There is a thing among creative people, and others to be sure, called Imposter Syndrome. Essentially it means that you think your success is a fluke, and you’ve faked your way in over your head. “Fake it ’til you make it” is a thing, and sometimes the hubris is needed to get past the gatekeepers and start doing the work. Waiting for praise/approval isn’t fun, and it can kill the spark in some people right out of the gate.
I am confident that my writing is good enough to stand on it’s own. My books have sold better than blocks of Ice at McMurdo sound… well, that’s not praise, dammit! My book sales have been poor, but the reviews have been excellent. I’m going with the reviews on this one, as I enjoy writing and am genuinely trying to bring out a new book this year.
But, in the meantime, my bread and butter are in the audio book world. Right now, I have 30+ books out there on digital audio. Of those books, only 5 are mediocre. They are, strangely enough, the first 4 that I did and one that came along later that I should have run away from, as it was full of French, and I am of the Pepe Le Pew school of French speakers. Yes, it was horrible. The first four I was learning, and being taught, by the mistakes I made. I read too fast and I didn’t pause in the right places (the PDF files and Word files didn’t show the spacing keys that popped up in the published books – I now buy the Kindle version and read from that!)
But with each book I got a bit better. I learned to protect my voice and got to be pretty darned good at editing. Is my work comparable to what you’d get in a professional studio? No. Is it as good as some audio book narrators sound quality? No. The reason is physics and money. I have a good studio room, and have spent a moderate amount of money. If you spend the big bucks to custom fit a studio (or record in a professional one) it sounds a bit different. But not enough to really impact the listener unless they are a compulsive audiophile. I’m okay with that: better is the enemy of good-enough. I turn out good quality stuff that is rated at 4.5 or higher on average. Out of five, that works for me.
Here’s a sample from a forth-coming book, MORE SUB TALES. The authors are fine with me doing this, as they are using it to promote the work. Take a listen and see what I mean:
Okay, so where is this babble-fest going? I’m in several groups on Facebook that deal with narration. Today’s topic was a video that essentially disparaged some narrators for overacting, especially their voices being used “incorrectly” to create characters outside of their normal range. I rather politely disagreed, and pointed out that sometimes you HAVE to do that, because the author/publisher wants the characters done a certain way.
Well, the backlash from bigwig narrators was there in short order. Essentially it amounted to: in the big leagues nobody tells us what to do, and your little slice of the pie isn’t representative.
Um, well, maybe. But I have surfed the audition pages a few times, and the majority of the work on ACX (the Audible/Amazon platform used to create audio books) is almost nothing but small publishers, indie authors, and the occasional big house looking for a new flavor. But ninety percent of what’s out there is just authors who want an audio book. The big publishers have stables of talent they use, and they pay very well. But that’s guys and gals doing a full-time narration gig. Me? I’m part time and love being able to take days/weeks at a time off.
I do wonder why some folks have to be important. Yes, some of the people who disagree with me are 8 times more accomplished in terms of titles produced. But I listen to samples and realize they aren’t that much better than I am as an actor, or as a narrator for books like the one sampled above. In a few cases, they’re actually kind of boring.
Am I a victim of Imposter Syndrome? Nope. I’m pretty confident that the good reviews I get, and the nice monthly check for part-time work, is proof that I am “real” in the world of audio books. Could I work at that level? Yes. I’ve done enough studio voice over that I’m quite confident of my ability to do it if I was willing to give up being a retired guy who drives to Fort Lauderdale (the other side of the state) to buy aquarium decorations and take my wife out to lunch. I’m not giving that up.
So, more books coming in audio (I have about 1 years worth of books lined up right now, more to come) and hopefully a print book of my own before too long. Yes, I know it’s been 8 years since part one of the ASSAULT ON SAINT AGNES series, but some day there might be a sequel.
In the meantime, enjoy this picture of Richard Simmons. I include him because the author who’s had me narrate 9 books says I sound like him in the combat scenes. But he keeps on hiring me…