Monday, December 22, 2008

A Piece of Advice for Audio Book Wannabes

I’d like to offer up a piece of advice for new and existing authors and readers / actors of audiobooks. Don’t take it personal, unless that is you are really looking for something that will help your career in acting / audiobook recording.

A very large number of my own listeners and listeners to other serialized audiobooks have stated the same common disappointment with a high percentage of the free versions of these works that often has turned them off to the whole serialized audiobook and podcast media. In a nut shell they wish that more of the folks who make them would:

Learn how to read.

Now I am not of course saying this in the literal sense of grammar and alliteration. I am referring to stagecraft. When to breathe, when to pause. When to raise the tension in your voice or suddenly drop to a whisper. How to bring your listener to the edge of their seat and make them lean at an odd angle or cry out on the subway because your story telling has convinced their sub conscious mind that they are actually seeing what is happening in the story. To make it, as one listener said:

"A movie in my head.”

How do you do that? Well, with twenty years of experience on stage as a public speaker and small time actor the best advice I can can give as to the way to get it into your brain is quite simply to listen to pro’s who are already doing it and then emulate them.

Some of you try to make your story sound great with special effects or fancy back ground sounds. While that can work to enhance some stories, those effects and sounds cannot tell a story in themselves. No matter how masterful the production or well written the manuscript if the story telling sucks, the audiobook sucks and it won’t grow.

On the other hand, the majority of best selling audio books have no sound effects or back ground music whatsoever. They are also usually voiced by an individual reader who is acting all of the characters themselves.

So my advice, pick up a few copies of best selling audio books recorded by professional actors and readers who make a living doing it and see what makes them tick. Then do what they do.

Here are a few recommendations I would suggest that can help you get an idea of how the best do it, and to learn the trade.

US Voices:Dick Hill (Lee Child’s Reacher Series)
George Guidall (over 650 audio books including Alex Berensen, Stephen King, Neil Daiman)

UK Voices:
Robert Powell (Frederick Forsythe’s the Afghan)
John Lee (Ken Follett’s World Without End)
Josephine Bailey (Ken Follett’s Whiteout)

If you like a full cast story, try the Martin the Warrior series of children’s fantasy. These are very well done, and even though they are kids stories, I found them extremely entertaining.

Well, that's my two cents on the topic. Work hard at perfecting your craft and you will make an impact that will be noticed.

Basil Sands
Happy Holidays
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