A few years ago I posted a blog about audio book narration prep with some tips about working with authors. In years since I’ve learned a few more things which have both improved my performance and lowered my stress level. That’s always good, isn’t it…?
When you book an audio book project, ask the publisher if you can contact the author. Why? Many authors love that their book is being turned into an audio book and will be happy to lend you their insight to help you not just with your performance but with publicizing the audio book.
Some publishers will let you contact them directly, others prefer to be the intermediary, and still others don’t allow any kind of communication with the author. DO NOT try to contact the author if the publisher does not want you to. To quote fellow audio book narrator Paul Heitsch:
Sometimes the author may not be aware that 1) the publisher owns the audiobook rights, not the author, and 2) the publisher has gone ahead and started production on it. Things can get awkward if you do an end run around the preferred channels of communication between you and whoever hired you.
If you are allowed to communicate with the author, email them and be brief. Of course you can tell them how honored you are to bring their story to life, but quickly get to the point. Only ask them questions that you can’t find the answers to on your own. For example:
Audio book narrator Lauri Jo Daniels likes to ask what their protocol is for marketing and social media. In my experience many use Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads to promote their titles. If they use Twitter, find the hashtag of the author. Sometimes the book itself has a hashtag so use that too in your social media-ization.
I like to ask if they had any celebrities, friends, or family members in mind when they were writing the main characters. While you shouldn’t try to do an outright impression, getting an idea of the tone, pace, or cadence can be a big help with finding the essence of the character.
Here’s another one I like to ask, and yes I’m quoting myself from the old blog entry:
Can you recommend any resources so as to give me insight into the locations or characters? Often you don’t get anything, but one in a while you strike gold. If an author sends you something; an article, a photo, a painting, use it! If you can visualize while you’re narrating what they were visualizing when they were writing, some really great stuff could happen…
If you’re working directly with the author and not through a publisher, establish from the get-go that even though the author hired you to produce/narrate their book, they are not the director. You either self-direct or hire a director. If you don’t communicate this upfront, they may try to micro-manage your performance and that can get real messy real fast.
TIP OF THE WEEK
Meaningful relationships are built on communication and trust. It is your job to build and maintain strong, open lines of communication with the publisher and if possible, the author. Don’t abuse the relationship by getting too comfortable or on the other end by being intimidated and guessing wrong about some aspect of the production. They want you to do a great job narrating their audio book. Set yourself up for success by being effective before, during, and after the production!
NEWS AND NOTES
My August Edge Studio “Marketing 201” topic will be: 4 Words That Will Kill Your Marketing. That date will be announced soon…
My August Edge Studio “Business and Money 201” topic will be: Rates, Negotiating, and Billing. That date will also be announced soon…
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
From my village to yours; this is Tom Dheere, The H is Silent, but I’m Not.
Tom Dheere is a 20-year veteran of the voice over industry who has narrated thousands of projects for clients in over a dozen countries. He is also a coach at Edge Studio, voiceover business consultant known as the Voice Over Strategist, and is currently producing the comic book “Agent 1.22”.