive down highway 1 to Big Sur) I was back in the booth again with two more audiobooks. Wander & Roam just came out yesterday. It’s a contemporary romance, which I admit, isn’t a genre that usually draws me in, but this particular book about a pair of young people who escape from their emotional turmoil to volunteer at a farm in Australia was beautifully written. plus I do love practising my Australian accent. I have yet another audiobook coming out about the pirate queens Anne Bonny and Mary Read which should be released within the next week or so.

Oh, and on top of that, I went to an audiobook masters workshop with Pat Fraley, which, as with all of Pat’s workshops, was very enlightening. Phew. Busy few weeks.

Things are slowing down at the moment, but with the promise of more things on the horizon come January.

Does this mean I shall actually have some time to blog about voice over without just plugging audiobooks? Hopefully. I have a few ideas of things I want to talk about, especially in the audiobook world, since I often meet authors who have no idea where to start or why narrators charge the rates they do.

In addition to the blogging, I’m hoping to do some site revamping just because, well, I’m bored, and this is what I do when I’m not in front of the mic. I’d also like to take some time out to specifically work on getting a video game demo put together. That is the goal for 2015. Well, that and actually booking work with AAA titles off that demo. That would be the real goal.

I know. All in good time.

New Book Release and All About the TARDIS

TARDIS booth
Phew, it’s been another hectic few weeks since my last post. I haven’t even gotten around to promoting my last audiobook release, Paranormal Intruder, a spooky British true story, which came out nearly a month ago. Well, aside from this interview I did for the author, Caroline Mitchell. Check it out!

Paranormal Intruder: The Audiobook Recorded in a TARDIS

Yes, I do in fact record in a TARDIS. It’s a great little professional recording setup which I have managed to fine tune to where I am pretty happy with the sound. It keeps out most street noise, and is filled with bass traps to keep away the dangerous boominess booths are usually known for. Plus, it cost way less to build than a Whisper Room! However, the unusually warm weather has been quite the challenge. Since doing this interview with Caroline, I recorded not one, not two, but three back-to back audiobooks in this booth, and have only just now come up for air. And the air in the booth is warm, let me tell you. Sometimes getting to the 80s. When I first built the booth, I did it in the winter time and I hadn’t yet started recording audiobooks, so I didn’t really needed to install a ventilation system. Clearly I need to fix that in the future, but in the meantime, my handy portable air conditioner seems to do the trick at cooling off the booth while I take a break.