We’re looking at your one audition, or maybe two. They are both “almost” right. You think you might be able to live with them, but there’s just something about those auditions that holds you back from jumping on the “Make Offer” button.
Is there any way to find out if it’s just nerves, or if something is truly amiss?
Bear in mind that picking a narrator is not an exact science. You are trying to match the voice in your head with someone else’s, and they are not going to be perfect. I was so lucky with my first narrator, because the first book I worked on was a British Regency general fiction/romance. I’m from the American Midwest. No, I don’t sound anything like “Fargo,” but yes, I do know people who do. But British? I couldn’t even imagine what my book was supposed to sound like. Couldn’t even hear my characters voices speak British in my head.
When a Real Live British narrator read the audition, I was hooked. Even in that short reading, for the first time I heard my characters speak. It was such a thrill I’m seriously considering buying my own audiobook. (I don’t know if that’s allowed, but I fell in love with my book all over again just listening to her read it.)
My dream is to help everyone who reads this post have that same feeling. So how do you choose the narrator that will give it to you?
Can they pick out the proper sense in the sentence? the paragraph? the book? For example, let’s take a simple 3-word sentence, and let’s assume this is a pivotal scene so you’ve used it for the audition. “Don’t leave me!” Three words. Did you mean the sentence to say, “Don’t leave me!” Or was it “Don’t leave me!” Or even “Don’t leave me!”
Did the narrator pick out the right one? That’s an excellent start.
Is your book heavy on dialogue, and do you want someone who can do voices? What if the narrator who can do voices is the same one who picked out the wrong word to stress in our sample sentence? Which is more important to you? Do you want a book full of character voices, but the wrong sense stress in the sentences? Or is it more important to have the character voices be obvious? That is one of the decisions only you can make.
The last step is to find out what else they have done. You have their samples on ACX, and there might be a number of them. Listen to them all, even if it’s not the voice style you are looking for. Then do go to Audible and type their name in. See what else they have done. Listen to the audio book samples there.
And here I’m going to make a strange recommendation. If you think you’re hearing the same thing on those samples that bothered you on your own audition, if you can at all afford it, buy one of those books. Listen to it for some time. Not necessarily all the way through, but give it a fair chance. Do you notice the same irritant that held you back from clicking that “Make Offer” button?
If so, you have a tough decision to make, and I wish I could give more help. Here, it might be the lesser of two evils. Sign them up and hope it’s just you and no one else will be bothered. Or pass, choose to wait, and hope against hope that someone better will find you – or you will find them. If you do pass on them, take comfort that there is a whole site of other narrators to ask to audition.
And if you do pick one, make the offer, and find out afterward that you would like a do-over, yes, those contracts are for 7 years, but it is only 7 years, and afterward you can cancel with this reader and start over if you want!
Whichever way you go, at some point hopefully you will click that “Make Offer” button. Now what?
(original blog date 8/25/2015)