The Voice of an Angel — or something like it


This week we’ve been searching for a voice over artist. We’re putting Lily Does Sweden out as an audiobook, so audiobook narrator required. We’re going ACX.

ACX, for those of you that don’t know, is the Audio Creation Exchange. They are a partner of and a wing of Amazon. ACX connects publishers (or authors) to VO talent.

Anyone can sign up as a narrator and apply for a project by submitting an audition — feel free to audition, the script is on ACX — but authors and publishers can also use ACX to invite narrators to audition too.

ACX has over 10,000 voices to sample. They have a sorting system to cut down the crush, but don’t get your hopes up.

  1. Many ACX demo reels are of poor sound quality. We eliminated over 100 people because we thought they didn’t have the technical know how to produce an audiobook based on their poor quality reel.
  2. Good quality VO reels, but it’s several commercials strung together. This type of reel tells you nothing about how well a VO artist can narrate a book. So they don’t get chosen.
  3. One or two good reels, but the work doesn’t demonstrate a wide range of abilities. The reels don’t display the sort of voice or style you’re looking for, so you have to assume they can’t do what you need. That’s more talent passed over.

We narrowed our invite list down to 21 voices — all female.

From there we did a second round of listening (combined with looking at their various websites to find out more about each potential candidate — sometimes there are more demo reels on an artist’s website). We weeded out nine people completely this way. Problems included:

  • Too young/old sounding (no reel demonstrating they could do any other vocal age).
  • Too girlie-sounding (no reel demonstrating any other vocal style),
  • good voice, but no comic ability or poor reading of text.
  • good voice, but no demo reel showing they could do comedy,
  • great voice, but stopped taking projects,
  • great voice and comic timing, but poor with accents, gendered voices, etc.
  • great voice, but doubtful they’d do the content based on their website information.

We of the 11 left, we invited a couple people to audition right away because they seemed ideal in every way.

Then we sorted through the list a third time.

  • Two people we really liked we set aside because everyone agreed they both had an obvious regional accents (NY and Midwest) in every reel they did. That wasn’t a bad thing, it was just the wrong regional accent for our project and they had no reel to prove they could shed the accent. Many people don’t realize they have an accent.
  • One person was put aside because, although she had loads of VO experience and a perfect voice, she delivered every line like a radio announcer and had no reel to prove she could do otherwise.

We then had seven people left and you’d probably be surprised by who they are. Among the top VO artists were a Latina from the Deep South, a white American from Germany, an African American from New York, a Canadian, and a Japanese American from California. They were all of various ages too!

Lily Does Sweden has many parts, but all very White and mostly adults over 30. However, a great VO artist isn’t locked into his or her natural ethnic, regional or even gendered accent. That’s why they are great VO artists.

In fact, we realized very quickly that finding the right person is a matter of simply closing your eyes and really listening. And that’s your Valentine’s Day tip! Now, go and listen for your Angel.

Published in: on February 14, 2013 at 12:50 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Self-Published Authors Make UK Amazon Kindle 2012 Bestseller List


07.01.13 | Lisa Campbell  (Full article can be found on The Bookseller, copyright The Bookseller).

Amazon has revealed that 15% of its bestselling Kindle books in the UK last year were written by self-published authors, with Hodder & Stoughton’s Nick Spalding landing the bestselling self-published author gong [award].

Spalding’s books Love…From Both Sides and Love…And Sleepless Nights sales combined to make Spalding the bestselling digital book author through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform last year. The author was snapped up by Hodder & Stoughton imprint Coronet for a six-figure sum last October.

Amazon said overall 15 of the top 100 Kindle books sold in the UK were by authors using its self-publishing tool, with 75 by traditional publishers. Amazon added that since KDP launched, 61 KDP authors have sold over 50,000 copies of their books. It also revealed that 12 KDP authors have sold in excess of 100,000 copies, with 50 authors earning in excess of £50,000 [$80K US], and 11 of these earning more than £100,000 [$160K US].

The best-selling KDP books of 2012 on

1. Love… From Both Sides by Nick Spalding

2. Only the Innocent by Rachel Abbott

3. Love… And Sleepless Nights by Nick Spalding

4. One Cold Night by Katia Lief

5. Locked In by Kerry Wilkinson

6. Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne

7. Touch by Mark Sennen

8. Taunting the Dead by Mel Sherratt

9. The Tea Planter’s Daughter by Janet MacLeod Trotter

10. Here She Lies by Katia Lief

White Friday . . .

Do yourself (and everyone else a favor), step outside and enjoy the day.

Don’t spend it, spending.

Stay home. Enjoy some cocoa or tea.  Play with your family, friends, or pets.

Because all to soon the winter comes.

And at the end of your life, what you’ll remember, what they’ll remember, is that day.


Published in: on November 25, 2011 at 2:02 AM  Leave a Comment  
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A Book for the Lover in All of Us, and a different way to celebrate the holiday

If you’re thinking of something different to share with your sweetie this year, give this book a whirl. For a small taste of what’s inside, you can check out “The Love I Choose” an essay by Jessica Mercer Zerr of Grand Forks, ND, that is featured in the book.

In the 1950’s, Edward R. Murrow’s radio program, This I Believe, gave voice to the feelings and beliefs of Americans around the country. Fifty years later, the popular update of the series, which now continues on Bob Edwards Weekend on public radio, continues to explore the beliefs that people hold dear today.

This book is a take off of that, and brings together essays on love from ordinary people far and wide whose sentiments and stories will surprise, inspire, and move you.

  • Includes 60 short (500 words/ 3 pages or less) essays written by “ordinary” Americans on love.
  • The stories range from interactions with family, relatives, friends, pets, and strangers to the various acts of love that we perform for others such as cooking.
  • Based on the popular This I Believe radio series and Web site

By turns funny and profound, yet always engaging, This I Believe: On Love is a perfect gift to share with your love, and maybe after reading an essay together, you might hand him or her a short essay you wrote yourself on the meaning of love.  Way better than tired old flowers, jewelry, or chocolates!