Why Writing Skills Matter for Voice Artists

July 9th, 2014 by VoxMan

1211761346538131220DooFi_Keyboard.svg.med[1]I came across a very thought-provoking article on the website for PBS Newshour today. It’s a discussion of how writing skills, in particular grammar and spelling, really matter if you’re looking for a job.

Here’s a short excerpt from the article that sums up the essentials.

I don’t care what field you work in, how much you earn, or whether you’re a production worker or a vice president. The way you use language reveals who you are, how you think, and how you work. And that will affect your career profoundly. You can pretend otherwise, but you can also walk around buck-naked believing you’re invisible because you’ve got your eyes closed.

Go read the entire article, it’s worth it. Don’t worry, we’ll wait.

What does this have to do with voiceover?

11954236801897803973Machovka_Microphone.svg.med[1]You’d think that we as voice talent wouldn’t have to really be great writers, would you?  After all, we spend our days talking into a microphone- we don’t need to know how to write- right?

Well, you would be wrong. I’ve been doing this for a little while now, and looking back over my nascent career, I can count the number of  conversations that involved actually speaking with my clients that took place before I booked a job on one hand. I’ve spoken to many of my clients in person or on the phone, but the initial contact is always by email.

Don’t look like you’re illiterate.

If you want to book work with a client, don’t present yourself poorly in written correspondence. As much as you might think that email is an informal communication medium, it still reflects on you personally when people read it. If your correspondence is riddled with spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, poor punctuation or strange slang, you will not be seen in as favorable a light.

People do notice.

As freelancers, we’re not out there with our resumes in hand, so when we speak with our potential clients via email, that’s the closest we have to a resume. Everything they know about you personally will come from those pixels on the screen, so use them wisely!

Put your best foot forward in all interactions with your clients. Don’t rely on spell check too much, and proofread anything before you send it. It WILL make a difference.

More audiobook giveaways!

June 12th, 2014 by VoxMan

Like audiobooks? Want a free one? You came to the right place! I have several books to choose from- All you have to do to get one is ask and get me your email address so I can send you a gifted audiobook via Audible.com.

What’s this?

I’m giving away free audiobooks!

What’s the catch?

There isn’t one! These are all totally free. I would appreciate it if you would be so kind as to leave a rating or a review when you’ve listened to the book, but there is absolutely no requirement that you do so.

How do I get one?

Simply drop me a note at corey@voxman.net with your email address and I’ll send you a gifted copy of the book of your choice from the list below. All the gifted copies will be through Audible.com. I will not use your email address for any purpose other than to send your free audiobook.

You have other books?

Absolutely! If you’re interested in the rest of my audiobooks, you can find them all (including the ones I can’t give away today) here.

What’s available?

Without further ado, here’s the list of books to choose from. Only one per person, please.

First, the DeChance ChroniclesAn Urban Fantasy Series

Similar to  Dresden Files, the DeChance Chronicles are a fun urban fantasy series about the eponymous Donovan DeChance. There’s four books in the series:

Heart of a Dragon by David Niall Wilson-Urban Fantasy.

When Anya Cabrera, a Voodoo Houngan in San Valencez California’s Barrio, tampers with the ceremony that draws the Loa to possess the faithful, Donovan DeChance, book collector, mage, and private investigator is contacted immediately. Donovan helps to maintain the balance of supernatural forces in the city – and that balance is in serious danger. The Dragons, a local motorcycle gang, live under a shaky truce with a neighboring Hispanic gang, Los Escorpiones, who are now aligned with Anya. The two groups face off in a battle that becomes more than the Dragons expected.

Vintage Soul by David Niall Wilson -Urban Fantasy.

Donovan DeChance is a collector of ancient manuscripts and books, a practicing mage, and a private investigator. When, despite the finest in natural and supernatural security, a sexy and well-loved 300-year-old lady vampire is kidnapped right out from under her lover’s nose, Donovan is called in to investigate.

My Soul to Keep by David Niall Wilson -Urban Fantasy.

Donovan DeChance is a collector of ancient manuscripts and books, a practicing mage, and a private investigator. He is also a very private man, and he is in love. When he invites his partner and lover, Amethyst, for a quiet dinner, she has no idea of his true intention. Donovan has planned a sharing – a vision that will give her the keys to his early life – the origins of his power – and a lot more than she bargained for. The story leads to the town of Rookwood in 1842.

Kali’s Tale by David Niall Wilson -Urban Fantasy.

When asked to follow in secret as a hot-headed group of young vampires set out on a ‘blood quest’ to kill the ancient who created the young vampire Kali against her will, Donovan DeChance learns that – as usual – there is a lot more to the story than meets the eye.

 Single Books

Half Past Midnight by Jeff Brackett- Post-apocalyptic survival thriller.

The Doomsday Clock gauges the threat of nuclear war. Currently, the clock is set at six minutes before midnight. What happens after the hands reach midnight? Survivalist Leeland Dawcett finds out when he and his family are plunged into the nightmare of their country returned to a third-world state. No phones. No computers. No television. At first, Leeland thinks basic survival is the answer. Until he crosses the path of the wrong guy…Someone who wants to do more than just survive…

Poachers Were My Prey by R.T. Stewart and W.H. “Chip” Gross -Biography/Memoir.

Poachers Were My Prey chronicles R. T. Stewart’s many exciting undercover adventures, detailing the techniques he used in putting poachers behind bars. It also reveals, for the first time, the secrets employed by undercover wildlife officers in catching the bad guys.

Spinning Webs and Telling Lies by David Niall Wilson and Brian A. Hopkins -Short Western-themed horror stories.

This book collects Western-themed stories of horror and fantasy by Bram Stoker Award-winning authors David Niall Wilson and Brian A. Hopkins. This updated digital edition includes all previous errata and the last of the One-Eyed Jack stories, bringing all three into one book for the first time.

All done for now!

June 6th, 2014 by VoxMan

Check back later in the month for more giveaways!

A Peek Behind the Curtain!

February 13th, 2014 by VoxMan

I, like many other audiobook narrators, am frequently asked questions like:

  • How do you record an audiobook?
  • What goes into it?
  • How long does it take?

Every narrator gets questions like this and we usually don’t mind answering, because hey- who doesn’t like to talk about their job? But at some point I started to wonder if maybe there was a way to show people what making an audiobook was like?

Watch the Sausage Get Made

So, I pitched the idea of doing a live stream of me recording an audiobook to one of my clients. They loved the idea, and so I’m going to try an experiment to see if this works, and if people are interested. The idea is to give people a look at the ins and outs of making an audiobook- all the stops and starts, the retakes, the flubs (and the occasional cursing), the punching in and all that.

Live Stream Info

On February 14, 2014, starting at or around 10 AM Pacific time, I’ll be streaming a recording session live. Tune in to see me, my microphone, and the software I use to record as I do it. I might even have some commentary for you, in between takes and mistakes! You can watch here or at http://twitch.tv/VoxManVO

Watch live video from VoxManVO on www.twitch.tv

What I’ll Be Recording

I’m going to be recording a textbook entitled A More Perfect Union: An Introduction to American Government and Politics, Part 1, published by Line-In Publishing.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Shoot me a comment here or send me an email (corey at voxman dot net) and let me know what you think!

2013: The Year That Was

February 11th, 2014 by VoxMan

Yes, it’s February, but I wanted to take a moment and look back at 2013. What a year! I thought I’d take a moment (or several) to look back on 2013, pause and reflect on my first year as a full-time voice talent.

Setting the Stage

Before January 1, 2013 I was a software developer in my “real life”. I was really good at it and even a year after leaving that behind I get daily emails and calls from recruiters, as the skills I built up in that field were not the most common. Voice acting was my passion, but it was something I did on the side, in the evenings and on the weekends. I’d been doing it for a couple of years, and had several audiobooks to my credit, as well as a few small gigs here and there for commercials, corporate narrations and the like. I really wanted to make the jump to full-time but never really had the right confluence of circumstances, until the end of 2012.

In December of 2012, I was incredibly fortunate to be approached by Tantor Audio to do a couple of audiobooks. It was a serendipitous moment, as I had been contemplating how I could pull off such a move for some time. My wife has complications from a stroke and requires some assistance in her day-to-day life, and although I’d left my job at Microsoft for one closer to home (the commute was murderous) to give her that assistance, it was becoming clear that the best solution for us would be for me to be able to work out of the house.

My career in software was coming to a close, and a new one was opening up.

Starting Anew

Of course, I was aware that changing careers in such a dramatic fashion at age 43 was going to be a challenge. I was leaving two decades of skills and experience behind to become an actor, for cryin’ out loud. Who does that? And on top of that I was going into audiobook narration, not just VO.

It was a crazy choice, but it was the right one ultimately. I ventured into a new world of running my own business and all that comes with it, but I was very lucky to have a lot of great people to rely on for their assistance and advice. I can tell you that it was simultaneously the most frustrating, stressful and exciting year of my life. I’m glad I did it, but I’m glad it’s over, and I’m looking forward to 2014 with great anticipation.

The Year in Review

In 2013, I recorded thirty audiobooks- you can find them on Audible. Several of them are in post-production, but I’m counting them because the recording was done in 2013. I feel like that was a pretty good number for a year’s work by a new narrator- I don’t have any statistics on how many books most narrators do when starting out, but I’m pretty sure that thirty is a solid outing.

For 2014, my goal is sixty. During the middle of 2013 there was a bit of a slump where I had few books to work on, and I’ve streamlined my production processes to the point where I can produce about twice as much audio per day as I did at the beginning of the year. New tools and software have helped out there too. Between all of these things I would be comfortable saying I could get to that goal (although when I consider it, I should perhaps frame it in terms of time instead of number of titles because books vary in length so wildly).

For now, sixty is a good target, taking the assumption that most will be of similar length to what I’ve done previously. We’ll see how I do by the end of 2014!

The Highlights

This year has had some truly amazing experiences associated with it for me.

First on the list is being featured on the Audiobook Creation Exchange Blog as a finalist for Guy Kawasaki’s book APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur (I did a couple of blog entries on it). While I didn’t get the job, my audition landed me in a small group of finalists, who were all featured on the ACX blog. What an incredible honor that was!

I was also fortunate to be able to attend the Audio Publisher’s Association conference in New York during 2013. That was an amazing experience and one I will not soon forget. It was incredible to be able to meet and talk with so many top-flight narrators and producers in one place. Not to mention being in New York and able to play tourist a little!

A few of the books I narrated this year stand out as projects I’m extremely proud of. Here’s a short list of some of my favorites from 2013.

  • Black Hearts: One Platoon’s Descent Into Madness in Iraq’s Triangle of Death, by Jim Frederick (Link). This was the first book I narrated in what would become one of my specialties- military history. It was quite a challenge for me in some ways, because in my time in the military, I served in a unit almost identical to the one chronicled in the book, and it brought up a lot of memories. I’m grateful to the wonderful people at Tantor Audio for choosing me to narrate this important book.
  • Thunder Below!: The USS Barb Revolutionizes Submarine Warfare in World War II, by Admiral Eugene B. Fluckey (Link). Another military history book, this is one of my best-reviewed and selling titles. I had a lot of fun recording this one. I mean, a grown man standing in a room making dive klaxon sounds and shouting “CLEAR THE BRIDGE! BATTLE STATIONS TORPEDOES!” and “DIVE! DIVE!”, and so forth- it was like being in a movie. I felt like a kid, but the story was true!
  • 1940: FDR, Willikie, Lindbergh, Hitler- The Election Amid the Storm, by Susan Dunn (Link). Another history title, this one was a remarkable foray into a part of US history I wasn’t very familiar with- the turmoil in the country in the late 1930s to 1940, culminating in the last election before the Pearl Harbor attack. Many people are familiar with what happened after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, but not as many (myself included) knew what went on before that time, and 1940 was quite a watershed year. This was a really wonderful book to be able to narrate.

2014 Is Looking Good!

Although we’re into February already, 2014 is shaping up to be a great year for me, and I’m incredibly excited to see what happens this year. My goals include expanding the number of publishers I work with and doing at least sixty books this year, up from 2013’s thirty books.

Here’s to 2014!

Great review of NONE BRAVER in Audiofile Magazine

October 11th, 2013 by VoxMan

I’m a member of the Audio Publisher’s Association, which is the industry trade group for audiobook publishers, narrators, engineers and others in the business. Part of the dues covers a subscription to Audiofile Magazine, which is the premiere audiobook industry publication.

I picked up my copy yesterday at the Post Office and was very happy to find that a review of one of the books I narrated was in it! It was really odd and quite cool to see my name in print like that.

51HyUPIN2HL._SS500_[1]I recorded None Braver by Michael Hirsh for Tantor Audio earlier this year. It’s a deep dive into the world of the US Air Force Pararescuemen, or “PJs” as they are usually called. Their job is to be provide battlefield medical support in some of the harshest conditions imaginable. They are truly an incredible group. I was once a paratrooper myself, which is something I’ve always been proud of, but I always knew about the Rangers, the Green Berets, the SEALs, and so forth. Many people looked up to us, but we looked up to them.

I didn’t even know the PJs existed until I had the opportunity to read None Braver, and I was amazed at just how tough these guys are. They have a qualification course harder than just about any other special forces training in the world, lasts longer and graduates fewer. They truly are deserving of the title “None Braver”.

You can find the review on the Audiofile Magazine website here.

An excerpt: “Narrator Corey Snow does an admirable job navigating the listener through the technical details and military jargon. He captures the complexity of the PJs’ skills, equipment, training, and missions without overdramatizing the material.” 

Love it! Reviews are good for you, even when they’re not good reviews (because you learn what you’re doing wrong), but I’ll freely admit the positive ones feel better! :)

Get a copy of None Braver from Tantor Audio, or from Audible.com! You can also hear a sample of it in my audiobook demo reel on the homepage of my site.

I was featured on ACX today

August 13th, 2013 by VoxMan

It’s hard to put into words how cool this is. The Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) recently held auditions for Guy Kawasaki’s new book APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepeneur and I was one of those who auditioned.

As it turned out, I did not get the project; that went to Lloyd Sherr- the voice of Modern Marvels on the History Channel and several animated series. However, I was one of the six finalists, out of hundreds of auditions. That alone is an achievement, because I was in a very large pool with some absolutely stellar narrators. I personally know many of the people who auditioned, and have always been in awe of their talents. To make it to the finalists against that field is something I won’t lie about being proud of.

Go check out the article on ACX! I hope you enjoy reading it.

 

THUNDER BELOW by Eugene Fluckey now available!

August 12th, 2013 by VoxMan

51FVfd2yPzL._SL300_[1]My latest audiobook project, Thunder Below! by Eugene B. Fluckey, is now available for sale via your favorite audiobook outlets.

This book tells the incredible story of the submarine USS Barb in World War II, and is not to be missed if you’re a fan of history, military, submarines or action.

You can order it from Tantor Audio or Audible. Go get your copy- it’s well worth it.

New Book- Poachers Were My Prey!

August 8th, 2013 by VoxMan

51SY0P6HLzL._SL300_[1]

I received notice today that my new audiobook Poachers Were My Prey by R.T. Stewart has gone live on Audible.

The book is the autobiographical account of nearly two decades of undercover wildlife law enforcement work by Stewart as a wildlife officer in Ohio. It recounts many of his biggest undercover operations, and goes into deep detail about the people, situations and temptations he encountered. I had no idea before reading this book that undercover wildlife law enforcement was so dangerous!

This was a lot of fun to read, and I learned a lot. It’s a thrilling book and if you listen to it I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a great story.

ACX wants to feature me on their blog!

August 8th, 2013 by VoxMan

A few weeks ago, the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) put out a call for auditions for Guy Kawasaki’s book APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepeneur.

It was all over the media for a bit, even on sites like NASDAQ. Needless to say, it got a lot of attention and a ton of narrators threw their hat in the ring, including me.

A few hours ago I got an email saying that I was sadly not chosen to be the narrator for APE. I will admit I had high hopes for that one, but I knew it was a very unlikely prospect, given both the size of the talent pool and the caliber of the narrators I’d be going up against. There’s some SERIOUS talent out there and I know a lot of them went for this one.

A little while after the first email, I got a second one. This one was from Scott Jacobi at Audible, with incredible news: While I hadn’t been selected, I had been one of six finalists. Out of the entire pool of more than 350 auditions- and I’m not sure if that number is the total or just the ones decent enough to be given serious consideration- I was one of just six who made it to the final cut.

While it’s true that almost doesn’t pay bills, it’s also true that knowing I was good enough to be considered with the top-flight talent that must have been in that pool with me is pretty cool.

As if that weren’t enough good news, Scott went on to tell me that they want to feature me on the ACX Blog next week! I’ve got a bunch of questions to answer and some background to provide, and I’ll be showcased on the ACX site!

To say I’m excited would be an understatement. I’m very grateful to Audible and ACX for the extremely kind gesture.

Look for me to be featured on the ACX blog in detail sometime next week! I’ll be mentioning it here and on my Twitter feed (@vox_man), so watch for it!