Starting my next Project!
I've just started recording my latest project, a great YA / Fantasy novel that's got a really great story line! It's so much better to narrate a story that I enjoy, I've made a conscious effort with each of my projects to ensure that it is something I would read / listen to.
And I thought maybe someone starting out might find my process useful. I'm no expert and am still learning this craft but if anything I do can help another narrator out I'm happy to help!
The first thing I do is look for a title to audition for. Like a lot of narrators, I use a website called ACX.com, which is part of Amazon, to browse the current list of titles that are looking to be made into audiobooks. I use the filters and look for LGBT / Lesfic books that are looking for a female narrator with a general American accent. There aren't a great deal of these books so when they are available I will always look to audition for them. My second favourite genre is sci-fi fantasy (not as in erotica!) so if there are no LGBT titles I'll look in these categories.
If I find one, I'll read the audition manuscript which will give me some clues as to the quality of the writing and the story. If the writing is awful and full of spelling mistakes, repeated words, difficult to follow etc, then I won't go any further with that title and will keep looking. If the writing is good and the story sounds interesting, I'll have a look at the cover art. This is a big indicator of how much time / effort a rights holder (RH) is willing to put into their work - if the cover is just a stretched out version of their normal Amazon cover, with it's stretched out artwork and font, then that's a red flag for me. In my case, though, it's not a deal breaker. I've worked on some great stories that didn't have the best cover art, but those titles don't sell as well because people on Audible and iTunes browse titles with their eyes - the cover needs to look professional and in the correct perspective to make it more appealing to our audiobook browsers!
If I like the story, writing and cover, I will record the audition script, edit and master it and then submit it via the website. I tend to mainly do Royalty Share titles as my current goal is to build a passive income stream, but I also take on per finished hour (PFH) work, where the RH will pay me a fee for each hour of finished audio I produce. This way I can sub out the editing and mastering to a professional studio for a really top quality sound, but it does require an outlay by the RH. For Royaly Share (RS) titles I do the editing and mastering myself, and whilst I'm not by any means a professional, the finished result is of a pretty good standard.
So let's say I get the RH loves my audition and I get the book. My first step is to read it. All of it. Like I would if it were any other book that I've purchased. This lets me experience the story as a normal reader would and is probably my favourite part. (hey, this girl loves reading!)
Once I've finished it, I will go back through it and prep it. Every narrator is different, but so far for me, this involves making a word document that lists each chapter, the speaking characters in it, and any words that I need to be careful about pronouncing - these might be foreign words, made up words (in the world of sci-fi and fantasy) or just words that I always struggle with - like millenium! Next to each will be a phonetic guide to how to pronounce it for quick reference, e.g. "mill-LEN-ee-um"
Each character name in my word document will be highlighted in a different colour - normally I highlight my main character in light blue or light green. Then in the manuscript, I will highlight each characters dialogue the same as their name in my notes. That way I get a little visual cue as to who's voice is coming up - and it stops me using the wrong voice for the wrong character!
I will go through each chapter like this until I get to the end - I can normally work through around 20,000 words each evening so the prepping doesn't take too long.
Once the manuscript is prepped and I've got all my notes and pronounciations, I'm ready to start recording! Then comes the editing and mastering, which I'll cover another time - my wife is shouting at me that dinner is ready so I better go and get some fuel in my body!