ACX 101, Part 2: Your Marketing Plan

March 24th, 2015 by VoxMan

ACX 101Welcome to ACX 101, an article series by a narrator for authors and rights holders new to ACX (the Audiobook Creation Exchange).

This is Part 2: Your Marketing Plan. Use the links at the top of this post to see the previous articles, or get a list of all the articles in the series.

You DO Have a Marketing Plan, Right?

Question Mark in a CircleThis is another one of those areas that a lot of authors and rights holders new to audiobooks in general and ACX specifically seem to be unaware of, or minimize the importance of. Your marketing plan is arguably the most important part of this entire process, and in terms of making money, is equally as crucial as your book!

Just like with anything else you make to sell to people, you will not make money on it if people don’t buy it. Your book might be great- but if no one knows about it, you’re not going to sell many copies. If you’ve spent any time at all in the brick and mortar publishing world, you know how rare it is for authors to actually make a living at writing.

Audiobooks Are Expensive To Produce

dollarsignThere’s a lot of costs that go into producing an audiobook. Take a look at my article on the general process of audiobook production, then do some calculations to figure out how much time it takes for a truly professional audiobook to be produced, and how many people (or roles) are involved. It’s more than you might think if you aren’t already familiar with the process.

If you have any intention of even making your money back or in the case of royalty share projects (more on this in a future article), allowing your producer to have a chance of recouping their investment- let alone actually produce actual income- you must have a marketing plan. This is not optional, it’s not a suggestion, it’s a requirement for success.

What’s Your Strategy?

ScheduleI’m a producer, not an author or publisher. I can’t – and probably shouldn’t- give you specific advice on how to market your book. I can and will tell you that you’ve got to have a strategy in place, and one that allows you to reach your potential audience, get their interest, make them buy your book and encourage them to tell their friends.

Remember- No one will promote your book for you for freeJust being listed on Amazon or Audible means nothing- they don’t really promote most titles directly. For some they may be tapped as a sale item or promoted as part of a themed event- the “hidden gems” sale they do is one- but you cannot rely on this. You must have a plan to promote your book directly or it will simply not sell.

There’s a few things you can do, which you should consider incorporating into a larger, cohesive plan:

  • Mailing lists- if you have an existing fanbase, you should be able to reach them via opt-in mailing lists. If you don’t have an existing fanbase or are just starting out with your first book, this is an opportunity to create one. Use your other outlets to obtain contacts with your readers, get them to opt-in and start building that core cadre of your passionate fans- the ones who will help you promote your book.
  • Social Media- Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and so forth. Have a presence on these platforms, and organically promote your work. Don’t just be spewing links to your products- that just gets people to tune out, but have a real presence in which you can also include your passion- which is your work, right?
  • Goodreads- if you’re an author, you should definitely be on Goodreads. You can not only promote your work, but you can give away free copies of your books as a promotion, solicit reviews and gain interest from people who are already heavily engaged in reading. Goodreads also (sort of) supports audiobooks.
  • Network with other authors and publishers. There are many, many platforms out there for authors to discuss how to promote their work. You should be on some of them already if you’re serious about being successful as a writer.
  • Blogging. Have a blog on your website, but don’t make it the core of your marketing plan- everyone’s got one, but a good one can be very helpful. It’s also a place to post snippets of your books, giveaways and promotions, and solicit feedback from your already-engaged readers on your work.

Write Down Your Plan

KeyboardYou wrote a book, so now sit down and write a plan. Include your research strategies, what you plan to do to promote your book, what your budget for promotion (if any) is, how you plan to reach readers and listeners- then tear it apart and edit it like it’s a first draft. Iterate; lather, rinse and repeat. Share the plan (privately) with others you may trust and get their feedback.

Give a lot of thought to return on investment. Is it worth it to spend a week pushing things through one channel that costs nothing, or to spend some money to push things through another channel that you can do almost instantly? What’s your time worth? What’s the expected return on the investment of time or money? What opportunities for promotion may you not be using or even be aware of? This is where a community of like-minded individuals who have also done what you’re doing can help- with advice, experience and anecdotes.

Review Your Plan

Keep it in mind. Know it. Make sure you’re sticking to it.

Revise Your Plan

Feedback

As you proceed, you may find things that you need to adjust. That’s great- go back and edit the document to include your new strategy or information. Keep it up to date. Then go back to Review.

Know Your Plan

This is probably the most important part. It’s easy to write a marketing plan- at least relative to actually executing one. Keep your strategy in mind and stay with it, be persistent and dogged as you pursue it. It’s critical to build momentum in your marketing, which will take a lot of tiny steps to build, but if you lapse, that momentum vanishes very quickly.

Share Your Plan With Your Producer

And finally we come to the meat of it- when you do a project on ACX, your producer may want to know how you plan to market the audiobook. This is especially critical for Royalty Share projects, because the producer doesn’t get a a dime if your book doesn’t sell. It’s less important for per-finished-hour projects because the producer will not be paid more or less if your book sells one or ten million copies.

But it’s still important for you to know. Producers seeking work on ACX will often look to your marketing strategy, or will ask about it, as part of the negotiation process. If you don’t have one or it’s incoherent, they may very well take a pass if it’s a royalty share. If it’s a per-finished-hour (PFH) deal, they may not ask or care, but they might. Producers, like authors, are sensitive to reputation, and having a very badly-selling or poorly-reviewed book on your credits isn’t very good for obtaining future work.

Summary

Hopefully this article has impressed on you some of the reasons behind having a marketing strategy before you try to get your book produced on ACX. Having a plan in place before you begin the production process lets you focus on getting the production right and then letting you make money by ensuring that it gets the maximum exposure possible. Remember that you’re the one responsible for promoting your book if you produce it via ACX, so it behooves you to know how you’re going to do it!

 

ACX 101 For Authors and Rights Holders- Part 1: Preparation (Be Prepared!)

March 18th, 2015 by VoxMan

ACX 101

Hi there! I’m publishing an article series called ACX 101, intended to be a primer on ACX for authors and rights holders, but written from the perspective of a narrator. It is intended to provide information and resources to those considering having their books produced in audio format and offers a ton of advice for rights holders who are stepping into the world of audiobooks for the first time.

Full Disclosure! I am a narrator and these articles will be written from my perspective. That is not to say that I’m going to offer you bad or unfair advice, but it would be unethical of me to present myself as a fully unbiased voice. I encourage you to seek multiple sources of information and advice on these topics!

This article is Part 1- Preparation. In this article we’re going to discuss what you should do before you even get ready to list your book on ACX.

If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to read ACX 101: The Audiobook Production Processwhich provides some very useful background information on the process of making an audiobook, and which I will refer to during many of these articles.

Congratulations!

If you’re an author or rights holder visiting these pages, it’s quite likely that you have recently finished authoring your book or acquired the rights to an existing book. If that is the case: Let me be the first to say congratulations on an amazing achievement. Writing a book is an incredibly demanding undertaking and you should be proud that you have completed your book.

Getting Ready for ACX

ACX is the Audiobook Creation Exchange, and is a platform and service built by Audible, Inc. (which is in turn owned by Amazon). Its purpose is to enable rights holders (that’s you!) and narrators or producers (that’s me!) to get together and produce more audiobooks, which means Audible gets more sales, which means they make money! And if all goes well,  you and I get to make some along the way too.

You can visit ACX at (where else?) ACX.com. Before you can do anything with ACX, you’ll need to register a profile with them, which is easy enough to do- simply visit their website and click the link in the upper left corner of the page that says SIGN UP NOW.

acxwebsite

Follow the prompts to create your ACX account (if you don’t already have one).

Before You Post a Listing

OK, this is where we need to talk about what you need to have done before you create a listing for your book. Specifically, we’re going to discuss what you need to do to your script! It’s very important to make sure you have all your ducks in a row here, as it reduces the time and energy needed for both you and your chosen narrator, and helps eliminate uncertainty.

If you don’t do this right, I can guarantee you that your production WILL have things you don’t like. And then when you ask your producer to correct them, he or she will be (quite justifiably) ticked off that you created this problem for them. Be professional and respect your producer- make sure you’re ready to go!

Edit and Proofread

Did I say edit and proofread? Because if I didn’t, let me say it now: EDIT AND PROOFREAD YOUR MANUSCRIPT. Poorly-edited books are the absolute bane of the self-publishing industry. Grammatical errors, typos, misspellings and formatting problems are the hallmarks of an author who did not do their homework, and the instant a producer reviews your script they’re going to nope on out.

NOPE NOPE NOPE

Seriously, edit your book- carefully. Better yet, hire someone who’s a professional to do it. Totally aside from all the problems trying to produce a badly edited book (and trust me, they’re not trivial), it is going to get absolutely savaged in print reviews, which affects interest in the audiobook, and sales of it. Smart narrators will just avoid it.

Another thing a poorly edited book tells a producer is that you don’t care about the quality of your book. Why should a professional want to put their good name on such a product?

Do your due diligence and get that manuscript edited and proofed.

Create a “Recordable” Version of your Manuscript

It’s not uncommon for print books to contain things that don’t translate well to audio, or require some changes to the manuscript. Let’s review a few of these things.

  1. Pictures- No pictures. Get rid of them. If the content or caption of a picture is absolutely necessary for the manuscript to make sense, it’s probable that you should edit the original, but in any case, audiobooks don’t have photos. Either remove the content or find a way to describe it in audio format. One thing that novice authors frequently assume is that they can put a bunch of content on a website and point people to it- nothing doing (with one exception- see #2 below). Web addresses are hard to remember and no one listening to an audiobook is going to write one down. Also, what are blind listeners supposed to do?
  2. Tables, Charts, Graphs– Same thing, but unlike pictures or photos, it’s sometimes necessary for the text to find a way to describe the content in words. This is common with non-fiction books that cover technical topics like software or things like taxes. What you as the author or rights holder must do is make sure that any information presented visually that’s absolutely necessary for the narrative is described in text. if it’s not absolutely necessary, get rid of it. If it is absolutely necessary, and there is no other way to present the information, then and only then consider the option of hosting your visual materials on a website, where listeners can access it. This should only be done when strictly necessary and no other good options exist.
  3. Footnotes– Footnotes are not read as part of an audiobook. If the content of a footnote is necessary, it should be edited into the text. It may be necessary to frame it with something like “author’s note” or other text. In general, footnotes should just be left out, however.
  4. “Below” and “Above”– with nonfiction, it’s not uncommon for phrases like “…as you can see by the paragraph above…” or “…as you will see by the text below…” – These should be changed to appropriate words like before or previously and following or to come. Obviously, when listening, directional indicators of where other information might be don’t make any sense.
  5. Consider removing excess attributives– Attributives are phrases like he said and she said. In written text it’s not as obvious, but a dialogue-heavy scene with the word said appearing multiple times per paragraph can be very awkward to listen to, and even lead to semantic satiation (where a word or phrase loses its meaning to the listener). For the audio version of your book, consider reducing the use of attributives for reported speech (this is something that written text can benefit from too!).

finalstamp

Have a Final Script Completed

Seriously- if you think you might want to make changes to the manuscript (not simply adjustments for the purpose of an audio version, as above), then you are not ready. Your manuscript must be the final version. No changes, no adjustments, no nothing. Finish your book FIRST. Do not ever put a producer in the position of having to hear that you’ve made some changes to the script- especially if those changes are due to how the book sounded after you had it produced.

Seriously, don’t do that.

In Summary

So, let’s recap what you should have ready before you even get started with listing your book project on ACX:

  • You must have an edited and proofread manuscript- preferably professionally done.
  • Adjust your print manuscript as necessary to make it audiobook-ready.
  • Have the final version of your manuscript ready to go, and don’t expect to be able to make changes after you’ve started an audio production.

If you do all these to your completed script, you’re going to be doing your producer a huge favor- and they will thank you for it.

That’s it for ACX 101: Part 1, Preparation. Keep an eye on this space for the next article, ACX 101: Part 2, Your Marketing Plan for more advice from a narrator to rights holders.

If you have any comments, questions or feedback please don’t hesitate to leave a note in the comments or reach out to me via email or Twitter (@vox_man).

Thanks for reading!

ACX 101 for Authors and Rights Holders: Background- The Audiobook Production Process

March 18th, 2015 by VoxMan

ACX 101

Hi there! I’m publishing an article series called ACX 101, intended to be a primer on ACX for authors and rights holders, but written from the perspective of a narrator. It is intended to provide information and resources to those considering having their books produced in audio format and offers a ton of advice for rights holders who are stepping into the world of audiobooks for the first time.

This article is background information for that blog series and serves as a sort of primer on the audiobook publishing process. If you’re an author or narrator interested in working with ACX, read on!

First- Welcome to the World of Audiobooks!

Congratulations and welcome! Audiobooks are a $2-billion dollar industry that is growing by leaps and bounds, with huge growth year-over-year in sales and number of titles published.

If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’re an author or rights holder and considering having your book produced in audio format. Whether you’re a self-published author with your first manuscript in hand or a successful writer with multiple top-tier titles on Amazon, if you’ve never done an audiobook before, there’s probably a lot you don’t know, or things you should know, before embarking on the process.

Full Disclosure! I am a narrator (that’s me over there on the right), and these articles will be written from my perspective. That is not to say that I’m going to offer you bad or unfair advice, but it would be unethical of me to present myself as a fully unbiased voice. I encourage you to seek multiple sources of information and advice on these topics!

How an Audiobook Gets Made

Before we even talk about working with narrators, ACX, auditions, negotiations, revisions and all those other topics, let’s do a quick discussion of just how audiobooks are produced. If you’re a rights holder or author, this is your opportunity to see how the sausage gets made. We’ll go over a lot of other details about how you as a rights holder might want to approach your audiobook project and what you should consider when working with your chosen narrator, but for now, let’s just stick to nuts and bolts of the production process.

The information in this document applies to most audiobook productions, whether done via ACX or not- I’m intentionally not mentioning any ACX-specific elements of the production-process here, as I’ll be covering those details in other articles.

The Team

Producing and audiobook involves multiple roles- sometimes one person takes on several or even all of these roles, but other times each role is handled by a separate person. Either way, each of these roles is critical to the success of an audiobook project.

  • Narrator– the narrator is the voice of the book, and records all the text in the book. Some books feature multiple narrators, but that’s far less common, and involves a lot more work.
  • Proofer– the proofer, or “prooflistener”, is someone who listens to all the audio recorded by the narrator, noting any errors he or she makes, as well as any background noises, awkward phrasing, mouth sounds, distracting breaths and other stuff like clothing rustling.
  • Editor– this person takes the list of corrections necessary from the proofer, works with the narrator to get corrections recorded (referred to as “pickups”), then edits the corrections into the original audio, along with removing problematic noises and correcting pacing problems.
  • Mastering Engineer– once the audio is fully recorded, proofed and edited, it must be mastered, meaning applying specific audio treatment to adjust levels, ensure uniform volume and apply equalization to make the audio sound as good as it can. This is necessary to make sure the audio meets specific standards of volume and quality that are required to be sold in stores like Amazon, Audible, iTunes and Barnes & Noble.
  • QC Listener– the final quality pass, this person is the final gate to the production, listening to the production in full once more to ensure nothing made it past the rest of the process.

Each of these roles is critical to a successful audiobook production. With many producers, they will take on most or all of these roles. Some will contract with other professionals for specific tasks, such as proofing and editing.

Now that we know the team, let’s talk about…

Step 1: Script Preparation and Research

Thankfully, most audiobook scripts today are digital.

The very first step from the production team’s side of the process is for the narrator to read the script. Yes, the whole thing. This is crucial to identify things to research, such as pronunciations and possibly accents, and to furnish an opportunity to ask the author or rights holder questions about specific elements of the script, or character notes. The narrator will likely spend some time reviewing word pronunciations on various websites, and may need to make some phone calls or engage other resources to make sure he or she has the right pronunciation for certain words- place names are a major point here.

At the completion of this process the narrator will have a set of notes, including character notes, pronunciation notes and other references to help guide him or her during the recording process.

Step 2: Recording

This is a close approximation of the view most narrators have for the bulk of their workday.

Where the magic happens! In this step, the narrator records the text of the book. This is done using one of two methods: rolling record or punch and roll. Both methods are used to address the inevitable situation of: what do you do when an error occurs?

With rolling record, the narrator simply pauses a moment and resumes at a point before the error- usually the previous sentence or paragraph. Both the error and the retake are now on the recording. During the editing process, the extra take(s) must be removed.

When doing punch and roll, when an error occurs, the narrator stops the recording, rewinds (or “rolls”) the recording back to a point prior to the error, starts playback so he or she can hear the recorded audio, and at the right moment “punches in”, switching from playback to recording smoothly. The phrase is a holdover from when recording was done on reels, so rewinding was “rollling” and hitting a button on the console was called “punching”. These days it’s just mouse clicks and keyboard shortcuts, but the principle is the same.

With rolling record the narration takes less time but requires more time in editing. With punch and roll, narration takes longer but the result is a single clean take, much easier to work with for the proofer and editor. The vast majority of audiobooks today are recorded using punch and roll. An experienced narrator can usually get between two and three hours of audio recorded using this method per day. However, that rate varies due to a number of factors, such as schedule, other work, vocal strain, and even the weather (which can affect the voice).  A good general rule is about 1.5 to 2 hours of recording for every hour of raw audio.

Step 3: Proofing

When the narration is completed, or when a significant portion is done, the prooflistener steps in. This individual is the gatekeeper for the audiobook and more than anyone else bears the ultimate responsibility for the quality of the audio. The proofer listens to the audio while following along with the manuscript. He or she notes any errors where the narrator deviated from the script, transposed words or omitted something. He or she also notes when there are noises in the audio, such as a click, mouth noise, clothing rustle or other unwanted sounds.

The proofer notes all the errors in a spreadsheet and indicates whether they require re-recording of a specific passage or portion of the text, or if it’s just a problem the editor can remove- if a noise occurs between passages, there’s no need for the narrator to re-record anything, but if there’s a sound during the middle of a word, that may require a correction or “pickup” to be recorded. The proofer’s art is to be able to identify these issues.

Proofers may also be tasked with more performance-related quality assurance, noting if the voice for a character changes, or pronunciation of a name is wrong, or there’s an awkwardly paced or spoken passage.

Step 4: Pickups and Editing

In this step, the narrator receives the proofing notes from the prooflistener, and re-records any noted passages from the manuscript. These are often called “pickups” or just “corrections”. The pickups are usually sent as a single file (a “pickup reel” or “corrections reel”) to the editor.

The editor takes the pickup reel, and with the proofer’s notes edits in the changed audio and also removes or corrects other issues the proofer noted. Audio editing is a subtle art and a deeply technical craft, and the best editors are in strong demand for their skills.

Step 5: Mastering

In this step the final, edited audio is mastered, which means to apply audio processing such as equalization (“EQ”), compression and other filtering to “sweeten” the sound, make the general levels work well for the entire production and ensure that the audio will sound good whether you’re listening on $5 earbuds, on your car speakers in traffic or $300 Sennheiser headphones in an acoustically-perfect environment.

Mastering is a subtle art and one that requires a deft touch. Over-compression, bad filtering and other errors are the bane of audio that would have otherwise sounded good. A truly professional mastering engineer knows that less is usually more.

Step 6: QC and Review

This is the final step before releasing to production. A final pass over the mastered audio is done by someone who listens carefully for any issues potentially missed during the earlier phases or that cropped up during the mastering process. Once the final QC pass is complete and signed off, the book is ready for production!

Summary

As you can probably glean from this very simplified overview of the audiobook production process, it’s a deeply technical and highly complex task involving a whole team’s worth of roles. All the players in a production team, whether it’s a solo producer doing it all or a publisher with multiple people available for any role, must be at the top of their game to produce a top-notch audiobook.

The narrator is obviously the most visible part of the process, but his or her role is only one part of a much larger whole that most people who haven’t been part of the process understand. Producing an audiobook is far more involved than someone simply sitting down and recording themselves reading out loud, and the amount of time it takes to create a truly professional, top-notch audiobook reflects the dedication and commitment to excellence of a good producer.

Now that you’ve read the background, you should head over and read ACX 101: Part 1, Preparation, in which I will discuss some of the things you should do well before you get ready to put your project out on ACX!

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 Chronicles–  An 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.