How it all happened…
I have been a listener of books read aloud for as many years as I can remember. Before I discovered actual audiobooks (largely available only on cassette at the time of my initial discovery), my mom would read to me and my dad in the evenings, or on long car rides. She discovered a unique ability to read aloud in a moving vehicle, even though reading to herself *always* made her motion sick. I have found that I have the same unique skill, and I have my theories as to why this might be, but I’ll spare you for now. 😉
As I got older, and had relationships of my own, I discovered that I loved connecting with people through reading stories together. It became a staple of my partnerships that if we were going to be driving for longer than a few minutes, we couldn’t forget “the book,” whatever it happened to be at the time. Eventually I realized that being an audiobook narrator would be an absolute *dream-job* for me, but I had no idea how to make it happen. I had all these notions that there were a bunch of out-of-reach things I’d need to do, like get an agent, and get involved in the highly-competitive world of acting, in order to build my credibility and fulfil my dream…
And then one day I met up with my cousin Aaron, who was in town for the wedding of a friend of his. Through the course of our “how are the wife and kids?” conversation, I discovered that his wife Nicky had started writing romance novels (a long-held dream of her own), and was using the now-available technology of self-publishing to put her art out into the world. I was thoroughly impressed, and he was incredibly proud, telling me how well she was doing in her sub-genre, and generally being an excellent fan-boy for his love’s creative endeavors.
“So…” I began to enquire tentatively, “does Nicky need a narrator? Does she want to do audio versions of her books?”
“As a matter of fact,” says Aaron, “I think she’s auditioning narrators *right now!*”
He went on to tell me that there was a platform for narrators to essentially self-publish themselves, and that I should contact Nicky to see if she’d hired anyone yet. I proceeded to do a small, internal happy-dance, thinking, “This is my chance!!” I’ve had a long-held belief that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know that moves the narrative of your own life forward most of the time… although what I knew (or didn’t know, in this case) turned out to be extremely important, too.
So I contacted the illustrious Nicole Krizek, newly (at the time) successful self-published sci-fi romance novelist. To my chagrin, she had actually *just* decided on a narrator who had submitted an audition to her posting, and had just agreed to a contract with him for the production of the first two novels in her series. But she said she’d love to hear a sample from me, if I could figure out a way to put one together, and she’d send me the audition excerpt from the manuscript so that she could compare my sample to the others she’d received.
I proceeded to thoroughly freak out, because I only had a crappy computer microphone to record things with, and I *knew* that wasn’t going to be good enough. Thankfully I have a wide variety of incredible people in my life, including a handful of talented musicians who record at home sometimes. So my dear friends Sean Morse and David Keogh (look up their music online, they’re both amazing) offered for me to come hang out in their various abodes, and I ended up recording a few minutes of narration in Sean’s attic studio (which ended up taking a few hours, because I just had no idea what I was doing with the software). Through his patient tutelage, I was able to create a passable sample and send it to Nicky.
I waited on pins and needles for her response, and when it finally came, I saw at first glance that it had some notes. I was terrified that she’d hated it, and I had to have my partner at the time read it with me and basically hold my hand. It turned out that she’d actually *loved* it, and just wanted to make sure that a few things she had noticed (and found distracting) could be fixed… and that I didn’t get carried away and read too fast! (This is something I have to remind myself of on a daily basis in the studio, even almost 5 years later. ;-D ) She basically said, “You’re awesome, do all of the rest of my books, forever.” And so I am! But the *real* work was only just beginning…
That first book (which was actually the third in her first series) took me almost an entire year to produce! Essentially I had to teach myself audio engineering from the ground up, which, it turns out, is not actually an easy thing to do. Shocking, right? It’s like people go to school for this stuff, or something… But speaking of people who went to school for this stuff, I was immeasurably lucky to make the acquaintance of a close friend’s husband at the time, who actually did! (Go to school for this stuff, I mean.) This guy was an *incalculably* valuable resource, sending me notes on compression from his college classes, loaning me microphones, and responding to my frantic emails begging him to help me figure out how to do x, y, or z thing in Pro Tools, with which he has a lifetime’s-worth of experience. I literally would not have made it through that first book without him. I also would not have made it through without Nicky’s *near infinite* patience with me, as I pushed back deadline after deadline because yet something else had gone wrong, or I couldn’t “figure out how to x, y, or z.”
Finally, I completed that first book. I went on to record two short (one hour each) self-help books for another author overseas, and then didn’t really record much until Nicky had another book ready. I became her copy editor and narrator officially, and for a few years, hers were the only books I produced.
I considered auditioning for other books, but I thought it wasn’t something I could really “do” as a career, and so I didn’t really pursue it. I polished my skills on Nicky’s books, but sought other “real” work to pay the bills.
And then I got fired.
I had been working for a year at a car dealership (I have an intricate love of automobiles, and I had wanted to work on sales skills for my coaching business), and the management at the place I was working suddenly changed significantly. My former boss (with whom I was extremely close, and who really “got” me, as an employee and as a human being, because we’re quite similar in personality) had left three months before that to take an extremely exciting job out of state, and suddenly everything at my workplace was different… tragically so, to my way of thinking. It turned out that I just wasn’t a very good “fit for the team” anymore, which I think was code for, “we don’t understand you, we don’t know what to do with you, and we can’t control you with money, like the 20-somethings on our payroll…”
But I’ll be honest: firing me was the best possible thing they could have done for me. I now have a thriving home based business in which I bring my skills and talents to bare on my most beloved form of communication: WORDS.