Who says I talk like a Hillbilly?

vocal cords

The world of audiobook creation is a really fun gig in its own bizarre way.

Understand that I am not a guy who has trained for the theater.

Okay.  I’ve been a ham most of my life, a singer-songwriter, a trial lawyer, a public speaker.

Are you telling me that anyone who aspires to be an author isn’t a ham?

You can peddle that view somewhere else because I don’t believe it for a second.

But back to audiobook narration.

On Audiobook Creation Exchange (“ACX”) narrators have the ability to audition for gigs.  At any given time there are several thousand books looking for voice over talent to handle the narration. ACX has attempted to simplify the process of finding good matches for books and narrators by allowing rights holders to select a number of voice characteristics for the narrator they believe would be most suitable for the project.

Therein lies the problem.

Here is the list of vocal styles.

Vocal Style
Right off the bat the discriminating reader can see how fraught with peril the categories.I mean what if a guy is smooth but snarky?How about brooding and child like?

What if a narrator has an inspirational ingenue vibe?

I like the “comedic/great comic timing” category.  But what if a guy is really funny but has bad timing?

How about a deadpan professional?  I am a professional.  I’m working on deadpan, or is that bed pans?

And I’m refined out the ass.

Who the hell would audition for a gig that required a “submissive” voice? Really?

What if I am a motivational speaker with a nasal voice?  Do I go for motivational speaker or nasal?

But really the thing that intrigues me about all this categorization is that a book really doesn’t come with a built-in voice barometer. Books with characters from the Northern United States might best be narrated by someone from the South and vice versa.  It all depends on the vibe of the book. This vibe may not be apparent on a superficial reading of a novel.  And, paradoxically, the voices the author hears for her characters may not be the voices that come through for readers.  A narrator who doesn’t fit the obvious profile for a certain book may breathe new life into it.

So I am going to quit auditioning for the “frightened/terrified” roles.  I think they have been holding back the real me, vocally speaking.







, , , , ,

  • Caleb Pirtle

    I knew you had a spit personality: author and lawyer. Now you’ve been split again as a narrator and ham, and a narrator has to have many personalities to capture all the characters in a book.

  • jack43

    Every person I’ve ever met who heard themselves recorded has always responded, “That’s me? I sound terrible…” How do you get past that?

    • You get used to it – it’s the first couple of times where you can’t stand yourself.

      I am a member of a group of Girl Guides who reconnected via Facebook – and I’m the ONLY one willing to sing the camp songs, and post them online. I sing them into Garageband – it isn’t that hard.

      They aren’t perfect, but I figure if I can sing in the Princeton chapel, post mp3s of me singing online, and am comfortable speaking in public, I can read my own things.

      Though it may be wise to provide TWO options in Audiobooks: read by actor/read by author. Let the reader choose. From a sample of at least the actor reading all the characters, and a chunk of the narrative parts. And the author doing the same.

  • You only get one choice? That’s just plain silly. You should be able to check several, and the writer should still listen to samples.

Related Posts