Audiobooks discussion

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message 1: by Caroline (new)

Caroline Shively | 4 comments I started narrating books earlier this year and am just starting my fourth, this one is another installment in the Daisy McDare series by K.M. Morgan. As narrators, we have forums and LinkedIn groups talking to each other about the technical issues, acting, believability, etc. but we never ask the listeners. My question to you all: What bothers you the most in audiobooks - loud breaths? Clicks? Liquid "L's?" Or is this just stuff we agonize over but listeners don't notice? Also, what would you like narrators to improve?
Thanks! Caroline ShivelyDaisy McDare and the Deadly Legal Affair


message 2: by Ashley Marie (last edited Apr 28, 2015 08:14AM) (new)

Ashley Marie  | 219 comments I think narrators should keep crisp, clean diction in mind, particularly when reading with an accent (this coming from an American listener).


message 3: by Kristie (new)

Kristie | 2212 comments Mispronunciations of names or city names. For example, in a book that took place in North Dakota, the narrator kept referring to the capital of South Dakota (Pierre) as pee-AIR (the French pronunciation) instead of PEER (the local pronunciation). As a listener who lives in the upper Midwest, it was super distracting and took away from the believability of the characters.

If it's just mentioned once, in passing, no biggie, but if it's a fairly important piece of info to the story, it feels like that should be researched.


message 4: by Jeanie (new)

Jeanie | 3602 comments Yes, we listeners notice... everything. Mouth noices are one of our biggest irritants. Correct pronunciation of words, place names, and character names is critical as well. We also listen for consistent character voices that are readily recognized as belonging to specific characters, accurate accents--better to use none than get it wrong or make it cheesy--good male/female voices--often difficult for narrators to get opposite gender voices right--and we do notice the expressiveness and emotion infused into both text and dialogue and whether it is enough or too much.
It can be a fine line that ddivides the good from the great and we audioholics notice and appreciate the talent and work that goes into creating the audio experience.


message 5: by MissSusie (new)

MissSusie | 1958 comments Agree with Kristie (I think we read the same book!)

Also big gulps of air like your drowning drives me insane, mouth click, being inconsistent in accents, the wrong accent for the region especially noticeable if you are from that region.


message 6: by Kristie (new)

Kristie | 2212 comments MissSusie wrote: "Agree with Kristie (I think we read the same book!)

Also big gulps of air like your drowning drives me insane, mouth click, being inconsistent in accents, the wrong accent for the region especiall..."


I was referring to The Round House. I see you've read it. I'm sure it stuck out to you, too! :)


message 7: by Dave (new)

Dave In Hollywood | 93 comments I can't stand when a narrator changes the pronunciation of something in a book. If you say it one way several times, don't start saying it a different way, even if you've been corrected about it halfway through. I wish I could remember a good example, but I do remember a narrator who changed the pronunciation of the MAIN characters name. Was it a Game Of Thrones book? Not sure.


message 8: by Carolyn F. (new)

Carolyn F. | 224 comments I know this is hard, but maybe changing voices for the main character in another series. I'm listening to an audiobook right now where the narrator is using the exact same voice she had used for another series. I don't know how this could be corrected though.


message 9: by Ashley Marie (new)

Ashley Marie  | 219 comments Dave wrote: "I can't stand when a narrator changes the pronunciation of something in a book. If you say it one way several times, don't start saying it a different way, even if you've been corrected about it h..."

I remember Roy Dotrice in the ASOIAF books going back and forth from "Catt-lyn" to "Katelyn" for Catelyn Stark, and "Bry-een" to "Bree-enn" for Brienne.


message 10: by Natalie (new)

Natalie (haveah) | 106 comments Ashley wrote: "I remember Roy Dotrice in the ASOIAF books going back and forth from "Catt-lyn" to "Katelyn" for Catelyn Stark, and "Bry-een" to "Bree-enn" for Brienne."

Don't forget his mangling of Arya and of Cercei. He had at least two different ways of saying both. I don't care if you mispronounce names- just mispronounce them consistently the same way.


message 11: by Dave (new)

Dave In Hollywood | 93 comments Natalie & Ashley, YES this must be it. We, the reader/listener, don't know how to pronounce it so all you have to do is pick a pronunciation and stick with it.

The whole thing made it seem like he would record a chapter and come back to it a month later without checking his notes.


message 12: by Jessica (new)

Jessica  (jessical1961) | 519 comments I am listening to Shadow of Night while reading along in the book. A couple of things irritateme about the narrator. While I really enjoy her voice she cannot seem to read without using contractions. For example saying "can't" instead of "cannot" or "hadn't" instead of "had not". I have not seen any contractions written on the page, but still she uses them every time she can.

She also uses the wrong word in many instances. For example in one place something is described as exotic, but she says " erotic."

On the technical side I hate obvious edits. For example in the above book there are places where a retake was edited in and there is a rise in the volume of the voice that cannot be attributed to acting. In some places it even sounds like a different narrator.


message 13: by Caroline (new)

Caroline Shively | 4 comments Thanks to all of you! It sounds like the things we narrator/editors worry about like poor edits and mouth noises are very much noticed by listeners. Please add anything else we should improve on as you think of it.


message 14: by Marilee (last edited Apr 30, 2015 02:28PM) (new)

Marilee (hatchling) | 97 comments I tried to listen to a book for which the narrator kept pausing in the middle of sentences or after a couple of words… as if turning them all into phrases, where there were none, nor any need for punctuation. It was maddening! This was one of the few audio books I could not finish listening to.

Don't many audiobook recordings have directors or sound engineers? I'd hope they would, as surely that would help the narrators with continuity and avoid annoying sounds. But, maybe not.


message 15: by Ann (new)

Ann Simmons | 37 comments It depends on whether the book was recorded in the narrator's home studio or a pro studio. Sounds like the one you mentioned was done in a home studio. Also sounds like the narrator hasn't yet developed good breathing technique for longer phrases and sentences.


message 16: by Frances (new)

Frances (shibagirl) | 150 comments Marilee wrote: "I tried to listen to a book for which the narrator kept pausing in the middle of sentences or after a couple of words… as if turning them all into phrases, where there were none, nor any need for p..."
I know just what you mean , it's really horrible to listen too, I have always presumed that the narrators where unprepaired and did this because they did not know where the sentence was going....


message 17: by Jessica (new)

Jessica  (jessical1961) | 519 comments Ann wrote: "It depends on whether the book was recorded in the narrator's home studio or a pro studio. Sounds like the one you mentioned was done in a home studio. Also sounds like the narrator hasn't yet deve..."

Some vocal training from a professioal voice coach can go a long way toward developing breath control.


message 18: by Marilee (new)

Marilee (hatchling) | 97 comments The narration with all the inappropriate pauses mid sentence [sometimes two or three times in a sentence!] was supposedly professionally done… for a book put out by a major publisher. At first I also thought maybe it was a lack of preparation, but no, after awhile it became obvious this narrator did this continuously throughout the narration and it seemed to be his own peculiar style… one that I hope is either trained out of him for the future by a good coach as Jeffrey suggests or maybe he should consider abandoning this line of work.

Ann, I'm interested in the idea of narrators working in home studios… is that done much? Obviously, that might explain mouth and breath noises on some recordings as there probably wouldn't be a sound engineer working on those. I wonder if one of those foam mike covers or baffles over the mike would help in the home studio. They're supposed to cut down on wind noise when recording outdoors, I've heard.


message 19: by Ann (new)

Ann Simmons | 37 comments Marilee, narrators working in home studios is quite common. Yes, foam mic covers are used on film sets for reducing wind noise but they aren't really used in home studios. However, a pop filter is commonly used in home studios - a flat round mesh filter placed in front of the mic to help reduce strong plosives (t's, p's, k's and so on.) But your complaint was about breaths and mouth noises. Those issues have more to do with technique and mic placement. And also, they can be quieted or eliminated in the editing and mastering phase. My guess is that whoever edited the recording didn't know how to clean up the noises and breaths - or remove the inappropriate pauses to smooth out the timing on the sentences. (The narrator may very well have had to edit the audiobook himself - another common practice these days.)

How disappointing for you that it was so bad you couldn't finish listening.


message 20: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Ferguson (ruthdfw) | 93 comments Ann wrote: "Marilee, narrators working in home studios is quite common. Yes, foam mic covers are used on film sets for reducing wind noise but they aren't really used in home studios. However, a pop filter is ..."

I just finished a book that the excessively long pause between each chapter drove me crazy. almost everytimei would look at my phone to make sure it was still on. I had to force myself to stop doing that --- which became a distraction to a story I was otherwise enjoying.


message 21: by MissSusie (new)

MissSusie | 1958 comments Ruth wrote: "I just finished a book that the excessively long pause between each chapter drove me crazy. almost everytimei would look at my phone to make sure it was still on. I had to force myself to stop doing that --- which became a distraction to a story I was otherwise enjoying. ..."

Yes!


message 22: by Jessica (new)

Jessica  (jessical1961) | 519 comments Ann wrote: "Marilee, narrators working in home studios is quite common. Yes, foam mic covers are used on film sets for reducing wind noise but they aren't really used in home studios. However, a pop filter is ..."

I recently finished listening to Clay by Tony Bertauski and it was full of background noise that should have been cleaned up during the editing and mastering phases. It was the same all the way through the book in every chapter. It sounded like a low budget recording, and that can make a big difference too.


message 23: by HJ (last edited May 03, 2015 01:27AM) (new)

HJ For me the main problem is one which the actual narrator can do nothing about (apart from declining offers for inappropriate jobs), and that is the choice of the wrong narrator in the first place! Publishers should consistently choose a narrator who is of the same nationality as the main point-of-view character, and therefore can definitely read in the correct accent. If a book is quintessentially Australian, why employ an American narrator? If the character comes from a place with a very particular local accent, please don't get someone to try to "do" it -- it's impossible. Similarly, don't use an American to read in an English accent, and vice versa. Even if it sounds OK to someone of the same nationality as the narrator, it does *not* sound OK to a listener of the same nationality as the character. You get pulled out of the story constantly.

Apart from that -- preparation is the key for a narrator. Read the whole book first (sounds obvious, but I've heard narrations where the narrator would have used a different style for a character had they read a description which came later in the book). If there are any unusual names, check how they should be pronounced, taking into account local variations. Ditto any words you don't know for sure -- it can be really jarring to hear a word pronounced incorrectly!

As others have said: no idiosyncratic pauses, long gaps, background or other noises. Don't leave off recording in the middle of a paragraph or ideally in the middle of a chapter -- it's difficult to get exactly the same sound and levels, and listeners notice. Don't be too extreme in differentiating character voices; if you can't do them all fairly naturally, they will sound odd and jar on the listener. I'm quite happy for a narrator to "just" read, with little if any variation between character voices. Don't "do" the noises described in the text (laughs, sighs, screams); either just read that they happened or if it's natural and possible incorporate it into the words read (e.g. make the voice sound amused).


message 24: by Nikki (last edited May 03, 2015 09:21AM) (new)

Nikki | 75 comments There seems to be a growing trend of narrators dramatising the words as they read and very few seem to be able to pull it off. In particular the pretending to cry noises are really grating, but just changing the tone and speed to exaggerate the action just seems to distract and break the spell. For me the entertainment is the book and the narrator is the conduit - i want it clean with as few additions/distractions as possible.


message 25: by Mara (new)

Mara Pemberton (marapem) | 233 comments Be VETTED better for the book or books they are going to be narrating.


message 26: by Angie (last edited May 03, 2015 02:15PM) (new)

Angie (angiemb) | 231 comments Nikki wrote: "There seems to be a growing trend of narrators dramatising the words as they read and very few seem to be able to pull it off. In particular the pretending to cry noises are really grating, but jus..."

Yes, I have noticed this recently in a number of newer books, and it really drives me crazy. Narrators that I used to love do it now, and I wish they would stop. The dialogue can be dramatic, but the narration should be at a normal pace.

And I agree with HJ about not actually screaming/laughing, etc. That really takes away from rather than adds to the book.

This may have been mentioned already, but age appropriateness is very important. I hate to listen to a 60 year old woman read a young adult novel.


message 27: by Robin P (new)

Robin P | 1003 comments I disagree that a narrator must be the same nationality as the book or character. Some narrators are able to do both perfect English and American accents, sometimes because they grew up in both places or with parents from those places or they are just that good.

Mispronunciations are terrible, not only of places but sometimes of ordinary words, or the reader not using the right emphasis, for instance "he went to the WHITE house" implies Washington DC, whereas "he went to the white HOUSE" doesn't.

Sometimes it's just something about a narrator that grates on me, so I really appreciate getting a sample to listen to.


message 28: by Frances (new)

Frances (shibagirl) | 150 comments Nikki wrote: "There seems to be a growing trend of narrators dramatising the words as they read and very few seem to be able to pull it off. In particular the pretending to cry noises are really grating, but jus..."

Ah I don't quite agree here , I find it off putting when a narrator reads something totally tragic or soming really happy with a total deadpan vioce , I but I do agree that not all narrators can pull it off.


message 29: by Frances (last edited May 04, 2015 12:48AM) (new)

Frances (shibagirl) | 150 comments I do agree that an over long pause between chapters can be a bit anoying BUT it's much worse when they is no pause at all , hardly an intake of breathe. when you read a book you can see that there is a new chapter or paragraph commimg up, but listening you are not prepaired for it . I sometimes get very confused when there is a very sudden change of character or place.


message 30: by Nikki (new)

Nikki | 75 comments Frances wrote: "I do agree that an over long pause between chapters can be a bit anoying BUT it's much worse when they is no pause at all , hardly an intake of breathe. when you read a book you can see that there..."

Spot on there, the gap bothers me but no gap can be awful. Is it so hard for authors and narrators to put in "Chapter 5" etc


message 31: by Angie (last edited May 04, 2015 07:02AM) (new)

Angie (angiemb) | 231 comments Frances wrote: Ah I don't quite agree here , I find it off putting when a narrator reads something totally tragic or soming really happy with a total deadpan vioce , I but I do agree that not all narrators can pull it off."

It's not that exactly. I do like for the narration to reflect sadness or happiness, etc., but this is something different that has been happening in recordings lately. The narrator may be reading a fight scene, and is panting throughout the narration like she's running a marathon. That might be okay during the dialogue portion, but not the narration part.


message 32: by Aaron (new)

Aaron Nagy | 13 comments I'm for narration being really clean...unless it's a sarcastic 4th wall breaking narrator then they are effectively one of the characters. Almost like it needs to be recorded on a completely different run and just edited together.


message 33: by Janice (last edited May 04, 2015 07:29AM) (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 944 comments Something that drives me crazy is improper phrasing. A narrator should read as if they are speaking naturally, phrasing at natural times.

We... Don't speak with... Phrases every... Two or three words so narrators... Shouldn't either.

Roy Dotrice chopped up A Game of Thrones so much that I switched to print for the remaining books.

The other thing that will stop me listening is over the top dramatic narration.


message 34: by Mike (new)

Mike Vendetti | 2 comments Brian Cranston absolutely nails "The Things They Carried". This is a matter of casting the right narrator. I wasn't able to finish another very popular war story because the narrator, although quite proficient did not fit the story. I was constantly distracted because as I listened I couldn't picture the voice as that of a Navy Seal with hundreds of kills to his credit. Also, when do doing a female voice, I thought I detected using the recording equipment ti raise the pitch of his voice.

These are not narrator issues as much as they are casting issues, but a narrator should avoid titles that are out of his/her range.


message 35: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) | 420 comments Aaron wrote: "I'm for narration being really clean...unless it's a sarcastic 4th wall breaking narrator then they are effectively one of the characters. Almost like it needs to be recorded on a completely diffe..."

Yeah, we don't need Captain Kirk narrating audiobooks.

I agree with a lot of what's already been posted.

1. Pronunciation is key. Nothing throws me out of a book faster than a mispronounced word. It's the audio equivalent of a typo in a printed book.

2. While long pauses are unnecessary between sentences and paragraphs, a pause when the scene changes is much appreciated. I'm trying to listen to yet another John Lee narration of a Peter F. Hamilton book and am continually losing track because the scene changes, but there's been to pause to signal that it's changed.

3. Make the characters sound different so I can tell them apart. This is really critical in dialogue-heavy books.

4. Don't do accents if you can't do accents. Once again, I'll pick on John Lee. He keeps trying to do American accents for some characters, but they all come off sounding like characters from The Godfather.

5. Sound like you're interested in the story. I can't keep my interest if you sound bored.

6. Work on pronunciation. I'm repeating this because it is so important. If you want to hear what happens when a narrator can't pronounce even simple words, check out the Vatta's War series by Elizabeth Moon. I listened to all but one of those books and the narrator's pronunciation got worse with each book. She botched words like "betrothed" "Rafe" and "Ciudad". The latter two were used quite frequently and it really grated on be. She even mispronounced "through put" as "thorough put" early in the first book.

7. When you have a compound word or a two-word noun phrase (like dining table), put the emphasis on the right word. If it's equal, make it equal. Otherwise, it turns into a completely different thing. (Is it a table that's dining?)


message 36: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) | 420 comments Aaron wrote: "I'm for narration being really clean...unless it's a sarcastic 4th wall breaking narrator then they are effectively one of the characters. Almost like it needs to be recorded on a completely diffe..."

Yeah, we don't need Captain Kirk narrating audiobooks.

I agree with a lot of what's already been posted.

1. Pronunciation is key. Nothing throws me out of a book faster than a mispronounced word. It's the audio equivalent of a typo in a printed book.

2. While long pauses are unnecessary between sentences and paragraphs, a pause when the scene changes is much appreciated. I'm trying to listen to yet another John Lee narration of a Peter F. Hamilton book and am continually losing track because the scene changes, but there's been to pause to signal that it's changed.

3. Make the characters sound different so I can tell them apart. This is really critical in dialogue-heavy books.

4. Don't do accents if you can't do accents. Once again, I'll pick on John Lee. He keeps trying to do American accents for some characters, but they all come off sounding like characters from The Godfather.

5. Sound like you're interested in the story. I can't keep my interest if you sound bored.

6. Work on pronunciation. I'm repeating this because it is so important. If you want to hear what happens when a narrator can't pronounce even simple words, check out the Vatta's War series by Elizabeth Moon. I listened to all but one of those books and the narrator's pronunciation got worse with each book. She botched words like "betrothed" "Rafe" and "Ciudad". The latter two were used quite frequently and it really grated on be. She even mispronounced "through put" as "thorough put" early in the first book.

7. When you have a compound word or a two-word noun phrase (like dining table), put the emphasis on the right word. If it's equal, make it equal. Otherwise, it turns into a completely different thing. (Is it a table that's dining?)


message 37: by Mike (new)

Mike Vendetti | 2 comments I truly appreciate your comments in this discussion. I have been an audiobook narrator and publisher for over five years, and there is quite a bit of work I have done that I would like to take back.

I just completed a short story by H.P. Lovecraft, and the narrating took less time then the editing and mastering. I think the finished product is pretty good. Pacing is an important part of the editing process, and deciding what breaths to leave in and those to take out etc.

I do a lot of work from the public domain, and H.P. Lovecraft, Poe, and others from the PD era use words that are not a part of our every day vocabulary. In that twenty four minute piece, I went to pronunciation aids at least 25 times.

There are plenty of pronunciation aids available. When in doubt check it out. There are also engineering resources to help home studio narrators improve their audio quality.


message 38: by Audiothing (new)

Audiothing | 210 comments Accents, I've never heard an American reproduce a good English accent, may be for short periods but they can't sustain it. Be good if they didn't even think about attempting Scottish or Welsh!
I listen to a LOT of audiobooks, I notice that American pronounciation varies, that doesn't bother me so long as it's consistent, I just put that down to regional variation.
Bad editing is the most irritating for me. Having said that the quality of home recording has improved no end, maybe people are simply getting better at it or the equipment has improved.
Oh! And overacting! Overdoing things, very off putting, but most narrators I listen to do a bang up job, I'm very, very grateful to them


message 39: by Robert (new)

Robert Devoe | 13 comments Hi everyone, another audio book narrator here with about 15 titles under my belt so far. I started my acting career in TV, and so switching over to audio books was a sharp learning curve in some ways.

I know it can be really distracting when a narrator can seem to be over acting or under acting. Sometimes however, it isn't always the narrators fault. I've done a few projects where the author has gotten back to me and said "I don't want any character voices. Make them all sound the same." and so I had to re-record and waste a lot of time doing it all over against my better judgement.

As for pauses mid sentence, again this can also be a matter of author's request at times. Some want their books read at near light speed, others want it slowed down so much that it may add hours to a books total run time.

The authors that I enjoy working with most are the ones that allow me to listen to and trust my acting instinct, and interpret the book artistically.

Anyway please keep up the comments, I've enjoyed reading every single one so far :)


message 40: by Jeanie (new)

Jeanie | 3602 comments The author angle is interesting. It's one of those weird balancing acts between the author's vision and the needs of the audiobook reader. From various interviews I've read it seems many authors don't actually understand the audiobook experience and think of it simply as their words made auditory. Well, now that ebooks can be read aloud by a computer voice, the days of a live narrator merely reading text aloud should be over. Audiobooks didn't become a larger part of the market by being rote readings.
I get it why authors don't want their audiobooks to be collaborations since the book is all their work, but a collaboration is exactly what a good audiobook is--with the author's vision coming first in all things. If an author has a creative reason for all character voices sounding the same, okay fine. But an author preferring no character differentiation "just because" is a real hinderance to the potential success of the book. Too bad.


message 41: by Audiothing (last edited May 05, 2015 12:53AM) (new)

Audiothing | 210 comments Robert wrote: "Hi everyone, another audio book narrator here with about 15 titles under my belt so far. I started my acting career in TV, and so switching over to audio books was a sharp learning curve in some wa..."

That hadn't occurred to me to be honest, shame you can't put a disclaimer on isn't it. "The author made me read it like this"
Guess that's the beauty of being a famous one, you can set your own standards
I'm editing just to say this, people like me who listen to a lot of audiobooks soon get to know a narrators foibles. Over actors always overact, if you narrate enough books, we, the loyal following, will get to know when you deviate from your true style


message 42: by Audiothing (new)

Audiothing | 210 comments Jeanie wrote: "The author angle is interesting. It's one of those weird balancing acts between the author's vision and the needs of the audiobook reader. From various interviews I've read it seems many authors ..."

Oh my, I set that up on my computer, the "computer voice" was either hilarious, or sadly awful, depending on your point of view. Oh! It was dreadful, really dreadful


message 43: by Audiothing (new)

Audiothing | 210 comments Kristie wrote: "Mispronunciations of names or city names. For example, in a book that took place in North Dakota, the narrator kept referring to the capital of South Dakota (Pierre) as pee-AIR (the French pronunci..."

You make a good point, as me, being British/ Australian would know no different. I realise there are regional differences in USA but shouldn't that be factored in? Doesn't take much to put those little details in order.


message 44: by Marilee (new)

Marilee (hatchling) | 97 comments Jeanie wrote: "The author angle is interesting. It's one of those weird balancing acts between the author's vision and the needs of the audiobook reader. From various interviews I've read it seems many authors ..."

Just as in film script adaptations derived from books, sometimes the author of the book is just too close to their work to realize that what they wrote may not work well in another medium and needs to be adapted. Besides, as many of us know, authors are often poor narrators of their own work… with exceptions, of course.

A good narrator knows that listeners rely on them to interpret what is on the written page into what is heard. Listeners can't easily re-read [or re-listen to] a passage for meaning, they need to grasp what is being read aloud, in the moment… and a good narrator, through inflection, dramatic rendition, accent, vocal pitch change… whatever… helps them do that.


message 45: by Robin P (last edited May 05, 2015 05:44PM) (new)

Robin P | 1003 comments I didn't think authors had much choice in who narrates their books and how, unless they are really famous. I suppose it depends what kind of rights they have retained. So many times a narrator has made me love a book or series that was just ok in print, or that I would never have discovered in print. I'm sure the opposite can happen, a narrator turning people off, but we always have the option to go to the print book.

This thread is making me realize what an excellent job most narrators are doing. Even when I'm not crazy about a particular voice, it's usually professional. I think we are living in a golden age of audiobooks, with many talented people recording and companies realizing how valuable the medium is.


message 46: by Kristin (new)

Kristin Kalbli | 1 comments As an audiobook narrator of over 70 titles, and the casting director for an audiobook production company, I am so appreciative of this forum, and I'm learning a lot from the listeners. There are so many factors that go into production. Sometimes the author is involved and has specific requests, sometimes they are not involved at all (or have passed on). Sometimes the client asks for auditions and so you get a better shot at having a great reader. Other times a client is so eager to get a book into production right away, there is no time for auditions and you are casting based on your best opinion. Narrators SHOULD prepare a book, and sometimes the pressures of quick production turn-around times mean prep time is cut short. Sometimes there is room in a budget for a director, but more often than not, narrators are self-directing (the cost of production is being forced down so that audiobooks are cheaper). As with downward pressure on cost on every commodity, there is both good an bad in that. The good is: you amazing audiofile fans can buy LOTS of books to listen to! The downside is that home studios are used more often, and the calibre of narrators acting as editors can be lower as the narrators learn more (I don't want to knock my home studio colleagues!).

With pronunciations, there really isn't an excuse for us narrators not to get pronunciations right. We have lots of tools at our disposal. I have called city chambers of commerce before to get a town's pronunciation right.

Accents are tough. No narrator can do every accent flawlessley all the time. As such, we make the best artistic decisions we can. I agree that if a main protagonist is Australian, then an Australian narrator should be used, but if the book is being produced in the US, sometimes finding the right Australian narrator can be a challenge.

I happen to be in the camp of stage trained actors who want to craft "theater for your ears." I realize some of you don't like that. I can see where it might distract from your own absorption of a book. These are two totally different approaches and no narrator can please every listener all the time. (I've had great reviews and sucky reviews on the exact same titles!).

I too, wish I could take back a lot of my earlier work. But those earlier works were also a part of my learning curve, and I strive to learn something new on each book I narrate, and I strive to make the listening experience better for the audiobook enthusiast each time.

Thank you so much for listening, and keep on listening!


message 47: by Samyann (new)

Samyann | 69 comments Kristie wrote: "Mispronunciations of names or city names. For example, in a book that took place in North Dakota, the narrator kept referring to the capital of South Dakota (Pierre) as pee-AIR (the French pronunci..."

You’re right! Mispronouncing a street or city name drives me bonkers. Devon Avenue in Chicago is dee’-vaughn and NOT de-van, like a couch. There is a suburb called will-met’ … NOT ‘will-meet’. (both by Scott Brick). GRRRRR.

Background noise, too. Swallowing, page turning. I don’t want to hear that.


message 48: by Jeanie (new)

Jeanie | 3602 comments I have so much respect for narrators and what they go through to bring a story to life. It's hard to describe what a narrator should do to bring the story to life and yet not turn it into a dramatic reading--melodramatic at times. Books aren't like a one-man play, nor are they to be presented like the TV news. Acting talent for characters may be involved, but the text isn't usually intended as an opportunity to chew up the scenery. It's a fine line to walk between straight reading and dramatization--not too much, not too little. Some listeners can tolerate more drama--I avoid Scott Brick because of the dramatic pauses and odd emphasis in sentences while others adore him--and other listeners want a straight reading with little of the narrator inserted. The majority of us seem to love best those narrators who find that sweet spot of narration--not too much, not too little.
I think a perfect narration is one where the narrator virtually disappears and the reader finds him or herself immersed in the story, believing in the characters, and never being pulled out of the story by mispronunciations or bad accents. It's only when I pause the book that I stop to realize it's the talent of the narrator keeping me believing in the story. For me, narrators like Davina Porter, James Marsters, Amanda Roncone, Simon Vance, Barbara Rosenblat, Luke Daniels *fangirl waves* and, the king of them all, Jim Dale epitomize narrators who help me get immersed in the story and leave me blown away when I stop listening and think about what they've just done.


message 49: by Dave (new)

Dave In Hollywood | 93 comments Well yes, I happen to be one of those who love Scott Brick and thank him constantly for elevating borderline "thrilling" books into downright compelling audiobooks. But I also like less well known narrators who really fit the material. Susan Bennett played an arch befuddled debutante so well in The Devil in the Junior League, that I've sought out everything she's ever done.

But really, it just has to be understandable. I have loved Blair Brown's narration of a lot of Isabel Allende's audiobooks, but for some reason they dropped her for Island Beneath the Sea. The narrator they chose was such a mush-mouth (there I said it) that I had a hard time even understanding what she was saying some of the time.


message 50: by Caroline (new)

Caroline Shively | 4 comments Thanks again for all the guidance! For a narrator, this is like having your own advisory panel of experts. Many of you said that you hated overacting and I absolutely agree. However, I was wondering if you give some leeway for overacting if the book is a bit of a lark - like you might for "The Producers" as opposed to a more serious play. I narrate the Daisy McDare cozy mystery series and some of the characters are over the top in a fun way so many of my Daisy voices are much more cartoonish than the ones I did for a history book. As listeners, is that what you'd prefer? Or do you like the narrator to play it straight no matter how zany the character?


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