How To Produce a Demo for the Audiobook Market

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    Your demo is your primary promotional tool and is included in your submission for work to an audio publisher. Pat Fraley and Hillary Huber’s experience and relationships with audio publishers have led them to suggest that the performer produce their demo as directed in this podcast.

    Transcript of Podcast

    Julia-Ann Dean: Welcome to Voice Over Experts brought to you by voices.com, the number one voiceover marketplace. Voice Over Experts brings you tips, pearls of wisdom, and techniques from top instructors, authors, and performers in the field of voiceover. Join us each week to discover tricks of the trade that will help you to develop your craft and prosper as a career voiceover talent. It’s never been easier to learn, perform, and succeed from the privacy of your own home and at your own pace. This is truly an education you won’t find anywhere else.
    This week, voices.com is pleased to present Pat Fraley.
    Pat Fraley: Hi, this is Pat Fraley and as I prepare for our two-day audiobook event, “The Billion $ Read,” I wanted to give you some insight on how we prepare a demo for the recession-proof audiobook market. We’ll be producing all participants’ demos at the event by the way along with teaching the performance and business skills necessary to work the audiobook market. Here’s my pal and stellar audiobook reader Hillary Huber to help me with the lesson. Hillary?
    Hillary Huber: And now, the almighty demo!
    Pat Fraley: Like that?
    Hillary Huber: Very high production quality. Stop that. Your demo is your primary promotional tool and is included in your submission for work to an audio publisher. Our experience and relationships with audio publishers have led us to suggest the performer produce their demo in this way.
    Pat Fraley: Your demo is comprised of four separate audio tracks. The first is quite simple, it’s your name followed by the word narrator. It should be done by someone of the opposite sex like this, Hillary Huber, narrator.
    Hillary Huber: The next tracks are comprised of three excerpts from books that show your abilities at performing. How you select your excerpts depends on your abilities or special skills, each being no less than 30 seconds and no longer than one minute. That’s plenty for audio publishers to hear how you perform. Your excerpts may include the following: One excerpt from a fiction written in the third person, which is all narration. This will give the audio publisher the opportunity to hear how you narrate, and in one of the most popular genres in the audiobook publishing arena.
    Pat Fraley: Another excerpt would dialogue between two characters. Most books present some sort of dialogue, even biography or motivational books will have a bit. It’s important to show that you can bounce back and forth between a couple of characters and can separate the voices. It’s not like you have to be Meryl Streep, but you need to show them that you can pull off dialogue. If you have acting background, you have the advantage of performing dialogue over those who don’t.
    Hillary Huber: And finally, one excerpt, which you choose based on special skills, knowledge, or interest. If for example, you’re bilingual, you may want to record an excerpt that is rich with non-English language. If you have a particular skill at comedy or performing complex classic literature, you may want to show off this skill.
    Also, if you have a passion for animals or a hobby that makes you an expert at anything, you may decide on an excerpt, which deals with a subject you know so well.
    Pat Fraley: Now, where do you get these excerpts and how do you prepare them? Many performers find their excerpts from favorite books with which they’re familiar. There are some sites on the internet, which have excerpts, but the disadvantage of getting them from these sites is that you’re not familiar with the book, the style, the author, and the context of the excerpt. The good news about excerpts is that you can play fast and loose with them in as much as you can change a pronoun to a noun, cut them down and pretty much make them work for 30 to 60 seconds.
    I like to think of excerpts for the audiobook demo as a trailer for a movie, the objective is to garner interest in the book and you as the reader.
    Hillary Huber: Also, when you record your demo, introduce each excerpt by saying the title and the author. For example, this is from “Spoon River Anthology” by Edgar Lee Masters. After that, you take a beat and perform the piece. It’s that simple. When your demo is complete, you may burn it on to a CD with four separate tracks, your slate and your three excerpts. It’s also important to have the tracks put into one continuous audio file and then convert it to an mp3 audio file. This will compress the demo and make it possible to submit it to audio publishers via email.
    Pat Fraley: Or you can have it available to stream from your website of from another internet source.
    Hillary Huber: This is the way the majority of them want to have submissions.
    Pat Fraley: Hillary is going to demonstrate what a demo sounds like right now. Here’s your slate. Hillary Huber, narrator.
    Hillary Huber: This is from My Mother’s Clone by Patricia Esalen. I am horrified. Yesterday, while I was on the phone, I caught myself sucking my teeth, just like my mom. No, I mean three little ones like this… Like Morse code. Didn’t Tennessee Williams say, no matter what you do you will become your father? Where does that put me? My mother. What if I’m like her clone and no matter what I eat, what I wear or no matter how much exercise I do, I’m going to end up with her butt…? Oh, no!
    [0:05:40]
    This is from Young Joe, The Lost Kennedy by Charles Forsen. Rose and Joseph Kennedy Senior received the news on August 13, 1944, that their eldest son, Joseph Junior was dead. Not missing in action, there was no doubt. Joe Junior’s plane loaded with 21,170 pounds of Torpex, an explosive 50% more powerful than dynamite had exploded in the air at approximately 2000 feet, eight miles southeast of Halesworth the day before. Upon hearing the news from the secretary of the Navy, Joe Kennedy walked down to the sea, selected three perfect skipping stones and skimmed them over the calm waters.
    This is from A Puzzling Mind by Laura Collings-Way. It was a disturbing prospect, rearrange the crime scene photos for the third time. Evelyn had cleared her desk and one by one laid the 8 x 10 colored prints down. Tommy shot a look at Evelyn, “What are you doing?” “They remind me of something,” she said. “Laid out like that, they remind me of something.” She stepped back from her desk and then it struck her. She thought of the unfinished jigsaw puzzle, which lay dormant on a game table at her grandparents’ summer home in East Nyack. “Listen Evelyn, I’ve looked at these things one time too many, I’m going to go grab some coffee. You want anything?” “No, I’ll be fine.”
    Pat Fraley: And that’s it, a slate and three excerpts of 30 to 60 seconds each in length.
    Hillary Huber: You want to share where you got those excerpts?
    Pat Fraley: Okay. These are all fake books and authors, which I wrote for demonstration purposes, but that doesn’t matter. It’s all about giving the audio publisher an expedient sample of how you handle various genres of books. Know that you can use any excerpts from any books as you’re not selling the demo. No one is going to take issue.
    Hillary Huber: I would just like to suggest that you don’t demonstrate from a bestseller or a book that’s been done in audio and is really well known like “Harry Potter.”
    Pat Fraley: So those are the steps to getting your demo done. The only missing ingredient, a director, very valuable. So if your interest is peaked, “The Billion $ Read” two-day audiobook event will be held in Los Angeles on March 6th and 7th. You’ll have a different director for each as you record each of your three excerpts for your demo to ensure range and unique approach. We’ll have Scott Brick, publisher, producer, and the most sought after audio book narrator in the country and Dan Musselman, the executive producer for Random House Books on Tape who has cast, directed, produced over 3000 titles. I’ll be on hand for your third excerpt and I mustn’t forget our ace in the hole, Hillary Huber who will be over the shoulder making sure we deliver the goods, and Hillary has a particular acute ear for female performance.
    Information on how to sign up is on my learn page at my website patfraley.com. And thanks for listening.
    Hillary Huber: Stop that.
    Julia-Ann Dean: To learn more about the special guest featured in this Voices.com podcast, visit the Voice Over Experts show notes at podcast.voices.com/voiceoverexperts. Remember to stay subscribed. If you’re a first time listener, you can subscribe for free to this podcast in the Apple iTunes podcast directory or by visiting podcasts.voices.com. To start your voiceover career online, go to voices.com and register for a voice talent membership today.
    [music]
    This has been a voices.com production.
    [0:09:45] End of Audio

    Links from today’s show:

    Pat Fraley
    Pat Fraley Free Lessons
    Hillary Huber
    Pat teaches across the US. For more information and to find out when other Pat Fraley weekend workshops are, visit his website PatFraley.com

    Your Instructor this week:

    Voice Over Expert Pat Fraley

    Patrick FraleyPatrick Fraley has created voices for over 4,000 characters, placing him among the top ten performers of all time to be cast in animation. He has produced dozens of award-winning audiobooks, such as, Adventures of Tom Sawyer, A Very Easy Death, and The Light in The Piazza. Pat produced and performed all 100 voices on the award winning audiobook, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which People Magazine hailed as, “The best yet of this evergreen.” Patrick teaches events, workshops, and seminars on various aspects of voice over across the country, and has created a variety of instructional books and CDs, all available at PatFraley.com. He is a member of The Voice and Speech Trainers of America, and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Professional Acting from Cornell University.

    Any comments for Pat? Add a comment below!

    12 COMMENTS

    1. This sounds great. I wonder (since it wasn’t addressed in the podcast) if the class will go into how different AB publishers require different demo specs to be followed (just like agents in Comm vo). I have 3 different submission guidelines from 3 different AB publishers in front of me….all are different. 1 matches this format…the other 2 want each clip to be no less than 3 minutes long or they won’t accept it. Wondering if this will be covered and how one should handle that once they have walked away with the demo following this particular format~

    2. The world, the universe indeed, revolves around Los Angeles. I know. I lived there. But how does one compete in this business if you DON’T live in LA? This online lesson by Pat & Hillary was great but as for the training seminar in LA, those of us in the rest of the country are hard-pressed to travel and to LA for two-day direction. If you happen to live in LA or Orange County you’re in luck. Great presentation though. This 25 year vet learned something today.

    3. This is what my vocal coach is working to help me with. I’m VERY interested in audiobooks. I appreciate this info, thanks for posting!

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