Scott truly is bringing my books to life and has made this experience so much easier than I ever dreamed. He narrated MIRRORED REFLECTIONS, my short story to Red Fury Revolt – CHRYSALIS, and just finished narrating Book one — RED FURY REVOLT. And now he’s starting to work on the second book — RED FURY RAGE. I simply love how he has brought each character to life even for me … and I know them!
Scott Leon Smith of Monstervox Productions
JF: Let’s welcome Scott. Thank you for being here and willing to help make the intriguing journey into audio production easier to navigate. I know I have enjoyed working with you. How did you get into narrating books?
Scott: Well, I’m trained as a stage actor, but I’d always wanted to get into voice over as a side gig or as a career. I admire PBS narrators like Peter Coyote and Keith David.
My dream job would be narrating a documentary series, I think that would be a blast. And there’s animation as well; I love creating character voices; in fact, I created a podcast that’s all doneby characters I’ve created.
And creating character voices is an essential skill for narrating audiobooks. So, not only do you have to be a good storyteller, but a consistent character performer. The process is challenging, but very rewarding if you can nail your characters and stay consistent with their voices.
JF: Once upon a time, I entertained the idea of narrating my own work because I love reading aloud. And quickly discovered that narration is an art with a lot of learning curves. Not only reading and managing characters, you need to be tech savvy. Other than putting up with authors, what challenges you the most in narrating a book?
Scott: Yelling. Whenever a character shouts or screams, it can be a frustrating day with recording.
So, as I prepare each chapter, I note how much yelling is there, and I record a separate track with the microphone gain turned low, but even then, I still have to control my sound. It can be frustrating, but if you can strike the right balance, you can get
some cool warrior cries.
JF: I would imagine the exclamation point is helpful in whether to yell or not. So, should an author consider challenging this audio adventure, what are things they need to consider first regarding becoming a narrator? What do they need to know going in?
Scott: First you need good equipment. A professional microphone that will help you get a full sound. A lot of narrators use USB mics, but those lose a lot of the warmth in the sound. A microphone with 3-prong connectors. You need a decent home studio with monitors, headphones and acoustic panels to eliminate reflected sound.
You also need patience and lots of time. Usually, 1 hour of finished narration takes about 4 hours to produce, so it’s good to spread the work out, especially if you are producing multiple books at the same time—which I do not recommend.
You have to take care of your voice, and if you are narrating 7-8 hours a day 5-6 days a week, you’ll beworking through a weak voice, which will throw off the consistency of your narration. So, you have to stay organized and keep to a reading schedule; depending on the book, one or two chapters a
day—three if the chapters are really short.
JR: What I love about Scott is he does more than just narrate and act out my character, but he creates effects that make the scenes even more powerful. And he adds intro music to part of the story. It’s really cool.
But, unlike a stage production where men play male roles and females play female roles, the narrator has to read both female and male characters. And that has to be tough. So what are some guidelines for choosing the narrator for your story if it has both male and female characters?
Scott: It really is up to the author. The most difficult voices to create are those of the opposite sex. You try not to sound stereotypical. I think it really comes down to how you hear your story narrated. Consider the gender of your narrative voice before anything, and then provide your chosen narrator with notes on the quality of the characters’ voices.
JF: This was hard for me. And I think you handled my heroines very well. For me, and I believe most authors out there, the biggest challenge to this world of books is marketing.Writing and Research is fun. Editing no so much fun. But Marketing…yikes. I know I may have all the tools in my shed to market my stories, but no clue how to use them. What have you found that helps market audio books?
Scott: To be honest, I would budget for hiring someone to do marketing. When an audiobook that I’ve narrated comes out, I try to post a promo—a video or an image—with links to my social media and to audiobook groups regularly for a month or so after release. But then I usually can’t continue because I have other projects for other clients.
Whenever I narrate a book, I throw in 2 video promos for social media use into the production agreement. But I can also create promos for books I don’t narrate. These help to get your book noticed more than the traditional posting of cover-art. My website and my YouTube channel have lots of promo examples. I believe it’s about making a reader curious about the book, and I think the best way to do that, especially in our digital culture, is with a short video.
But yes, I’m at the age where social media marketing especially is almost completely incomprehensible. But many young authors, who’ve grown up with social media, have no problem with promoting their books.
So, I always say, find a Millennial!
JF: Scott, you don’t know how wonderful that is to have that help. I love your shorts. (see below for a few of his works he’s done for me) And visit his amazing website. But I attest that with the help of Findaway Voices and you, Scott, you have made my journey into this world a joy. I really look forward to working with you on more. Thank you and blessings. May your dreams come true as well.
JF Ridgley and Monstervox presents his amazing work