Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

November 6, 2015

Careful What You Ask For

Filed under: Announcements, Auditioning, Business, Marketing, Technology — connieterwilliger @ 10:33 am
WoVo logo

WoVo is an association of voiceover professionals (both union and non-union) seeking to inform and educate about best practices, standards for ethical conduct and professional expertise. It has an online casting engine that features ONLY vetted professional voices, unlike the company being discussed in this blog post.

Remember the commercial actors strike in 2000? Pay-per-Play was one of the big things the union was asking for. The business has never really been the same.

According to a white paper published by Villanova University the convergence of TV and the Internet was the “core” issue. The unions were aware of the technical tsunami approaching, that the distribution of the content was forever changing. Not the actual work, but the delivery of the product.

It is hard to predict the future, but being responsive to changes so that you don’t get so far behind that you can never catch up should be part of your DNA by now. But changes are not always good without understanding the past. Creative fields are slowly being strangled by over saturation and plummeting rates.

Part of it has to do with new younger producers who know nothing about the way things used to be done. And they don’t care. The Internet provides them with access to everything in the blink of an eye. Ask and you shall receive. But you really need to know the right questions to ask.

I am a dinosaur – producing, writing and performing as on and off-camera talent since the 70’s. But I am also an early adopter of technology and take personal pride in staying close to the bleeding edge.

When I started focusing on voice talent work in the late 90’s, I dove into the Internet and have been a Beta tester for several online marketplaces matching voice talent to producers. The growing pains were just that – painful. And still are.

The concept of streamlining the casting process is good. The execution is not as good. The big online casting sites – what we took to referring to as “Pay-to-Play (P2P)” because they charged a fee – began with a good concept that appeared to be advocating for the talent, but has instead (at least in some cases) been shown to be powered by pure business greed.

Giving away free information was (and still is) a way to gain traction in the search engines. I’ve had free stuff on my personal websites since 1996. I also joined many online voiceover groups and freely provided advice and information.

One group I supported early on was Voices.com (I am not putting a link to them here – I’m sure you can find them) because they had a lot of free information for voiceover talent. I created 2 podcasts that have been on their site since 2007/2008. I paid the fees to receive auditions from them and a couple of other developing P2P sites.

No more. I have not been a paying member of Voices.com or Voice123 for several years now. I have maintained a free profile on each site, but that has also changed as of today. I have asked that both my podcasts and my profile be deleted from Voices.com until such time that they recognize that their current business practices are simply not serving the professional voiceover community, nor helping the production community understand the value of the voiceover talent.

As the site grew larger and larger, the focus seems to have changed from providing an online “dating” service for talent and producers, to how much profit can be made on the backs of the people who are paying the fees to list themselves on the site. Frankly, they are acting as an “agent” and a casting director. I am not opposed to a streamlined system for this process. But if you are acting like an agent and/or casting director, then play by those rules. Go ahead and charge a commission (the escrow fee in the case of Voices) and even charge to coordinate large jobs (as long as this doesn’t undercut the rate to the talent in order to do so).

But as the “dating” service has evolved into functioning as an agent, the site should NOT be charging the talent a fee to be on the site.

The Internet has changed everything. We ask. Someone writes some code. And voila, we have an answer. But be careful what you ask for. Do your due diligence. Think about the consequences of what you are asking for.

In the case of online casting, more and more people claiming they are professionals with the result being fewer and fewer people who can make a full-time living doing the work. This isn’t unique to the voiceover business, all creative fields are suffering from lots of people lowering their rates (or being asked to lower their rates) to try to snag some of the work.

One group is trying to find a balance. World-Voices.org has an online casting site that has ONLY vetted professional talent – www.voiceover.biz. It is brand new, so there will be growing pains here as well. The talent listed on this site are all members of WoVo, which means they pay a small annual membership fee to keep this advocacy group for voice actors and the voiceover business in general functioning. A listing on Voiceover.biz is a benefit of membership. Less than $50 a year, as opposed to upwards of $400 per year for a listing on one of the big P2P sites.

It’s new. It doesn’t have a lot of activity yet. There are undoubtedly going to be some glitches, but it might be something you would want to try when you are looking for a voiceover casting site that is all about the voices and not about making a profit.

Be a part of the next new thing in voiceover – Voiceover.biz.

You might just get exactly what you are asking for.

June 3, 2015

The quest to get better without losing who you used to be…

Filed under: Acting, Auditioning — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 6:19 pm
Connie and Liz de Nesnera

Connie and Liz de Nesnera on the way to the workshop – Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner.

I just got home from a weekend workshop in Henderson (just outside Las Vegas) with Marice Tobias. It was an all-woman workshop with 10 working pros held at Melissa Moats new voiceover studio The Voice Actors Studio. Marice does this same thing with all men and also co-ed. The women’s workshop is usually – OK, pretty much always – a lot more emotional therapy along with the voiceover component. It was a wonderful weekend for many reasons and I think it has shown in the auditions and the projects I have done since getting back to my studio on Monday.

Getting coaching is something that a lot of working voice talent does during the course of their careers. Some do it a lot, some never and some fall somewhere in between. I’m probably in the in between camp.

And you can break it into categories: one-on-one, small groups of pros or very specific genres of VO, mid-sized groups of pros and large groups with voiceover people of all levels.

The larger groups tend to be mostly for beginners – pros usually find that they get more out of a really large conference by hanging out with their friends. The mid-sized groups have more substance for the working pro with something gleaned by the end of the weekend – sometimes lots and lots of things. Small groups can work specifics and hone in on approach. And of course, one-on-one is all about specifics.

This weekend was a small group and we worked on some specific approaches to what we do, lots of insights into our business as it is today – and our mental health.

The interesting thing for me is that after I get back from one of these weekends in a small group or with a one-on-one coach, my conversations with agents who I book with on a regular basis worry that I am going to change my basic delivery.

No, my goal with these workshops is to hone in on the real me – the person I am with my friends, with my speech patterns and energy and believe-ability.

Not change me, but be a better me.

We spend so much time in a vacuum these days that we second guess who we are when we get a piece of copy. So, while the read is good and the client is satisfied – the read COULD be great and the client can’t think of any reason not to hire you again for another project. I want to continue to be in that group – a voice that people remember the next time they have a project that needs a VO.

So, when the opportunity arises, I will continue to attend small workshop, or a mid-sized conference like FaffCon. And maybe I’ll pony up for a one-on-one every once in a while.

But for right now, I will be reflecting on this most recent experience and try to bring the “real” me to new auditions without losing who I was before.

May 23, 2015

Curiosity Creates Opportunity

Filed under: Auditioning, Business, Musings — Tags: , — connieterwilliger @ 4:55 pm

Ding Tut sleeping on pile of papersI was thinking about the phrase “curiosity killed the cat” today as one of my cats climbed up on a pile of empty cardboard boxes that were piled high on a work table to see what was going on and everything came down in a huge, yet rather quiet crash – except for the startled yelp of the cat as he was propelled into the air.

Most of us know what curiosity killed the cat “means.” Poking around can have dire consequences. But I was curious as to it’s origin, so I did some Googling and found this info on Wikipedia. It started out as “care killed the cat.”

Ben Johnson, an English playwright in 1598 used something like it one of his plays – followed by Shakespeare in 1599. It evolved into the more familiar “curiosity killed the cat in the later half of the 1800’s. O’Henry used it in a short story back in 1909.

This is the short definition from the Know Your Phrase site: “Used as a warning for anyone who is acting excessively curious, as their prying behavior may lead them to harm or even death.”

Then they used it in a sentence and it got me to thinking about what I do as a voice actor. “My boss warned me that curiosity killed the cat after I kept pestering him to tell me why he fired his last employee.”

Does this little adage apply to what I do? Not at all frankly.

Much of my day is spent auditioning for possible work. I spend some time doing actual work. A lot of time is spent finding opportunities to work – or opportunities to audition for work. And time is spent in billing and counting the stacks of money that arrive at my door. OK, not a lot of time is spent doing that last thing.

But my point is that I have to be curious. I need to be up on the latest trends in voice styles and deliveries. Not that I am trying to copy someone’s sound, but if I hear something truly aurally delicious I listen and analyze what they are doing with the words, the syllables, the pauses, the pacing, the attitude, the mic proximity, and on and on.

Each commercial, web video, overhead announcement, or anything where a voice talent has been paid to read a script is worth my time to listen and learn. To learn how to better make that connection between the words on the page and the person listening.

So, my curiosity about what makes something great creates opportunities for me to do a better read the next time I am in the booth – either auditioning for a job, or doing a job. The more I connect with and communicate the meaning of the words, the more opportunity I have to connect with the decision maker and get them to hire me for the job. It helps me produce work that keeps my regular clients coming back with more work.

So, bring on that pile of boxes and let me poke around exploring. There just may be something special buried in there!

July 9, 2014

Time for a Kick Start

Filed under: Auditioning, Musings — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 6:45 pm

I am a working voice talent. I make my living doing this. And as with most voice talent outside the major markets I find that I rely more and more on my own abilities to self-direct. Especially at the audition phase.

As someone who has been doing this a long time, I have lots of repeat clients, referrals and direct leads from my website – most of which don’t ask for an audition because they know me, or they simply like what they hear on my demos and don’t ask for an audition.

But, oh those auditions…

It is true that the booking to audition ratio is getting worse. More agents receive the same copy – which means many more people end up auditioning for the same spot – where in the past one or two agents would submit just a few of their talent.  This is ancient history. And if you are on any of the Pay-2-Play sites, you will find that in some cases the producer asks for 100 auditions.

Today your auditions have to stand out with at least three things to help land you the job. They have to be Quick. They have to be Different. And they have to be Right.

Quick – in delivery, because of the sheer numbers of auditions being submitted. At some point the producer will hear something that catches their ear and stop listening. So, the quicker you get the audition in the better.

Different – because many auditions will have a similar feel. People will read a piece of copy at the same pace with the same inflections, stopping in the same places. Now, the bigger the project, the less this happens, because the quality of the talent is just – well, better.

Right – this is one of those intangibles in some respects (and is actually related to being Different I suppose), because you may be giving a fine performance that stands out, but you simply are not the voice in the producer’s head this time around.

So, how do you deliver an audition that grabs the producer by the ears in a timely manner?

This is actually on my mind quite a lot these days, because I have noticed a trend in what I am booking off auditions.

The stuff I do every day for my repeat clients, referrals and direct leads is the bread and butter of our industry these days – the corporate pieces, websites, eLearning, marketing, company communications. (My last blog post highlighted a couple of these pieces.) I have worked for some of these clients for more than 10 years – a few for much longer than that. A few are new clients who heard my demos and made the leap. I don’t have to audition for those jobs.

The irony here is that in looking at my auditions this year, when I have to audition for the type of work I do all the time, I am not booking the jobs.

What I do book off auditions are dialog roles for radio spots or eLearning projects. Wives, teachers, moms, grandmothers. Some funny. Some caring. But always a real person delivering realistic dialog. Not crazy characters, but ordinary people with a point of view.

But these are not major market spots that will pull in the “pay off the mortgage” dollars. They are fun. They are almost always ISDN which means actual people on the line having fun with you. But they are almost always regional spots with a limited shelf-life.

The eLearning dialog is also lower on the pay scale because the roles are usually small.

So, time for a tune up – a kick start. Time to trust one of the most trusted coaches in the industry to help me figure out how to find my voice for the endless opportunities in corporate narration and the once in a while high dollar commercials that come my way – and Quickly produce a read that is Different and rings Right to the person making the decision on who to hire for the job.

June 10, 2013

Anonymity Means Never Having to Say You are Sorry for NOT Auditioning

Filed under: Auditioning — connieterwilliger @ 4:12 pm

There are lots of opinions on the Pay-2-Play websites. P2P sites are automated sites that, for a fee, send you audition opportunities. These sites are one of today’s auditioning paradigms – along with agents who send us auditions, potential clients finding our websites and sending us an audition and repeat clients asking for an audition for new projects.

Many people hate the P2P’s. Many people like them. A few people love them. I am somewhat ambivalent, because most of my work comes from other sources, yet I get enough projects through them to justify the money and time spent. And of those two elements, the time element is the greater of the two. The less time it takes the better.

The Voice123 mantra of being picky picky picky is pretty much my only option given the time I have available to scan and determine which auditions might be right up my alley.

Most of my time is tied up with those other sources; agents, repeat clients and direct contacts. I am either recording projects or auditions, marketing, bookkeeping and (more and more) simply getting out and enjoying life.

So, one thing I DO like about Voice123’s SmartCast auditions, is that the end client really doesn’t know who is getting the auditions – unless they send out a personal invitation. This provides a layer of anonymity that allows me the freedom to ignore the auditions. I can’t do that if I am contacted directly.

I’m not talking about the auditions from my agents, or past clients who know me. Although, I do occasionally get auditions (or actual projects) from these sources that I don’t feel are right for me, or the rates are lower than usual. No, I’m primarily talking about people who happen across my website and approach me with projects that fall into one of a few categories:

  • badly written (either a bad translation or simply a script not written for the ear)
  • budgets far too low for the work
  • strange conditions that make you scratch your head in astonishment

While, the frequency of this kind of direct request is low, I HAVE to respond to the request. With Voice123, I can simply ignore the “opportunity.”

I find that I do that more and more on Voice123 during my 5 minute scans of new audition opportunities. Just today, I deleted (or ignored) any leads under $350 immediately and then looked at a couple that were in the $500 range. One was a 60 minute training piece filled with medical terms and overwritten to the point where anyone viewing this training would be asleep before the introduction was finished. I happily hit delete, $500 wasn’t enough for an hour of material to begin with – and the script would have been so un-fulfilling to read. I didn’t have to make any excuses when I declined the opportunity.

Of course, not every script is going to be an Emmy or Golden Reel winner. Not every budget is going to be top dollar. This is a fact of life.

When faced directly with a script that needs a lot of help to really be effective (or in the case of a mis-translated script) – or a budget that is well below expectations – it can become a time consuming effort to figure out what to do. You HAVE to respond because they contacted you directly. If it is a complete stranger, you have to follow whatever bread crumbs you have to do your due diligence to determine what kind of a response is needed. This takes time.

You have to take time to parse a badly translated script enough to ask for clarifications. This takes time. If it is a repeat client, you have to weigh the budget, the time, the script, the potential for future work, etc. when formulating your response. This all takes time.

So, the ability to anonymously say “no’ to an audition by simply deleting or ignoring the lead is really kind of a relief and certainly a time saver!

February 4, 2013

Pro Bono or No Pro Bono or “Huh? What are you thinking?”

Filed under: Auditioning, Business, Musings — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 3:15 pm

“Pro bono: done for free, done without compensation, for the public good”

I occasionally am asked by companies if I can provide voice tracks for little or no money. In most of these cases, the company is a not-for-profit and I can weigh the value of the public good against the value of my current bank account. OK, that’s a little flippant. At this point in my career I can afford to donate some of my time to a good cause. But even when I was just starting out, if the right cause came along, I would make the time for it.

However, it is important to remember that not-for-profit does not translate directly to not-for-money. Every group has a budget of some sort, or it will cease to be a group at some point.

I walk a tightrope on this issue, because in addition to my definitely for-profit voiceover business, I am the Executive Director of a not-for-profit 501c3 group that doesn’t have a lot of money. But, since this is a group of business people, they understand that asking people to do something for nothing only works if 1) the person is committed to the values and goals of the group, or 2) if the person is looking to showcase their abilities to the group in the hopes of more “paid” work down the line (and this works best if the person you are working for the final decision maker).

I willingly provide discounted or free services to a few select companies. In the case of for-profit companies asking me to provide services at a reduced rate, I have been known to accept some trade in addition to some dollars (if the product is something that I can use). I have even provided my voice free to regular clients when the mood strikes. Frankly, I do not get requests to provide my services for free all that often.

But asking me to provide my voice for free to an “unknown to me,” but established for-profit company for their marketing material in exchange for being considered for a future job (along with some number of other people)  is simply such an outrageous request that I am still shaking my head in wonderment.

Likely, someone will do the work for free for this company – and perhaps that someone will be afforded the opportunity to compete for the other project – and perhaps they will even get the project. Fine. If I gave away everything I recorded for the chance of money down the line, I would be in debt up to my eyeballs – and that isn’t any way to run a business.

To quote Groucho Marx in Horse Feathers

“Wagstaff: Where were we? Oh yes. How much am I paying you fellows?

Professor Two: Five thousand a year. But we’ve never been paid.

Wagstaff: Well, in that case, I’ll raise you to eight thousand. And a bonus. Bring your dog around and I’ll give him a bonus too.”

 

December 15, 2012

Advice for Producers is Also Good Advice for Talent

Filed under: Auditioning — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 9:56 am

Just ran across this blog post by Marc Scott cross-posted on Voice123. It is aimed at the people seeking voice talent, however it is good advice for both the seeker and the seekee! In fact, as a user of the online casting sites myself, I have a similar set of guidelines as I decide which projects to audition for.

One of the biggies for me is a poorly written script. As a long time award-winning scriptwriter and corporate producer before jumping into voiceover full-time, I wrote many many scripts for other talent to read. A well-written script is ALWAYS easier for the talent to deliver. If you are new to the art of writing a script for someone to verbalize, put your words to the test. Record yourself reading the material aloud before you send it off for auditions. If you have a hard time getting the words out, try to figure out why? Are the sentences too long? Is the script simply a transcription of a white paper? There is a big difference between writing for the eye and writing for the ear. So, when I am deciding what projects to audition for, if I find that a script just doesn’t roll off the tongue easily in a logical and interesting way, then I am likely to pass on the audition. Other factors will come into play of course, but a good script will help you get good auditions from better actors.

“Why Am I Not Receiving Quality Auditions for My Project – Part 1” Part 2 is on his blog as well.

I’m just listing his points here – jump over to his blog to get the details.

  1. Poor Direction

  2. Unclear Budget

  3. Poorly Written Script

  4. Conflicting Information

  5. The Kitchen Sink

  6. Must Read Entire Script

  7. Unrealistic Budget

  8. Unrealistic Timeline

  9. No Pronunciation Guideline

  10. No Script

 

May 21, 2012

Why Can’t People “Hear” Themselves?

Today it is easier and easier to get feedback on what you are doing. Why don’t people listen? Or perhaps, why – when given good feedback – why don’t people take action to improve what they are doing? Do they simply not hear themselves?

So many people these days have been told by endless “voiceover” coaches that they can make it – all they need is determination – and their signature on the bottom of that check paying for more classes. They stop listening to themselves and never develop their self-evaluation skills.

Most of the forums for voiceover people include critique areas where people can post demos for comments. I’m referring to demos from newbies, not updated demos from people who are making actual money doing voiceovers. You can get honest, yet sometimes highly conflicting advice. And if you follow the subsequent comments to a thread, this advice is often rejected by the person seeking the advice.

For a fee of $7 per month, you can join VoiceRegistry and do their Weekend Workouts, where actual working top agents and casting people will listen to your submissions and provide individual feedback – which everyone who submits can see as well. Scary thought isn’t it!

But what a great way to develop, not only a thick skin, which you need in this business, but a keen ear on what works and what doesn’t. What the agents/casting people are liking at a certain moment in time. While some of the comments are probably kept pretty tepid (the agent really wants to scream because the submission was so far off the mark, but instead says something “kind”), there is enough information for you to read between the lines and sort the best from the worst. Your own ears should be able to pick this up without their comments, but sometimes you can hone in on why they think one read was superior. And this is valuable information.

The other weekly competition is over at Edge Studio. This one is free and probably because it is free and they are pretty high profile, their contest submissions run in the neighborhood of 200 per weekend. I have been listening to a few of the “winning” entries over the past few weeks and reading the commentary on why submissions didn’t win. Two weeks ago, they decided to record a teleconference discussing a dozen or so of the submissions and why NO ONE was selected to win that week’s competition.

That phone call was filled with people – a few of whom simply didn’t listen to instructions on how to mute their phones. That was distracting for everyone. And another example of people simply not hearing what has been said to them. The meat of the discussion showcased once again how this business is part subjective and part objective. People’s comments were wide ranging and often directly opposite thoughts. While I wouldn’t recommend that David do calls like this on a regular basis, it did inspire me to enter the contest the next week to see if I could make it to the Top Three.

I entered. Twice. With two different anonymous user names and two different styles of delivery. Then, when the competition closed and all bazillion entries were posted for review, I listened to them all. And most of the entries were really so bad it’s – sad? frightening? scary?

Obviously many of the people who entered are wannabe’s and some newbies, but what I want to know is if they thought that what they submitted was good!? While bad audio can be forgiven to a degree for an audition – there are no-cost ways to reduce background noise.  But to leave the TV playing in the background while you are recording something for a contest? Huh? Read the reasons why people didn’t get selected for the Contest ending Friday, May 18th.

Of the 200 or so submissions, I jotted down 14 names, including my two – for a total of 16 – that I thought were worthy of consideration. All of the top three were on my short-list. But listing only the top three may not be enough for people to understand BOTH the subjective nature of this business and get enough information to be able to apply it to their own submissions.

I fessed up to David Goldberg in an email that I had submitted not one, but two entries in the contest that week. We chatted a bit about the process. Apparently, his staff goes through all the submissions and creates a short list that he then listens to, jots down some notes and then picks first, second and third place.

I suggested that it might be even more educational to identify all of the top picks. From there, he could, for the purposes of handing out the weekly prizes assign the winners. But with auditions, it is usually the overall tone and pace and quality that the producer selects, knowing that in the session they can get a take that addresses those little nuances, like hitting a word just a tad stronger or warming up on a phrase. I live for my ISDN sessions (or actual in the studio with live human beings) where I get to actually interact with the director and make them happy!

So, hearing the whole range of what made it to the selects would be a great teaching tool – for those who will listen.

Enough suspense?

I made it to the Top Three with my BonnieK entry. And he told me that my other entry was in the top selects as well. I would have been very very surprised if it had not been. I was sort of expecting to pick up two prizes, but there you go! Another example of the subjective nature of the biz! If you want to hear the other, do a search on the page for KayT.

February 2, 2012

The P2P Balancing Act – Do they pay off?

Filed under: Auditioning, Business, Marketing — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 2:50 pm

Some questions were raised recently on one of the social networking sites in my chain about the Pay to Play sites and if they are worth it. I think Online Voiceover Casting Sites are still evolving and will be part of our permanent way of doing things, so figuring out how to make them work is probably a good idea.

Do these sites really produce money for the talent? Well, your mileage may vary, but yes, there is money in them thar electrons. I get work.

I pay for a few of them at this point. Voice123 and eLearning Voices would be the ones that seem to work best for me. Voice 123 is the broad brush and eLearning Voices is the precision instrument.

I have more than several repeat clients now from P2P sites. But, I will say that I am very very picky about what I will audition for. It is not like getting an audition from your agent who expects you to submit.

When you do land a gig from a P2P site, it is just like anything else. If you do a good job, are friendly and funny when doing the job, people will remember you the next time. And despite the admonitions plastered all over Voice123 about not contacting the producer directly, if you have actually worked for the client before, don’t be afraid to ask questions directly about a new job you see posted. In fact, I just finished a job for the new Mob Museum that opens up on Valentine’s Day in Vegas because I was cast through Voice123 on another project for the same company. I saw the lead come up and called my original client to ask about it and he referred me to the other producer.

So, is the “chase” and time spent worth the bucks you pay to be on the sites?

That depends. If you only audition for things that are truly right for you, you have a better chance of ending up on the winning side of the time equation. The better your “ranking” the more direct leads you get which cuts down on the chase time. And seriously, think about the annual fee you are paying to see these leads. If you are only auditioning for jobs that are greater than the fee, then one job would do it!

I am auditioning for fewer and fewer jobs through Voice123 as I get pickier and pickier about what I will audition for.

One time saver for me is that I do not receive email notices of leads. I go to the site when I have time. This way, I may miss an interesting audition or two, but I don’t get interrupted all day by “opportunities” that require me to stop what I am doing and jump over to the website to study the lead.

In order to maximize my P2P ROI, I delete anything under $400. I delete anything from companies that have a bad track record of opening auditions. I delete anything with really badly written scripts. Life is too short to read bad scripts voluntarily!

I don’t spend a lot of time figuring out where every job I do during the course of a month comes from, but my gut is that a pretty small percentage comes from the P2P sites. But the jobs I do get certainly cover the hard costs. When it comes to Voice123, I am always wondering what is going to happen next with the system and want to be able to find out – so that is actually a significant reason why I keep paying the annual fee!

No matter what you do with the online casting sites, spend time building your personal network. People like to work with people they like. Reminds me of the line in an old MASH episode where Frank says, “It’s nice to be nice to the nice.”

December 29, 2011

Get a Kick in the Pants! Get the New Edition of “There’s Money Where Your Mouth Is”

I just sort of fell into the voiceover business. I really didn’t have any training. No school of broadcasting. No acting classes (well, none since the 2nd grade). But I had done a bit of radio in college and that led to some staff announcing while I was in grad school. Grad school led to a job in a TV station, first as a director, then, after deciding that was something that I didn’t want to do for the rest of my life, as a staff announcer. A live staff announcer.

A live staff announcer who didn’t sound like a typical announcer – so the door to my little closet-sized booth would open on a regular basis with people  handing me commercial copy. After a period of time, I decided that I might need to learn a bit more about this voiceover stuff – and bought my first book – “Word of Mouth” by Susan Blu and Molly Ann Mullin. That edition was was originally published in 1987 and was instrumental in giving me a good swift kick in the pants to propel me to new heights of voiceover work.

Suddenly, my world of voiceover was transformed – I started to critically dissect the copy and figure out who I was supposed to be as I delivered the copy. I did a lot of this intuitively, or I wouldn’t have been getting repeat business, but being able to actually identify the elements of what I was doing was helpful in moving me forward. Much of that book is still relevant today. The link above is to the latest edition.

I now have a shelf full of voiceover books. Many of the books say much the same thing about breaking down a character or a script, but each does it in their own “voice.” Many of the books use techniques from some of the same well known voice actors and voice over teachers. Each book has merit and if you have some extra cash, pick up copies of as many of them as you have time to read. You can get them used.

Probably the most used book on my shelf is Elaine Clark’s, so it is with great excitement that I announce the publication of the Third Edition of Elaine A. Clark’s “There’s Money Where Your Mouth Is : A complete insider’s guide to earning income and building a career in voice-overs.”

I even did my first Amazon review:

If you are looking for a well organized, thoughtful, easy to understand book on the voiceover business, filled with practical examples of scripts of every variety – from commercials to audiobooks – from corporate communication to video games, this is the book to have on your shelf.

It takes you through the basics of the business – from technical to techniques – for the beginner and the seasoned pro. Then be prepared for a workout! It is packed with scripts and more scripts – with analysis that even a professional can appreciate. And finally, no matter how much know about the business or how much you practice – if you don’t know how to hook up with the people who want to buy what you have to sell, then you won’t be making a living in this business. This part of the book is actually the hardest for most people – and the part that is often left out of voiceover classes.

In this era of recording in a vacuum, the more we know what works and how to hear what works when we do it, the more often we will find a way of connecting with and delivering the copy – a read that clicks with the producer listening to the auditions. And sometimes – beginner or pro – we get into a rut and need that kick in the pants.  This book is a good one for doing just that – in friendly, easy to understand prose.

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