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Narrator Interview

Audiobook Production Audiobooks Narrator Interview

How to Get Talented Voice Actors to Audition for your Audiobook.

I recently taught at Storymakers Writer’s Conference about audiobook production via ACX. And one question I was asked was how to get narrators to even audition. I guess many of them are listing their books and no one is showing any interest in auditioning even if they send a message to the producer.

Top 3 reasons why you’re not getting auditions:

#1 You don’t understand the producer’s perspective in this, and when they understand stand that, they will likely have more auditions than they know what to do with. Watch this video to get the producer’s perspective from an actual producer:

#2 You don’t understand that on ACX, you basically have two industries coming together, which is seriously awesome if you ask me. ACX is giving actors the opportunity to earn royalties on books when they were almost always only paid for their time in the past. (Not even Jim Dale got royalties for Harry Potter!) This article in The New York Times explains this rather well: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/31/books/making-books-when-acting-speaks-volumes.html And independent authors rarely had the chance to ever see their books produced into audiobooks due to productions costs. ACX has opened those things up to actors and authors. And what a great opportunity it is!

#3 You’re not showing that you value the actor’s time, talents, and skill like you should. Getting continued payments on work already done is a wonderful thing and it’s why so many people want to be published authors. However, you’re basically asking an actor to believe in your book as much as you do when they didn’t even write it. You’re also asking them to do hours and hours worth of hard work that takes specific time, talent, and technical knowledge for free—risking not getting paid at all if the royalties don’t cover the production costs. You might try to argue that you wrote the book for free. But how much did it cost you to write the book? As far as I know, there is little if any cost to writing a novel, but there is cost in producing an audiobook. And would you expect a professional artist to produce an amazing cover for you without paying them? You know what your sales are like. Would a portion of the royalty be enough to make it worth the artist’s time? In most cases, probably not… But acting is an art and unfortunately many narrators have been burned on royalty share deals. So many of them will not do royalty share deals without some sort of compensation for their time. I mean how do you honestly expect them to even feed their families? If you just have your book listed as a royalty share deal, this is one reason why you are not getting auditions.

To finally get auditions, follow these simple steps:

#1 Don’t consider audiobook production until you have at least three books published and are making enough from royalties to fund all or most of the production cost. And yes, even if you traditionally published the book, you could have or might be able to get audiobook rights for your book. Being able to choose your own narrator is huge for success in this growing market, and the payout can be awesome. To be honestly, most publishers don’t care about the narrator chosen for your books, they just hire someone, and that someone might not suit your story. I’ve listened to several traditionally published audiobooks where the wrong narrator was chosen for the story, and I find it difficult to even finish listening.

#2 As you list your book, show producers that you value their time and talent by offering to either pay a decent rate for each finished hour, or offer a royalty share along with a slightly reduced rate for each finished hour. The budget for the project is what they look at first before they even consider auditioning. To do this, check both “Royalty Share” AND “Negotiated Hourly Rate” for the project’s budget. That way it will say “Royalty Share or Negotiated Hourly Rate” on the listing of your book.

#3 Don’t neglect the comments section. I see so many authors who leave this blank, but this is your chance to sell your story to the producer so they actually want to work on your book. Also make it clear that you have an open mind, that you consider them the expert, and that you want them to have some creative freedom as they perform.

#4 Have a marketing plan listed in the comments section too. If producers see that you’re willing to market this book, they’re more willing to work with you and even help you market the book.

#5 Find a great scene that shows tension and quality writing. Also make sure you have a male and female voice in the sample.

#6 Also remember that the most talented producers are actually in high demand and because of that, they don’t even have to audition if they don’t want to. However, many of them will take the time to audition if you’re offering to pay them, you display good writing in the audition sample, your Amazon rank and reviews look good, and you ask them to consider auditioning if they like what they see. So if you find one you really like, and you’ve heard their work before, then just message them about wanting to make an offer.

Note: ACX allows you to just make offers, but I think it’s best to message the producer first to see where your book would fit into their schedule. If you don’t do that, you will probably have to redo the offer.

Narrator Interview

Exclusive Q & A with Storytellers Tristan Hunt and Cheri Schmidt

Join us on BookTube!
Starting now, I’ll be posting to YouTube twice a week. Join me and Tristan Hunt (aka Jason Downs) for exclusive interviews, publishing Q & A, audiobook recommendations, how-to advice on audiobook production, book trailers, behind the scenes of production, and Sophia’s Messy Kitchen Cooking channel. Check back every Tuesday, and Saturday for something new.
Narrator Interview

An interview with Tristan Hunt, the narrator of Fateful.

An interview with Tristan Hunt (aka Jason Downs), the narrator of Fateful.

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(Portrait of Tristan was taken by Leslie Hassler.)

How do you decide what voice to do for each character?

The accent is usually obvious based on where the character is from but I really let the writing dictate how the voice develops… I let the writing inform me. Sometimes the characters’ voice will come to me right away… other times I’ll spend a few minutes feeling my way until I hit upon a certain timbre that feels right.

Do you ever find yourself feeling the emotion you’re portraying? So if you’re reading an emotional part do you end up crying? Sometimes? Almost? Never? Too manly for that? Be honest. 🙂

Absolutely! I love those moments and I try to leave them in the final edit if possible. Often, when I get emotional there are slurps or pops which prevent me from using it but I’ll continue saying the line until I get a clean take.

How do you prepare for emotional or tense scenes?

Again, I let the writing inform me. Simply taking the journey along with the characters is enough to put you in the emotional state they find themselves in at any given moment… emotional or otherwise.

How do you manage to swap between different voices and keep them all straight?

Once I land upon who each character is and where their voice lies in me, it’s not too difficult to shift back and forth… especially when you have multiple personality syndrome, like me… myself… and I. 🙂 Also, keep in mind that I have the luxury of editing. When Ethan has a line right after Danielle and then Max interjects, I can take a beat and breath to turn the switch in the mind and then go back and edit out the pauses.

How on earth did you get into narrating audiobooks?

I wanted to do something creative that I was in control of. I love storytelling and performing but the entertainment business, acting and auditioning etc, is mostly based on circumstances outside of an actor’s control. Yes, you can make sure your body and your instrument are it top shape at any given moment by consistently working out and taking classes and honing your skills… but as far as actually getting a job its completely out of your control beyond showing up to smile for the camera and do your bit. Producing audiobooks allows me complete autonomy and a creative outlet.

What is your favorite food?

I love a great meal but it’s hard to beat Mother Nature’s simplest, sweetest treats… like watermelon. For me, it doesn’t get much better than a perfectly ripe and slightly chilled slice of watermelon.

What do you do when you’re not producing audiobooks?

I audition for film, TV and commercials… and sometimes book them… I work in production when a good job comes along… I’m a dad, which is a job I take seriously… I’m a husband, which is a job I should probably take more seriously… and I’m currently in a Pinter play, The Homecoming, at an Equity theater in Los Angeles.

How would you describe your narration style and voice?

My approach is akin to a movie in which I play all the parts… as well as narrate. 🙂

What is one thing most people don’t know about you? (That you’re willing to share.)

Besides my affinity for watermelon… one of my guilty pleasures is watching episodes of GLEE. Shhhh.

Is there anything specific you do before you start recording? A process? Or a routine? A good luck dance? Stretch? Crack you knuckles? Eat a cupcake?

My morning routine is the same everyday… up at 6:15 and head to the gym, take the kids to school at 7:30, cook two eggs and make some green tea by about 8 and then warm up my voice and start recording by 9.

Have you thought about starting a YouTube channel so we can watch you do the chubby bunny challenge? Or what about doing a daily vlog?

I can honestly say that the thought has never crossed my mind. In fact, I had to look up what a chubby bunny challenge was and it was quite funny… but not very enticing to me. 🙂 A daily vlog is an interesting idea, but would people reeeeeaaaally be interested? Self-promotion has never been my strong suit but I know it’s becoming more and more necessary. I suppose I’d better get with the program!

What is the best way to contact you so we can tell you how awesome you are? (Facebook, website, blog, Twitter?)

Most kind. 🙂 Yes, you can visit Tristan Hunt on Facebook! (I just opened the account… late to the game, I suppose.)

What types of characters have you done so far? Was there one that was particularly fun for you to perform?

I played a character in a book called the Gorgon… all about knights and ladies… who had a stutter and I quite enjoyed it for some reason. I enjoy most of the characters I play… especially if they’re saucy or evil.

Do you have children? Do you have pets?

Yes, two… a boy and girl… and a fish named Turquoise.

What is your favorite genre to narrate and why?

Romance is what I’m hired to do the most… and what I’m well suited for. And I especially like period pieces.

Do you have a favorite accent to perform?

A snotty elderly British woman.

Is there an accent you can’t do?

Many. Although ‘can’t’ is not the word I would choose… I would say that there are many I simply haven’t had the time to study and perfect as of yet.

What is the funniest thing that happened while recording?

Usually when my son sneaks in and starts listening and then wants to record something as well… he’s quite a character himself so we get a kick out of listening back to what he’s done.

Do you have a favorite narrator? Who inspires you?

Mm, there are so many great ones. I’m a Harry Potter fan and Jim Dale did an amazing job with those books. Simon Vance is also one of the best out there. Sissy Spacek did a version of To Kill A Mockingbird which is SO beautiful. And my daughter is listening to Kate Winslet doing Matilda which is absolutely stellar.

Thank you, Tristan, for taking the time to answer these questions and let us get to know a bit more about you!

If you’re interested in checking out his production of The Fateful Series, get a great deal on Fateful when you download the Kindle copy for FREE, and then get the audiobook to go with it for only 1.99!

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Note: If you’ve already downloaded Fateful, check for the available update under Manage Your Content and Devices on Amazon.

(Click on the picture below to get Fateful now.)

Visit Audible for samples of Tristan’s work. (US or UK)

Happy listening!

Reviews: Which character – as performed by Tristan Hunt – was your favourite? Danielle’s uncle Nick, there was a part where he was telling a story and Tristan spoke in such a perfect tone that even I felt shivers. If you could sum up Fateful in three words, what would they be? Emotional, beautiful and soulful. If you prefer audio books then get the first book right now, narrated perfectly by Tristan Hunt. Definitely a 5 star rating from me. ~Beks What does Tristan Hunt bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book? I loved the way Tristan brought Max’s character to life in exactly the way I imagined it. Tristan told the story in a wonderful hybrid of watching a movie and listening to a friend that was easy and comfortable with the perfect amount of expression and performance… So beautifully written and performed that I shed a tear or two. ~Leanne Impatient? Listen right now: