Information-packed Books for Your Voiceover Business

book libraryIs there a bookshelf in your studio? Does it hold dogeared or sticky-noted books you find useful from day-to-day? Do you have room for more? Is your iPad or other tablet device loaded with your goto business references? With gigabytes of space, imagine the almost endless possibilities.

During time in the studio, I find myself reaching for one or another from my collection. I use them for both inspiration and to run my business. While I understand the convenience of the Internet and it’s connection to all things informational (If it’s on the Interweb it must be true, right?) I depend on the access I have to my physical and digital bookshelves.

Even if your is answer no, read on because you might find something that interests you in the following recommendations. You’ll also find a selection of books that other voiceover talents and freelancers have shared with me, that according to them, are excellent resources.

 

cache_320_320_0_100_100_coverThe Confident Indie” and “The Confident Indie Keeps Good Records

by June Walker

For creative types just starting out or people who have been in business on their own for a while and need some practical tax guidance, June Walker, Tax Adviser to the Self-Employed, has your needs covered with her two books.

The Confident Indie Keeps Good Records

The “Confident Indie” is easy to understand, fun to read, and very accessible for the non-financial freelancer. Chapter coverage includes initial stages of setting up your business, expenses, record keeping and taxes.

The companion title, “The Confident Indie Keeps Good Records” is a deep dive into understanding the methods for keeping financial records and why detailed records are important come tax time.

Both books are available in either hard copy or digital form. Currently, June is offering a great deal when the books are purchased together.

vo_legal_bookVoice Over LEGAL

by Robert J Sciglimpaglia Jr.

When looking for legal advice for your voiceover business, I recommend starting with Attorney, Actor, and Voice Actor Robert Sciglimpaglia’s “Voice Over LEGAL.” You’ll learn about insurance, unions, copyrights and more. The included sample talent/client contract that Robert wrote is worth the price of the book alone. Since Robert is a Voice Actor, his writing is geared specifically toward the voiceover business.

Voice Over Legal” is available in multiple digital formats plus paperback.

Voice Acting for DummiesVoice Acting For Dummies

by David Ciccarelli and Stephanie Ciccarelli

If you are looking for a goto book on just about everything in the voiceover business, “Voice Acting for Dummies” is a solid contender. In this book, authors David and Stephanie Ciccarelli, founders of Voices.com, combined their years of experience and observations about voiceover. With over 300 pages, it’s loaded with detail and coverage includes creating characters, building a home recording studio, auditioning for voiceover jobs and several other areas in its compendium of 23 chapters.

Digital and hard copy formats are available.

VO: Tales and Techniques of a Voice-over ActorVO: Tales and Techniques of a Voice-over Actor

by Harlan Hogan

Have you ever been curious about what the voiceover business was like before it got all fancy with the Internet and home studios? If you are a voice actor or have an interest in how the business has evolved, this is one book that you must read.

Harlan Hogan takes you on a journey from the early days of being a voice actor, where auditions were done in person with other talent, to his predictions of where voice acting may be heading in the future. Each chapter in “VO: Tales and Techniques of a Voice-over Actor” features a narrative from Harlan’s rich voiceover background and useful information and techniques about the voiceover biz.

You’ll be saying, “Wow!” to yourself the entire time you’re reading it and you won’t want to put it down until you’ve hit the last page. It’s a very cool read!

VO: Tales and Techniques of a Voice-over Actor” is available in digital and hard copy formats.

Power TalkingPower Talking – 50 Ways to say What You Mean and get What You Want” (out of print)

By George R. Walther

Any book with the word “talking” in its title is certain to be an eye catcher for voice talent. I picked this title up when it was first published in 1991 and I continue to refer to it today. George R. Walther does an amazing job of writing about positive talking. There are several ways something can be said. The way which has positive What You Say Is What You Getimpact typically provides the most power and will be better received. The book contains many examples and solutions that can be used in real life.

While “Power Talking” is out of print, its replacement was released in 2010. “What You Say Is What You Get : How to Master Power Talking, the Language of Success” is available in digital and hard copy formats.

Green Eggs and HamGreen Eggs and Ham

by Dr. Seuss

You may be saying, “JC, your melon has spit its last seed. What is this book doing in your list of recommended reads?” This is a great book to practice diction, breath control, rhythm and timing. Are you interested in character voices? Create a voice for each character in the book. If you have kids, they’ll love it! Dr. Seuss wrote to capture the imagination with Sam I Am encouraging readers that green eggs and ham are best eaten anytime, anywhere with anything.

As with the other books listed, “Green Eggs and Ham” is available in both digital and hard copy.

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


Recommendations from other voice talents and freelancers

There’s Money Where Your Mouth Is: A Complete Insider’s Guide to Earning Income and Building a Career in Voice-Overs (Third Edition)
by Elaine A. Clark

The Voiceover Handbook: Practical Advice for Aspiring and Established Voiceover Artists”  (out of print)
by Gary Churcher and Paul Bridge

Voice-Overs: A Practical Guide with CD
by Bernard Shaw

Selling the Invisible
by Harry Beckwith

Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time
by Keith Ferrazzi

Sound Advice: Voiceover from an Audio Engineer’s Perspective
by  Dan Friedman

The Voice Actor’s Tool Box – Beginner’s Edition
by Maxine Dunn

 

Other posts you might find interesting:

Find Your Voice-Over Answers in These Five Amazing Books

Five Tips for Better Client/Talent Workflow
JewelBeat: A New Royalty Free Music Source
Are You Available?

Get it to Your iPad with Instashare

InstashareIf you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I use my iPad to read scripts. The printer sits quietly while I type. I’m sure it wonders (yes, I gave my printer human qualities, thank you very much!) if I’ll ever touch it again. I’m sure it’s jealous of my iPad.

To get scripts to my iPad, I was using one of the popular cloud-based file share services. A few weeks ago, my computer would not connect to the service and I had a stack of scripts I needed to get to my iPad NOW! My printer saw this as the perfect opportunity to remind me that printing was a push of the print button away. Not to be persuaded, I switched to another file share service and finally got the scripts to my iPad. Work proceeded.

This little scenario got me wondering if there was something I could use that wasn’t Internet dependent. A piece of software that I could install on my Mac and iPad, to quickly copy files using my WiFi connection. I thought about it a lot and within a few days, BLAM!, the piece of software I was thinking about became available. If I didn’t know it takes months for applications to be developed, I would have thought the programers wrote the software after a Vulcan Mind Meld with me. And, they’re probably not Vulcan anyway.

The software is Instashare, developed by Lukas Foldyna and Martin Karasek, the team of developers who make up TwoManShow.

Instashare from TwoManShow on Vimeo.

Lukas and Martin have made installation and configuration amazingly easy and quick. First take a trip to the App Store and download the Instashare App to your iPad. Next, point your browser to InstashareApp.com and download the Mac version to you computer. While the Mac version is BETA, I’ve found it to be trouble free and plays well with the other applications on my Mac.

After installation, launch Instashare on your iPad then the app on your Mac. Using your WiFi network, both machines will look for each other. On your Mac, you’ll see in the drop window that your iPad is displayed as a destination for any files you want to copy. Your iPad shows your Mac as a destination. Copying files goes both ways. On your Mac, drag and drop a file to the drop window. Your iPad displays an alert requesting that you approve the transfer. Tap approve and the file is copied. Simple, right?

You can open copied files directly in Instashare or tap the ‘Open in’ button and you’re presented with installed apps that can open the file. When you’re done with the file, delete by tapping “Edit”, tap the red circle with a line in its center, then tap delete. Since you were working with a copy on your iPad, the original is safe on you Mac.

If you’re not a user of Apple hardware, the Instashare website indicates that Windows and Android versions are coming soon.

I’m sure I’ll still have some use for the file share service. But since I started using Instashare, I haven’t had the need. The icon for the service sits in my menubar waiting to be clicked, promising me that it’ll behave. It’s in good company though, my printer anticipates my return as well.

Other posts that you might find interesting:

VoiceWorld Toronto, It’s a Voice Conference

You may or may not be a professional voice person but you are somebody who enjoys learning about the biz, right? Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading a blog about voiceovers. Now that I have that out of the way, I would like to direct your attention the information below. You’ll find details about VoiceWorld Toronto Conference.

This will be a key opportunity for you to meet like minded people, hear from experts that have been doing the voiceover craft for decades and enjoy the beautiful city of Toronto.

VoiceWorld Toronto Conference

Date: Saturday May 4th, 2013
Time: 8:00 am – 5:30pm
Location: Toronto Hilton Hotel

Prepare to be educated, equipped and empowered

  • Audition like a pro — understand the do’s and don’ts of auditioning in person and online.
  • Learn the ins and outs of the voice acting business, and what it takes to be a successful voice-over talent.
  • Get into business — explore ways to turn your voice acting talent into a business.

About VoiceWorld Toronto

VoiceWorld, the industry’s premier conference, being held in Toronto in 2013, is an immersive experience focused on engaging voice actors from across Canada and the United States. Connect with amazing, influential people who can change your life through courses in artistic development, business and technology preparing you for success in the exciting world of voice acting. A breath of fresh air, VoiceWorld sets out to invigorate and intensify your love for the art of voice acting as never before with an action plan for you to take your business to the next level.

VoiceWorld Toronto Speakers

  • Pat Fraley – Man of Four Thousand Voices, CESD Talent Los Angeles
  • Elley-Ray Hennessy – Award-winning actress, Director and Producer
  • Deb Munro – International Voice-over Talent and Coach
  • David Ciccarelli – Co-Founder and CEO of Voices.com
  • David Goldberg – Owner of Edge Studio
  • Dan Lenard – The Home Studio Master
  • Sunday Muse – Voice-over Artist, Author and Coach
  • Dave McRae – The Voice Mann
  • Stephanie Ciccarelli – Author of Voice Acting for Dummies
  • Wayne Young – Audio Producer and Mixing Engineer

10 Reasons To Attend VoiceWorld Toronto

Early Bird Special ends February 28th!

*Tickets are limited. Purchase your full conference pass by visiting, http://voiceworldtoronto2013.eventbrite.com/

Voice World Toronto
Join us in Toronto for the voice acting conference of the year on Saturday May 4th, 2013.
VoiceWorld

Five DIY Home Studio Voice-over Tips

As work from home voice-artists, we are a segregated lot. Our time recording is spent in the lonely convenience of closets, spare bedrooms, under moving blanket tents and for the truly fortunate, a sound booth. Regardless of where we record, we are usually solo, self-directing to the point of our best performance. Sure, there are patched or ISDN sessions with directors talking to us from some remote location. Still, we are standing by ourselves, behind a mic and putting our best VO effort forward. We are alone.

Since there is usually nobody but me, myself, and JC controlling how my sessions go in my home studio, there are a few things that I do for each session to make sure when I’m done recording my time editing is used efficiently.

The following might seem obvious for some and super simple to others. For me, these tips give me an extended level of comfort and confidence when I’m by myself. These are things I’ve learned over time. Most often, corrections of bad habits.

  1. Pre-read the script before you get behind the microphone. Read the words to yourself first. Read them out loud then read them out loud again. This gives your eyes, brain, and mouth an opportunity to get acquainted with the script. If you stumble on a word or a line trips you up, this is a great opportunity for you to find it before you get behind your mic.

  2. Markup or woodshed your script with reminders. You’ve pre-read the script and have found the land mines and areas that need more or less emphasis. Don’t try to remember how to deal with the problem bits. Instead, grab a pencil and mark the script in a way that will be most helpful. Place underlines under words that you need to hit. Place dashes for breaks in the phrasing to remind you to take a breath. Highlight a line that needs more “Hollywood” and write in phonetic helpers.

  3. Remember to read for time. If the script is for a :30 commercial, your read should not be longer than :30. It’s better to read for time instead of trying to edit for time. Grab a stopwatch and time your read before you enter your booth.

  4. Develop a method to mark your takes. The best way to find a take out of multiple attempts is to look at the waveform of the audio file in your recording software. Using a clap between each take and a triple clap for a take that you think was “THE one” will help you quickly identify just what you’re looking for. Audiobook narrator Jeffrey Kafer uses a dog clicker instead of clapping.

  5. Keep everything you record. When I first started doing voice-overs, I would record a few takes then stop to give them a listen. If I didn’t like what I heard, I ditched the entire track and started over. This was a huge waste of time and removed any option of picking up a word or line that might be useful in the final audio.

What have you found to be your most useful tip as a solo voice-over talent?

Who Wants to Be a Voice Talent?

Recently, I’ve received e-mail from a number of folks who are checking out the prospect of becoming a voice-over talent. They ask me questions about how I got started; what I did to become successful; and what a typical day looks like for me. I openly let them know that it’s hard work and encourage them to give the idea some careful consideration before taking the plunge. My 1000-foot level response looks something like this:

Self Examination

There are a number of “things” to consider before diving into a voice-over business and it will be important for you to think about each one.

  • Are you willing to make very little money the first two or three years in the business?
  • Are you open to working a “day job” while you’re developing your ability and establishing your client list?
  • Do you have the skills to set up and maintain accounting, taxes, insurance and marketing that a small business requires?
  • Do you like your voice and all the uniqueness it possess?
  • Can you read clearly and are you willing to take direction?
  • Do you have a thick skin and can you keep from obsessing about every audition you send out?

What’s Next?

After doing some honest reflection and answering the above questions truthfully, you may still be interested in the business of voice-over. The next step it to get started with training from a reputable coach. A good coach will tell you during your first session whether you’ve got the chops for VO or not. Next they’ll help you identify your signature voice and find genres that fit your voice and delivery. When you’re ready, many will also direct and produce your demo.

Take some acting classes, improv is best. Practice cold reading anything you can get your hands on. While voice-over talent get to rely on scripts, you have to act the part. You need to deliver the lines in a convincing way so that they don’t sound read. You need to sound like you know what you’re talking about even when you don’t.

Get you demo(s) produced and website created to feature your abilities. Your first impression to talent seekers is super important. Take your time getting the training you need before your demo is produced. Hopefully you will have found a coach that isn’t part of a production mill and can truthfully tell you when you’re ready. Your website acts as your storefront with demos, details and contact information. Do not start to look for work without either of these.

Where will you record your broadcast quality audio? In your very own home studio of corse. You’ll need a quiet area to call your own, a mic, computer and software. Plus, the know-how to connect all these goodies and record your dulcet tones. Outside noises, distractions from family, pets and friends need to be removed.

You Gotta Work

Go out and look for work. Since you’ll be owning a business, it will be up to you to get clients on your own. Whether that means signing up with Voices.com or Voice123.com; leveraging your existing business contacts, family and friends or cold calling businesses…it’s up to you. You’ll find the most success in using a combination of the above.

Agents will not get you work. Agents will line up auditions for you. That’s it. If you book a gig from an agent arranged audition, you’ll pay her or him 10%. Yes, the agent will have access to the big money gigs but will only be interested in representing you once you’ve proven yourself independently. They’ll look at you and say, “What are you bringing to my talent stable?”

During an industry teleconference with the talented and respected voice actor Randye Kaye, she said that about 10% of full-time professional VO peeps are in the SAG or AFTRA unions. You’ll be more flexible to stay nonunion at the start. You’ll know when it’s time to join a union, a client will want to hire you and only works with union talent. That’s the day you’ll be signing up.

Plan Your Day

My schedule is much the same from day to day. It’s flexible enough for me to schedule sessions. When not “working” my time is spent auditioning and marketing.

  • Check e-mail from overnight and respond
  • Add appointments to my calendar
  • Practice for 90 minutes reading copy, recording my takes and analyzing my delivery. We are, after all, our own worst critic.
  • Audition 4 hours
  • Lunch
  • Marketing 3 hours
  • Virtually socialize with my vo peeps (twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, blog, other…)

I wake at 6:00 a.m. Pacific time and leave my studio to have dinner with my family by 6:00 p.m. If necessary, I work weekends and get up early when the east coast is calling for me to complete an early morning gig.

So, there you go. A little sporadic but it covers a lot of ground. This is what comes to mind every time I answer the question. I’m sure you have your own 1000-foot-level of what it takes in this business. What would you add?

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?

Three Part Voiceover Practice Method that’s Close to Perfection

An athlete practices daily to train for competition. Without practice, the chances of success are greatly reduced. It’s important to teach the body how to move or react to situation so it can do so automatically without having to put much thought into it.

Like an athlete, voice actors should train. Doing so will increase the chance for successful auditions. An hour a day can make the difference between missing the mark or landing the job. Practice will not make you perfect; it will make you closer to perfect.

I start each morning with a warm up that includes body, facial, breathing and vocal areas. After I’ve warmed my body and vocal path and hydrated myself, I start my practice workout.

1. Cold Read

My job as a voice actor is to clearly read aloud my client’s scripts and add my vocal color. So, to improve my ability to read aloud I start my practice session with a 15-minute cold read. I subscribe to a number of magazines, ranging from AFAR to Wired, and each morning I read aloud from one of them. It’s a great workout as I’m challenged to read unfamiliar words and names, strange phrases, words that are written for the eye and not necessarily for the ear and there’s an educational element as well. I record these readings so I can monitor my improvement by comparing how I read a couple of months ago to today. I’m happy to announce that I’ve improved. You should too.

2. Stretch the Range

My voice acting coach, Veronica Weikel, starts each session by having me create as many character voices as I can from the multiple line script she’s given me. I love this so much that I’ve incorporated it into my practice and it’s become my favorite part. The sheet has six sentences that lend themselves well to creative interpretation. Here’s an example:

  • Enjoy a walk on the beach with your favorite super hero and experience your childhood fantasy.
  • Popular? No, I’m not popular. I just act like I am.
  • About 10 years ago, your sister developed the desire for bigger purses. Now, she just carries around a suitcase.
  • With that type of attitude you’d think it was easy being a nude circus clown.
  • Night after night, it’s the same thing. “Igor, get another body from the cemetery.” Sheesh!
  • Winning would be easier if you showed up for practice. The coached is not happy.

For each line, I come up with three different character voices and change pace, cadence, emotion and word emphasis for each one. Like the cold read, I record this and play it back as soon as I’m done. I’m happily amazed by the voices that come out of me.

3. Audition Rehearsal

The final stage of my practice session is to workout with some scripts. I’ve collected a number of them from jobs I’ve done, auditions, and from Edge Studio’s script repository. I randomly select three from my stack and treat each one as an audition. I mark up the script, record three takes with a slate and then listen to the play back. This will train your ear: you’ll begin to notice right away what worked in your read and what bombed. You might have a great idea how the script should be read in your head, but can you get it out the vocal path? This will help to improve that process.

Now that I’ve finished my warmup and workout, I’m ready to take on the day. I’m in the mindset to audition and feel confident that I’m doing a better at my craft today than I did yesterday. Practice can’t make you perfect, but it can make you a better voice artist.