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Tell me about your ear

Who here likes audiobooks? Can I ask you some questions?

What's important to you in a reader/narrator/actor--particularly in fiction? Have you ever figuratively thrown an audiobook across the room because some particular thing about the reading bugged the crap out of you?

For example, do you value voice quality above all? Can't stand certain types of voices? Would listen to Alan Rickman reading the phone book?

Or is vivid characterization most important? Do you like really dramatic character readings? Or are subtle variations enough for you to keep track of the story?

How much do you care about authentic dialect, accents, and accurate representation of, say, foreign words in a text? 

What about male versus female voices? Have you ever felt that an audiobook would have been improved by an actor of a different vocal gender? 

And pacing: do you use the playback speed control on your audiobook app if someone is too slow? Too rushed?

Here's why I'm asking: I'm thinking seriously of hiring a voice actor to create an audiobook of Restraint. I know what I like, but in the long process of workshopping the novel I've learned that my taste is pretty specific, maybe even alienating to people who might like my work if I opened it out a bit more.

I can't please everyone, of course, but if I'm gonna shell out for this production, I'd like to get a sense of your taste, too, and try to meet it.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 14th, 2017 01:27 am (UTC)
Oh wow! How cool!

I wish I could be of help to you, but I've only recently started listening to ebooks, and I must confess, only fanfic, which is worlds different than the pro world. :)

I am attracted to the quality of voice, am more attracted to someone who has a mild accent, someone who acts out the story but doesn't make me redo the story in my head as I'm listening. I had the incredible experience of having had one my stories recorded and the person did an amazing job!

Of course, since I only listen to fanfic and fanfic is a woman's world, I've never heard a story read in a male voice. But I would listen to the late, great Rickman read the back of a cereal box.
Jul. 14th, 2017 02:05 am (UTC)
Oh, lucky you! I had a fic of mine podficced once and it was truly one of the great moments of my creative life. I'm so glad you've had the same experience. Isn't it a thrill?

I think I know what you mean about being made to redo the story in your head. Even in the pro world, it's all too common to get an audiobook reading where the voice actor doesn't seem to understand the text--intonations and inflections and emphases are wrong, and I find myself re-reading the sentence in my head. That's very frustrating, because it's as if this supposed professional never even looked at the text till they walked into the studio!

The pro audiobook world seems to be largely male dominated. As someone on DW said, I have enough Man Voices in my head without going out of my way to get them on audio, but if a book is well read, the gender of the voice soon disappears.

I'll probably be posting some voice actor samples and taking a poll pretty soon. I'll be sure to let you know about it!
Jul. 14th, 2017 03:32 am (UTC)
Oh good! I look forward to it! :)
Jul. 14th, 2017 04:08 pm (UTC)
I kind of hate audiobooks so I am not a good judge
Usually because the pace is wrong (too slow) which drives me nuts, or the voice drones on and on and on or a combo of both. As far as voice quality, I'd definitely listen to James Earl Jones over most female voices, which are often to thin and high pitched.
Jul. 14th, 2017 04:38 pm (UTC)
Re: I kind of hate audiobooks so I am not a good judge
One of the reasons I'm putting this little survey in the field is that I sent some voice actors' samples to a friend to vote on, and he rejected each of them on the grounds that he couldn't bear this one's accent or that one's vocal tone, or some other objection that was completely invisible (or rather, inaudible) to me.

When questioned, he admitted that he couldn't bear audiobooks in general because there was always something insurmountable for him in every one of them he'd ever tried.

It's a curious phenomenon: are audiobook listeners more auditory, or less? On the one hand, I have a music background; I'm keenly aware of pitch, rhythm, and auditory word choice--I write to be read aloud, and I learn better through my ears than through my eyes. Even when reading, I often literally read aloud.

So of course I love audiobooks. But I'm willing to forgive most of the faults you (and my surveyed friend) mention--faults which you'd think would be insurmountable for an auditory person, but which don't seem to be. The consensus so far among audiobook aficionados is that the only real dealbreakers are overacting and careless/inaccurate reading of the text--with some interesting side conversations into bad accents and mismatches between voice and material.
Mar. 3rd, 2018 08:50 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure what I like about audio books, I know I LOVE juice718's voice. She could read the phone book and I'd listen to it. Smooth, melodious, just the right amount of action in her voice as the script requires, but not excessive. She's a great example that you can listen to her and slip into the story.

So, I think for me, a low toned voice, like juice's. I personally like both men's (I've listened to non spn audiobooks LOL), and women's voices. If it was a man I wouldn't want his voice too deep. I listened to a series of John Grissom novels and they were wonderful. Maybe take some out from a library and do a taste test.

Not too heavy accents. Sometimes it's hard enough holding the words in your head without fighting through an accent, so I'd go classic newscaster voice style, in either British or North American english.

My two cents : )
Mar. 4th, 2018 08:11 am (UTC)
Can you recommend a couple of Juice 287's top podfics? I'd love to listen!
Mar. 4th, 2018 08:15 am (UTC)
juice817 has hundreds posted here on AO3

Now, she might be too 'American' sounding for your story. I don't think I've heard her read a period piece.

They are all pretty awesome.

Edited at 2018-03-04 10:23 pm (UTC)
Mar. 4th, 2018 11:01 pm (UTC)
I know that voice! I downloaded a couple of her things and she's really familiar. I must have listened to some of her things in the past. She's very good!

Restraint does call for a genuine British voice. Once upon a time, Fayjay/Pandarus podficced the first three-quarters of the fanfic version and it was one of the greatest joys of my creative life: a transformative work of my own work! Amazing experience.
Mar. 4th, 2018 11:15 pm (UTC)
Yes, I belatedly realized that the fact that Juice817 is so obviously American (or Canadian), would be a disqualifier for your particular story.

Being podfic'd is fun though. I've had the privilege of having a few of my fics podfic'd by folks and it's a real honor.

Good luck with your hunt though!
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )



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