If you’ve ever listened to an audiobook and thought, “Hey, I can do that,” you’re not alone. You’re also probably crazy, which means we have a lot in common. This last year I started contracting voiceover artists to narrate my books. I hired three different artists for Brooklyn Shadows, Transcended Saga, and The Sorcerer’s Path. Great right? Not so much.
Not only are my sales so low on some of the books (most…ok, all) that my narrators aren’t earning nearly what they deserve, and this makes me feel like crap as I know part of it is my utter cluelessness when it comes to promotions, I’m also only earning 20% of sales since I’m too poor and too scared (and too cheap) to hire award winning talent like Luke Daniels and Jeff Hays.
So it’s decided. I’m going to become a voiceover artist! How hard could it be? Answer: Pretty damn freaking hard! First you need equipment. No problem if you have money to spare, which I don’t, so that’s a bit painful right out of the gate. I went on Amazon and bought a Scarlett Solo box set that came with a microphone, headphones, and mic stand. Pretty much everything you need to get started. The headphones and mic aren’t great, but they were passable.
I put together a recording computer out of some spare parts I had lying around because I’m a nerd like that. It’s old and slow but it works for the purpose. The next thing you need is a good place to record. Your average amateur artist will put their mic inside an acoustic box on a desk in front of them and get to work. That’s probably what I should have done, but I’m kind of stupid and a big thinker. Big end game not so much the process.
I have a big walk-in closet that would work great once I put in dozens of hours of labor and several hundred dollars’ worth of materials. It was a lot of work and big drain on my bank account, but boy was it worth it. Oops, that was supposed to be a question, the answer to which is: meh. It does block some of the outside noise and I think I have decent acoustics, but probably nowhere near the level of work and money I put into it. Oh well. Time to make some audio magic!
I sit down with Blood Conspiracy and start recording, and boy did it come out great. Oops, that was another question. No, no it did not. Not only do you really need to hone each voice, you have to maintain a good cadence (quite hard as I, and probably you, reads too fast,) and remember exactly how you voiced each character.
So I got all that as good as I think I’m going to get it. I listen to the first chapter and…it sucks! I read too fast, my dialogue is stilted, and I just plain hate my voice! To the recording cave, Robin! I record the chapter again…and again…and again. I got it down now! I record the entire book. I’m finally done! Yeah right. Every time my narrating skill increases, so does my standards. Standards are as inconvenient as my stupid conscience! Everything sounds terrible. What is that noise I keep hearing? Oh, it’s mouth noises.
You don’t notice all the little spittle clicks and cheek smacking when you talk to your friends, but boy do you have them, and they all come out sounding like little firecrackers on a recording. No problem, just need to concentrate. Nope, still there! The website says drink plenty of water. Try lemon water. Try chewing gum. Try rinsing with mouthwash. Try this and that and… Try shutting your stupid food hole because none of that works! Yes, make sure you’re hydrated, brush your teeth before starting, and keep a cup of room temperature water close at hand. It does help a little, but there’s no magic bullet. Trust me. If there was, I’d have shot myself in the face with it.
All you can really do is practice, record maybe one paragraph at a time, and then go back and listen to it. If you hear mouth noises, do it again. Are you starting to see how long it might take to do an average novel? Now think how you would feel after having done all that and only made like $500. I’d be pretty pissed and certainly not waste my time with that author again, which is exactly what they do think and why we’re now here.
By now you’re probably wondering why anyone would go through all this. Well, for one thing you can make some good money if you’re good at it. Two, it can be pretty fun. I haven’t really experienced number two yet as I am constantly banging my head on my desk in frustration. Come to mention it, number one ain’t happening either. On the other hand, I have nothing but time, and I spent all this money on equipment, and I’ll be damned if I don’t put it to use at least narrating my own books. Worst thing that happens is people roast me in a review.
In my next post, probably just on my blog and not a newsletter, I’ll talk more about equipment and post-production. I’m far from an expert, but I can tell you about what’s been working and not working for me. I hope you are all doing well. Please stop over at my website or hit me up on Facebook for a chat. As always, all of my books are available on Kindle Unlimited.