I’m sure all of us have heard an audio book we could hardly wait to get, only to be disappointed with the narrator. Choosing the right one is so important. Although I think I just got lucky in choosing J.D. Hart to narrate my books, I went through a learning curve. Here are some of the things I’ve learned:
- As a reader, you know you can search Audible by narrator, right? That means, if you find a voice you love, you can go online and see all the other books he/she has narrated and listen to them as well. This is not something I knew when I first started out, nor did I know that loyal listeners would travel to one author from another when a good narrator is found.
- As an author, chose a narrator with an already existing following of some kind. Perhaps this person is an actor with fans, or is involved in the music industry and has fans. Or chose a narrator who is willing to or knows how to promote you as the author. Many will do this, but not all of them will. It is so helpful when your narrator can bring fans to your listening audience.
- Make sure you take into account the number of characters, accents and special voices you will need for your books, and make sure your sample narration covers some of these. That way, you get an audition of the narrator’s true skills, not just a portion. If you are sensitive how women’s voices sound, for instance, with a male narrator, make sure they read a part where you have the H/H (two most important parts of the romance novel) speaking in dialogue. Or an action scene, or a little of both (a tip from Bella Andre). You’re going to have to get used to a stranger reading your sex scenes aloud. Get over it. You’ll pick yourself up off the floor and learn to actually like it. Honest.
- Make sure you allow proper time (usually 1.5 hours for every hour of narration) to properly proof, listen and assist the narrator in giving the kind of command performance you want.
- Do you want one narrator or two? It can be difficult to edit if there are two parties, but some authors feel having two voices helps readers get a flavor of their story. In my case, I didn’t want that. I wanted the listener to fall in love with the voice I’d chosen, just as I had. I thought they’d be annoyed having to listen to anyone else’s.
- You can ask questions about timing and how the narrator handles edits. In this way, you will find out how easy he/she is to work with. Remember, this is an intimate partnership. If you haven’t done one before, you will be excited and nervous as heck when you hire your first and you hear your words translated into the spoken word. Almost like a first date. Your narrator will see the flaws in your story, your writing, errors in grammar and diction, as well as reveal very personal things about your story as he/she tells it—again, the narrator becomes a character in your book, and the reader/listener hears it through his/her interpretation.
- Don’t be afraid to be frank if you don’t like some thing. Make sure you listen to chapters slowly at first to make sure you are on the same page about things. You don’t want to have to ask for several chapters of re-do. In the end, it is your story, and you are paying the bills, in most cases. You deserve to get what you want.
- No matter how good a narrator is, some readers/listeners will not be comfortable with that voice. They may have read the character a different way. I have some people that won’t listen to an audio book because they want the experience of the character they created in their own mind.
WHAT IS AMAZING ABOUT THE AUDIO BOOK is that we aren’t duplicating the experience of reading, WE’RE ENHANCING it. It is a different art form. We’re deepening the experience for the reader/listener.
- At Tucson Festival of Books earlier this month, I asked readers what they liked to use. Last year, people were split 50/50 over using an eReader and a paperback book. This year, I was told over and over again, “I use them all. I read on my smart phone, I read on my computer, on my tablet as well as the print book. If I like the book, I buy the print, eBook AND the Audio Book.
THIS FACT WAS HUGE FOR ME. If not than for any other reason, authors who are not doing audio books are missing the boat.
In short, I just plain lucked out. It could have been a horrible experience and I just jumped in. But I found the most kind and talented guy in the world to do my stories. I’ve learned to ask for what I need, which took some getting used to on my part. I’ve learned to trust him, to allow him to take the lead where he knows best, and to just shut up and let him work.
It has been one of the highlights of my career to get involved with the six audio books I’ve done with J.D. Hart. And the fact that they are selling well, is only testament to how good he is at what he does.
Here’s a little treat for you, a sample reading and a book trailer with his voice. Enjoy!! Leave a comment here and one lucky person will win an audio book of their choice from the six we have recorded. Tell me something you either like or don’t like about audio books, or reveal if you are an audio virgin. We’ll see if we can do something to take care of that right away.
Book Trailer, Cruisin For A SEAL.
Sample Narration, Honeymoon Bite (Marcus/Anne)
NYT and USA/Today and top 100 Amazon bestselling author Sharon Hamilton’s award-winning Navy SEAL Brotherhood series have been fan favorites since they were first released. They’ve earned her the coveted Amazon author ranking of #1 in Romantic Suspense, Military Romance and Contemporary Romance, as well as Gothic Romance for her Vampires of Tuscany and guardian angels. Her characters follow a sometimes rocky road to redemption through passion and true love.
Her Golden Vampires of Tuscany are not like any vamps you’ve read about before, since they don’t go to ground and can walk around in the full light of the sun.
Her Guardian Angels struggle with the human charges they are sent to save, often escaping their vanilla world of Heaven for the brief human one. You won’t find any of these beings in any Sunday school class.