Find Your Voice-Over Answers in These Five Amazing Books

First, let met point out that books are not dead! While mobile devices like the iPad and Kindle have reshaped the publishing landscape, books are still useful. They offer a wealth of information that’s just a page turn away, whether it be digital or physical. While I can dive into the Internet and search for answers, I also like having a book written by a knowledgable expert that’s within easy reach.

The reference library for my voice-over business ranges from setting up a home studio to marketing my services. The books I’m sharing with you are what I think are some of the best available for people investigating, starting up on, or successfully working in the voice acting or voice-over business.

“The Art of Voice Acting” Fourth Edition “The Art of Voice Acting” Fourth Edition

James R. Alburger

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Borders

James Alburger has earned eleven Emmy Awards, Omni Intermedia Awards, and Silver Microphone Awards for his work as a director and audio producer. He has over 35-years of experience as a performer and in the recording studio. James has condensed his success into a book that every person interested in a voice acting career should read. “The Art of Voice Acting” features chapters that include a business overview, working with copy, auditioning and studio stories. The book includes a CD of demos from top voice-over artists along with exercises to help prepare your body, mind and mouth for optimal performance.

“Voice Actor’s Guide to Recording at Home ... and on the Road”“Voice Actor’s Guide to Recording at Home …and on the Road”

Harlan HoganJeffrey P. Fisher

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Borders

This was the first book I bought for my voice-over reference library. The duo of Hogan and Fisher do an amazing job of explaining what’s needed to set up a home studio that’s suitable for recording. They cover hardware, software, production techniques and more. Both authors have had fascinating careers and you get a glimpse of that along with all their helpful information. This book will help get your brain wrapped around the basics of working from a home studio.

“Voice-Over Voice Actor”“Voice-Over Voice Actor”

Yuri LowenthalTara Platt

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Borders

There is something for everyone in this book. Yuri and Tara explain the art of voice-over in a casual but very knowledgeable approach. They draw from a number of years of combined experience with clients that include Disney, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, EA, Activision, Ubisoft, Dell, McDonald’s and Budweiser. The book includes a great chapter on warming up your body and vocal path before you audition or perform. I’ve adopted this into my daily routine.

“Voiceovers: Techniques and Tactics for Success”“Voiceovers: Techniques and Tactics for Success”

Janet Wilcox

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Borders

The approach of this book is to train like an athlete. Long time veteran Janet Wilcox breaks down the process into understanding the rules of the game, training, preparing to compete, and discovering your game or what you’re good at. Janet has done a great job of making what can be ambiguous in the career path of voice actor more understandable. The included CD features exercises and interviews with top voice-over talent.

“Secrets of Voice-over Success”“Secrets of Voice-over Success”

Joan Baker

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Borders

This book is a must read to get insight from the top voice-over pros. Each chapter is written by a professional who candidly shares their life as a voice actor. You’ll discover how Jim Dale, the voice of all the Harry Potter books, was in the right place at the right time. Each chapter ends with an industry secret, based on the experiences of the chapter writer. A CD is included, which features the demos used by the book’s contributors to get voice-over work. The tragedy of Alzheimer’s struck home when Joan’s Father was silenced by the disease. Proceeds from the book go to The Alzheimer’s Association.

These are five from my library and I’m always looking for more. What books have you found useful in your career as a voice actor?

Eight Ideas to Help You Wade Through Inbox Muck

In a previous life, I was a Software Development Engineer in Test at the largest software company in the world. The team of extremely smart folks that I was on, developed a prominent e-mail application. I believe one of the goals was to keep customers in our e-mail inbox for as long as possible. It was designed with bells and whistles that alerted you when new mail arrived, beckoning you to deal with it in real time.

On any given day, I received over 200 e-mail items. Some were not important enough for me to be addressed in the To or Cc line, while others screamed for my attention with a “High Priority” tag. Out of necessity, I learned a number of ways to be more efficient with e-mail and ultimately, recouped time for real work. Perhaps I’m sharing tips that I shouldn’t. After all, the largest software company in the world spent millions to condition you to live in your inbox. But, if you are ready to deal with the muck in your inbox, try some of these tips:

1. Understand Your E-mail Application

Not all e-mail applications are designed the same. Some have nothing more than an inbox, sent items, and deleted items folders. Others are robust with functionality that can automatically move items from your inbox into other folders. Get to know your e-mail app and find out how it can help you. The goal is to make your e-mail application do as much as possible so your triage time is reduced.

2. Make Time to Read

Don’t leave your e-mail application open all day long, and don’t try to handle your e-mail responses in real time. E-mail was never meant to be a replacement for other means of communication. Your clients have access to all of your contact information from your business card, website or previous e-mail interaction. If they need your immediate attention, you’re just a phone call away. Instead schedule time to triage and read your mail. I recommend that you check your e-mail at the beginning of your work day; after lunch; and at the end of the day. Maybe 90-minutes total for the entire day.

3. Ditch the Bells

Most e-mail applications can notify you when new messages arrive. The bells and whistles are specifically designed to get your attention to immediately check every new item. If you decide to leave your e-mail running all day, at best turn off the alerts and notifications so your intrusive e-mail application can’t disrupt your workflow.  Stay focused on your task, your e-mail will be there when you check it later at your specified intervals. Don’t let your e-mail be the boss.

4. Create an Alternate Inbox

Filter what enters your primary inbox by creating another e-mail account just for nonessential e-mail. Use a free account from Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo and use that address for newsletters, sales solicitations, and notifications from social sites. That way, only e-mail from clients, prospects, and peers go to your primary inbox. Everything else goes to your alternate inbox.

5. Touch it Once

If your e-mail app supports it, manually triage the items in your inbox by flagging those that need immediate follow-up or response. Then, delete those that are noise, and move those that don’t require a reply at all, such as newsletters, to another folder. Follow this by taking care of your flagged items first followed by those that are read items only. Maybe schedule time to read newsletters one day a week.

6. Category Triage

All the e-mail that is delivered to your inbox probably shouldn’t have equal importance. A newsletter does not have the same urgency as a response from a client. Before you begin reading your e-mail, decide what’s important and delete the junk and items you know you won’t read. Move the newsletters to a folder in your e-mail application marked “Newsletters.” If you subscribe to a P2P site move those items to their own folder. The idea is to generalize the category of each item and get it in the appropriate folder.

7. Priority Triage

Apart from messages that are marked with a specific priority by the sender, use three levels of priority and act on them accordingly. For example, those sent directly to you, where your name is in the To line, are high priority. Items where your name is in the Cc line are medium priority. And, items that you’ve received by Bcc are low priority.

8. Clear Your Inbox

Think of your inbox like your traditional mailbox. When you go to your mailbox, you grab all the mail and don’t leave anything behind. Your mailbox is not a great place to store mail because it’s difficult to manage and next to impossible to find what you need when you need it. After your application has made a pass through your inbox, do your own triage on what’s left before you begin reading. Either flag it, move it or delete it. An empty inbox is a happy inbox.

Using any of these tips consistently will help to increase your productivity and may even preserve your sanity. Do you have a process that helps you navigate the muck in your inbox?

Five Must Have Online Gizmos for Your Voice-over Toolbox

It should never be said that voice-over work lacks variety. Whether it be the type of project, length, emotive delivery or just the file format requested by the customer, most projects are unique.

Along the way on my voice-over trek, I’ve gone searching for tools to help me get a particular job to the finish line. Most are easy to use and intuitive to implement. Except for one, all cost nothing to use. Free is a price most anybody can afford.

1. Word to Time

When I get a request to quote a narration project, I start by getting the word count of the script. Most modern word processors have the ability to display word count. Then I head to Edge Studio’s Word to Time Calculator to get an idea of how long the finished time should be. This easy to use calculator allows me to enter the word count or paste in the actual script, and then adjust the delivery rate.

2. Say What?!

Sooner or later you’re going to run into a word that you won’t have a clue how to pronounce. You could ask the copywriter for a phonetic pronunciation and if that’s not available there are three tools you should definitely check out.

The first is and it’s just what the name implies. Words that you search are retrieved with their definition and an audio pronunciation of the searched word.

In cases where doesn’t resolve your phonetic quest, check This online talking dictionary of English pronunciation has over 14-million entries.

For words that are not part of the English lexicon, take a trip to Touted as the largest pronunciation guide in the world, this tool goes way beyond spoken English. The top languages covered are English, Portuguese, Russian, Italian, French, Spanish, Arabic, German, Czech and Swedish. And for the occasional Star Trek commercial, Klingon is also supported.

3. Audio Formatting

Most clients need the audio file format of MP3, AIF or WAV. For occasions when you need to provide something other than those or you don’t have the means to convert to different file types, I recommend starting with You can convert to OGG, WMA, WAV and MP3, and for a few of the formats you have the choice of multiple quality levels.

File formats are pretty standard for most voice-over projects. However, those in the area of telephony may require something completely different. is great for converting to a variety of on-hold and phone-tree formats.  While this tool does cost a small amount to use, the price is negligible.

4. Save the Video

I ask for digital copies of the finished production whenever I hand off audio to a video producer. For the times that the request goes unfilled, I take a trip to the video sites to see if the project has been published. If it has, I’m in luck and I can download a copy using This tool works on YouTube, Vimeo and others.

5. Say Thank You

When you get done with a session, take a moment to write a thank you card and send it off to your client. Include two business cards in the envelope with the card and let them know that you appreciate their business. If you need inspiration on what or how to write a thank you note, take a look at these three sites.

Thank You Note Examples and

Thank You Note

I use these tools every day, and I’m continually hunting to find more. What are your “must have” online tools of the trade?