It’s been a bit of a process, but I’m very excited to be able to announce that the audiobook of Cameron’s Law is now available! The wonderful Erica L. Risberg, of Voices by Erica, lent her talents to bring Sadie and all the folks of Adelheid to life!
I asked Ms. Risberg if she would write a guest post about being a story narrator and she kindly agreed. I will now share it with you all to celebrate the release of the audiobook! Enjoy!
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Mia Darien invited me as a guest blogger. My name is Erica Risberg. I was given the pleasure of being the narrator of her book “Cameron’s Law: The Adelheid Series.” She asked me to write about voiceovers and then audiobooks.
So, I thought I’d provide a little background about myself first. I am the product of two exceptional teachers and storytellers. I am also mildly dyslexic. Since I was young, I’ve been drawn to learning by listening. My parents not only read to me a lot, but also provided different voices for each character. By the time I was four, I had developed my own repertoire of voices, and have had a lifelong passion to use them to tell stories with, but didn’t really know how to get into the voiceover business.
Several false leads, a stint as a radio announcer, and a trajectory that lead me into the academic world for a while pulled me away from my first passion for a long time. In 2009, I found a website: www.voiceacting.com, hosted by James Alberger and Penny Abshire. James wrote a book called “The Art of Voice Acting,” which I promptly purchased and read. I also started attending monthly calls they offered.
From there, I head a voice coach named Marc Cashman, who I decided I would like to work with. I subsequently met him at Voice 2010 – a voiceover conference held in LA, swallowed my fears, and asked him if he would be my coach. A year of intensive weekly sessions taught me a myriad of skills: breath control, how to read a script; which words to emphasize; how to interpret copy; how to discern the backstory of the character whom I was providing a voice for; my vocal range; where to place my tongue for different vocal effects; and countless other techniques.
Part two of the process was recording my demos. In the 21st century, there are so many types of specialties; it’s easy to be overwhelmed by what to focus on. The standards are commercial and narration, which showcase 5-6 different pieces of work (truncated) to showcase vocal ranges and styles. Marc determined when I was ready to record mine (as any good coach will), and then produced my standards. Other demos include: medical narration, audiobooks, animation, video game, and e-learning.
Every voiceover talent develops a niche for their voice – where the talent is most comfortable working in. One of my niches is audiobooks, which I can trace back to my childhood.
Producing an audiobook is unlike any other type of audio. It is akin to a marathon. I was a long-distance swimmer, so pacing is something I understand well. With any audiobook, the narrator needs to become familiar not only with the text, but the characters that they’re going to give voices to. Making them consistent is essential, but it is challenging. Without going into too many details, every time a new character is introduced, I place a marker with that character’s name in the recording I’m making, so I can reference it if the character doesn’t show up for a few chapters.
Knowing one’s limitations is important. I’ve found that I can safely record up to four chapters a day with breaks and a teapot full of Throat Coat. I’ve also found that rehearsing each chapter 3-4 times out loud minimizes my editing time and helps me with anything I might stumble over on a first attempt.
The process of editing is the most challenging aspect of producing an audiobook. It requires a great deal of attention, as well as an ear for catching what we call “mouth noises” – glitches and sounds you don’t hear in normal conversation, but which the microphone picks up very well. If I don’t like how I read a passage, I’ll read it a few times in the booth, then edit it later. By doing that, I have to listen to the recording to determine which take I think is the best, and edit the other ones out. If I’ve recorded a character’s voice or lines incorrectly, I rerecord it in a new file, then insert that into the existing chapter and adjust the sound levels to match it. Suffice to say, it is a long process.
That said though, there isn’t anything in the world of voiceovers that feels quite as rewarding as completing an audiobook. Especially when the author provides a great storyline and vivid characters, as Mia did.
I hope that I’ve given a little insight into voiceovers and audiobooks. If you’d like to hear my demos, you can find them at www.voicesbyerica.com. Thanks!