Into Deep Waters audio book, step 2
This is all new to me – I’m using ACX to handle the auditions, contracting, etc. Or I should say, Jonathan Penn is, on my behalf, because wow, it’s so much easier with help.
It turns out that the second step, after deciding to take the plunge, and choosing some narrators who might be good, is to audition them. For this you have to create an audition script from the book.
*Point one that we found out in the process – your script should only be about 5 minutes long.
We started with a longer one, and had to cut it back. With Jonathan’s help, I decided that our audition script needed to include several things.
– a scene with narrative and conversation from the beginning, to check on the “Young Daniel” and “Young Jacob” voices, and narration pace
– an emotional scene, for what is sometimes an emotional book. (I picked a bit of the scene in the water, for those familiar with the story.)
– a sex scene (because yeah, some narrators do not give good sex 😉 )
– an older-guys scene, to see if the narrator can age the voices into their 80’s well
Jonathan went even further, and made note of a couple of small points
– an obvious typo – did the narrator catch it and fix it, or read it as written?
– a word that has idiosyncratic pronunciation
– a descriptive phrase that was a bit awkward
Then we loaded the script, invited the 10 narrators we hoped to hear from, and figured we’d get a few nibbles.
To my delight, we got 9 of the 10 invitees sending in audition readings (and the tenth – Charlie David – was interested but not available in the time frame; so flattering to have all of them bother to respond 🙂 We also got 4 other auditions sent in from people we didn’t invite, and 3 of them were also very good. This is where Jonathan made it easy on me – he did an initial ranking of the 13 auditions on a bunch of aspects. Then he sent me the ranking chart and the auditions I wanted to hear. I did the same kind of ratings on my top 5, with my own criteria and we compared notes.
No one was perfect – the guy with the best sex scenes didn’t age the voices as well. The guy with the best voices had melodramatic narration. The guy with the most wonderful, emotional narration had less ideal sex scenes. Of course, it could never be that simple.
And of course, of the top 5 narrators, Jonathan’s 1st choice was my 5th.
But we worked through the points of who we liked and why. We also looked at costs. You can either offer a royalty-sharing scheme, or up-front, hourly rates. My 63K story will take about 7 hours. The guys we looked at charge between $110 and over $300 per hour. I can understand why royalty-sharing would appeal to authors, but it is a gamble for narrators who have to do the work up front. I had decided to offer to pay the hourly rate, because I wasn’t sure any of the great narrators I wanted for this story (which is dear to my heart) would choose to royalty-share, given the uncertainty of an audio book based on a free novel.
So I gulped a little at the cost (and hoped hard that I’ll make it back), and took hourly rates into account. We also looked at availability, since patience isn’t my strong point. Most of the guys said they could do it in August, one said the end of July, one not till September. In the end, we picked a guy who was my number 1 and Jonathan’s number 2, and mid-range in cost. A guy whose reading made me feel the emotions of Daniel as he found Joseph, in that water. Someone I’m excited to hear read the rest of the story.
The next step was to offer a contract. And once the contract is signed, we’ll wait until the narrator has a block of free time, and he’ll do a first recording, which we then get to listen to and edit. I expect attentive listening will be tough for me – I can’t even read my own work aloud. But at the same time, I can’t wait to hear what this guy does with the story. It’ll be about a month.
I’ll keep you posted.