Hi Guys! In May I will be going to RT17. This year I will also be on a panel with Karen White (Home Cooked Books, Audiobook Narrator) , Michele Cobb (Insatiable Press, Publisher) , and Viviana Izzo (Enchantress Design & Promo, Publicist/Marketing Director) called Where is Your Listening Audience? (Come spend your Friday morning with us if you are able)
So in prep for this because I am always one to do my homework: I want to hear what you are listening for in a narrator? For romance and erotica specifically–what are your biggest pet peeves, must haves, and make you melt qualifications for narrators?
Here are mine to get the ball rolling…
What I look for
- Voice must match the character in regional dialect, temperament, and appropriate male/female alternating voices.
- Regional Dialect: Nothing drives me more batty than to have all southerners sound the same. I am sure the same can be said for any region in the world but I am very sensitive about the southern accent. I like when you can tell the narrator put in a little bit of work to figure out if they should speak slow or fast, drawn out or pushed together, and twang or not!
- Temperament: It is important to grasp the temperament of the characters. Dictionary.com defines temperament as “the combination of mental, physical, and emotional traits of a person; natural predisposition.” It is important to me that a narrator’s voice picks up on these.
- Appropriate Male/Female alternating voices: In romances this especially important. If I am falling in love with a strong alpha male, I can’t get thrown out of the story if he sounds like a wimpy guy. With women, I need them not to sound like a teenage mean girl or flighty. These things are super important!
- Pacing (though this sometimes can be solved through speeding up the playback if the narrator voice is strong/consistent enough to do so)
- Pacing of a performance can make/break an audiobook. To slow and it can feel like you are wading up a stream. To fast and the voices sound off. Most performances can be played at a higher speed these days due to solid performances and consistent voices. However, the ground pacing needs to be on point for faster playing speed to work for me. Also, I always listen to at least 2 chapters in “real-time” speed before speeding up so that I get used to the original pacing. If that pacing is just horrid then I will switch to the print book in a heartbeat.
- Production Value
- OMG nothing drives me more nuts than being able to tell if the book was narrated while the person had a cold, someone was cutting the grass outside, or the doorbell rang. I have run into each of these scenarios over the years. Also seamless transitions between chapters is awesome. Long pauses are not (at least to me).
- Consistency in Performance over long series
- Changing Narrators: This one is hard because some series can go on forever. There have been a few series that transitioned to new narrators pretty seamlessly by picking new narrators that have similar narration styles. While their voices may be different, the pacing and emotion have a consistency that make them a pretty good match to the series. Sometimes though “the powers that be” seem to go for a different type of narrator who change the performance styles so drastically that the switch can sometimes be a turn off. It is a crap shoot and each of these scenarios I think can be jarring to the listener. However, since they are unavoidable at times, I do better with consistent styles even if the voices are different.
- Same Narrator: Sometimes in long series (even my favorite audio ones) there is an occasional dial-in performance that will drive me batty. The audio won’t have the same “zippity do-da” that it has throughout the series. It is important to maintain that consistency in performance AND QUALITY.
- Fall in Love Factor
- This I sort of addressed up under Appropriate Male/Female voices but in romance I need to get caught up in the couple’s story through the performance. I need to feel like the narrator fell in love with these characters as the story expands. This is hard to explain (and probably even harder to do) but the best narrators make you fall in love right a long with the characters while they bring the story to life!
So what do you listen for?
During her non-reading time you can find her hanging with her rescue furr children named after book characters: Lizzie a beautiful cattle dog mix (Pound Pup), Cinder a beautiful Shep/Pitt mix (Pound Pup), and Minerva a beautiful Shep/Pitt mix (Foster Fail). Gathering with friends and family, attending conventions, watching movies/tv shows, rooting for the 49rs, and crocheting.
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