While I was at RWA in New York this summer, I was delighted to meet the voice over artist who recorded our good friend Amy Atwell’s debut book, Lying Eyes. Cris Dukehart was kind enough to agree to visit with us and educate us on a process most of us know very little about, recording audiobooks. Cris has also generously offered to give away a download of Tara Taylor Quinn’s It Happened on Maple Street to one commenter today. What fun!
Welcome to RU, Cris!
And the thing is… she’s not too far from the truth.
I am an audiobook narrator.
A day in the life of a narrator looks a bit like this: wake up, dress in soft, noise free clothing, brush teeth without toothpaste (the paste makes bubbly sticky noises in the microphone), eat a non dairy, no sugar breakfast (again with the smacky lip sounds) and down a beverage of room temperature water with lemon.
I stretch a bit and then head to the studio.
Once I open the door to my little booth, padded thick with geometrically shaped Auralex sound treatment foam, I park tush for three hours or more while I read out loud, stopping to sip from a water bottle, or dab lemon flavored lip cream on my lips.
If my deadline isn’t too tight, I’ll break for lunch (some sort of non-gooey-no-mouth-noise culinary excitement… like… oh… salad…) and then return for 3 more hours of reading.
Similar, I think, to how an author’s day might progress, my hours can seem sort of solitary to most folks. But they aren’t – not really.
Not at all.
Not even a little bit.
My hours, my days, my thoughts are filled with activity – peopled with the same thing yours are… your stories… your characters.
They talk to me, just as they talk to you. In fact, I’ve found that the best narrations come from collaboration with the author. I want to know how YOU hear things, see things, how you experience your story.
Before I ever step stocking foot in studio I read your story. I hunt audio samples of accents and dialect and research story lines.
In narrating Amy Atwell’s “Lying Eyes”, I visited the Smithsonian Institute with my daughter to tour the Natural History Museum’s collection of gemstones. For the book I am working on now, Cheryl Burke’s autobiography, “Dancing Lessons”, I have scoured YOUTUBE for every dance she has ever performed on Dancing With the Stars and then paid a visit to the ridiculously handsome, swarthy young fellow that teaches at the local dance studio (What?! It was RESEARCH!).
Audiobooks while certainly not a new format, have, with the proliferation of digital media, become less expensive and more accessible and in larger variety. Sites like Audible.com house a mind-boggling number of titles and sometimes, the same title, read by different narrators.
In an age where we are forever moving and multitasking, audiobooks provide the busy carpooling mom or the commuting professional or the plugged in teen an opportunity to “read” the books they might otherwise pass over. They provide those with visual impairments or reading difficulties the ability to experience your words. They are the guilty pleasures, the travel companions, and, I’ve been told, the reasons why some folks just hop in the car and drive about.
What they are for you is a way into the lives and minds of a whole new audience.
I am relatively new to narrating, having only just begun about nine months ago but I have worked with several publishers and have begun, as much as anyone does, I think, to get a feel for the process.
Your publisher may already be producing audiobooks of your work. If you haven’t already, search for them and have a listen.
Narrating romance is particularly tricky due to those dog-eared pages… those dreamy, steamy love scenes. How exactly does one “moan with unspent desire” without sounding… diiiirty? Every narrator handles love scenes differently.
As the author, you may have an opportunity to choose your own narrator, and once you’ve listened to a few audiobooks, you’ll have a better idea of what voice and style of love scene narration you prefer. I am always appreciative when an author shares bullet points on how they hear their stories… I want to be as true to your writer’s voice as I can be.
Perhaps you are of the self-published sort or are considering self-publishing… the Audiobook Creation Exchange (www.ACX.com) may be just the key to getting your book published in audiobook format.
ACX, publically launched just this year, provides a virtual space where narrators and other audiobook professionals can meet up with Rights Holders and according to their website, “…turn previously ignored audio rights into finished products”.
Further, the folks at ACX go on to explain, “We give authors creative control over the process. You can narrate your own work or you can engage a Producer on ACX to produce your audiobook. We support you the whole way through, with tools and tutorials that get you started narrating your own book, if you decide to do it yourself. Or, if you decide to engage a Producer, we also have tools and tips to help you choose the right narrator… Plus, we will give you tips on how to promote yourself to increase your sales.
All of this and you own the finished product.”
The ACX website is chock-full of information, from Rights Share Deals to tips if you choose to try to narrate your own book. ACX also provides contact information for some really fantastic folks if you have any questions (I call them up, occasionally just to chat… I’m a talker… go figure).
I love what I do. I am positively silly with gratitude everyday. With each new story I tell, I gain new friends, new knowledge and new perspectives. As an audiophile, I know that every story I listen to opens up an entirely new world… a world I might never have inhabited but for the brilliant, creative mind of the author and the voice that speaks to me from a little padded room.
RU Crew, what surprised you about the audiobook recording process (besides the fact that apparently Cris eats a very boring breakfast)? Feel free to ask Cris questions! Don’t forget Cris has also generously offered to give away a download of Tara Taylor Quinn’s It Happened on Maple Street to one commenter today.
Pop by Friday when Rochelle Staab, author of Who Do VooDoo, will be here to chat about her journey to publication. She’ll give away a copy of her book to one lucky commenter!
- Weekly Lecture Schedule for May 4 – 11, 2012 – C.J. Redwine, Cris Dukehart & Gina Bernal
- The Importance of Unique Character Voice by Voiceover Artist Cris Dukehart
- Weekly Lecture Schedule for October 31 – November 4, 2011
- Listen Up! Romance Audio Books Increase Author Profits with Jennifer Fedderson
- Sara Megibow Sells Romance – Selling & Managing Audio Rights