This Narrating Thing

I began narrating books as a result of publishing my own little personal development book in 2016. During the process of making it into an audiobook (which I had to have because I love, love, love audiobooks), I felt inspired to create a narrator profile on ACX. It was something I had been pondering for a while so I took the leap. Since then I’ve had fortunate experiences, studied the craft, and consulted with coaches to accelerate my progress.

When I first decided to give narrating a try, I thought it would be so easy, especially if I would just focus on nonfiction. I figured there was tons of competition for narrators who want to read fiction, plus I thought nonfiction suited my personality and voice better. I’ve been known to take everything so seriously and I also choose to spend very little time on frivolous pursuits so nonfiction seemed like a good match in many ways.

Then, out of the blue just a couple months into narrating, I received an invitation to audition for a fiction title. The invitation was from Warren Adler’s team. He is a prolific and well-established writer. They were looking for ladies to narrate his Fiona Fitzgerald Mystery Series. There were 9 books in the series at the time and some past inklings of it being turned into a TV series. Oh my stars, that all sent me reeling! I followed up on the invitation with an explanation of how I hadn’t narrated fiction before and received encouragement back to give it a go. So I figured, “What the heck?” I did the audition and received an offer back along with more encouragement. Below is what I tweeted.

As it turns out, I do have a friend in acting, so I gave him a call. He had some advice to get me started, and he tapped into his network to help me find a voice acting coach.

Boy did I luck out! Coach Nokes brought me along quickly. After a few coaching sessions not only did I notice big improvement in my understanding of narration and what my voice can do but also my confidence grew. Coach Nokes can interpret a script and nail character traits and how to reflect that in the voice in seconds. He also had numerous dialects at the tip of his tongue. It’s more than a little impressive.

From there, I kept plugging along. I posted new samples to my ACX profile. Nearly weekly I was invited to audition for projects or just given royalty deal offers straight out the gate. I researched each opportunity looking for books that had already done well in paperback or ebook formats. I checked reviews and looked up the web presence of the authors who contacted me. I searched open auditions on ACX periodically and submitted when I found something that I thought would be a good fit.

I learned very quickly to choose carefully because completing an 8-10 hour audiobook project is a marathon that requires many hours and great attention to detail. It’s also risky when agreeing to royalty share deals since you may or may not earn back what you put into it. Maybe I’m a gambler at heart but royalty share deals still appeal to me. Maybe I just don’t know enough. I have been advised in several consultations to get the heck away from royalty share deals asap.

Where Do Great Ideas Come From

A while back, I had e-mail correspondence with someone I barely know who asked if I ever watched The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, which is no longer in production but there is a book* and you can find bits here and there on the internet with a search. When someone comes by with a little tip like that out of nowhere, I pay attention. My experience shows that there is probably something I need to see there. So I responded that I had not, and thanked her for the referral. I watched some episodes, and I enjoyed the show.

I also noticed an interesting phenomenon…

On the show, one of the main things Donny Deutsch does is to try and get insight with each person featured on the show about exactly where and how they got that big idea. This makes total sense because that is the name of the show, after all, so people really should expect that question. Nevertheless, each time he asks it, the person pauses for a moment and looks as if they are processing that question and aren’t quite sure what to say. As if they are saying to themselves, “Hey, that is a good question, where did that idea come from?” And, it is a pertinent question because essentially Donny is trying to educate and coach people in his audience to find their own big idea and go for it.

The question is difficult because when people have a great idea, they are fully engaged in whatever it is they’re studying at the time inspiration strikes. All they remember is that they were busy following their noses, uncovering clues, letting one thing lead to another, and it all seemed obvious at the time…until they get this question anyway. That is when it becomes apparent they were just in their creative flow, and it’s hard to explain.

Creativity is something that we all have if we can open to it. The first step for someone who is sitting around wanting ideas but having none is to remove all barriers to getting into the flow of creativity. Creativity can’t occur while sitting in judgment of every thought that pops into your head. A person has to open their mind and be comfortable with the creative process. Some people are very good at tapping into their creative source consistently; others might have to be reminded to let go and play a little.

Begin by exploring things that catch your eye, just follow your nose a bit and see what happens. Once you have gathered some info, give yourself a rest and see what your wonderfully creative mind cooks up. When you feel a little kick of enthusiasm, you may be on to something.