Friday, November 05, 2010

So you want to write a book or do voiceovers...

When I tell people I do voiceovers or write novels, their reply is often something like, “Oh, yeah, I’ve been meaning to get into voiceovers,” or “I’m going to write a book.”

But they don't. What are they, or you, waiting for? Perhaps they/you:

1)Don’t know how to start. That was a better excuse in the days before the Internet, when information wasn’t instantly accessible. Nowadays, a quick online search returns a wealth of "how to" info.

2)Don't have the time. If there is something you really want to do, you can make the time. How much time do you fritter away each day, for example, on Facebook? I know plenty of very busy people who get up early/stay up late...whatever it takes to move forward.

3)Are intimidated by barriers to entry. For VO, these include having a fabulous demo produced. Most aspirants probably need to take a good VO class first to learn more about the process and the business. You need to know what a great demo sounds like, research demo producers and compare offerings and costs.

Some may get by with only a commercial demo, but many will also need a narration demo. You’ll probably need to invest in a basic home recording setup so you can record, edit and submit your own auditions and some projects, which means you also need a few audio engineering skills.

Most VO talents will not be able to just sit back and have work flowing in. You'll send your demo(s) to agents. You’ll need to research each agent’s submission policy, then create a professional-looking submission with well-written cover letter.

Even if you get an agent(s), chances are you’ll also need to find other sources of VO work, which in turn require you to set rates and have an invoicing system to keep track of payments. You may need a great (not obviously a template) Web site for potential clients to listen to your demos and sample projects.

This all assumes you have the ability to:
-- reproduce sounds in your demo. Being coached by a demo producer to sound a certain way after many takes is one thing. You need to be able to do it on your own.
-- effectively interpret various types of copy and convey the client’s message.
-- take direction. On an audition or a job, if the client asks for adjustments (such as “more friendly” or “more real” or even “more lyrical,” you need to deliver.

VO work is a lot more than just having a nice voice and sitting in front of a mic and reading.

Barriers to being a published author include having completed at least one book. If you can write one page a day, you’ll have a novel in a year.

Writing just one takes discipline and time, and very often a good deal of re-writing on your own or upon request from an agent/editor. Then you need to write a fabulous query letter and research agents and/or editors to submit to and have the patience to sit back and wait for responses (though some agents/editor say that they'll only reply if interested). If you do sell, your editor will soon ask, "what's your next project and when can I have it," so you'll need to be able to write on a deadline.

Today there are also numerous self-publishing options. What is your goal? Do you just want to hold a book you wrote in your hands or have it available for family and friends to download? If you self-publish, a) how do you know your book is saleable and b) how will potential buyers find your book among the thousands already out there? Do you want to spend the majority of your time promoting that book or writing the next one? Do you want to make money? So far, very few authors I know (and I know quite a few) have made more than a few bucks from e-publishing new books (unless they write erotica) or self-publishing.

Many have leaped over these barriers to acheive their goals. If you want to write a book, get into VO, or do anything you've been saying you want to do some day, the key is to take action. Get started, because someday is now. Don't let yourself down. Do just one thing a day or spend 15 minutes working toward your goal.

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