Have you wanted to make your novel into an audiobook but wasn't sure what to expect or what a narrator would need?

Join Autumn and voice actor and narrator Brian Grace to explore audiobooks from the other side of the creative coin as they delve into what a narrator needs to bring your story to life, how they choose a project to tackle, why a narrator costs so much, what it is they actually do, and if they secretly love your characters as much as you. 

Learn more about Brian on his website at http://briangracevo.com/ and his film demo at https://youtu.be/1yB7lsYbU-M.

Tune in for new episodes EVERY single Monday.  

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Read the full transcript below. (Please note that it's automatically generated and while the AI is super cool, it isn't perfect. There may be misspellings or incorrect words on occasion).

Narrator (3s):
You're listening to the Am Writing Fantasy podcast in today's publishing landscape. You can reach fans all over the world. Query letters are a thing of the past. You don't even need a literary agent. There is nothing standing in the way of making a living from writing. Join two best selling authors who have self-published more than 20 books between them now onto the show with your hosts, Autumn, Birt, and Jesper Schmidt.

Autumn (32s):
Hello, I'm Autumn. And today we have a special guest with us for episode 109 with me. I have audio book, narrator and actor, Brian grace. Hi, Brian, how are you today?

Brian (49s):
I'm doing really well. How are you?

Autumn (50s):
Good. I'm so excited to have you join me for so many reasons. One, because I know there's so many authors out there who want to produce audio books and they're not quite sure, you know, there's the steps. You can go online and read the blog posts, but you're an actual audio book narrator. So I thought it'd be really fun to get the perspective of what you need, what, what you want to see an author bring to you, but also because you are my audio book narrator, and I just thought it would be fantastic to talk to you and record a podcast.

Brian (1m 24s):
I'm looking forward to it. It sounds like a lot of fun. Yeah.

Autumn (1m 27s):
So you've been working with me on my post-apocalyptic series, friends of my enemy, and we, we just determined for almost four years now because it's a long series. And so I just thought this is great. I know you through what we've done together, but if you would like to introduce yourself, because I know, especially since we've met, there's so much more you've been doing well.

Brian (1m 53s):
Sure. I've actually started, I guess you could say officially acting in 2015. When I started such a voice, I went online and found the, the website that kind of taught you how to be a voice actor. And I went through that. It was about an eight month course, and that introduced me to the world of narration and animation, which I didn't think was possible for me when I was growing up. Cause I just figured it was something just for the famous folks. I just figured, okay, you had to be already a big name or already have some sort of like following in order to get anywhere in the voiceover world. But I quickly found out through that lesson that anybody can do it. And if you have the talent, the sky's the limit.

Brian (2m 34s):
So I started through that and then once I got my demo through them, I started picking up theater. I started theater in 2017 with a Christmas Carol and my first ever role was a Bob Pratchett.

Autumn (2m 48s):
I thought that was pretty darn cool.

Brian (2m 49s):
So that's a good first role. Yeah. I mean, it'd be like the second billing actor in the, in the stage play. So that was a lot of fun. And then I started doing acting in 2018, Throughout many different plays and shows. And I started into a film acting once I came back in 2018 for a Christmas Carol for the second time, one of the actors told me about Norman, Oklahoma and how they had the actor factory up there. So I decided to start checking them out. I went over there, I started taking classes from them and then I got myself, an agent here in Tulsa, met her through my church and she was just beginning her actor issues.

Brian (3m 31s):
She was beginning her studio. So I got involved with Eric, got to be one of her first actors. And then I started doing a film, a film and TV stuff. I've been in several different, smaller roles, nothing huge to date, but things are still working and things are still moving around and I'm constantly taking classes and learning all the time. So as far as my acting career goes, I'm, I'm doing the best I can and getting out there and getting my name out there and marketing as much as I can and always continuing to learn.

Autumn (4m 2s):
That's awesome. Well, I mean, I know I'm totally biased, but I've worked with over nine audio book narrators now. And I just think you're extremely talented. I feel so lucky to have you, so I know you're going to go far. I, I'm not that worried about it, but you just have to finish up this last book first before you right away.

Brian (4m 22s):
Yeah. I really appreciate your time. I appreciate your patience. I mean, I know it's been a hectic couple of years, but I'm going to get this book done as quickly as I possibly can.

Autumn (4m 30s):
No, I, that I'll miss you, but that's okay. Cause I know we'll both do great things and we'll maybe we'll end up together again. So that's all right. It'll be worth it.

Brian (4m 37s):
Yeah. It's not like we're going to stop communicating once the book is done. Right?

Autumn (4m 40s):
I would hope not. I still wanted to go and get a beer. Oh yeah,

Brian (4m 45s):
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, yeah. I come over there to Vermont or you come over here to Oklahoma. Yeah, we'll get, we can chill. I'll be fine.

Autumn (4m 51s):
That would be a lot of fun. All right. So before we get too nostalgic and everyone else's like, okay, I thought this was about audio books. Oh, we met via ACX, which is Amazon's audible production, you know, their audio book production. So is there anywhere else that you have a profile or where you would suggest that people can find narrators? I know find a way voices has become big, especially outside the U S so where, where do you think people should be looking for, especially authors be looking for narrators,

Brian (5m 25s):
Looking for an adjust narration. I would suggest ACX is a really good start. Although the, the profit sharing is a bit biased towards ACX. They do take, they do take a majority of the money, which is kind of, yeah, it's kind of sad for both authors and narrators. Cause you know, they take 60 wherever you have to, you have to split 40 between you and the author, which is kind of a bum deal. But Hey, it's, it's meant for beginners. It's meant for people who are authors, who are just beginning to look for a great narrators and narrators, just looking for great for good stories, but ACX is great to start for, for getting that, getting that experience, getting a couple bucks, but another nice one is behind the voice actors.com.

Brian (6m 9s):
That's where I really started. Okay. That's where I really started was behind the voice actors.com and that's most of those projects are free. You don't actually get any money from them, but the experiences you get from them are incredible. Especially if you want to do character work because there's a lot of people on there. They put their passion projects on there, like students or filmmakers, things like that. They put their projects on there and they put like lines for different characters and they say, here's what the character is supposed to be. Sometimes they have a picture of what the character looks like and they say, this is going to be a cartoon. It's going to air on such and such website. And we want to have some voices. So they do like a casting call and anybody can go on there and get a free account and then actually audition for those lines.

Brian (6m 57s):
And if you're chosen, you get to be part of their project again, most of the time. Yeah. Most of the time it's not paid, but it's the experience. And it's also a big, big, kinda like a projection point for anybody who's starting off.

Autumn (7m 12s):
Oh, I think that sounds actually like a lot of fun. That's kind of cool. I might just check it out to see what people are doing. Cause I'd love to say creativity,

Brian (7m 21s):
All sorts of projects. I mean, I just, I just addition for another one recently, because, so I'm also part of a, a voice acting class that takes place. My, my teacher is actually in LA and he's a pretty big time voice actor and a coach. And he does, he's done movies. He's on films, but what's cool is that he has a group setting that he calls the panic room, which is kind of fun. That basically it allows, allows people who are just beginning in the voiceover world to kind of throw out their ideas. And they have group settings. It's about like 20 people that get together and they share their ideas and they share their projects and things like that.

Brian (8m 2s):
But I found from behind the voice actors and other projects, so I was like, Oh, let's try this for my class. I brought it into the class. They all, they all thought I did a great job. So I was like, well, if I did so good, I might as well audition for it. So I went ahead and audition for it.

Autumn (8m 18s):
Oh, that's exciting. Like I said, it's amazing the things that you've gotten into and I love seeing your career blossom. So I think it's really cool. Yeah. I appreciate that. It's funny though. Cause so you're talking about projects and stuff and so that's always a good topic. So when you're considering a book or any of these other projects, how important is it to like the story or the characters or are you just sometimes looking for a challenge or something easy? Maybe not a challenge. I mean, what does it take for you to be like, yeah, I want to interview for that.

Brian (8m 51s):
Well, I mean, I believe that in order to tackle any project, you have to have some sort of connection with it or else it's just kind of a waste of time. But when I considered a friends of my enemy, for instance, I mean I read the scene from the book, the book one where I actually had Jared meeting Derek for the first time. And all I knew about the story was that it was just a dystopian war drama and, and the book needed several accents from all across the world. So my immediate thought was, wow, that sounds really tough, but I really liked the challenge. And it sounds like a really cool idea. So for more from me really, I warmed up to the characters more than I wanted to the story in the beginning. So once I actually started figuring out who the characters were and I talked to you about how you wanted them to sound accents were from, I did a lot of research on the accents and then I started falling in love with the characters because I figured out that every character is basically a reflection of you as the narrator.

Brian (9m 48s):
So when you actually, when you actually develop a character, they are you. So they basically become your best friends. And there's no way you can forget your best friends once you got them.

Autumn (9m 60s):
That's so it's very much how, when I'm writing, I feel the same way because people often say like, ask that question. Well, who's your favorite character? And my Pat answer is the character I'm writing in now because it could be the villain. It could be, it's really hard sometimes when it's a teenage ditzy girl, I have a hard time with that character, but you have to do your best. Like you said, it's your best friend. You want to tell their story the best you can. And it's so awesome to hear that reflected in what you do. You were basically taking this on and it's like, you know, it's like, you're the author, you're the narrator. And you want to give the story, whoever point of view, whatever character, the best story you can.

Brian (10m 42s):
Right. And I believe that it's, it is your story as the author. So I have to do justice for the author. And what I think is nice is that you can actually give some like audio clips of what you think the character should sound like, but you also get the author's opinion saying like, well, I like, I like this, but maybe I should make him sound more Southern or maybe, maybe actually sounding more European or something like that. So it makes it, so you get to play around with the author before you create the character, you know? Yeah,

Autumn (11m 11s):
I do. I remember when we were first starting out and he would send me clips and we would discuss, or you would ask me like, have you ever thought about how this character sounds and you know, it's there, but when you're writing, I don't know. Maybe some people already are visual. I visualize it more than hear it. And so you did make me sit down and think, well, how does that character sound? And so some tough questions.

Brian (11m 35s):
Yeah. And I had to do a lot of research on different accents and that, that took a long time. Cause I mean, going on to YouTube and looking up how someone from South Africa sounds versus how someone from like Australia sounds or Northern Europe, Southern Europe, you know, all different parts of the world. I had to look up so many different accents,

Autumn (11m 58s):
That's my fault. But you did an amazing job and it was stunning. And I, there are a lot of narrators that I've worked with and talked to who just narrate the entire story in the same tone. Oh, well, you know, they add the emphasis or they get excited, but you literally give each character an accent, a sound that is individual and unique. And I don't know as much as, I mean, as much as people say, like how, how do you keep the character straight in your head when you're writing? I don't know how you keep the characters straight in your head. Over the years, we've worked together, multiple books, keeping the accent. The same is amazing to me.

Autumn (12m 38s):
I, I'm not sure how you make the mental notes. And especially when there's a scene that has two different characters or three different characters, I'm really cruel to you a lot. You know, they're talking and the ones from America and the ones from South Africa and the ones British and you switched between all of them. So effortlessly on this cliff that you're giving to me. I mean, how does it, how do you even organize that in your head? And then can you record that in one take or are you doing multiple takes? How are you managing that? Well,

Brian (13m 13s):
I mean, I just love giving every single person their own unique voice personality in life. I think it's way more fun to me than narrator and way more fun for the listener as they can really distinguishes the difference, the differences between every single person. It is definitely more work and requires a good memory of the, as friends of my enemy has over 20 reoccurring characters that have their own uniqueness. And like I stated, I gave every one of them life. I place myself in their shoes and become that particular person. So it really helps with the chapters that are from their certain perspectives, as it gives me a better idea of who that person is, because I can know how they think and how they'd react to situations.

Brian (13m 54s):
And I that's really unique for your stories. I think they're really cool that that every chapter is from a different point of view so that it makes it so it's like you get to change the first person perspective in each one and how the, how the narration goes there. The thought process of that character, like for instance, like David Eldridge, he's, he absolutely hates arena and they're just like bitter rivals. And then when you go through a chapter through his point of view, you start going what he's thinking, what he's, what he's planning, what he's plotting and the reasons behind it. So it's not just like from arena's point of view, obviously she is the main central character, but you're not always hearing from her thoughts all the time, which I think is great.

Autumn (14m 35s):
Yeah. I think it definitely adds to, especially that story. I don't do that in all my books, but I read all my full length books, switch point of view like that, but it does, it's its own layer of plotting and it's only are a challenge. I didn't realize that when I first started writing too, you know, if you're going to work with a narrator who is going to get into the different tones and stuff in different sounds, voices and accents that it creates its own fun that way as well.

Brian (15m 4s):
So I'm not, I'm not sure how much time we actually have for this, but I could go on for a while about the main cast and how I chose different voices and personalities for each one.

Autumn (15m 15s):
Yeah. We can definitely circle back to, I mean, we usually go for 45 minutes, so, you know, we have another half an hour or so we'll get back to a couple of these because I definitely, I want you to share, I love, I love how you do some of these accents. And I think it's a unique perspective. I don't know if a lot of other authors realize that this is something that yeah, you might end up paying more, but this is something that an audio book narrator can do if they're dedicated to doing it. But yeah, I do want you to do some examples because you have some amazing skills and I always appreciated, I think the first time I was never even into audio books, the first time I wanted to have one made and I just, you know, put up a script and that was for I'm born of water for the Epic fantasy.

Autumn (16m 1s):
And someone had come back to the narration and it was the first time I really heard something. I wrote narrated by professionals like, Holy crap, this is cool. Except he used a falsetto for the woman. And so it sounded like a puppet play, you know, something you would see done for kids. And it kind of died grated on me. And I've never looked at another numerator who did Falsettos, but you don't, but you can, you, when you do things, you, I can still tell it's one of the women I can tell, you know, one of the guys, you just do a very good job of switching fluidly between gender, but being earnest and not making it sound fake.

Autumn (16m 42s):
You could actually think that this was a real person. And that's what always is amazing.

Brian (16m 47s):
Yeah. I mean, and like I was trying to say, I mean, when I go through the different personalities, I just kind of put myself in their position. How do they think, why do they think this way? Who are they talking to? How do they feel about them? How would I feel if I was that person talking to that person? And you know, each one has their own certain accent. So I think whenever, whenever you have a certain accent, it has to have a certain voice. So I don't believe any characters should sound the same goes everybody's unique. We all have our own certain and we all have our own certain things about us. And so when I started looking at accents on YouTube, from people from these different nationalities, I studied their speech patterns, how fast they talk to their expressions, how they use their body language and how can I adapt that to my voice, to match the persona.

Brian (17m 34s):
So if I find that each person has their own life, it's easier to know who is who and I can easily conjure up that character from the vast pool of personalities that I have stuck in my head. And if each person is unique, then they're also my close personal friends that I've known forever. So you just forget those personal friends.

Autumn (17m 51s):
No, you don't. I think you're going to miss these books as much as I am going to miss you recording these books when we're done.

Brian (17m 58s):
Yeah. Every, every character has as a certain has a certain, like a spot in my heart. I guess you could say, as cheesy as that sounds, I mean, each one is like a very unique person. And, and when, when one of the characters did pass away that that hurt.

Autumn (18m 16s):
Yes. We ended up, we ended up on a conversation. We both cried over that character's death, which I just think that's kind of cool. I mean, everything you're saying is very much what an author goes through. And I don't think most authors realize that this is something that, you know, an audio book narrator is also feeling and going through on a very personal level as well, if they're really getting into your book.

Brian (18m 38s):
Yeah. It's, it's, it's definitely something that you have to kind of like, well, a lot of times you have to kind of separate yourself from the story saying like, okay, yes, it's a story. These aren't real people, but it's, but it's, it's just something that you just kind of feel. But when you give life to a certain character, they just become you, you know?

Autumn (19m 1s):
And that's why, I mean, the times of these characters, the way you voiced them, it's even now when I read what I wrote is how I hear them. So you've created them even if they became like, you know, on the big screen, I don't think I could ever hear themself differently than the way you created them, because it is become how I even see them.

Brian (19m 20s):
Oh, that's great. That's awesome. That just makes me feel good as a narrator too, because when you can give, you can give that kind of performance that actually just makes an impact on someone, especially the off of themselves. That's it's humbling. It's really, really nice.

Autumn (19m 34s):
Oh, you're definitely that good. And like I said, we're going to, I definitely want to throw in some examples cause we've, we have some quotes and things. So I think you can come up with one, but just out of curiosity. Cause I mean, when we started, so we talked about like, I gave you the book and you read through the whole book and then you asked for some examples and maybe some like pronunciations and stuff, but to pick up something, to start creating this character, what do you need from the, an author to pick that up? So what, what's something that authors could have prepared if they're looking for an audio book narrator that they would kind of know that they might ask questions about.

Brian (20m 11s):
So it's kind of hard to answer because a lot of times mean the, the actor gets the freedom to do what they want to do, but you also have to have the author's input because you can't just kind of like throw out something and say, this is how I want the person to sound because that's selfish. I mean, yes, you're the actor and you've got your expressions and you've got your artistic freedom, but you also have to make sure the author is okay with it. You can't just have, like you said, your other narrator who actually might have one of your stories with the falsetto, I probably got on your, probably got on your nerves a little bit, but I did not select after the audition,

Autumn (20m 48s):
But they did make me appreciate that audio books are kind of cool, but yeah, they didn't make it past the first casting.

Brian (20m 56s):
Okay. Okay. Yeah. I mean, it's, it's just one of those things you have to, you have to have constant communication with the author. I mean, I think as a, as a narrator, it's easier if you actually know exactly what the person wants the character to sound like, like if you say, okay, this person is, he's a gruff older man. Who's who was all about like propriety and, and, and society and in he's in he's and politics. And he always wants himself to look better than what he really is, but he's hiding his insecurities and fears and he's having trouble with his son, even though he's, he's, he's very natural and becoming an in person to other people when it comes to like in closed doors, he's, he's scared and he's worried and he doesn't know how to, he doesn't know how to heal with his son.

Brian (21m 48s):
This man is his name's David, David Eldrin, she's, he's a strong individual, but he's also like weak in the, in the case of his emotions and how he's sees the world. But he's also like very stoic and he has this very specific vision for Europe and he wants to leave Europe in a certain way. And he believes what he's doing is right. But the ends justify the means. And a lot of times what you're doing is not exactly the best for the country itself. So how do you get that into like a voice? How do you, how do you make a voice with that? So you say, okay, this person who's, he's gruff, he's kind of like a low voice.

Brian (22m 28s):
Maybe he's a bit more well to do. He's he's, he's rich in, in his, in the way he projects himself. He may not actually be rich, but he wants to look rich. So like he's a well to do and a older and a wise in his words, but he's also kind of like a slow, slow in speech, but wants to he's condescending in some ways too. So it's like, it's like some of those things, if you could describe like the character itself saying like, this is how I want him to sound and then suddenly you just get that voice that just comes, it just comes naturally.

Autumn (23m 4s):
Oh, definitely to you. Yeah, it is. So it's neat to hear like the things I wrote translated into how you would take that into creating Dave says voice and it's very, it's not as simple as you know, saying, Oh, he's British and he's older and he's male. You literally, you take into all these nuances of like how he poses some self. I mean, you really get into the acting nuances of it. And that is really, it's amazing how intense that is. And then what it's a totally different mindset from, you know, being an author. So it's really neat.

Brian (23m 42s):
Yeah. I mean, if you're going to be, if you're going to be a person, you gotta be a person ever, we all have different facets. We all have different things going on in our lives, but what's nice is that as an actor, you can actually pull from the experiences of your own life or experiences that you've known from other people like friends and family, relative, things like that. And every single person has such a huge pool of experiences. If they can, they can dive into, and as an actor, you have unlimited amount of, of knowledge at your fingertips. That's a, you just, you just pull from

Autumn (24m 20s):
That's just it's to me, it's still amazing. But again, I didn't, I haven't taken acting classes and I've never, ever tried to be an actor. So this is why I hired you to handle that aspect. I'm much happier writing, even though I've been told my voice is not horrible. I don't know if that's a compliment or not. I wouldn't say it like that. It's like, well, your voice, I'm still not going to be auditioning for anything soon. How I think a lot of, so when we're, when authors are signing up to do audio books, you know, they're taught, they're usually told, you know, narrators get paid by finished hour and a finished hour is usually three to four hours of work.

Autumn (25m 7s):
What goes into that? I mean, is that true or is that just something that, you know, ACX puts up there, so we feel bad and if it is true, like, is it multiple takes? I mean, what is it, what happens to something you're recording? How do you make that into the clip that you then send to me?

Brian (25m 24s):
Well, I mean, there's a lot of work, especially with audio books. It's, it's a, it's a huge time commitment. That's for sure. If you're getting in to audio books to make money, it's not about per finished hour because the per finished hour is the actual finished book. So if the book lasts like eight hours to speak, as it's done, you only get paid for those eight hours. You don't get paid for the hours upon hours and days upon days and sometimes weeks or months to make the thing. Because I mean, there is a lot of work in audio books and I think most people don't really understand that.

Brian (26m 4s):
But then again, I mean, I might actually put way more work into my audio books and some other narrators do, but it's it's okay. So whenever you start, you have the whole chapter that you're going to speak through. Yet you speak in inside of your little, your little audio containment box, wherever you're going to start speaking your story and you go through the whole chapter. I try to do a chapter by chapter. So that way I can, I have some sanity left in my life. So I finished, I finished a full chapter. A lot of times it takes multiple takes. Cause I'm trying to get through right, the right inflection, the right emotion, the right.

Brian (26m 48s):
And my earlier books, I didn't have any classes. So it was just me doing it by myself. So I wouldn't be as proud of the earlier work that I, that I would be as what I know now, because I just know more. But in the beginning, it's basically like you, you read the story. And then I tried to always make sure every character had its own unique voice. A lot of times I was able to do it in one take a lot of times that it took me several takes, but it all depends on how I felt when I listened to it. So I can hear myself through my great big headphones and with those great big headphones, you can kind of hear how your voice sounds.

Brian (27m 29s):
You're kind of like echoes back to you. So you have an idea of what it's going to sound to someone who's listening to it. So when I go through it and I was like, Oh, that didn't sound good. Let me try it again. Or I was like, well, what are you really trying to say here? I mean, just say it, you know, I would, at times you argue with yourself inside of the inside of the vocal booth, because it's like, no, one's going to want to listen to this, try it again. And like, you know, so it's like, okay, let me do a character, which is totally different from narration. Narration is all about like trying to make it sound compelling and interesting enough. So people will want to listen. But then the character is completely different because this is a person you're dealing with. This is a real living person. So you have to make sure you sound like a real person.

Brian (28m 11s):
And then you have to get those personalities, the different, the very subtle things in their voice that tell you what they're really thinking. And it just, it's way more fun to hear that in a character when it, because all you have is voice, you don't have the body to act with, which I've done that as well. But when it's just voice acting, it's so much harder because you have to get every feeling inside of that voice because all the audience knows is what they hear, not what they say.

Autumn (28m 41s):
And then it was, I remember the first time listening to something you did, and I think whatever expression, growled or hissed, and you actually did that in the voice and then switched to the narrator voice and said it. And I'm like, darn, that is cool. And it is quite, it is right. So when you're narrating your worry, I can hear you worry about the, you know, the tones, the pacing, the inflection, how you say the sentences and the pauses. And then it is a totally different switch when you do the characters,

Brian (29m 13s):
Right? Yeah. I mean, I try to be like more even tone with a narration. So that way it doesn't sound too much like any particular character, but also I have to make the narration not sound so boring and drab and just like, does this guy even care about what he's talking about?

Autumn (29m 31s):
And I have heard auditions that I was like, okay, I'm asleep already. So no, don't do that.

Brian (29m 37s):
Yeah. Yeah. So you have to, it's, it's a delicate balance between narration and the characters and you have to figure out that balance and make it work. And that's, that's why it's nice to have constant communication with the author because you can actually show them little clips and say, what do you feel about this? Because you don't want to make the like three chapters and then submit it and to say like, that's horrible. Do them all again, do you know how long it took? Like three weeks?

Autumn (30m 6s):
That is definitely one thing. I, I do think authors need to understand how long it takes and just out of curiosity, I, so I would take it considering the level of just what it takes to do it. I mean, if you want to write, you're not going to have time to be able to do your own audio book, but I mean, equipment wise and all that, do you, what is it required? I mean, is this something that you think an authors should be able to do their own book or do you think, you know, this is a level, unless you're really going to spend a lot of time and effort just don't just hire somebody. You can get it done. Well,

Brian (30m 41s):
So that's the thing. I mean, if, if the author is, if the author also loves acting, I'd say have, have them do it as well. But it's, it's one of those things where just like my equipment for what I use, you get what you pay for. So if you're, if you're going to do it yourself, make sure that you have some sort of training that you know how to say something with different inflection of the emotion behind the voice live, your own characters, which I think is possible. But I mean, it's, it's difficult. Cause I mean, if, if you're an author you're, you're pouring your heart into writing, right.

Brian (31m 21s):
It's very rare to have someone who's an author and an actor. I mean, it's definitely possible, but I haven't seen too many of those.

Autumn (31m 29s):
No, I can't imagine a lot of the stuff, like I said, that you're describing you would make a great author. Cause you, you understand what it takes to do the character, but you're a fantastic actor. So you don't need to get into writing unless you, you know, retire and want to go there. Right.

Brian (31m 45s):
Well, I appreciate it. I was appreciate your compliments.

Autumn (31m 49s):
Well, I think, yeah, unless you want to add something to, you know, you know, what would it take for someone to, if they wanted to get set up just out of curiosity, what would it take for someone minimum if they wanted to try this, just so that people have a realistic idea of what equipment it takes to be an audio book narrator or why maybe you should have someone else do it.

Brian (32m 11s):
Well, I mean, like I was saying, I mean, you get what you pay for, especially with your equipment. So what I have is a focus, right? Scarlet to I, to audio interface. And that's, that's kind of basic, it's kinda like a, your starter kit. That's pretty much what I got when I had my, my first, my first demo was recorded for my narration and character work. They gave me, they gave me a Scarlet focus, right to I, to audio interface. And that is just the thing that hooks up to your computer that allows the microphone to go through. It's not the microphone itself. So the Scarlet to I, to that system is about roughly 150 to $200.

Brian (32m 55s):
And then you have the microphone itself, which is a, a condensed, what is it, a diaphragm, a diaphragm, condensed microphone. And those things. This is a, it's a road <inaudible> road into one dash a. And that's like your highest end average equipment that you can get. But it's, it's like, it's the highest end microphone that you can get without spending thousands of dollars on a microphone. So that one is about 300 bucks for a, just the microphone, but it's a really, really good one. It's actually a, and then if you look around, if you actually notice things, you, you can see that that particular microphone is used by several artists, several voice actors, several musicians.

Brian (33m 46s):
It's a pretty well known microphone. The rode mic, it's actually a good brand. R O D E. It's a really good brand. But like I said, I mean, if, if you want to have a good quality, I would start with that. You can do like headset, mikes, but you're going to get what you pay for. It's it's a lot of, a lot of background noise, a lot of static. So if you're going to have like low end equipment, you're going to get low end results. Right. I use audacity for my editing software and that's a, it's a free app. It's a free software that you can use. And if you really know how to use it, there's a lot of guides online to learn how to use stuff.

Brian (34m 26s):
But if you know how to use it, you can use audacity. And I have, have no issues with that because I mean, that's, that's what I've always used is audacity. It's free. And there's, there's programs out there that have way more things that you can do. But it's like a lot of fancy bells and whistles that I don't really think I don't really need. So audacity is just, it just keeps it's good for a budget.

Autumn (34m 47s):
That's awesome. And so is that part of the like running I know before you've said you've run processors to take out clicks and mouth sounds. In fact, I remember you saying like there was something you stopped eating while you're recording. Cause it gave you like a, more of a mouth sound. You're really dedicated, which I love, but so there's like all these nuances, plus you need to have like a room that's quiet where you're just saying that you, your quiet booth is sort of a closet. So

Brian (35m 12s):
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I know that. Okay. So, Hmm. I picked up a ton of knowledge from my voice acting coach and ways to say things and make it compelling to listen to. And so when I record for a narration, I have to make it sound just as interesting as all the characters. So just like the author is painting a picture with their words. I need to do same, same with my voice. And sometimes it'll take several to get the right words, the right meaning the right inflection, the right emotion. So it's, it's funny. Cause I know like how you'd like to write. Sometimes you have like this really long sentences.

Autumn (35m 50s):
Yeah, I do.

Brian (35m 55s):
Yeah. They're super, super long sentences where they're separated by a comma every so often, but to voice it, it can be a challenge, especially when you have like pops and clicks and noise, saliva snaps and things like that. So you don't want to break the sentence either with, by taking a breath. So you have to go through the entire thing. It was like,

Autumn (36m 19s):
I feel so bad,

Brian (36m 24s):
But so, so what I use to help with like noise noises and your mouth and things like that as granny Smith, apples, granny Smith is the best food that you can have inside of a booth. So obviously you're not going to hear yourself.

Autumn (36m 42s):
I've never heard that on any clip you've sent me. No,

Brian (36m 46s):
You have to take all that, all that noise out. So, so when I'm recording, I always have the microphone on. So it's kind of comical sometimes when I'm really listening to it. And in the editing section, when I, this, I can just see like the little pops is up there. I am, I'm eating something. So I Like that whole entire section and I get to the next part. And so what keeps me on track? The granny Smith apples gets rid of the pops and clicks naturally. And then I also use like lukewarm water, like little tiny little sips is lukewarm water. So that way I can keep my voice hydrated. Cause you're in the, you're in the booth for hours recording and recording and recording. And so to help me out whenever I'm listening to it, I like to snap my finger when I snap.

Brian (37m 34s):
I mean, that, that proves to me that I did the sentence. Right. So if I, if I say like arena went to the store and then she got this particular thing, but actually got a set of bullets for her AK 47 and then I have a snap. Cause then I know that I did that sentence. Right. And right. So that when I go to the editing thing, I can see the snap very easily. Cause it's, it's a very long and a very thin noise on the, on the vocal track. So you see the vocal track on the sound waves and this one thin cut, which is definitely a step because it pops up pretty well in the editing thing.

Brian (38m 14s):
So you see that and says, okay, I know I got that sentence. Right. I can delete everything else. So it does, it does still take hours to edit, but it's actually a lot easier whenever you snap your fingers. So that way you're not listening to every single tape to see, to see which one is right.

Autumn (38m 32s):
Wow.

Brian (38m 33s):
It takes like, so I, I kind took a tally and I said, it takes roughly about three hours to edit for a 30 minute chapter. Wow. That's

Autumn (38m 43s):
Yeah. Really crazy. And so yeah, ACX is really quite pretty close to when they say per finished hour or so.

Brian (38m 51s):
Well, that's the thing, that's the thing mean per finished hour. You're not getting paid for those three hours minutes. So you're only getting paid for the 30 minutes that you finished. So if you finish, like you say, if you finish a book and seven hours and the book is seven hours long to listen, to start to finish, that's how long the actor will get paid. They don't get paid for the months and months and months,

Autumn (39m 15s):
The 21 to 30 hours that you've put in. And so that's one reason when you see like the perfect hour rate, some of them are, you know, 400, $500. There's a reason for that. Cause that's being divided by four or five hours to cover your costs. That's really unnecessary.

Brian (39m 32s):
Yeah. It's a distinct thing about that. But before I got into voice acting, I always wondered why it was so much money, but now I know,

Autumn (39m 40s):
No, it looks good on the one end. Yeah.

Brian (39m 45s):
Yeah. And then, and then if, if you're not an actor, if you don't know, you're just like why in the world would I pay this much money for someone just talking in a microphone,

Autumn (39m 55s):
Jim Washington, I pay you a $500 an hour. Well, because it took five hours to make that one hour. Yeah.

Brian (40m 1s):
And then, and then, like I said, you get what you pay for. I mean, you want a quality, you want a quality story. You want your story to have the life that you really want. You're going to have to pay for it.

Autumn (40m 12s):
Right. It makes sense. Yeah.

Brian (40m 14s):
Yeah. It was just like, I just like paying someone for piano lessons. You get to, you get the, you get the end result from the actual lessons that you learned from a professional. So you're always going to, you're always going to pay the professional rate if you want to have a professional quality. That makes sense to me. Yeah. Most people are just like, why would I pay that much for that? Oh gosh,

Autumn (40m 38s):
Well, this that's why I wanted to do this though, is because I really wanted to the authors know, you know what? They're going to learn what they should have in hand when they're going to go to an auto audio book narrator. But they should also know really what is on the other side, what it is you're doing. It shouldn't be this like mystery because once you know, you appreciate it so much more and the expense and the time commitment makes so much more sense. I mean, we've been together for four years because it's a series and things have come up and stuff has happened. But you know, when you, when you signed up to do four books, this was not, you know, you knew it was a chunk of your life. We've shared quite a few years together now. And there's a reason.

Autumn (41m 20s):
Yeah. So you just like, you should have someone you can communicate with, you should have someone you can get along with you're, you're sharing, you're sharing for me, I'm sharing an something I developed as something little part of me that, you know, my little baby I created and I'm giving it to you. You're like growing it into something else. That is a whole new thing. And it becomes a collaboration, not just, you know, a hand, you know, passing the Baton. Right, right.

Brian (41m 43s):
And, but that's also, that's the risk that the narrator has to take too, because especially if you're going to be doing royalty sharing, I know that that's the risk for narrators as well because the royalty share is only 20% of every single sale. And you have to really be kind of trusting of the author to, to say like, how is this going to be marketed? Where's it going to go? Is this worth my time? That kind of thing. So you have to kind of see Amanda is, is this something that's going to be lucrative? And if it's not, it'll be nice for a hobby. But if you're, if it's something that you want to do for your livelihood, these are the things you have to think about.

Autumn (42m 23s):
It is always the struggle. And yeah, it's something, especially once you start taking this as a business and taking this seriously, these are the questions I think everyone has got to be asking of how is this going to work out in the end? And who's, who's going to end up holding the money and how's it going to work out for both everyone involved that it's worth the time. Right. Right. Well, I want you to show off a little bit. I would love it. If you do have any of those quotes handy to show off what some of the voices, some of the things that you can do and what other authors should, you know, make your audio book narrators, do this too.

Brian (43m 1s):
Well. I mean, I guess you could say that I might be able to just kind of like start talking like the particular person as I talk about that character, if you want me to do that. Sure. So when I go through the different things about thinking about who I'm going to be, I started going through the different nationalities and where things go, this is someone who's from South Africa, who's obviously white. So it's a lot easier for me to be someone who is a white guy, because that's obviously who I am. So, but this name is his name was jetted. He is the captain of the armed forces. And he definitely works very well with arena, who is definitely his best friend, his confidant, and someone who stood this life with, for a long time.

Brian (43m 45s):
And also with David as well. David Eldridge is a good buddy of his, I guess you could say he met him first before meeting up with arena. It was definitely an interesting situation. But with the accent, you have to kind of understand this guy's from Africa. So he's got a bit of a thicker accent here, but he's also a smart ass. He's definitely someone who's. Yeah. He has a way with his words and he and arena get in it a lot. And it's a different, a really good dynamic between the two characters when it comes to arena. I try to be a little bit more like my own voice, but just a little bit higher.

Brian (44m 25s):
So it's kind of has like a feminine quality to it. I know that she started off very weak. She didn't really know where she was. She didn't have an idea about her character at all. She was kinda scared, maybe scared of her own shadow. Perhaps she started going out. She had a husband named Michael once certain things happen in the story, that kind of effect fell apart. But I like to other people who want to read it, actually listen to that. But my name is arena and I'm definitely the, the first person who did you kind of get into, into, in arms with you start relating to me. I I'm a strong character, but it does take a while for me to start figuring out who I am and how strong I really am.

Brian (45m 9s):
And I can lead the armed forces. And then you have someone like Biden. Definitely my favorite character.

Autumn (45m 17s):
Really? I did not know that.

Brian (45m 20s):
No, certainly love Byron for everything that he is. He is definitely have said that, that Mexican quality, but sort of like the man is a ladies. Man, every, every little ease is just all wonderful human beings. He has that particular quantity that women just flock to. You say, wow, what a man and I have to agree. And then you have David Eldridge. Who's a very, very well to do man. And he's a British. So when you start to think about the different things that is happening in his life, he has a little bit of a warring upset in, in his own life that he has to kind of try to get along with his son, David or Derek I'm David, what am I saying?

Brian (46m 14s):
So Derek is my son and he's sort of a troublemaker. I try to keep them in line, but he never listens to me. So it kind of gives me a little bit of internal struggle. Whenever I hear that he doesn't want him, he doesn't want to be in politics. Why would you not want to be in politics? It's just, it's parliament. It's mother. It's the greatest thing in the world. It runs Europe, but you're not supposed to know that.

Autumn (46m 43s):
Okay.

Brian (46m 44s):
And then you have Derek Eldridge, who's a little bit of a more world demand. He's also British, but he doesn't really get along with his father very well. But there's that sort of thing that he sort of respects a bit more from his father, but it's just one of those things that just like, I got to make my own way of things. You know, why don't you just let me live? My life, dad, come on.

Autumn (47m 7s):
That is just absolutely brilliant that you can do all those in a row trying not to crack up so that, you know, we can just record this without you having me laugh. My head off in the background. That is so brilliant. Way more difficult.

Brian (47m 28s):
She is French. Oh, she's

Autumn (47m 30s):
Definitely one of those people that has like a whole way of the world. She tried it. She gets away with a feminine Wiles. She's definitely fresh. So French accent can be a bit difficult. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of a little bit of practice to tell us I have nothing to be trifled with. Definitely don't mess around with Danielle. Oh, that is so brilliant. I don't know if you have any others, but I just, like I said, you bring this book to life. So it was amazing.

Autumn (48m 10s):
And this is the quality that you bring in an audio book. Narrator can bring to your characters. That is just phenomenal to hear someone professional and well done, actually giving voice to a story. The characters are a lot of fun. I mean, like I said, they all have their own unique voice, their own unique flavor. And you have to, you have to give them their due justice or else. I just not a real character. I can't agree more. And I definitely think, I mean, very least there's some clips, all of the books have clips on Amazon or an audible. So I mean, it's at least worth going and listening to those so that you can see some of the level that you've put into these books, which is just, like I said, I would never, you tell me like, you've uploaded a chapter.

Autumn (49m 0s):
I was like, yes, yes. I can't wait to go hear this. It makes sure it's not one of those things. Like, you know, you're cooking dinner. I'd like, no, everything else must stop. I am going to just sit here and enjoy this. This is awesome. So yay. This was a really fantastic, thank you Brian, for joining me here. Oh, absolutely. It's been a joy autumn. I'm just very glad to finally get a chance to talk to you. I know this was totally our double up excuse as a chance for us to hang out until we can finally, you know, COVID is over and the world is maybe a little less crazy and I'm back on the road again and I am totally be lining it over to Oklahoma so we can say hi and hang out and have a beer.

Autumn (49m 42s):
Oh, that'd be fantastic. I'd love that. Well, I mean, I guess, I guess until the next time I can get the last, the last book done and until then, I guess we'll talk later. Yes, we will. Thank you again. And so thanks for listening in. We will, yes, we will be back next time and we will be talking about some magic systems. Like the worst of them.

Narrator (50m 10s):
If you like, what you just heard, there's a few things you can do to support the am writing fantasy podcast. Please tell a fellow author about the show and visit us at Apple podcast and leave a rating and review. You can also join Autumn and Jesper on patrion.com/amwritingfantasy for as little as a dollar a month. You'll get awesome rewards and keep the Am Writing Fantasy podcast going, stay safe out there and see you next Monday.

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