4. What would you say are the advantages of an author hiring a professional narrator/voice actor to narrate a novel as opposed to the author narrating the story themselves? Any drawbacks?
The biggest advantage I would imagine is that the narrator will add something to the story that the author may not have thought of. What I mean by this is, I imagine you (Jeff) didn't imagine Flint sounding like a surfer dude valley girl when you wrote it, but because I gave it that twist, it adds another bit of flavor to the story that you might not get otherwise.
The other advantage I would say is that it's time saving. Making audio books is an unbelievably time consuming project, and that's time an author could spend working on new projects. I'm about 85% of the way done with the book in terms of recording and editing as of this interview, and I've easily put in over 50 hours of time in it.
Lastly, you also get an additional layer of spell checking!
5. What would you tell someone who’s interested in becoming an audio producer/narrator?
I would say that you should go on project gutenberg, find a book that you like, and do an audio book version of it as practice before you try to do it professionally. You would need to practice producing the same voice day in and day out with little variation - something that is a lot harder than it sounds. Also you'd need to get used to the process of editing and such, which takes hours and hours of work for every finished hour of audio. When you are done, you can use your gutenberg audio book as samples to get more work and auditions. I was able to get three narration contracts through this method.
Lastly, I have read through a number of guides on how to narrate, and many narrators recommend that you read the entire book before you start so that your character voices will sound right. I could not disagree with this any more. I think that you should read about 3 chapters ahead of your recording. I believe that a characters voice needs to evolve and change with the story, especially if the story is partly or entirely about how a character grows or is destroyed through the process of the plot. I think that as a narrator, your voice will portray the characters naivety and their unawareness of the future, which in turn makes it more real. I guess everyone needs to find their own work flow, and this is just how I do my reads.
6. Other than Optical Osmosis, do you have any projects, past or present, of which you’re particularly proud?
There is a project that I am just starting now and will be working on exclusively for a few months once Optical Osmosis is complete. It's a Sci Fi classic from 1989 that's being re-released as an eBook and for audio for the first time. It's really quite humbling to be working on a book that was written while I was still in elementary school. The book is called Habu and it's by James B. Johnson.
7. Lastly, you do realize I’m going to ask you to narrate more of my work in the future, right?
I was hoping you'd say that!
Thanks for stopping by, Robert! Be sure to check out the Optical Osmosis audio book when it comes out. It should be ready by Christmas Eve, and will be available for purchase on Amazon.com, Audible, and iTunes.