Audiobook narrator and voice actress Melinda Wade talks to Draft2Digital about the process of narrating an audiobook, working with authors (like David Gaughran!), and the process of producing audiobooks for Findaway Voices. Get started with publishing your ebook and starting your own audiobook production at https://draft2digital.com
talk, booth, sound, book, chapter, love, david, voice, rights holder, listen, authors, audio books, correction, flow, proofer, written, voiceover, words, friendly, narrator
Melinda Wade 00:06
Look at you when I talk right
Melinda Wade 00:07
I’ll have to look to the button.
Melinda Wade 00:23
My name is Melinda Wade and I am an actress. I was in New York for about 20 years doing theater, commercials, voiceovers, video games, movies, TV, lot of independent films, just all sorts of things. And and sort of in my voiceover journey I did. I just happened to get a few audio books. And when I moved out to Los Angeles, I, you know, everything is changed. The industry’s changed a lot and I was like, Okay, I need to continue to make a living doing this. And I always enjoyed audio books. And I was like, isn’t there thing called a cx. So I knew there was I knew about it. I
Melinda Wade 01:04
didn’t know. I didn’t
Melinda Wade 01:06
know how to do any of it. So I think I just signed up. And I was like, Well, let me just audition. And then of course, you know, I got the first two books I auditioned for, and they both had a pretty good prefinished our rate. So I then very quickly had to learn actually how to do the other end of the whole process. I understood the performance end of the profit process. I knew nothing about the other end. So I had I have to say there was a very steep learning curve. And I had some very, very patient and wonderful rights holders who I worked with.
Melinda Wade 01:50
There just came a point. I think it was I was just trying to think about this today. I think there came a point about nine months ago where I was like I need to get out of the closet. I need to get out of the closet that sounds great, doesn’t it? I need to get out of the closet and I need to get into a booth. So I remember walking into our bedroom and I looked at my husband and I was like, honey, I need a booth. We have to figure this out. So he got me a booth. And we’ve since moved from our last place and now our booth is very discreetly hidden in our bedroom. It’s amazing. My sister for the interior designer came in and made it look who I just hit the mic. It made it look very fancy. So it does not look like a booth.
Melinda Wade 02:34
Primarily right now I’m doing audiobooks
Melinda Wade 02:39
Melinda Wade 02:40
loving it. And I love being able to use my skills as an actor in the world of narration. I think that can we talk about David for a second? Is that cool for me to just go in
Melinda Wade 03:01
One of the things I have to say that I loved about working with David Cochran and I know that’s the correct way to say it, because I actually emailed him, the guy was in Portugal with no Wi Fi. And I literally said to him, you need to get to a cafe or a bus stop or something and get me a voice memo of how to say your name because he’s Irish. And I didn’t want to screw that up because it’s throughout the book, and that would be really ugly.
Melinda Wade 03:28
Melinda Wade 03:30
I loved that David was really clear about what he wanted from me. A lot of times people will say, and it’s no one’s fault. People will say, I want
Melinda Wade 03:41
Melinda Wade 03:43
Melinda Wade 03:44
friendly. I want something, you know, business like David said, words like, I want it one on one. I want you to sound like you’re at a bar talking to a friend. And we’ve already had one beer, and I was like, got it. Got it. Because friendly you, you can end up sounding like this, but we were just having one on one like you’ve already had a beer, there’s kind of an just a relaxation, there’s kind of a, a roll to it. That’s just kind of naturally happens. And then I was like, okay, that’s what we’re going to work with. We’re going to work with something. And so that David was really great that way. Um, he was probably the clearest out of any
Melinda Wade 04:24
author rights holder that I’ve ever worked
Melinda Wade 04:26
with. And because because some and it’s not, it’s just that they don’t know. They don’t know. They use the words that find a way or a CX, or that any of them multitude of websites, all like I said, inspirational, upbeat. They use the those words, and what we need is something more personal. Because when it gets more personal, we can just jump in. And David also really was great about staying out of my way and allowing me to be a In charge of this, sometimes people will be like, Can you take that sentence up? Or, actually, I’d like that sentence down, and then two seconds between that. And what he understood was if you want that flow and you want it to sound one on one, and you want it to sound like it’s in a bar, then you should really like that he allowed me to be the leader in that. And so
Melinda Wade 05:22
for that, I was incredibly grateful.
Melinda Wade 05:31
I really love love working with By the way, there’s a couple of reasons. The first one is there’s always somebody on the other end. And that’s really great.
Melinda Wade 05:40
Melinda Wade 05:41
and I and I’m not here to attack anybody else. I’m just going to talk about the positives of find a way. So I have any questions. I just write them and by the end of the day, usually a few an hour or two later, someone’s written me back and said, Okay, I had a question about a book recently. What do you say? Over chapter 100? Because it technically is chapter 101. But some people might say, one on. One, there’s different ways to go. And I wrote them and I was like, Is there a standard? Should I should I be knowing about this? And yes, there’s a correct way. But there is no standard in the business. And so I love that one sec, things like that, that they get right back to you. Um,
Melinda Wade 06:30
so there’s that.
Melinda Wade 06:32
I also liked the way they set up the, when somebody has corrections for a chapter, the formatting, it’s really easy. It’s really super easy, because then I can just have a discussion about one chapter. And I’m not it because a lot of times like look, if there’s 30 chapters in the book, I don’t I want to know that we’re specifically talking about chapter 22. Well, they usually are very good. About, like writing a full like, this is what the the rights holder wants. They’re usually very, very good about that. I guess next time what I could do if I really did have questions, I could just write back to the person and find a way and just say, hey, I’ve got questions about, you know, they are saying upbeat and friendly with a business sense to them, you know, are they wanting one on one? Do they want it sound like I’m talking to a small group of people that they want it to sound like I’m going a brown and I’m talking to a large group of people like what is specifically because the more specific you get, the better chance you have of getting the job. You know,
Melinda Wade 07:44
it’s gotten more technical.
Melinda Wade 07:48
I will say that my my, my sweet husband knows setup all the mics and everything like that. For me, I have an editor that I work with. Now I do that I read it Then I go in the US, I like to read it on my iPad, the night before the chapters that I know I’m going to do. I want to go through it, I want to make sure that there’s no words that I’m like, What is that? And if there are, what I do is I put them on my phone on my voice memo. So that and I bring my phone into the booth. And so that I can just very quickly now some people use I annotate for that. For me, it’s just really easy to be just like, oh, wow, I don’t know what that word is. How do you pronounce that there’s a little bit of law, and I put it down in here, just like that.
Melinda Wade 08:36
Melinda Wade 08:37
so I have in the booth.
Melinda Wade 08:40
I have a laptop for recording my iPad, which I think is the best thing I haven’t the iPad Pro. And truthfully that thing is the best thing in the world for reading off of because it’s so gentle on your eyes. So that’s the real reason we got it and then I have I keep my phone in there, so that I can listen to the voice memo stuff. And I immediately after every chapter I prove, I don’t wait. And I know some people send it off to the proofer. I actually do that, that myself and there’s a reason for it. I am really specific about timing that I that I like, I think that there’s a very natural ebb and flow to the boys and sometimes I find that they will do too much spacing. So there will be these bizarre
Melinda Wade 09:32
kind of pauses even in very,
Melinda Wade 09:35
you know, high end books, I’ve heard it, and I like a very natural organic sound. I want it to sound like when you finish one paragraph, that there’s a thought, a breath and then we go to the next paragraph rather than I finish it. And then go and I hate that. I hate that lack of flow or when they say rather than he said, that it it a day. She said angrily. Like this pick up that POS. So that’s why I proof and I make sure all the flow is good. And then I send when the book is done, I send it off to my editor and I create an
Melinda Wade 10:11
Melinda Wade 10:13
So that when it comes
Melinda Wade 10:15
back with whatever their corrections are,
Melinda Wade 10:20
I have everything written out.
Melinda Wade 10:23
When I get back from the editor,
Melinda Wade 10:26
I check off that I did it. I did the correction, he did the correction. And then I send that off, David got it and I send that off as an email to every single person I work with. Because in all honesty, it’s faster. Let’s say you we were working together and you had an eight hour book and let’s say there were 14 mistakes that needed to be done either technical
Melinda Wade 10:51
or things that I mispronounced or I misread
Melinda Wade 10:55
if you have that spreadsheet in front of you. You can Get to exactly where it is and what it is that you need to listen to quickly. Make sure I did it correctly.
Melinda Wade 11:15
Like what I said before, be specific
Melinda Wade 11:18
Melinda Wade 11:18
you want. And that doesn’t mean be friendly. Be upbeat, you know, be mysterious. If you have this fantasy. Oh, I okay, if you have a fantasy and let’s say you’re doing a sci fi series, and you have a fantasy that you want your lead to really just sound like one of those chicks who’s just like always on Instagram and who’s like always walking around taking a selfie of herself.
Melinda Wade 11:44
That’s how you need to say it to me
Melinda Wade 11:46
say it. She’s the kind of person who’s always taking a selfie.
Melinda Wade 11:49
That’s a clear image. That’s really clear. So the more clear you can get, the better. The other thing is, and I hear authors talk about this on something like this. Facebook pages. They’ll talk about having hired somebody. And then they’re like, I hired the wrong. I hired the wrong narrator. I got halfway through the book and it’s not working the person’s voice and I’m like, Yeah, because you said you wanted somebody edgy. So you hired somebody sounds like this. And he’s like, kind of like, you know, always kind of has this kind of rough kind of thing to her voice. And I’m like, okay, that’s somebody who dies in chapter three,
Melinda Wade 12:29
because they were like ripped limb by limb by a cyborg.
Melinda Wade 12:32
Melinda Wade 12:32
Melinda Wade 12:33
somebody who you want to listen to, for eight hours. And I really would, When, when, when, when the authors are looking for a narrator. Don’t think about the five minute clip. Think about is this going to work for six hours with somebody sitting in a car Exactly. voice can they go into really interesting characters and like, really kind of like, you know, create some depth to
Melinda Wade 13:07
their voice and,
Melinda Wade 13:09
you know, and also talk appear if necessary and be like a little kid was maybe like panic or something. But is there a regular voice, something that’s appealing that you want to listen to? Because I really think that oftentimes, narrator oftentimes the authors lose sight of that. And they end up with somebody who might have the quirky edge that they’re looking for the new and wants to listen to that for six hours. If the person isn’t funny, like, if your book is funny, and they’re not funny, in the audition, they’re not gonna be funny. I always tell my play right? fit friends funny walks into the room. You always know funny walks into the room funny. You know, when someone’s funny, if you have a romantic comedy and you need someone to be funny, make sure that they have a charming quirk to their voice and a way of saying your life. That’s actually funny. So, that’s another piece of advice I would give.
Melinda Wade 14:13
When I did, if Sony I did Pamela Anderson. And then when I did, Grant, I did the whole grand theft, like many of the Grand Theft Auto series. I did Paris Hilton.
Melinda Wade 14:27
And kalter we changed the names, and I did one of those.
Melinda Wade 14:33
They sound like they’re from like Entertainment Tonight like,
Melinda Wade 14:35
you know, what are they leeza Gibbons, like one of those people who talks like this and they’re all about entertainment in your life. And, and I did Lindsay Lohan, I will say, Paris Hilton, between you and I suffered the worst death in Grand Theft Auto.
Melinda Wade 14:54
It was a pretty
Melinda Wade 15:02
I think it’s great. I think it’s so important to, to help them because I feel like they throw money out there. And they are. They’re about 60% knowledgeable. And that is kind of scary, because they leave it up to us to be, you know, like to do the, the hundred percent and I’m like, I need I need you to match me, I need you to tell me exactly what you want, and how you want to do this. Because, I mean, it’s really hard when they come back, and they’re like, but that’s not what I wanted. And you’re like, you approve the first 15 like we you know what I mean? So that’s why it’s we all have to get on the same page and like, and at the end of the day, one of the things I think I love the most about doing audiobooks, especially with the self published community, is I love the actor and me loves bringing the written word a lot And so I love being able to take this from somebody and saying, Let me take this next step.
Melinda Wade 16:05
Let me let me
Melinda Wade 16:07
join you on this but let me bring this to life and
Melinda Wade 16:10
that to me, is really fun.