Kristin Reads | A blog about reading books and life.

Hello everyone. I’m Curt Simmons, narrator of Stephen Whitfield’s romantic desert adventure, Omari And The People. Kristin has asked me to give a little lesson on audiobook production/recording and I’m honored to do so.

I have been self-producing audiobooks for about two years now, so I’m relatively new to the industry and still have a lot to learn, but I think I’m doing okay so far. My overall sense is that the majority of self-producers like me get their audiobook production/narration training via ACX, Amazon’s Audiobook Creation Exchange. I’ve also worked in radio and TV and as an actor in Theatre. That helps too. more […]

Source: Kristin Reads | A blog about reading, books and life.

Why I Write, Part Two

By STEVEN PRESSFIELD | Published: SEPTEMBER 28, 2016
Source:  Writing Wednesdays: Why I Write, Part Two

“There are maybe a hundred writers of fiction whose new books will be reviewed with any broad reach in the mainstream press. Jonathan Franzen, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, etc. I’m not on that list. My stuff will never receive that kind of attention.

Does that bother me? I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t want to be recognized or at least have my existence and my work acknowledged.

But reality is reality. As Garth on Wayne’s World once said of his own butt, “Accept it before it destroys you.” more […]

Why Stephen Pressfield

Steven Pressfield is one of my favorite authors. In addition to novels, he also writes a lot about writing. The craft, the profession, the struggle. I found Steven in 2001 when I was flat on my back recovering from a spinal fusion.  I’d never been much of a reader and I don’t recall how I stumbled across Gates of Fire, but it transported me.

Others may be more familiar with his novel/movie, The Legend of Bagger Vance, or especially for writers, The War of Art, and Do the Work, and more recently, Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t; Why That Is and What You Can Do About It. 

As a narrator of audiobooks, I find Steven’s lessons learned both instructive and inspiring, as I believe any artist will. He doesn’t pull punches. And the perspective he illuminates is clear, honest, and sobering.

I’m reblogging Steven’s current series from stevenpressfield.com in support of the community I’m building around writers, audiobook narrators, and book bloggers. All of us who love storytelling, whether we write, read, tell, or talk about the story will resonate with his candor, his nuggets of professional advice and craftsmanship, and find a virtual mentor in Steven Pressfield.

Why I Write, Part One

By STEVEN PRESSFIELD | Published: SEPTEMBER 21, 2016 | Source: Writing Wednesdays: Why I Write, Part One

I stumbled onto the website of a novelist I had never heard of. (He’s probably never heard of me either.) What I saw there got me thinking.

What if we worked our whole life and never sold a single painting? The site was excellent. It displayed all fourteen of the novelist’s books in “cover flow” format. They looked great. A couple had been published by HarperCollins, several others by Random House. The author was the real deal, a thoroughgoing pro with a body of work produced over decades.

Somehow I found myself thinking, What if this excellent writer had never been published?

Would we still think of him as a success?

(In other words, I started pondering the definition of “success” for a writer.)

Suppose, I said to myself … suppose this writer had written all these novels, had had their covers designed impeccably, had their interiors laid out to the highest professional standards.

Suppose he could never find a publisher.

Suppose he self-published all fourteen of his novels.

Suppose his books had found a readership of several hundred, maybe a thousand or two. But never more.

Suppose he had died with that as the final tally.

Would we say he had “failed?”

Would we declare his writing life a waste?” more […]

Source: Writing Wednesdays: Why I Write, Part One

Review of Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t: Why That Is And What You Can Do About It

by Steven Pressfield

I approach this material from what many may consider an unusual angle. I’m sure that authors who have achieved significant success will likely not find much new in Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t. It is not an all-inclusive and defining work and I don’t think it’s intended to be. But those struggling to be published, or follow up that first successful novel, and especially self-publishers will find gold nuggets and inspiration in Steven Pressfield’s work.

I am not an author, but I narrate audiobooks. So my job is to translate the written word into the spoken word and tell a story that is hopefully enthralling to the listener. That means more than simply reading sentences and paragraphs into a microphone. Not that the writing process is entirely alien to me, but I found this book very helpful in my work as I endeavor to faithfully interpret what is written for the eye into a pleasing and entertaining experience for the ear. In fact, before accepting an offer to narrate, my first question for any unfamiliar author whose book I’ve not yet read will be, “What’s the concept of your novel and what is the theme.” Moving forward depends upon the answer.

Thank you, Steven for your entertaining and enlightening story about how to write. I do hear your voice.

Elizabeth Wiley’s Story Inspires

“Even if you’re doing a work of nonfiction, talking about, say, the history of immigration at the turn of the 20th century, you still have to know how to best communicate the through-line of the author’s intent or the character’s thought.”

Source: William & Mary – Giving voice: Elizabeth Wiley finds niche in audiobooks

Self-producing At Home

What is the most difficult thing about narrating and producing audiobooks in your own home studio?

I am by no means a self-production expert, or any kind of audio production expert for that matter. I know just enough to sound as close to professional industry standards as I can with my equipment, my recording space, my signal processing, and whatever storytelling and acting skill I may possess. I couldn’t audio engineer my way out of a wet paper bag in a big studio. Now, two years into a serious effort to make audiobook narration my profession, achieving the ultimate goal of making audiobooks that evoke a compelling and satisfying storytelling experience for the listener is the primary and never-ending challenge. It’s a long road, but for people like me whose brain works a certain way, it’s at the very least fun and interesting. At best it satisfies my need to create in a big way.

I was a Radio-TV major in the mid-seventies and then I got my masters degree in directing for the theatre. I also started acting in stage plays my junior year as an undergrad. So I have at least a conceptual reminiscence of audio production, acting, and directing. I grew up splicing magnetic tape, ripping and reading news copy from the wire, producing and hosting live and pre-recorded radio, and envisioning, guiding, and being guided in the creation of theatre, the kind with a live audience. Throw into the mix a more recent and much longer career managing projects and it feels like audiobooks might be a good fit. Right?

One of the most satisfying things about self-producing audiobooks at home is having total control over literally every aspect of the effort to create an orally delivered work of literature that fulfills the promise of the story as only the spoken word can. While at the same time, one of the most difficult things about self-producing audiobooks at home is having total control over literally every aspect of the effort to create an orally delivered work of literature that fulfills the promise of the story as only the spoken word can. I am producer, director, audio engineer, and talent. This is not as easy as it sounds.

What do my directing brain and my technical brain do while I’m in front of the microphone attempting to reach my full potential as a storyteller? Do these two brains monitor the performance in real time, guiding and shaping theatre of the mind on a separate track as my storytelling brain delivers the best story it knows how? Or do the director and technician somehow take a break or at least objectively observe and simply wait for the storyteller to finish? So far, I’ve found the more aware I am of the director and technician in me while I’m speaking into the mic, the worse the performance. For me, this is the most difficult aspect at the moment.

When I go back and listen to my first audiobook, I am truly embarrassed. I have to think of that production and narration as my audiobook boot camp. In truth, I very nearly bit off more than I could chew as I reacquainted myself to mic technique and taught myself waveform editing, signal processing, and mastering on the job and on current technology platforms. The narration alone was a significant challenge with over fifteen characters, including teenage boys and girls, as well as four languages in addition to English, and three distinct European accents. What was I thinking? Add in my beginner level and slowly developing processing and mastering skills and the experience of completing my first audiobook nearly killed me. Well, not really, but it was very, very difficult. However, I learned a lot. As a result, my next project was a bit easier, as each successive one has been since.

At the same time, I become increasingly more aware that I still have more work to do to meet my own standards. I know I get better with each book, but I do have high standards where listening to someone tell a story for ten or twelve hours is concerned. So, I will continue to have more work to do as the most difficult thing about self-producing at home changes over time. And that’s a good thing. It means I’m making progress.

Ira Glass on Storytelling – YouTube

via Ira Glass on Storytelling, part 3 of 4 – YouTube

Who doesn’t love Ira Glass? No hands raised. In this five-minute video, he absolutely nails the struggle of the artist, in my opinion; the gap between vision and creation. That seemingly insurmountable thing, whatever it is, that keeps an artist from achieving a work that actually expresses what they intended in all its nuance and effect, a work that resonates with those who experience it and satisfies and fulfills itself. What makes an artist continue for years striving to close the gap? I believe Ira’s answer is pretty clear. Love.

Many thanks to Karen Commins for surfacing this video.