Teri Schnaubelt is an audiobook narrator and professional voice, on-camera and stage actor in the Chicago area. She has voiced over 130 titles including best-sellers by JT Ellison, Lisa Gardner, Kendra Elliot, Katherine Lowry Logan and more. She is part of the RomanceNarrators group of narrators who banded together to help authors find quality romance narrators, and who also travel to conventions meeting authors and fans, speaking about the process of creating audiobooks.
How did you get started recording audiobooks?
I have been a voice, stage and on-camera sector for many years, and after discovering that a couple other actor friends had started narrating audiobooks, as well as the fact that I’ve been listening to audiobooks for almost 20 years, I decided I wanted to get into it. It’s a natural extension if you’re an actor, and a voice talent.
You narrate under two names, Teri Schnaubelt and Lynn Barrington. Why do you do that?
I reserve the more “adult” romances for Lynn Barrington. A Pseudonym was recommended to me by a publisher, for the reason that if a narrator does some teen or children’s books, you might not want that listener looking for another great book that you narrated, and running accidentally across a title with lots of very adult language and content.
You narrate a variety of genres. Do you have a favorite to do?
I think that’s kind of like asking which child you favor! But, probably my two favorites would be romance and thriller/mysteries. I also love non-fiction, because, ultimately, I’m a dork and I love to learn about subjects that I would never probably pick up in a library, and I find myself very pulled in, usually, by the author’s passion of the subject matter.
You act on camera and record books. How do the two compare, and how does your camera work help your audiobook narration?
Well, many aspects of acting help with narrating books. Understanding character arcs, story arcs, paying attention to what each character wants from the other ones, how to say dialogue like it’s really being said by an actual person in an actual moment, elements of discovery, etc. Also, mastering the skill of cold reading (because ultimately, we can’t memorize each book before we read it), is also key.
Can you make a living just recording audiobooks?
YES!! I’m now making the best living I have ever made in my life, so I’m eternally thankful for the work I’ve received and the authors, publishers, listeners, and bloggers who have taken a chance on me and believed in me. And I’m also making a living 100% from acting and it’s many forms.
What is your process for recording audiobooks? How do you prepare?
I read the book first and mark up characters when they first appear, and also ones that reappear in chapter 20 after appearing in chapter 2, for example. For some books with a ton of characters, I keep a list of who is in each chapter. Sometimes I’ll write notes about each character’s personality traits, sometimes I’ll just have this in my head. Sometimes I’ll picture a celebrity, or someone on TV that reminds me of a character, and I’ll kind of picture him/her when I’m speaking. I pay attention to all the descriptions the author gives about the character to form them in my mind. Then off I go into the booth each day and make them come alive.
How long does it take you to record a book, including every step of the process, that plays for 6 hours?
Typically, the entire process takes about 6-8 hours of work for every finished hour of audio, so if it’s a 6 hour book, it took at least 36 hours of work. When I record for producers/publishers, I do the reading/prep work, recording, and then send the files to them for editing/mastering/proofing/QC. They give me back a list of mistakes that I didn’t catch myself while recording, and usually either a sound file so I can match the tone of how I said it to begin with, or a list indicating where I can find the clip in my recordings. I re-record those, send them to the producer and they edit them in and prep the book for release, including, in some cases, manufacturing CDs. So, my part is usually about 3-4 hours of work for every finished hour of audio. The process is similar when I work through ACX, but I hire an editor to edit/master/proof/QC, and I edit the retakes back in myself and upload it to ACX.
What do you enjoy reading in your spare time? Is it easier to narrate books you love reading?
Spare time?! When i had spare time, it was a mix of romance, mysteries, cozy mysteries, and self-help books. Yes, it’s easier to narrate books I love reading, but thankfully, my interests span a lot of genres and topics, and I’m always open to discovering new ones.
What is your favorite part about recording audiobooks?
Every book is a new story, new characters, new concepts, and sometimes new words. I have loved great stories since childhood, and have been an voracious reader my whole life and also someone who loves to learn new things. I used to go to libraries and think, “If I could read every book in this library, think how smart I would be!” Unfortunately the trappings of adulthood (earning a living, paying bills) often gets in the way of us following our passions, whims and dreams, so for me to be able to make a good living doing something I’m truly passionate about is an amazing blessing!