Monday, February 03, 2014

The Audiobook Process + Narrator Interview!


The Audiobook Process

► Last October, my cousin asked if STRENGTH (Mark of Nexus #1) was available as an audiobook. She'd had two brain surgeries, and it was difficult for her to concentrate on reading. Unfortunately, neither of my titles were available in audio format at the time, so I promised to look into it.

► I spent the first two weeks of November researching options and familiarizing myself with ACX--a service created by Amazon/Audible to help match audio rights holders with producers. Here's how they explain it:

► After shooting a few e-mails back and forth with ACX, I ended up posting STRENGTH (Mark of Nexus #1) and COURAGE (Mark of Nexus #2) with pretty extensive marketing stats. Then, being the control freak Type A personality that I am, I spent hours poring over narrator samples, taking notes, and contacting a select few with invitations to audition.

► ACX ended up adding both books to their stipend program, meaning I was able to attract amazingly talented narrators. I had a dozen or so auditions over the next few weeks, but one stood out from the rest--a narrator whose tone and inflection brought my main character to life! So, I made Nellie Barnett an offer, and she accepted. :)

► Things kicked into high gear from there. We set up a schedule, and before I knew it, she had the first fifteen minutes ready for me to review. I spun around in my chair carefully listened to the clip and provided feedback before approving it. Then it was game on.

► Over the next month and a half, we communicated back and forth while she worked. I had a chance to listen again and approve the whole thing at the end--and then it was done. Boom. A week or so later, STRENGTH was available in audiobook format! How cool is that?


Where to Buy

Audible Amazon  iTunes





About My Narrator


American actress, voice-over “artist”, and producer Nellie Barnett lives and works in Los Angeles, where she perpetuates stereotypes by driving a Prius, rescuing small chorkies, and sometimes teaching yoga. Luckily she's a meat-eater, which helps, as well as a decent ukulele player and mediocre drummer. She is currently learning to drive stick shift.

WEBSITE (perpetually under construction)
FACEBOOK (for your daily dose of unfiltered irreverence)


Narrator Interview


Carrie Butler (CB): Hey, Nellie! Thank you so much for taking the time to sit down and chat with us. I know plenty of my fellow writers are curious about the audiobook process—especially now that Amazon has made the format more accessible. Could you tell us a little bit about how you got into narration? Do you do other types of acting, too?


Nellie Barnett (NB): Hi Carrie! Hi Carrie’s wonderful readers! I’m so happy to be here.

Well gosh. The internet, or the more fancy name “new media”, is a bit of the wild west these days. And I’m lucky enough to be a wayward cowgirl of sorts. I work as an actress, voiceover “artist”, and producer in Los Angeles, and much of my work is in the digital space.

I pretty much start any project, including narration, with the questions “What is the story here? And how does the story connect us to each other?”

I love dreaming. I love storytelling. I love people and their strange worlds and experiences. And so I try to just translate that for an audience, regardless of the medium. We’re all a little weird and funky, and I like to contribute to owning up to that. I think it brings us together and makes us a little less afraid of life and each other. I mean…if we’re gonna get DEEP about it.

CB: That IS deep! I kind of want to crawl under my desk and contemplate the meaning of life now. But don't worry, I'll finish the interview first. ;) What other acting work have you done that you can tell us about?

NB:  Oh man I’ve really done it all. Lots of little indie films, the obligatory “Criminal Minds” TV episode, LOTS of web-series, LOTS of national commercials and stuff. LOTS of weird and wonderful voiceover work. And an overwhelming stream of endless auditions.

If you’re at work or home sick today and your cable is down, here is the greatest, most hilarious web-series I’m in that no one has ever seen (called “Settling”) and here is a web-series I’m in that’s also just amazing (called “Patrick & Molly”). I’m super proud of these projects. They’re so unique and funny and irreverent. And that’s what the internet is for, right?

Also, I’m the oreo cookie in this TV commercial. Nope. Not just the voice. I literally spent 13 hours in a full body oreo cookie suit custom made for me and couldn’t use a bathroom. I’m VERY talented, ya’ll. 

CB: I love that commercial so much. I just... yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm going to show that to everyone I meet for the next three months. "THIS IS MY NARRATOR!"

Ahem. Sorry. Serious interview mode. What is the book narration/production process like for you?

NB: It can work a couple of ways. Sometimes an author or publisher will approach me or sometimes I’ll send an author/ publisher an audition. They’ll make me an offer, and I’ll get crackin’. It usually takes 2 months to finish a book, so it can be a long and involved process.

But mostly, I just get to read and perform cool stories. I often pinch myself that I get to work with talented writers, build relationships with them, and help them bring their characters to life. There’s nothing cooler than when an author hears his/her character’s voice for the first time and gets sort of emotional about it. It’s a super cool experience.

CB: You should've seen my face the first time I heard you do Rena's voice. I'd just listened to a half dozen or so other auditions and taken notes, so I was in a bit of a daze. But then yours started, and I was like, "THAT'S HER!"

Since no one was around, I had to pop it onto a flashdrive and hunt someone down to share my excitement. "Listen to this. Is this not Rena? Crazy, right? Ahhh!" Needless to say, I was a little excited. :P

Anyhoo, what is your work environment like? Do you have a studio?

NB: I do! When I first started, I was lucky enough to have access to a sound room at my producing partner’s studio. But frankly, the nature of the work is such that often I only have to pop into the studio and make a tweak here or there. So it made sense to have a space at home.

My fiancé and I bought a fixer upper house in South Central Los Angeles (gulp!) last year and renovated it into the greatest space ever. I have a VERY handy future husband. He can pretty much do it all. SO THEN I bought a vintage 1960s trailer from this amazing nomadic photographer who happened to be passing through LA, and my fiancé and I converted it into a proper sound studio in our backyard. The sound is pretty damn incredible and the environment clearly unique and inspiring. So I pretty much do yoga from 6:30-8 am every morning, then take my coffee to the trailer studio and get to work.

Don’t mind me. Just pretty much living the hipster dream over here, you guys.

CB: That sounds so cool! You'll have to give your adoring fans (us) a photo tour sometime. ;) Do you have any tips for writers when it comes to working with a narrator?

NB: Hmmm. I guess, just get to know the person on the other end of the voice because you’ll be spending a great deal of time emailing each other and communicating. It helps to recognize that narration is in many ways a performance, so you (the author) can’t really control the exact outcome. And that’s a good thing. The collaboration of your words and the narrator’s interpretation is what makes it a whole new art form and a separate product completely.

We’re so lucky to do the creative work that we do, and we’re blessed to work together. So enjoy the process and have fun. You deserve it.


CB: Well said! We are, indeed, blessed to work together. :) Thanks for stopping by, Nellie!


Question of the Week: Do you listen to audiobooks? 

P.S. If you don't listen to audiobooks, did you know Audible has a 30-day free trial membership? You could get STRENGTH (Mark of Nexus #1) for FREE, plus an audiobook of your choice. All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel. ;)

Bonus: Giveaway!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Three winners will be chosen on March 10, 2014, and each one will receive a code to download STRENGTH (Mark of Nexus #1) from This code is not valid for other titles, and it cannot be redeemed for its equivalent in cash. International entries are welcome. If you win, it would be really, really nice of you to review. Thanks!


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's great you found someone who was perfect for the audio. That she was an Oreo cookie is a bonus!

JeffO said...

I do not listen to audio books as a general rule. Congratulations on making this happen, and thanks for the interesting interview!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

this is so impression. I love audio books for long trips and the fact that you are as determined as ... I'm not sure. I'm just so proud. I love Nellie's voice. This is going to rock the reading world. Strength in audio form!

Victoria Smith said...

Very cool! I really want to look into this. Thanks for posting this great interview and I'm glad you found your Rena!

ilima said...

So cool. And I think she sounds great. Loved this peek into the audiobook process.

David T List said...

I'm glad I caught this one. Yet another of your blogs I'm bookmarking. There seems to be literally no downsides to doing this with your book. Now I'm going to search your blog and see if you posted a sample of the audio...

Melissa said...

What a great interview! Love it!
She is so very Rena. ;)

Nice to meet you, Nellie.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Congrats on getting Strength as an audio book. I'm sure your narrator is great.

Carrie Butler said...

Thanks, Alex! Did you see the Oreo clip? It was all kinds of awesome/hilarious. :D

Carrie Butler said...

Thanks, Jeff! :)

You'll have to stop by next week. I'm posting hockey pics, and even though it's not your team, I'm sure you'll be able to appreciate them. My sis and bro-in-law surprised me with 2nd row! *dies*

Carrie Butler said...

Thank you so much, Joylene! *hugs*

Carrie Butler said...

You should! It's a fun process. :)

Thanks, V!

Carrie Butler said...

Thank you, Ilima! :D

Carrie Butler said...

Thanks, David! I agree. It's kind of a win, win.

And the sample is embedded within the post (with permission). It's right above the words "About My Narrator". :)

Carrie Butler said...

Isn't she?! :D Thank thee, Goddess of Grammar!

Carrie Butler said...

Thank you, Sheena-kay! :)

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Nellie is awesome! I remember reading that part in the book, and she sounds just like what I had going on in my head!

Carrie Butler said...

Isn't she? :D Thanks, Elizabeth!

Natasha Hanova said...

How exciting! Great interview.

Angela Brown said...

The process from the author and voice over artist perspectives is very intriguing to read about. Getting them both in this same post really helps and lends more to understanding both sides of the audiobook tale.

Anonymous said...

Great to learn about this process! My publisher just closed an audio deal for several of their authors, including me. Was so excited to see it posted in Publisher's Weekly, and I'm even more excited now to hear my narrator--maybe it'll be her! Congrats :-)

Carrie Butler said...

Thank you, Natasha! :D

Carrie Butler said...

Thank you very much, Angela! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

Carrie Butler said...

Score! I can't wait to hear yours. :D Thanks, Jamie!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Interesting interview. I have been curious about people who can do audio versions of books. I can't believe they never stumble. I read lots of audio books while I walk. I love it. Good luck with yours, Carrie.

Kyra Lennon said...

Well done for getting your books made into audiobooks! Super cool!

I REALLY want to do audiobooks, but from the UK, I'm not sure it's so easy. When I looked into it before, all the places I checked were only available to residents of the US, which I found rather weird lol.

Unknown said...

What a cool person to interview! We writers are always interviewing other writers, so to hear from an actress/narrator is super awesome :-)
Thank you for sharing about the whole process. It's making me wonder if I should look into audiobook creation ... (Sounds like a time consuming project though!)

Clare said...

Congratulations on getting audio books made! I listened to the preview, and was blown away how great Nellie did reading Rena. You seem to have a great working relationship, and thanks for sharing a little bit about it with us! :D

Catherine Stine said...

I can see why you like Nellie's voice. Great little audio clip! And it sounds like you had fun in the process.

David T List said...

lol wow. Perception failed me.

Nice. She has a strong voice!

Carrie Butler said...

I can't, either! I get tongue-tied just talking on the phone. LOL

Thank you, Natalie! :)

Carrie Butler said...

Thank you, Kyra! :)

Their site says this on the matter: "We hope to open up to a wider global audience in the future." Hopefully that means it will be open to the UK soon!

Carrie Butler said...

Time consuming, but worth it! You're very welcome. :)

And isn't Nellie great? She's doing so many interesting things!

Carrie Butler said...

Thanks, Clare! Wasn't that crazy? She has a perfect voice for this project. :D

You're very welcome!

Carrie Butler said...

Definitely! Thank you for stopping by, Catherine. :)

Donna K. Weaver said...

I just listened to the audiobook for Courage and loved the reader! Nellie did a fabulous job and she even did accents.