I just booked my very first audiobook narration job! 🙂
The idea of narrating an audiobook is both exciting and a little daunting. On one hand, I am super excited to dive into a story and get to play all the characters. Acting is something I tremendously enjoy, and I’ll have the chance to bring the story to life and live in their world…like starring in a movie, playing every character, but not having to actually look different (How awesome is that?). And on the other hand, audiobooks are long, which means lots of hours spent in the studio recording, plus triple the amount of time editing the tracks until they sound perfectly polished. So this will be an interesting endeavor! I thought it might be fun to share my steps along the way and show my readers what it’s like to produce an audiobook from start to finish. With that being said, here’s Part 1, Doing the Research!
The book is called “Virulent: The Release,” by Shelbi Wescott. It’s exactly the type of book I love to curl up with before bed, an exciting young adult thriller about teenagers suddenly faced with the threat of a deadly virus spreading around the world. There’s just something about dystopian fiction that I’m drawn to…I love stories like “The Hunger Games” and “The Maze Runner,” and this story runs along the same vein. Maybe it’s the idea of underdogs beating all the odds or something, I don’t know, I just love stories like this. So when I read the excerpt provided for the audition, I was thrilled to see that it was a story I could really get into. Chatting with the author, Shelbi, back and forth while discussing the possibility of my narrating the book, I found that we have a lot of interests in common (musical theatre and American Eskimo dogs!), so I knew that it would be a great project to work on. When you’re going to be spending a lot of time living with the material, it’s important to make sure that you actually LIKE what you’re reading, or your lack of enthusiasm will most likely come out in the reading.
Now that I officially got the job, the first step has been doing the research. That means (obviously) reading the book, but also making plenty of notes about each character as they appear, and referring to those notes as needed. It’s important to keep an eye out for distinguishing characteristics when they’re written, so that I can stay true to Shelbi’s vision of the character. For example, if a character has a Scottish accent and a lisp, and I somehow didn’t note that when I first read the book, I’d certainly have a lot of work to re-record later! (Thankfully, I haven’t read about any Scottish lispers just yet…) Another thing that most readers don’t think about when they read a novel just for fun is pronunciation of words and names. I want to make sure I get each one right and say them in the same way that they sounded in the author’s head when she wrote them. W
henever I come across a word I’m not familiar with (like the island of “Seychelles,”) I first will Google search for it to find the definition and correct pronunciation. Then I will write it out phonetically (“Say-shells”) in the margin of the book next to where the word first appears. Character names are a little tougher, since there can be a few ways each one can be said. In those cases where I wasn’t sure, I’d highlight the word, then email the author for clarification when I was done with the chapter.
When reading and taking notes, I like to use my iPad. It’s the perfect way to mark up scripts in a non-destructive way, plus there’s no noise page turning later on when I record. For now, I’ve been using an app called Foxit mobile, which lets me read pdfs and add typing, highlights, and freehand scribbles if I like. It also will quickly let me search the book if I want to find a particular note or section. Very helpful! I do want to keep trying a few more pdf annotation apps, though, as there are a few annoying parts to this one, like the freehand drawing being a bit laggy and not very accurate. But for now, it works, and it’s free, which is even better.
Right now, I’m enjoying reading through the book, and as soon as I finish it, the next step will be setting up my recording studio and recording the first chapter. Stay tuned for Part 2…
And be sure to follow the latest on Virulent: The Release at Shelbi Wescott’s website!