I actually started doing this not long after we moved to Miami in 2017. Voice acting is not singing, but I have discovered what I consider a kind of symbiotic relationship between the two. For one thing, before spending hours in my secluded, sound-proof closet speaking into an extremely sensitive microphone, I find it best to prepare in much the same way as I would for a lengthy rehearsal or performance as a singer: by making sure I’m well-hydrated and doing my usual warm-up exercises.
Another discovery I’ve made is that there are similarities in phrasing and pacing in singing and narration. As singers, we’re at least partly constrained by the tempo and rhythm the composer has written down, but there is some flexibility in those spots where a composer indicates a ritardando or accelerando, or places a fermata over a note to be held longer than its written value–all at the performer’s discretion.
Similarly, when narrating an audiobook, I have a roadmap in the form of the printed manuscript. Different authors use the various tools available–punctuation, word arrangement, paragraph breaks, etc.–in different ways to indicate how they want their work read, and in some cases, once I’ve been offered a contract to narrate a book, I may receive feedback from the author, if that person is at all involved in the creation of an audiobook. But for the most part, the narrator of a “traditional” audiobook gets to be director, designer, and stage manager, as well as playing every role.
Another similarity between singing and voiceover work, at least at my stage, is doing a lot of auditions. My audiobook titles were all gotten from auditions on the Audiobook Creation Exchange (or ACX) website. I’ve also auditioned for lots of short projects: PSAs, internet, tv, and radio commercials, voice mail menus, etc., through the Voices.com website, with as yet no job offers. This screenshot shows the wide variation in fees. These jobs are all of much shorter duration than an audiobook. The ones with the headphone logo mean someone at least listened to my audition, and the ones marked “Deciding” mean there’s at least a chance. Or so I hope. This image also shows me I haven’t auditioned for anything since March 11, which is not good. I guess I’ll knock out a few more tomorrow morning.
But back to audiobooks: After submitting the initial 15 minutes of the audiobook to the rights-holder (publisher or author) for approval of the general tone and overall pacing, it’s completely up to the narrator to determine how to tell the story. That might seem a little bit daunting, but I think it’s just a whole lot of fun.
The pandemic and quarantine have given me a bit of incentive to work on some voiceover projects of my own. More about that in a later post.