I met Jennifer Lund while she was in the midst of reading my book, LET ME IN. I was lucky in that Jennifer lives in the Twin Cities, as does Marshall Davis, who worked the production and sound board for the recording. I was able to walk three blocks down the street to Marshall’s studio and sit in on Jennifer reading and being recorded.
It was so much fun meeting my voice talent—me, in the book—in the flesh. Jennifer is a tall (5’10”), slender, red-head, with fair skin with faint freckles across the bridge of her nose. Somewhat the opposite of what I look like: stocky build, 5’4” medium height but tall for a person of Japanese descent. I do have freckles (not common for a Japanese) and the classic black straight hair.
We did have one thing in common—we both went to night school to get our MBA’s.
Jennifer was one of four demo tapes (of course it was not really a “tape” but audio files sent via email) that Marshall had sent to me. I listened to each voice recording at least two times. Jennifer and another voice were the two that I liked. It was almost random that I chose Jennifer. The problem is that I really don’t know what I sound like. So choosing a narrator was a shot in the dark.
It seemed odd to me that I only had an audio sample to choose the talent. Somehow, I felt like I should have background information, photos—a biography—in order to choose, but Jennifer said, “No, that’s not how the industry works.” It’s all about the sound, the voice. Getting a photo, or learning about the talent’s background isn’t in the decision mix.
Their argument was that her looks don’t matter to the reader, only her voice and the way she read. And I guess I bought into that, since I randomly picked the tape that was Jennifer.
She sat at a directional microphone, in front of her a music stand with an iPad on it. She sat straight, eyes on the words of the book that she scrolled up with a swipe of her finger.
The words and the swipe were seamless. Her soothing voice rolled on and on. I felt like a tourist at the zoo, watching an exotic animal.
Marshall established a Dropbox that the three of us shared. The audio files lived in the Dropbox where I would listen to them and made changes if necessary. I didn’t have to change any words, but I listened for inflexion and mis-pronunciations. She did an amazing job, much better than I would have been able to do. There were only a few mis-spoken words–remarkable in my opinion. As I listened, I would note the time, the mispronounced word, and try to phonetically spell out the words, but it was clear that was not optimal. The first edits came back with errors. I finally found recordings online or recorded the word myself and attached the audio file to the email.
The entire process took about three months, including summer vacations, edits and final edits. Marshall said that it could have been done a lot quicker, but it was timely enough for me.
One day I got an email from Marshall that all the files were completed and uploaded to our shared Dropbox. OMG, I hadn’t though about what the next step was supposed to be. Marshall shepherded me to ACX, Amazon’s audio creation exchange which also distributes the completed audio files to Audible, Amazon and ITunes. I followed their distribution wizard and in a couple days I had my book uploaded and going.
I will also be uploading the files to Findaway Voices, another distribution house to place my book on the smaller audio sites like SCRIBD and Overdrive.
This is the podcast of the conversation I had with my alter ego, Jennifer Lund.