How did you get started narrating audiobooks?
It was truly by accident, as I was introduced to Fiverr by Fred Gleeck, who was helping me get started with selling my beef jerky, and then introduced to a group on Facebook that does a lot of voiceover work on Fiverr. That group is run by Lance Tamashiro and Bill DeWees, both of whom were doing voiceovers and doing very well both on Fiverr and outside of Fiverr. So I decided to set up a voiceover gig on Fiverr and was doing OK, not really well, but ok, and I noticed in the Facebook group that someone was talking about ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) and audio books as another way to make some money. So I checked it out, got signed up as a narrator, auditioned for some books, and actually got my first offer after a few auditions.
How do you prepare in advance of recording? What kinds of notes do you take?
It depends on what I am recording. But most of the time I will first read the chapter I am about to record, look for any weird words that I need to pronounce, and highlight the word in red. If I find any, I go to dictionary.com and look up the words’ pronunciation. And on that site it also has an audio file so you can listen to how it is pronounced. I might copy and paste into the script how it is pronounced so when I come to the word it is right there.
How much interaction do you have with the authors of the books you are reading? How much do they influence your choices of inflections, etc?
It depends really on the author. If I have a question about what I am reading, where it doesn’t seem to sound right, or about how they want a name pronounced, I will write and ask them. Some authors don’t give me any feedback as I move along with the recording of their book. Others, which I really like, will listen to each chapter and give me feedback if any corrections need to be made. This includes adding more inflection, sounding more sad, etc. This really helps in putting together a high quality audiobook for them.
I notice on Audible that you seem to focus largely on Western novels. What about those books makes you especially drawn to them?
I have always loved Westerns, from the old John Wayne movies and all of the Clint Eastwood western movies. I love reading Louis L’amour. I have read all of his Sacketts series books. Plus, I think my voice is a good fit for those types of books. However, recently I have started to branch out. I have recorded some Romance, Mysteries, Self Help, and Children’s books.
Tell me about the recording process and how you do it from start to finish.
My recording process goes something like this. I read the book, or just a chapter that I am about to record, so I know of any weird words that I might need to narrate. I then record a chapter in RAW form, no editing done yet. I run it through all of the processes that I have preset, so I know it meets ACX standards. I then go through and edit out any mistakes or re-reads I had to do. Once this is done, I resave the project as a MASTER file. I then listen to it and make sure the rhythm and pace are what they should be. I then remove any unnecessary clicking noises and recheck to make it still meets ACX standards. Once I am satisfied with how it sounds I save the file as an mp3 and upload it to my production on ACX.
After you’ve finished recording a book, how hard is it to go back and make changes? I think not just of engineering methods but of trying to match the pace and style.
It isn’t hard at all since I save all of the chapters as project files. It is easier to do as I mentioned earlier, when the author listens and gives me feedback as I upload chapters. Then I just go back and rerecord the parts that need fixing, or change the pace and style if need be. Save the changes and reupload the file to ACX. If it isn’t until the book is finished, that still isn’t a problem, it just takes a little longer.
Besides being an audiobook narrator, you are a professional jerky maker.Tell us about that.
As I mentioned earlier, one of my first gigs on Fiverr (and it is still up there) was how to make your own beef jerky. I started making my own beef jerky because when I used to travel with my wife, we would stop at a gas station
and want something to snack on. Jerky is a great healthy snack, but the stuff available at a gas station or even in a grocery store, was often too tough or had a terrible after taste, not really flavorful. So I decided to start making my own jerky. I currently make 8 different flavors and sell it in 2 oz bags for $5. My label is Iggens Jerky and I have a page on Facebook.
You have college degrees in accounting and computer science. Have these fields contributed in any way towards your narration?
No not at all, except I do know a lot about computers which helps with my recording process.
What do you enjoy reading for fun? Does that differ from your preference in what you like to narrate?
What I read for fun are magazines. Mainly golf magazines, as I love to golf and like to improve myself so I get better at it. As for my preference in narration, yes and no, I like to record self help, but I do enjoy narrating Westerns. All in all, no matter what I narrate, I love being able to tell a story. I mean that really is what narrating an audiobook is about: acting like you are telling a story in an interesting way that keeps the person listening and pulling them into and through the story.
What is your favorite part of being an audiobook narrator?
As I just said, my favorite part of being an audiobook narrator is telling a story in an interesting and compelling way that keeps a person listening. I have watched a lot of YouTube videos by a great voice over actor by the name of Bill DeWees. What I have learned from him is that you need to have more Inflection and Emotion when doing an audiobook. And you also have to narrate as if you are reading out loud to someone, telling them the story! I also have listened to some of the other audiobook narrators who are really successful to see how they sound. You can never stop learning and being better in this business.
Read my review of Tip a Hat to Murder here.
Do you want to learn more about Kevin? Check out his following links: