One of the things that a professional voice talent MUST have to succeed is the ability to self-direct. We do so much of our work – at least initially (and in many cases most of our work) – alone. Alone with our doubts, our insecurities, our patterns.
When we are auditioning, the ability to self-direct can be the determining factor in getting the gig. We don’t want to send out the “same” read that 95% of the rest of the talent is submitting. We want our audition to leap off the mp3 and straight into the “book that talent” column.
Last year, I tried my hand at fiction audio books for the first time. I am finishing up the 3rd. And while the verdict is still out on if I actually like this area of voice work, I have greatly enjoyed the process. Discovering how much time it REALLY takes. Is it better to have a proofer and an editor – or some combination of both? Do I like the stipend with royalty option, or just the royalty, or just a flat fee.
The first book was entirely self-produced – $100 pfh (per finished hour) stipend, plus royalties. It is coming up on a year since the book was released and the pfh has bumped up to about $175 pfh. The second book I did was a fluffly little Harlequin romance with a pfh of around $125 – but I didn’t have to do the proofing or the editing. No royalties on this one though, so the one check is the only check I’ll be getting for that one.
I have 3 more chapters to go on the third book – a sweet southern story with a stipend of $150 pfh, plus royalties. So far I am self-producing this one. I sort of liked the team approach, but at the same time, I am used to doing everything myself – the artistic and the technical. I could be persuaded to hand off the technical, but the artistic is all in my hands. That part of the project is almost entirely in our hands. No one is listening to me as I read page after page – chapter after chapter.
Paul Alan Ruben is a Grammy award winning producer/director of audio books and he has written a wonderful article about the art of self-directing during that artistic phase of recording an audio book. He calls his directions – “techniques.”
And technique is defined as an actable performance tool whose purpose is to cause compelling storytelling.
In this article, he is interviewing his co-director – himself – who details 7 Directions that he gives – uh – himself – when working his way through the story. Here they are in a nutshell – you’ll have to read the article to get the details.
Verbalize feeling; Hold back; Flat; Less; Big; Dispassionately teach, passionately; Up the stakes!
If you record audio books – this is a must read. And I know that my co-director will be barking out a few of these orders as I finish up the last three chapters of the Tea-Olive Bird Watching Society.