Over the Christmas period, I decided to experiment with an audiobook. Being my own publisher means that I get to play with format and presentation and I have really enjoyed it. After the physical book came the e-book, with all the new challenges that that threw up. And now I figured I’d have a look at audiobooks. I don’t know if it will be popular or even wanted but I figured people driving down on holidays might enjoy listening about the place they are driving towards?
Writing a book requires lots of steps of collaboration; editors, photo editors, jacket illustrators, proofreaders, page designers and so on. But an audiobook is something else again because this time the narrator is carrying the whole thing for you. But what the hell, let’s give it a go. First steps first, I had to pick a voice and I choose a bloke. Why? Well, why I did that is a whole separate blog but basically, I don’t think it matters what gender delivers the book and I couldn’t find a female voice that couldn’t be confused for me. After all, my readers don’t know what I sound like so any female voice could be me and I didn’t fancy that.
Moving on I picked out a production company called ACX that puts authors and narrators together. I listened to a load of voices, realised I was overwhelmed and so submitted a brief. The first person that replied sounded perfect. I had my voice! Steve agreed he sounded good but maybe I should exercise some caution?(1) So I waited and several more auditions came in. In fact, lots did and for a while, I felt like Simon Cowell. Some were so bad they were funny, a broad American accent, some seemed to have just walked off the street, mumbling into their iPhone, some were great but the one that really made me laugh, was a known actor. I was really excited, there he was, a famous name, a recognisable face wanting to work with me! The publicity would be brilliant, it could almost market itself. I sure was running ahead of myself and then I actually listened to it…Ah, Ted.(2) He mispronounced Mevagissey. He mispronounced Mevagissey five times. He mispronounced Mevagissey in the section that explains how to properly pronounce Mevagissey. And then he continued to mispronounce Mevagissey. He had a lovely voice but clearly, attention to details wasn’t his thing and given that it isn’t my strong suit either, I didn’t think we would be a perfect match.
Eventually, I pulled together a short list and presented it to a bunch of authors and one voice got consistently great responses.
“If you want a light sense of humour to accompany the narrative #3 sounds best.”
“I loved audition 3. He made it great listening.”
“Funny how ‘history’ seems to be linked to ‘serious’ in a way it almost sounds boring?! Of course, it’s serious but you should not fall asleep, should you? #3 made me want to listen more!”
“Three is lovely, I could listen to him all day!”
“I liked three. He read faster and yet was clear and with plenty of voice inflexion.”
“Reminded me of Robert Webb. Strike that – he’s a dead ringer for Stephen Mangan. Which is a good thing IMO!”
So that was pretty clear, #3 it was. Ad of course #3 was my first audition.(3) I got back to him and asked a few more questions. Remarkably, he was Cornish! Born in St Austell, grew up in St Ives. At least he would know how to pronounce all the Cornish names, a thing I had not even considered.(4) And so I decided to go for it. He’s new at this, I’m new at this but hey we all have to start somewhere and he sounded great and was going to understand Cornish intonation. He was also going to be great when he read some of the tall tales putting on a nice Cornish burr.
I booked him and a month later he returned my book as a nice shiny sound file! We tweaked it back and forth a bit, sorting out the odd bit and whilst the Tall Tales sound a little bit like they were told by a hobbit, all in all, it was perfect. That aside I signed it off and now I have to work out how to market it.
UPDATE> NOW AVAILABLE
- You know, never accept the first offer, x rarely marks the spot, it is you, not me and the cheque isn’t in the post.(4)
- Fast Show.
- What do I know
- Yep, that stupid