Tag Archives: voiceovers

Five Things You Learn While Narrating Non-Fiction Audiobooks

Look out! Instant Expert Unleashed!

I just got booked (thanks, Tantor media!) to narrate another non-fiction book, and my family needs to know its topic – so they can avoid bringing it up during the recording phase. Already I can see them rolling their eyes.

Why? Because sure as shootin’ (sorry, left over from a fiction series narration located at Mustang Ridge…) I’m gonna have an temporarily-well-informed opinion on the subject.  Truth, people. Look out.

So -First lesson you learn while narrating non-fiction:

  1. You may  tend to become an instant expert on whatever topic you’re immersed in while recording. Sooo annoying, I know. But I can’t help it!

Why? Well, as nonficton narrators, we actually “play the author” while reading his/her words. It’s an acting job, too, although that is less obvious than in fiction narration. And – well, yeah – I tend to take on my characters

inhabiting the character

while playing them, whether in theatre, TV/film or in audiobook narration. Don’t ever let me take a role as a bitchy broad. You’ll have to run for the hills. Playing “Lucy” in Charlie Brown was the closest I got to that (and I liked it so much I played the role twice!)

In narration, we really get inside the author’s head as much as possible. And, being the kind of person who is fascinated by pretty much everything, this is fun for me. But – after (1)prepping the book, (2)reading it out loud while making sure to stay present at all times, and then (3) listening back to it at times in the final stages – it tends to get in your head. So, yep, I’m gonna feel like I have earned the right to an opinion on the subject of say, Black Holes, Sexually Addicted Spouses, Chakras, or Financial Savvy. Because I wrote the book! (Didn’t I? Oh, wait. Oops)

It’s one thing to say “I read this book about….” – but somehow “I just narrated this book about…” gives the input more clout. At least it feels that way to me. Dangerous, I know. Warn your friends and families.

So, look out, new-Mom-daughter-of mine. Mom’s going to be an instant (and temporary) expert or Montessori child-rearing in February. Good time to take that trip to Disney, honey!

(No I do try to keep away from the parenting advice. But still.)

 

Lessons  2-4:

Beside the lesson above, there are other things to learn from non-fiction narration work:

2.  Finishing a book gives you the whole picture. Did you know that most Americans only read one or two chapters of a non-fiction book (if that much), and then put it on the shelf to “finish later”? Yeah, we know how that goes. However,  when you narrate it, you gotta finish reading that book (um, yeah) . Good thing, too.  It does tend to round out the authors’ points:)

3. Time management becomes absolutely essential. This is true for fiction as well – and of course for any large project of any kind. Break it into small manageable goals, schedule them , and get started! This ain’t your college paper, where you can start the day before and pull an all-nighter. Yes, I mean you. Or me.

4. The world is full of fascinating things – and people passionate enough about them to benefit the rest of us. Some people devote their lives, quite happily, to things like measuring the exact age of a The Great Commissionskeleton, camping out for months to observe a star, meditating for hours daily, planning finances, researching one breed of dog, learning every detail about digestion, proving or refuting the Black Hole theory…the list goes on. These are not things I personally would want to do, but I am grateful that there are people who do. Specialization of labor, distribution of gifts of strengths from the universe. Not just the authors, but the people they write about – many have chosen a little corner of the world to specialize in, and it’s amazing to me.  You get to learn about all this when you narrate.

5. What the heck happened to the red pen? Okay,  perhaps getting just a bit too close to the authors’ work.  Full disclosure:  I have written a book myself and went through the process of editing (over 100 pages got cut) and publication, so a little bit of “writing hat” stays on my head as I narrate. But, seriously – some of these books need serious editing! There are a few that feel like the authors had to prove their research with quotes and dates, often (to my ears) interrupting the story, and over-explaining the points. Okay, I get it! I believe you!  Was this a doctoral dissertation you turned into book?

 Okay, rant over…but I do wonder if some of these books actually saw an editor. (Of course, if I narrated your book, dear author, I am not talking about you. Definitely that other guy.)

Which brings me to a final point – not a lesson, but a reminder, while we are at it:

God Bless the audio editors, and the proof-listeners. Your precision amazes me. I could not do your job! I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy narrating. Thank you.

 

 

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Are There Too Many Voice Talents?

Reality check, with a question:

Do you find it more difficult than you’d thought it would be to get, and keep getting, work as a voice talent in 2015?

I’m not one to wax poetic about the past.  Change is, at best, exciting; at the very least, it’s inevitable. And certainly the voiceover business has changed drastically since I joined it over 25 years ago.

Too Many Voice Talents?

Too Many Voice Talents?

Back then, it was a fairly local, and more personal world. You trained until you knew you could deliver the performance, made a demo based on your suitability to the market, and started marketing your services to recording studios, advertising agencies and (possibly, eventually) casting directors and agents. Marketing, word of mouth and referrals were your golden keys to that first chance, and then you hoped to continue to get hired based on the awesome job you did (and keeping in gentle touch).

So far, sounds pretty much the same, yes? Only, back then, your marketing was to your general geographical location, there were post offices and telephones involved, and most of the time you knew your clients more personally, often got to shake their hands in person.

And – fanfare for the truth – there was less competition. Once you were in that “stable” of voice talents a studio or agency could rely upon, the phone kept ringing. That’s how I built my business. And that part of the business still exists. Most of my work is from word of mouth and repeat clients. Believe me, it’s easier for the client re re-hire someone they trust than to go out and start a brand new search.

But, as you know, things are also very different. Many potential clients have a huge database of voice talents to choose from – and, thanks to the internet, all they have to do is post a project and hundreds of auditions will show up in their mailbox. The work, for the client, is not on the front end (listening to demos, sending invites to those who suit their requirements, then choosing from the handful of hand-chosen candidates) but on the back end – easy to post the project, but harder (I imagine) to sort through the hundreds of auditions that may vary widely in quality.  Casting this way must seem easier, but I suspect it often is not, for the client. However, in this new virtual and pervasive climate, they might not know there are other ways to find voices. Continue reading

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Getting Your “VOJO” Back: Breaking Though When Inertia Hits

Hi, my name is Randye and I’ve lost my VOJO.

(If you haven’t had your caffeine yet this morning and can’t guess, I will define VOJO for you: Voice Over plus Mojo/motivation.

SONY DSCGot it? Now go to Starbucks, already).  We all need VOJO, and we need to reignite it now and again – or daily.

VOJO is not about the easy stuff: meeting the client’s deadline, getting the work done, depositing the checks. VOJO is about the tasks with less-immediate deadlines and results, such as:

  • planting the marketing seeds,
  • making those cold calls,
  • creating a database,
  • submitting an audition,
  • sending those thank-you cards.

We need VOJO to keep our business fluid, active, and progressing. Problem is, for those of us who thrive on immediate return (umm, slight ADD, anyone?), it’s difficult to get motivated and too easy to procrastinate.

blue brace, cane...but harder to stand than it looks!

blue brace, cane…but harder to stand than it looks!

This has been particularly true for me since October 6th, 2014 – the day I was hit by a car while crossing the street (result: broken wrist, injured leg and shoulder). I’d barely gotten the use of my dominant hand back, when a surgery complication of my left hip resulted in a month-long hospital/rehab stay and an extended period of home and outpatient rehab after that. Right now, until things heal more fully (still using a walker/cane and leg brace to get around), I am working from home (feeling very grateful for my “personal studio”) and have only recently begun to drive again – but only to places that are handicap-accessible. So – yeah – though I am meeting my Voiceover clients’ needs, my VOJO for that additional and necessary work has been cut short. Healing saps energy, but I’m finally ready to use a bit of that energy to reclaim my career.

But – I needed a jump-start. If you get stuck, complacent, or discouraged…how do you reignite the VOJO flame?

So, here’s what I did this week – and how it worked. Not about results, but certainly about action – and ACTION felt really good.

It’s as easy as ABC…DE!

Step One: Admit that you’re stuck, and (but don’t spend too much time here) why you’re stuck. Just like in therapy, often the main value in examining “why” is to see how you can (or can’t) fix it. (for me: this means accepting what I currently can, and cannot do. NYC is out for now – but I can increase my marketing to e-learning and other virtual clients. Physical healing is top priority – but after that, returning to some voiceover marketing tasks outranks binge-watching Mad Men.)

Step Two: Break the pattern by doing one constructive thing. (I went through my billables and sent out statements)

Step Three: Make a “Realistic Plus One” Commitment. specific and attainable. What, When, How? (“Each weekday, I will touch five new potential clients – either by sending an audition, or submitting my demo after researching the prospect”)

Step Four: (Yay, Nike) Just Do It…and until it is done, stay away from facebook and the refrigerator.  And keep a record of it. A “Got Done” List can be very motivating. (“Today I auditioned for projects for___________. CHECK!”) Don’t let yourself indulge in the distracting activity until the task is done! For more, check out Insane Productivity. (Thanks, Bobbin Beam, for the input)

Step Five: Evaluate the list and tasks weekly. (are five touches enough? any results? keep doing it, or increase?)

Thy key here is to be realistic – but to push those boundaries just past the comfort zone (which for me, lately, has been with Don Draper and Peggy Olson. Six seasons of Mad Men got me through a lot of pain. But now it’s time to move on and get my self-esteem back – but being proactive again. One step back into VOJO-land. And it feels great!

 

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Your Voice Over Business: Why Keep Investing?

(Short answer: Because it pays off!)

Is Your VO business a "dead shark"?

Is Your VO business a “dead shark”?

“Alvy Singer”, in the movie Annie Hall, says:

A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.

Don’t let your voice over business be a dead shark. There is always more to learn, always ways to get better. And once

VOVirtual

click here to register!

excellent way to do this is to register for Voice-Over Virtual, coming soon.

No, you do not need to save up for plane fare, or hotel rooms! This is a virtual conference (hence the name). But don’t let that fool you…or think you won’t get anything out of it. You will more than make your investment back.

Okay, listen: I’ve been a successful Voice Talent for many years. Sure, “success” keeps getting redefined as my life and ambitions progress, but still. I do make a living communicating someone else’s words into a microphone and into a listener’s ears. Every once in a while I sit back and remember: This is so cool!

A major reason I still work is that I keep investing in my business, and honing my skills.

Example?:Lately I notice my audition-to-booking ratio is getting better (yay!). Why? I invested in some coaching and classes to hone those skills, especially in sounding more “conversational” – and it has paid off.

Another one?: I was feeling frustrated when first learning Twisted Wave app on my iPad. Hated recording while traveling. Felt stupid. The solution? One webinar with George Whittam. bingo! Now I know what to do, and love the app…therefore more likely to send auditions and projects even while on the road, if I choose to. Investment made the obstacle disappear.

So – what’s in your way? Chances are you will be able to dissolve some of those obstacles by investing time – and, yeah, some reasonable bucks – on your VO future.

Whether you’re just starting out in this amazing biz, or working hard to keep current clients while marketing to new sharkones, this remains true: You must invest in your business to keep it alive, to help it grow, to help you to grow – as an artist, a businessperson, a skilled talent in all the forms that this ever-changing business requires.

This is what makes your business thrive – what makes you thrive. Don’t let your business become a “dead shark”. Move ahead! Voice Over Virtual is the best way to get moving – right now. You’ll be glad you did.

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The Full-Time Eclectic Voice Talent: Many Eggs, Several Baskets

When I created my Voice-Over website with the amazing folks at Artist Upgrade, we wrestled with the age-old question (well, for voice talents, anyway):

“Just” a Voice Talent, or  More?

I opted for the latter.

RandyeKaye.com

RandyeKaye.com

Yes, I am a full-time voice talent. My VO clients are my highest work priority. If you book me, the job will be done on time (well, usually before that deadline), at budget, and to your satisfaction.  This is what I do for a living. The only thing standing in the way of your project is a prior commitment to another job – and you will know about that before you book me for your project.

So – does that leave room for the other things in my life? Can I let my clients know that I also do other things? Stage, on-camera, writing, speaking, teaching, broadcasting — or, for that matter, parenting? rock climbing? (well, I don’t actually do that, but you get the point. Maybe you do it!)

You bet.  At least, that’s what we decided. Because every other skill and experience in life makes us better voice talents. Continue reading

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“All I Need is a Voice-Over Agent” – What??

Maybe that used to be the way, in the “olden days” of voice-over, which now means, maybe, a few months ago. Things are changing fast, and will continue to. Still, a great agent (which means a good match for you, and your skills), can help you get access to opportunities you might never have seen otherwise.

Sure, at the tip of the iceberg of VO success, getting signed with a powerful agency is a real coup. That is still true. But getting to that level- if that’s part of your business plan – means you must take the journey to become a talent the agent feels he/she can make money with!  And, these days, many of us have “an agent in every port” until we put all our eggs in one agency’s basket – if we do. And know this: you are not going to just sit back and wait for the phone to ring (or the e-mails to arrive), even with the best agent ever. You are partners!

Voice Acting for Dummies

Voice Acting – for Dummies?

But – if you are ready – you’ll need some basic info as to how to begin to connect with an agent. So, let’s get some facts – from my Guest Bloggers, Stephanie Ciccarelli and David Ciccarelli,  the founders of Voices.com, from their new book Voice Acting for Dummies.

Is Voice Acting for “Dummies”? Certainly not! Nor is running a business for the faint of heart. But from the brand new VO-dreamer to the most experienced among us, it’s still a good idea to learn, or review, the basics.

But here’s one more tip from me, before you start your search – be worthy of an agent’s time before you contact them!  What does that mean?

  • You are an experienced Voice Talent -you are already making some bucks at this.
  • You know how to deliver what the client wants – and when it’s needed.
  • You have some kind of proven track record.
  • You can take direction.
  • Your demo is awesome – and you can deliver what it promises!

Remember, it will be your job to make your agent look great, not the other way around. Just my two extra cents to the great advice below. So, take it away Stephanie and David!

“What Can an Agent  Do For You?

Before you go looking for an agent, you need to know what an agent does and what an agent expects of his voice actors. An agent manages relationships between voice actors and the end client, including the auditioning process, casting to a degree, and the billing related to the job. An agent’s role is to qualify voice actors for opportunities to reach a successful end. Agents can have relationships with companies they directly work with as well as pursue opportunities through online marketplaces where they can promote their voice actors. Continue reading

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Fruits vs. Laurels:The Balanced VO Life

resting on our laurels?

resting on our laurels?

Running a small business is not for sissies. Nor is it for dreamers who don’t take steps toward the dream.

Yeah, yeah. We know that.

We know we can’t just rest on our laurels…but at times, we do need to enjoy the fruits of our labors.

Most of my voice-over pals get that first part; we don’t let ourselves rest on past success. Yes, we know…”you’re only as successful as your next booking.” In fact, we’re constantly sharing progress on our never-ending to-do lists (finish the project, register for Faffcon or Voice-Over Virtual, send the audition your agent wants) as well as ongoing projects

fruits of our labors...

fruits of our labors…

(organize clients and prospects clients into a database, write that next blog post, revamp the website and demos) – and, often, we feel we come up short when we look at what we still want to accomplish.

Nope, no resting on laurels here. What we forget to do – or sometimes don’t let ourselves do – is to enjoy some of the fruits of those labors.

Voice-Over Talents: Can a Small Business Owner Take a Break? Continue reading

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Voice-Over Envy: Stop the Madness!

Sometimes I just gotta stay away from Facebook these days.  There is a dogbookenvydocumented phenomenon (I know it’s true, ’cause I read about it in Psychology Today) called “Facebook Envy”, and I must admit it hits me when I check my newsfeed and it seems like my VO Peeps are landing more gigs, way more impressive gigs, and making tons of money all the time.

Sigh. And – oh yeah- Yay! I truly am happy for your success. Really. But, sometimes, the old green-eyed monster rears up, and its name is Voice-Over Envy.

And it’s a really stupid monster!

Voice-Over Jealousy – or Admiration?

Yoko Ono is credited with saying: “Turn jealousy into admiration and what you admire will become part of your life.”  Whoever originated that quote (Yoko, really?) , it’s really cool.  I actually used that thought process to go from single Mom to happily re-married Mom/wife, from wanna-be-published author to a published one.  And it’s useful in any life endeavor; it’s the backbone of gatherings like faffcon, of the VO social media groups, of the newly-forming industry association, World Voices.

So – why not just be inspired by the success of others? Continue reading

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Why I Hired My Plumber: How’s Your Voice-Over Business?

Our water heater died last week. Sniff. Not only that, it was kinda leaking everywhere. After two days of hoping my husband’s efforts with the wet-vac would buy us some time (ha!), I knew I had to call in an expert.

plumber

What Does This Profession Tell Us About VO?

So what to do? Audition plumbers? Post a project and consider dozens of prospective plumbers? Yikes. What a pain that would be!

Nope. I did what most of our voice-over clients want to do: Hire someone they trust to do the job professionally, reliably, skillfully – to their satisfaction.

The Odds: Auditioning vs. Marketing

Yep. I firmly believe that many of my VO clients and prospective clients never even listen to a good portion of the auditions they receive.  Would you? Just go to voices.com or voicebank.net and put yourself in the client’s shoes.  Listen to some demos, even the top-rated ones. How quickly have you had enough? Continue reading

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Vocal Booth on Tracks: An Option for Space-Challenged Voice Talents

Yahoo! I now have my own recording “room” – and, even better, I can whisk its “walls” aside whenever I need to.

a glimpse into the old booth area

a glimpse into the old booth area

How? I replaced my wardrobe-screen-from-Goodwill-draped-with-quilts (only 5 feet high) with a floor-to-ceiling Vocal Booth on Tracks from vocalboothtogo.com. And it’s great – exactly as promised.

First of all, let me clarify that in a perfect VO world I’d get a sound-PROOF booth – and perhaps someday I will. This is not a WhisperRoom, or StudioBricks booth – and is not offered as such.  This booth, however, delivers exactly what it promises. I love it.

What is a Vocal Booth On Tracks?

What is it? It defines a vocal space where you have none, and provides excellent sound-dampening in the process. Many of us do this with moving blankets, acoustic foam, closet space, even hanging clothes – but it can look unsightly and be a pain to “undo” in case the in-laws are coming over for dinner. Continue reading

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