Friday, 6 August 2010

Go with the flow...

I saw an interesting thread on a blog recently about getting started in audio book narration. I didn’t agree with all the advice given (of which more another time), but one thing we all agree on is that you need a demo reel.

But – at least in audiobook narration – a demo reel won’t get you a job unless you have a track record already.

A producer can get a fantastic reel – but of course any producer knows it’s easy to make a perfect audio, and there’s no way he or she can tell how fluent you are – and fluency is crucial.

What is fluency? It’s simply the ability to read without making many mistakes, to switch from one character to another without having to stop, and to make sense of what you’re reading in an (apparently) easy and effortless way.

I’ve been an audio book narrator for a long time – and I am also an audio producer, most recently for some of our Creative Content titles. When Ali and I are looking for a narrator, one of our main criteria is fluency – because fluency has a big effect on the bottom line. How?

Narrator mistakes mean (a) more producer time (b) more studio time (c) more editing time– all of which means more money.

Going back to my earlier point: Producers need to know a narrator is fluent – and a slick demo tape doesn’t show that. So here’s a revolutionary idea – when it comes to audio book narration and new, untried readers, I wonder if it would be better to send a demo with a raw recording – say ten minutes or so, with no editing. That would give a truer picture of a reader’s ability.

What do you think? - LK


  1. This is very interesting Lorelei. I quite fancy having a go at narrating though I am sure it is much harder than I think :-). I have done quite a bit of recording to help myself with studying and I read live a lot in church, though those readings are only a few minutes each. Is being able to do different voices important too? Where would you send that raw reel?

  2. Not a clue, Lorelei. But you're great. I love your Lulu in Plum bks. I'd like to do some small stuff, podcasting to promote my books, but after some attempts, do not think I have the voice for it. Maybe this is one element to leave those best suited to it?

  3. Hi Mair!

    Narrating is much harder than anyone thinks! :oD I've used some of your recorded study aids - they're great, and you have lovely voice!

    If you're recording fiction, you really need to be an actor, and yes - you have to have command of different voices and accents. But there are lots of kinds of narration, such as educational materials and so on. I'm not sure of the best way to pursue that - maybe research companies who produce audio for ESL and so on? Or possibly the OU? I know you're very active in that!

    I should say that 'the raw reel' is just an idea... and if you sent one to someone, you would have to explain that that is what you're doing, and why. Otherwise they might just think, 'Eh?!' :oD

    The best thing to do if you want to get into voiceover is to get some experience under your belt before launching yourself into the world of commercial audio - I think you're off to a great start with your study materials and church reading, but you might want to contact places like the RNIB (if you're in London) or other services that record books and newspapers for the blind. Some of these are run on a volunteer basis - and the experience you can get there is invaluable.

    Let me know how you get on!

    x L.

  4. Hi Lois!

    Thanks for your very kind compliment! I love Lula too...

    I'm sure your podcasts are great - and if they're to promote your own books, I'm sure your readers would rather hear your voice than some voiceover's! :oD

    Keep going!

    x L.

  5. I'm glad I started following you on Twitter and saw this link to your blog! I think I know the thread whereof you speak in your first line -- was it on ABC? That was sure an interesting, and kind of frustrating, discussion.

    Your response here, the idea of giving a sample of fluency instead of finished tracks, is intriguing. You might start a trend! On the other hand, my original audiobook demo was an important first step, an indication that I'm a professional -- and when it generated interest from producers, they next asked for various genre samples, partly to check my room sound, partly to see how quickly I can produce custom tracks, I think.

  6. Thanks very much - I love Twitter, don't you?

    And yes, the thread was on ABC! Thanks for reminding me - I couldn't remember!

    Are you in the States? It sounds like you produce your own audio at home. Do you edit it yourself as well? That's not so common in this country - and I agree, a 'raw' demo wouldn't be suitable in that case.