I delved into the project of developing some of my novels into audiobooks, never realizing what type of challenge the project could be. I listened to hundreds of narrator samples on ACX.com, attempting to decide which voice would best convey my hero or heroine, emotion and multiple characters. This can be a difficult decision to make from a ten minute audition sample. I developed a set of guidelines that helped me.
- Choose an audition sample with multiple characters.
I usually upload an audition script that includes three characters so I can tell if I can distinguish voices with the narrator. I also upload a scene containing dialogue, narrative, and emotion. This is a true test of a narrator in a short script.
- When you listen to an audition, listen on several levels.
First, listen for tone and cadence of voice. Could this person be your hero? Could this narrator be your heroine?
Second, listen to the story itself to see if you’re distracted by the voice or propelled into the plot by it. Does the narrator have an accent? Does that add to or detract from the telling? (Example. My narrator for ALWAYS HER COWBOY is Australian. His accent is somewhat evident. However, his voice and his talent for reading the exact emotion into scenes made the accent irrelevant. He was my hero.)
Third, listen for pacing. Some narrators read too fast for a listener to absorb the words. Listening should be an easy experience, not a struggle to keep up.
Fourth, listen for natural conversation. Can you tell the dialogue from the narration? Does conversation flow easily as if you were overhearing it at your favorite fast food restaurant? Can you tell who is speaking?
Fifth—think about the style of the production. Do you want to feel as if you’re watching a play? Or would you rather have a narrator read to you?
- Listen several times.
You can probably do all of the above on the first listen-through. But you’re not finished there. Adjust your earphones again and listen for any strange noises…any background noises. Some narrators leave natural breath sounds in. Others take them out. Figure out if leaving them in is distracting to you or a listener.
What I’ve discovered wearing earphones are the noises you won’t hear if you are trying to analyze a voice from your desktop computer. Automatically the hum of your computer will cover noise someone using ear buds or earphones might hear. One of the noises I’ve picked up with earphones is the hum of the recorder when it starts and when it goes off. If I can hear it, a listener with ear buds in a quiet setting will hear it. You want a nothingness vacuum in back of the voice that acts as a cushion for it. You don’t want to hear pages turning, static, or any type of hum or echo.
You need to choose a narrator with a level of expertise as the producer. (Some use outside studios to edit but many edit and upload the chapters themselves.)
- Male or female narrator?
I examine my opening scene, check the book for point of view shifts, then decide whose story is being told the most—my hero’s or my heroine’s. If it’s a toss up, I ask both to audition. I’ve found I enjoy listening to a male narrator reading with a higher voice for my heroine more than listening to a female narrator reading a male voice I often can’t distinguish from the heroine’s. Choosing a narrator who captures the essence of your novel is the best way to help a reader get lost in your story.
- Royalty share or finished hour production fee?
I’ve used both. Again, this depends on whether or not I can find a narrator who fits the book. I start out listening to royalty share narrators. But I’ve paid production fees on half of my sixteen projects. There again, listen for the voice. A higher production fee doesn’t always mean a better finished product.
I’ve enjoyed the process of developing my novels into audiobooks. Be aware it is a time consuming process. Also, be aware that marketing audiobooks isn’t easy. One of the huge problems with marketing them is the lack of promotional opportunities other than social media. I developed these books for the long tail of promotion. I believe this market is set to take off because of smart phones, iPads, etc. However, just as with e-books, this market is becoming glutted too. Just something to consider when starting this process.
It’s been a wonderful experience hearing my books come alive. As I write more indie projects, I will continue to develop them into audiobooks.
USA Today best-selling author Karen Rose Smith will see her 87th novel published in 2015. An only child, Karen delved into books at an early age. She learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew, and wished she could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though she escaped often into story worlds, she had many aunts, uncles and cousins around her on weekends. Her sense of family and relationships began there. Maybe that’s why families are a strong theme in her novels, whether mysteries or romances.
Readers often ask her about her pastimes. She has herb, flower and vegetable gardens that help her relax. In the winter, she cooks rather than gardens. And year round she spends most of her time with her husband, as well as her four rescued cats who are her constant companions. They chase rainbows from sun catchers, reminding her life isn’t all about work, awards and Bestseller lists. Everyone needs that rainbow to chase.
Karen hopes each and every one of her books brings you reading pleasure and warm feelings to surround your heart.
INFO ABOUT GILT BY ASSOCIATION:
GILT BY ASSOCIATION, Book 3 in Karen Rose Smith’s Caprice De Luca Home-Staging mystery series. When hearts are involved, passion and
murder aren’t far behind.
REVIEW of GILT BY ASSOCIATION:
“Smith pulls out all the stops in her latest mystery featuring Caprice De Luca. Murder surrounds her latest home-staging job as a dear family friend is killed. With two possible love interests, it is time for her to make a choice. The story is quick and exciting to the end. Another winner from this talented author.” RT Book Reviews
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