Hello MB4 readers! Let me ask you this: If you were an author looking to make your novel into an audiobook, what qualities would you look for in a voice actress or actor?
On the eve of my fourth audio-book launch, I've learned what I want in a narrator, somebody who can act the voices in my head and tell a story the way it should be told. I also want a narrator with a strong work ethic and a commitment to quality, who can produce not just a good product, but a great audio-book. I can't wait to listen to the final production of The Curse Giver's audible edition, narrated by Melissa Reizian-Frank.
Melissa was an easy choice for me. Her voice has a distinct quality, a throaty, silky rustle that enhances any story. She graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where she also minored in Theatre, a skill she puts to good use in her narrations.After spending a decade as an award-winning and twice Emmy-nominated broadcast journalist, Melissa started in the business fourteen years ago and has voiced thousands of TV and radio commercials, countless e-learning training narrations and more than a dozen audiobooks, including Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone, Stonewiser: The Call of the Stone and Stonewiser The Lament of the Stone.
I asked her the same question I asked you: If you were an author looking to make your novel into an audiobook, what qualities would you look for in a voice actress or actor?
Here's Melissa's answer:
Well, if I had to make my novel into an audiobook, I would look for this voice chick named Melissa Reizian Frank…I hear she’s good. Kidding! (well, unless you’re an author reading this J) But seriously, I would look for someone who is a good actress, not just someone who has that “typical reader voice” that so many audiobooks employ.
There are many MANY schools of thought out there as to how to narrate an audiobook. Some prefer scarcely any differentiation between characters…maybe raising or lowering the voice only slightly to indicate gender, whereas a full-production best-seller may have a full cast of name Hollywood actors, plus sound effects.
I do like to “Act” in my productions. I like to treat it like a radio drama. That style isn’t for everyone, and I am capable of toning it down to the “teacher read” voice, but I do cry when authors want that. Most of mine don’t, I think because the folks who choose me do so because of what I do.
A quality narrator MUST have a quality studio and know how to use it. I don’t care how good you are reading; if there’s static and noise in the background and dogs barking, it’s not going to be a pleasant listen.
A quality narrator also must know what they’re getting into. It’s not enough to say, “My friend says I have good voice and I like reading to my son, so I’m going to become an audiobook narrator!” This is a LOOOOONG process.
Reading the book, with re-reading the parts where you stumble, or a plane goes overhead, takes about 1 ½ hours per hour of finished audio. Then the initial edit takes about 2 hours per finished hour of audio. My husband, John, has become my editor so that I can keep voicing, and he does a great job! After that, I do a quality check that is basically in real time. So add that up. That’s about 4 ½ hours for every hour of finished audio. Curse Giver is just over 20 hours long…that’s two 40-hour work weeks for just one book!
So there you have it, folks. Straight from the narrator's mouth. From voice to studio, quality is fundamental all around.
Have a wonderful week and thanks for reading!
After spending a decade as an award-winning and twice Emmy-nominated broadcast journalist, Melissa Reizian Frank entered the world of full-time voiceover 14 years ago with the aim of having more time to spend with her family. Since then, Melissa has voiced thousands of TV and radio commercials, more than a dozen audiobooks, countless e-learning training narrations (Need to know anything from minute details about cerebral palsy? How to be a good bowling center employee? How to spot a money-laundering scheme? She’s your gal!)
She’s a talking detergent dispenser (in English AND Spanish) at many Laundromats across the country, and will even tell you which cash register to go to at many national department stores! Melissa has been involved in theatre her entire life, and has done some community theatre recently as well. Melissa graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where she also minored in Theatre.
Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She is one only a few Hispanic women writing fantasy in the United States today. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. When she is not writing fiction, Dora also writes features for the award-winning blog Murder By Four and Savvy Authors, where writers help writers. She lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two very opinionated cats.