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N – is for finding a Narrator – guest post & giveaway by author Barbara Venkataraman :)


Audiobooks ‘R’ Us!

Making an audiobook with a narrator is like marrying a total stranger and hoping it all works out. As in a marriage, the participants start out starry-eyed, but soon discover each other’s idiosyncrasies and quirks, realizing with a sense of dread that they are now stuck with each other–at least until the project is finished. That’s why it makes sense to choose a narrator with experience and a stellar reputation, one who has completed at least one project and done it well. Or you could fly by the seat of your pants like I did. Boy, did I get lucky! After hearing other authors’ horror stories and seeing reviews of badly done audiobooks, I realize just how lucky I was/am.

Unlike many authors, I write in two unrelated genres, humor and mystery, specifically,

Barbara Venkataraman is an attorney and mediator specializing in family law. She is the author of “The Fight for Magicallus,” a children’s fantasy, “If you’d Just Listened to Me in the First Place,” a humorous short story and two books of humorous essays: “I’m Not Talking about You, Of Course,” and “A Trip to the Hardware Store & Other Calamities,” which are part of an ongoing series entitled “Quirky Essays for Quirky People.” Her latest works are: “Death by Didgeridoo,” and “The Case of the Killer Divorce,” and “Peril in the Park, in her Jamie Quinn mystery series.” All of her books are available on Amazon Kindle.

cozy mystery. Ideally, I wanted to find a narrator with the talent and skill to handle both genres. It needed to be a woman (my mysteries are told in first person by a female protagonist) with a sense of humor, someone who “got” my jokes. She had to be able to do a range of voices to cover all the characters in my mysteries and, one more thing, she needed to work for free! Now, when I say free, I don’t really mean free; I just mean that I couldn’t afford to pay her anything. I figured I’d have to be the greatest saleswoman in the world to convince a total stranger to spend hundreds of hours recording my self-published, unproven books as unpaid labor, OR, I could find a narrator through ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) who was willing to royalty-share (spend hundreds of hours recording my self-published, unproven books as unpaid labor AND split any future profits, assuming there were any).

I started on my quest to find the perfect Jamie Quinn (the star of my Jamie Quinn mystery series). I stumbled through the labyrinth known as ACX and, throwing caution to the wind, posted two projects simultaneously: a book of humorous essays and my first Jamie Quinn mystery. I listed both as royalty-share projects and put them out for audition. I must add here that ACX allows you to choose the qualifications of your ideal narrator and it’s enough to make your head explode! First, you chose the gender and the language. Easy enough. Then, you choose the accent, which can range from British to American to Boston, Irish, to Southern drawl to…well, you get the picture. Now come the hard choices. Do you want a voice that’s warm? Scientific? Authoritative? Matter-of-fact? Sexy? And so on and so on…I hate to admit it, but I hadn’t given any of that much thought, nor did I want to. I hoped I could pick the right one. But what if I couldn’t?

I got exactly three auditions, all of them very nice women, none of them Jamie Quinn material. I felt so bad rejecting them. The only thing I’d gotten out of this project so far was a truckload of guilt. Then I realized that I didn’t have to wait around, I could listen to the demo recordings posted on the site. There were only a bazillion of them, no problem at all. I realized that many of the demos were repeats as in the same narrator putting herself up for different projects: here’s me narrating a romance, here’s me narrating a thriller, etc. I listened to many women reading many different passages until I started questioning the whole project and wondering why I always had to do everything the hard way. Sigh. Finally, I heard a “maybe” voice which gave me a little hope, enough hope to keep trying. I kept slogging through until the heavens suddenly parted and I heard an angel sing, only she wasn’t an angel, she was Carrie Lee Martz, an actress who did voiceover. Her demo wasn’t of her reading a book; it was a voiceover demo in which she showed off her range of voices. She was perfect! Hallelujah! I made her an offer for both books and she accepted them both. Oh, happy day! Then, I had a sobering thought, what if she didn’t like the books? I told her to look them over first and then decide. She decided yes. Then we had an e-mail exchange in which I confessed that I’d never done this before. She confessed that she hadn’t either. We said we were both game and we jumped right in.

We are now recording our fourth book together (when I say “we”, I mean the “royal we”–Carrie is doing all of the recording) and I’m not going to say that it hasn’t taken a lot of effort, or that we didn’t hit a few bumps along the way–like when I sent her the wrong version of the second Jamie Quinn mystery and she had to re-record the last 5 chapters! But I am thrilled to report that we are very happy with our arranged marriage and we’ve even started making some money! So, if you’re thinking of making an audiobook, I hope you find the right narrator and that it’s love at first listen.

Caption this Photo – giveaway contest!

Barbara Venkataraman is going to give away 3 of her audiobooks (“Death by Didgeridoo” (A Jamie Quinn Mystery, #1), “Quirky Essays for Quirky People” and “If You’d Just Listened to Me in the First Place…”) to 3 of our lovely readers, who will caption this photo:


In case of more than 3 contestants, Binky (the lop on the picture above) will personally (? bunnyally?) pick the winners! After all – he totally knows how to do it, doesn’t he?


23 thoughts on “N – is for finding a Narrator – guest post & giveaway by author Barbara Venkataraman :)

  1. Sounds like an experience. But it also sounds like it all worked out for the best when it was all said and done. I think that you are doing that on your own so to speak is great. If this is the bunny caption, “Happiness is a box of food as big as you are.”

  2. Great post! I didn’t realize self-published authors went to the trouble of producing their own audio books too. That’s pretty awesome.

    Glad you found the right fit!

  3. In addition to the caption I wanted to tell you how smart you were to be picky about your voice actor. I’ve heard some dreadful renditions of books I wanted to enjoy.

  4. Where’s my toy? Thanks for visiting TheWrite Game and leaving the link to the nuns in pink. Such a joyful color.

  5. I’m glad you found the right narrator!
    For a caption, hm… “And for my next trick, pulling a rabbit out of a box.” Or. “I really hope this one has a toy carrot inside.” ??? Anyway, too cute!

  6. How about “I knew McDonald’s was improving their food quality but who knew the box would be this tasty?”

  7. What a great way to do that, doing the recording for future royalties. And very coincidental… My niece’s name is Jamie Quinn…

  8. Isn’t technology amazing?! Imagine what you’d have to go through 20 years ago to find that perfect voice. Would have taken longer and cost you a LOT more.

  9. What a daunting project! Impressed with your efforts and best of luck with the giveaway!

  10. Bunnyally? Aw!!! You are just too darned cute! You’re my kind of pal. I love to force words into submission the same way. xD

    I’ve not reached the stage to hire a narrator, but I see what you mean. I know readers LOVE when authors narrate their own books–what do you think of that?

    I’ll give your adorable photo a try:
    “It’s my turn to be happy!”

    Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting! ❤
    Happy N day!

    Elizabeth Mueller
    AtoZ 2015
    My Little Pony

    • I’m just the messenger here, Barbara is the author 🙂 but the bunnz are mine and the giveaway will be definitely done “bunnyally” 😀

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