December 04, 2020, 11:57:45 AM

Author Topic: Audiobooks Narrated by the Author  (Read 714 times)

Offline TypesWithHammers

Audiobooks Narrated by the Author
« on: October 01, 2020, 10:57:27 PM »
Assuming an appropriate level of professionalism in delivery and technical quality, do Audio book listeners for fantasy genres bother with them if the narrator is the author, rather than a known professional voice actor?

Non-Fiction lends itself to it well because the author is the expert in the field in which the listener is interested.

For fantasy, Steven Pacey (ex Blake's Seven, for those old enough to wallow in such nostalgia) narrates several books, particularly Joe Abercrombie's First Law series. Members of the Facebook FF group rave about him.

What's the feeling on fiction audiobooks by their authors - A waste of breath or worth the investment in time and equipment? Anyone done this with any success?

Offline Bender

Re: Audiobooks Narrated by the Author
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2020, 12:13:09 AM »
I recall seeing in SPFBO facebook about one book narrated by it's author and had good reviews.

But in general, the discussions in audiobook community seems to prize certain narrators almost that it's an added selling point.
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Online ScarletBea

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Re: Audiobooks Narrated by the Author
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2020, 07:54:51 AM »
I don't listen to audiobooks, but I'll call on @Lady Ty to give her opinion :)
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Offline Lady Ty

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Re: Audiobooks Narrated by the Author
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2020, 03:23:56 AM »
Apologies for being  slow to answer ScarletBea's summons - I cannot write much or link on phone and don't always get to laptop for a day or two.

From a listener's point of view it is a little hit and miss, if you are a prospective author/narrator you probably need some prior experience or skill in debating, public speaking, or drama. Some authors are excellent at narrating their own books, Neil Gaiman is a prime example,Emma Newman is also good, and some new authors also do a great job as Andy Weir did with The Martian.

Enthusiastic new authors may self narrate to save money on their first books, as obviously it is expensive to employ any of the best narrators until they are secure enough to be sure their books are a success. Sometimes this can be a bit of a disaster, or at the least lack good characterisation or smooth delivery. Professional narrators bring the characters to life in the way the author wants them to be heard, good male/ female narrators can reverse and give excellent female/male voices. Pitch and tone of a voice also make a great difference as extremes are uncomfortable - unless in character of course.

Can only recommend writers to get unbiased critics to listen and comment before choosing to self narrate and listeners to always check the Audible samples several times before buying to be sure you can listen to this narrator for hours on end. Take note of what reviewers say on narration in the comments and if there are many either praising or damning believe them. Audible listeners are very fussy about narration and a bad narrator will kill sales of that version.

There may be personal reasons for some voices being easier to listen to depending on your own hearing, eg high pitch or female are harder for anyone with even a slight hearing impairment.

I made comment on some of the best fantasy narrators here - they will do justice to any book they read, even make a textbook come alive. *


http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/fantasy-book-discussion/looking-for-a-recommendation-for-audio-book-series/msg147494/#msg147494

We have had a few good discussions on Audiobooks in the past here, worth doing a general Audible or Audio search for any prospective listener.

As always, Happy Listening  ;D
 
*ETA Audible produce a few "help you to sleep" recordings of about 45 mins.  Curtis Stone the chef narrates the start of a classic cookery textbook by Escoffier, very dated, formal prose.  He reads it in a boring monotone. Even though I tried to listen was asleep after a few paragraphs.  Highly recommended for insomniacs and it's free if you are Audible member.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2020, 05:39:18 AM by Lady Ty »
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Re: Audiobooks Narrated by the Author
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2020, 10:03:23 PM »
Great reply, Lady Ty, thanks!
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Offline Arry

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Re: Audiobooks Narrated by the Author
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2020, 07:55:33 PM »
Narrating is a very different skill from writing, and I feel like authors need to be aware of that. I have listened to some where I wish they had just hired someone. Sometimes they could narrate some sections OK, but others not so much. Acting is a skill just like writing is, and just because you can do one, does not mean you are capable of doing the other one.

That said, when an author is actually talented at narration, it can be fantastic. And you get the added bonus of knowing the inflection and any little nuances that can be conveyed with tone are going to be spot on to what the author intended. But I've also heard it go wrong and wished they had different narrator.

Mary Robinette Kowal does as excellent job narrating her books. I have listened to a kids book with my family by Neil Gaiman that was also fantastic.  I know Jordanna Max Brodsky also narrated her books and did well with it.
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Offline TypesWithHammers

Re: Audiobooks Narrated by the Author
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2020, 08:18:17 PM »
Thank you all for your considered opinions and insights. I'm keen to test drive an audio book option so I'll have to invest in equipment and a decent DIY home booth to create a sample. I imagine that a poor recording experience (kit, ambient noise, sound quality) will also figure highly as a turn off, as well as my untried vocals.

From your comments I understand only by sending the sample out for review will I get honest opinions as to whether my voice has what is required.
If it's poor, I'm certain that people will let me know! As LadyTy assures me, Audible listeners are very fussy. This will take a while to pull all of this together, but I'm not put off (yet!)

If the responses are more negative than positive then I'll need to look at the Pro options.
Not an actor (was not a writer!), I understand skills take time and commitment to learn and use well.

Is there a good site to send audio samples for review? I'm sure friends and family will be unnecessarily kind!

PS ...and thanks for the links.

Offline Lady Ty

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Re: Audiobooks Narrated by the Author
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2020, 09:37:22 PM »
This popped up in my Google feed today, probably because I was exploring.Audible earlier so thought it may be of interest to you @TypesWithHammers.
Good luck with your narrating, certainly did not want to discourage and mentioned drama etc because that teaches voice control and how to avoid taking audible breaths etc. Also another article mentioned beware of tummy rumbles that get picked up.:)
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/nov/16/throat-hurts-brain-hurts-secret-life-of-audiobook-stars-tim-dowling
« Last Edit: October 13, 2020, 09:38:53 PM by Lady Ty »
“This is the problem with even lesser demons. They come to your doorstep in velvet coats and polished shoes. They tip their hats and smile and demonstrate good table manners. They never show you their tails.” 
Leigh Bardugo, The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

Offline TypesWithHammers

Re: Audiobooks Narrated by the Author
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2020, 09:52:12 PM »
Thanks, Lady Ty.
The Grauniad piece was worthy of a read, and some humorous stories in there, too.
Finty's tale takes some of the glamour out of the idea, though.
Cheers!

Offline cupiscent

Re: Audiobooks Narrated by the Author
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2020, 10:09:36 PM »
This week's Writing Excuses podcast is about audiobook narration! One of the regular hosts - Mary Robinette Kowal - does narration, and they also have a guest who works in the area as well. They offer some practical tips on sound engineering and microphone tricks as well as talking generally about things to think about, so I thought it might be of interest to @TypesWithHammers and anyone else curious about this area. You can find the podcast through most services (Spotify, Apple and Google whatevers) but also it's available directly.

Offline TypesWithHammers

Re: Audiobooks Narrated by the Author
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2020, 09:01:02 AM »
Thank you, Cupiscent. I enjoyed that, and took copious notes, despite the podcast's brevity.
It's getting to the stage I need to order the mic, and setup a 'sound booth', that will be a room in the house in which I'm going to have to deaden the sound (somehow!)
It's the age-old writing dilemma: what to do now; write/edit, break into this audio thing, do my marketing, or sit and scream until the voices in my head subside :)

It'll probably be a terribly inefficient mixture of all of the above!
 8)