• Michelle Cox
  • Audio Books—Don't Let the Narrator Come to You!
This blog was featured on 10/26/2017
Audio Books—Don't Let the Narrator Come to You!
Contributor
Written by
Michelle Cox
27 days ago
Contributor
Written by
Michelle Cox
27 days ago

Recently I sat down to High Tea at the exclusive Drake hotel in Chicago with a fellow author who was in town for a conference.  Naturally, we were discussing our books and our publishing experiences—mine with a hybrid (SWP) and hers self-published.  Eventually the conversation veered toward audio books in the way ebooks may have done once upon a time.  I wasn’t surprised when she told me that she has already put all of her books out on audio, but what did surprise me was that she claimed to make more money on audio than from any other form of her books. 

Enough! I thought, setting down my macaroon with force.  Everywhere I went lately, people were talking about audio books.  I needed to act and act soon, I decided then and there, before this bandwagon passed me by. 

When I first began hearing whisperings about audio books being the new trend, I admit I went onto Amazon’s ACX site to have a look around.  At the time, though, I was still a newbie in the publishing world, and it all seemed too daunting and confusing to do anything with. 

A year later, decidedly poorer and more battle-worn from the publishing world in general, my conversation at the Drake spurred me into action.  Amazingly, when I went onto the ACX site this time, I found it ridiculously simple.  Had they changed something? I wondered.  Or was it just me? 

Anyway, it wasn’t hard to navigate the steps using the big, easy-to read, colorful directions.  Clearly, Amazon has an interest in making this easy. 

I was a little thrown off, though, when I had to check a box—just one—from over sixty voice styles I was looking for in a narrator, including “brooding,” “engaging,” “raspy,” and “snarky.”  Who would want their whole book read in a “snarky” voice? I wondered.  And what was the difference between “warm” and the very similar “soothing?”   

I knew my choice of narrator was going to be difficult because I have several books out in a series and because there are various side characters with foreign accents.  Likewise, almost the whole of the third book takes place in England, so I really needed someone who could do various convincing English accents, as well as all of the American voices.  Tall order. 

For this reason, I decided to go with the payment-up-front option, rather than the royalty split, as many authors report that this method unlocks a—shall we say—more sophisticated pool of narrators.  I have no idea if this is true, but I decided to believe it. 

So when I got to the part of creating an audition script, I cheated and included a little excerpt from Book 2 of the series, which includes an English character, just to see how the narrator would handle it.  Hastily, I uploaded it and then sat back to wait to see what would happen.  To my delight, auditions soon began trickling in.  Many of the narrators were talented readers, to be sure, but when they got to the English scene, I despaired.  They weren’t even close! 

After listening to more than thirty auditions, I admit I began to rethink the whole project.

But then a miracle happened.

After listlessly clicking around on the ACX site, I stumbled upon an area I had not seen before.  It was a whole list of affiliated narrators, samples of their work and even links to the narrators’ own websites, which I quickly realized meant that I didn’t have to wait for narrators to find my script and audition—I could go looking for them! 

I clicked a random woman’s link and was astounded by what came up.  (This is more the miracle part.)  She was a voice actress born in England but who now lives in New York, who can do both American and British accents, who has done tons of audio books and commercials (big commercials, like for Coke), and who is in my price range!  Could she not be more perfect?

I immediately emailed her asking if she’d like to audition, but she soon got back to me, crushing my momentary euphoria, to say that she was taking a break from audio books, as she just had her second baby, but best of luck, etc.

My first thought was to email her back and, frankly, beg, but then another thought occurred to me before I could type out my plea:  If there’s one, there’s more!

Hurriedly, I went back into the ACX site and began searching for other British women living in the US who could do both American and British accents.  Surprisingly, there are more out there than you would think. 

The first one to pop up, however, was a woman named Jane Entwistle, a Brit living in LA who has played in various sitcoms (Desperate Housewives, among others) and who has won awards for her audio-book performances, (Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series, among others).  Quickly I contacted her, and she was very interested in the project!  I described the book and the characters to her, and we had a lovely back and forth email exchange about what I was looking for exactly.  She recorded the audition, we tweaked it, exchanged more emails, and then sealed the deal.  I was thrilled to get her, and she is at this moment recording.  I’ve listened to the first fifteen minutes, and I must say that although I’ve read my own book more times than I’d like to count, hearing it aloud, read by a professional, was positively scintillating.

So here’s my one bit of advice:  You can search for narrators yourself; you don’t have to wait for them to come to you!    

Hopefully, my audio book will be a success.  If nothing else, maybe it will at least pay for me to have another High Tea at the Drake. 

Let's be friends

The Women Behind She Writes

Featured Members (8)

12 articles
39 articles
107 articles
313 articles

Featured Groups (7)

Trending Articles

  • [SWP: Behind the Book] Fiction and the Joy of Research
  • Waiting for a Good Idea Before You Write? Try This.
  • Behind the Book: The S Word
  • Interview and Book Giveaway with Christian Author...
  • Audible Audiobooks: How & Why I Made Mine
  • .plan b.

Comments
  • Michelle Cox

    Thanks, Diana! Still waiting for the final product to upload onto Amazon, but it has definitely been a fun learning experience!

  • Diana Y. Paul

    I am so happy you now have an Audible version of your book too. Found it very interesting that you had special requirements for both American and British English. Isn't it wonderful to listen to the narrator's voice for a different take on your story? I still listen to my debut novel, Things Unsaid, on flights to pick up nuances different from what I had expected from the actress! So much fun!

  • Diana Y. Paul

    I am so happy you now have an Audible version of your book too. Found it very interesting that you had special requirements for both American and British English. Isn't it wonderful to listen to the narrator's voice for a different take on your story? I still listen to my debut novel, Things Unsaid, on flights to pick up nuances different from what I had expected from the actress! So much fun!