This is the second part of my post on considering your book for production as an audio book.
In Part 1 of this post, I talked about finding a voice actor on ACX. I’ll pick up in this part with what to expect once you have submitted a proposal to a voice actor.
Let’s assume that you receive an audition from a voice actor for a sample of your work and you like what you hear and want to make a proposal to have him/her record your book.
The audition dashboard shown below is an example of what it will look like after you indicate that you like the audition.
If your offer is accepted, you’ll see something that looks like this:
As you can see, this view gives you a synopsis of your deal with the audio book producer (voice actor). It shows when the first 15 minutes are due. This first 15 minutes is an important milestone.
Reviewing the first 15 minutes
Your voice actor/producer will submit the first 15 minutes of your book to you by the date you specified in your offer. Once your receive it, there are some very important things to look for.
Tone of voice and pacing:
When I received the audition that I ended up liking for Frankly Speaking, I gave the voice actor some feedback on his tone and pacing. He was fairly new to audio books and his tone and pacing were very announcer-like. This was great for his former career as an on-air radio personality. I was able to give him this feedback in a very positive way and he came through by re-recording the first 15 minutes.
My last name is no picnic to pronounce. To me, it sounds like it’s spelled, Massenzio, but I’ve been pronouncing it all of my life. I’ve kept a list of some of the funniest pronunciations. The best was from a nun in Catholic school during the fourth grade who referred to me as Mr. Ma-sneezio. She did not appreciate me saying ‘God Bless You’ instead of ‘present’ during that first roll call. The class laughed, however.
During the first iteration of the recording of Blood Orange, the voice actor pronounced it mah-sehn-ZEE-oh with the emphasis on the third syllable. It should be mah-SEHN-zee-oh with the second syllable emphasized. I know this may sound nit-picky, but I wanted to make sure it was right.
Another issue that cropped up was the pronunciation of character names. I have a character named Alex Figueroa in Blood Orange.Initially, the voice actor started out pronouncing it correctly, but in some instances, he switched to Figurerro.
In both instances, I gave this feedback and the issues were corrected (for the most part, but more on that later).
One thing that impressed me very much about the voice actor for Blood Orange was his ability to voice characters with a Syracuse accent. You may not think that there is a distinct accent for Upstate New York. There is, however, and it is very different than a traditional New York City accent. He nailed it.
From the sample of Frankly Speaking, however, I have a character named Clifford Jones, III. He is a surfer/lawyer/computer genius. When I heard the 15 minute audio sample, however, the Georgia accent he had was a bit cartoonish. I was visualizing a Matthew McConaughey kind of subtle twang with some underlying intelligence. Instead, I got an over-the-top Boss Hogg from the Dukes of Hazzard television show. He took the feedback on this very well and did a nice job on the re-record.
Once you are happy with the first 15 minutes, you can approve it and you will see something like this on the project dashboard on ACX:
After hearing the first 15 minutes of my book recorded as I envisioned it, an exciting feeling came over me. This milestone, however, is just the beginning of some intensive work that is yet to come.
In Part 3 of this series, I’ll be going over some of that work.
I hope this series is helpful to you. Your comments and anecdotes about your experience are welcome as always.