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How to Begin a Successful Author/Producer Relationship by Kelli Shane

I don't want to stay I stumbled into being an Audiobook Producer because there was a lot of hard work on the path that led me to it, but the reality is I didn't even know the profession existed, so “stumbling into it” may be accurate. I had been an actress for years and always wanted to break into voiceover, but I knew it was a craft in and of itself with many different paths to explore (audiobooks, commercials, video games, etc.) and I would need time and money to invest in learning it. I didn't have much of either to spare when I received an email offer to take an affordable three-hour voiceover class about voicing and producing audiobooks with ACX. So, I figured I'd go ahead and check it out. Voiceover guru David H. Lawrence XVII delivered on his promise and at the end of class, I had everything I needed to get started on ACX. Before I knew it, I had two offers to narrate and produce Ali Cross‘ trilogy, The Desolation Series, and Susan Kaye Quinn‘s trilogy, The Mindjack Series. While I was elated, I quickly learned that getting started as a narrator/producer and actually executing the production of two trilogies were very different things. I had a lot to learn! Both Ali and Susan were diving into the world of audiobooks for the first time as well, so we've learned a lot together through every step of the audiobook production process, and I think it's safe to say we continue to learn more every day! Here are two important tips I recommend to get your collaboration off to a wonderful start:
Think Like An Author AND Like A Narrator/Producer
The more I learn about the world of audiobooks from the author's perspective, the better I become at my job as an audiobook narrator and producer. I think the same probably holds true for you (as an author); the more you learn about the world of audiobooks from the narrator/producer's perspective, the better able you'll be to support the success of the project. Our work together should be a collaboration that molds your vision and expectations with my ideas and abilities. In order to encourage a thriving collaboration, I recommend doing a little research to understand what goes into producing an audiobook. For example, do you know what goes into a finished hour of audio? That's a great place to start. Otherwise, how do you know what a realistic production timeline looks like? With a little research, you'll gain the knowledge that will assist you in creating a reasonable schedule with your narrator/producer, which in turn, affects any marketing plan you set in place. ACX has great resources (videos, articles, etc.) for narrators and producers that will give you invaluable insight into our world.
Schedule a Pow-Wow
After the logistics have been worked out (the contract, production schedule, etc.), it's time to get to know the person behind the voice you cast. Schedule a phone call to pow-wow with your new partner. First things first, communicate how you'd like to work with your narrator/producer from the start. Do you prefer to review the chapters one at a time and give notes accordingly or do you prefer to listen to the whole book after all the chapters have been uploaded? Discuss it with your narrator/producer if you're unsure. Or take my advice above and do a little more research to explore what would work best for you. After you've laid the ground rules of how you both prefer to work, discuss the key characters of your book, provide character descriptions (ideally, in writing as well), point out any pronunciations that may not be obvious, etc. I also recommend outlining any marketing/social media plans you have in mind and invite your narrator/producer to take part. This is your time to share your vision and goals for your book, as well as ask any questions you may have. By having a pow-wow, you're creating space for a successful collaboration to begin.
I hope that helps get you started! Keep in mind that each ti
me you go through the production process with a new (or the same) producer, it gets easier and easier. You discover what works for you and what doesn't, and you start to develop “protocol” for how to approach future productions. In the meantime, remember to be patient with yourself and enjoy the journey!


This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Working with Kelli is amazing. She has really gone the extra mile (or two or three!) to provide a product I’d be proud of. Voicing and producing a book is a TON of work for your narrator/producer, so my biggest advice to an author interested in this path would be to have respect for your narrator/producer and understand that this is a COLLABORATION, even if it IS your book. I <3 Kelli because she makes the collaborating enjoyable. .:)

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