A New Hat

A highly regarded local Speech-Language Pathologist contacted me the other day.  I’m encouraged that my online VO profile brings people to my door, but even this advanced professional was in the dark about the current skills needed to make it in Voice Acting today.

Her approach was intriguing:  “I work with headliners and singers who have a voice problem.  We have access to many folks who would help your industry and have interests and talents you may be able to use….Do you have any connections getting someone into doing voice overs?”

(collective sigh, right?)

My response to her included this introductory statement:  “Voice Acting work in the present day has developed into a highly entrepreneurial independent freelance business model that requires many hats.”

OUR CHALLENGE

I’m not making fun of her or anyone who is not close to this business, and is unaware of the challenges of  succeeding in voice work. (BTW, I sent her to my blog article with oodles of links and references for newbies, including Peter O’Connell’s excellent VOICE OVER ENTRANCE EXAM).  Nor am I saying it’s our responsibility to educate everyone who comes to our door.

Any earnest voice actor could him-or-herself be overwhelmed by the needed skill set to be successful in this business…if they stop to think about it.  It would be easy to be self-defeated by that on a bad day.

THE NEW HAT

Well, now…add to your bag of tricks a new skill that you may have to rely on more and more:  YOU AS THE PRIMARY ADVERTISER FOR YOUR COMPLETED PRODUCTS…and I’m not just talking about demos on websites.  I’m saying you will not be paid for your finished work if you do not actively advertise and promote it.

Right now, this paradigm is rearing its ugly head mostly in the audiobook marketplace, and largely on the initiatives put forth by ACX.  Their “Royalty Share” model  asks you to assist in the promotion of the book you just narrated for no money upfront (paraphrased).  Your share of the royalties can be handsome if the book does well, and IF you are great at social media, and other forms of online promotion.  If you’re not, the returns could be meager.

WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE

An email from ACX yesterday notified me that my most recent narration of a Sci-Fi book called “Exile” was now available:  Here’s the notification:

Congratulations, EXILE – Book I of the Five Worlds Trilogy is now on sale at audible.com. And we plan to make it available on iTunes and Amazon.com within the next few days. Once you begin earning royalties on your audiobook, you will be able to monitor its sales on ACX.
To further galvanize interest in your audiobook, check out these tips on how to best promote yourself and your audiobook – and how you can capitalize on the ACX bounty program, which gets you $25 each and every time your audiobook is one of the first three purchases by a new Audible member. The more you promote your audiobook, the more you stand to earn. Good luck!

Here are some excerpts from the ACX site that outline a tutorial for promoting your work so it will sell well, and you will be eventually paid:

___________

Never promoted yourself online before? To get started, just take three simple steps. The payoff is worth it… And you just might have some good fun.

  1. Get on Facebook: Half a billion people are on board. You can find them.
  2. Try Twitter: It’s where information flows fast and freely. Dip your toes in.
  3. Join LinkedIn: This is home base for your professional profile. Be found there.

Feel like you could use some background? Learn the basics

Already on Facebook and Twitter?

Dive in deeper. Here are five ways to promote your work and make your online presence more effective:

  1. Start a blog: See how easy it is to build this potent tool
  2. Syndicate your content: Learn how to get more mileage from your online efforts
  3. Maintain your online identity: Follow these simple steps regularly to keep your information fresh
  4. Measure the impact: Find out how well your efforts are working
  5. Join the conversation: Discover ways to contribute to online discussions… and why you should

Extra Credit

Try these extra steps. They’re easier than you might think… and they pack a powerful punch.

  1. Try podcasting
  2. Get on YouTube

I just used about three or four of the above suggestions for promoting my book by writing this blog, and posting a link on FaceBook.  Who knows if it’ll be successful.

Luckily, while EXILE was a royalty-share deal, it was also under ACX’s stipend offer, which pays the narrator a set price for each finished hour.

I don’t mind using my Social Media skills in this way, but honestly, I much prefer being paid a solid dollar for earnest work up front.

CourVO

 

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Comments

  1. says

    Dave – thanks for another fresh article about the industry. You’re unique in your wide range of topics and the way you create the web of links between the different topics to make them relevant for a group of entrepreneurs who, like you, are finding their way in the dark a lot of the time. Good response to that person who inquired about the business. That Peter O’Connell document is one of the best things ever written to illustrate the intangible “barrier to entry” that is hard to quantify for people who have a “nice voice….” etc.

    That development in the audio book business is probably not reversible, but what a great/terrible example of downloading the responsibility of being a complete service provider onto someone else’s shoulders.

    Two alternate views on the ACX tactic: On the one hand, it’s brilliant to “leverage”/take advantage of the service provider’s networks (social and otherwise) to promote the book in yet another arena that they might not otherwise have reached.

    On the other hand, It’s bordering on unethical to take advantage of the service provider’s self interest (in this case, the narrator), to execute part of a complete marketing strategy that the producer of the book should be doing on behalf of the author and publisher. If they expect talent to do this, they should have templates available in every medium they’re advocating we use to shortcut our time to execution. That would also accomplish something else that would be desirable from the author’s and publisher’s standpoint, a greater degree of control over the actual content and quality of the material ultimately being used to sell their product. Imagine if the author and publisher had control over those pieces where they’re interested. Maybe they should demand it.

    Perhaps no one had thought of the template idea yet, but to fully take advantage of any entrepreneurial talent’s time, resources and vested interest, it’s the least they *should* do IMO. Theoretically, if the talent is busy – they don’t have time to actually do all of this as well as they could without a hand up from the producer.

    What do you think?

    • says

      Paul,

      Thanks for your kind words. I LOVE your idea, and I think ACX kind of gave it lip service by offering those FAQ’s for how to utilize Social Media in the marketing of the titles. But that falls short of your idea to provide templates.

      To do that would certainly involve work, and would demand that each template be platform-specific, as what works on Twitter, doesn’t work on FaceBook or even LinkedIn. There’s also a school of thought that claims Social Media doesn’t do well with boiler-plate formulas, and each appeal should have YOUR personal touch.

      But perhaps it would work for Newsletters or directed email campaigns. Utilizing your own personal list of contacts, a newsletter template on Mail Chimp or Constant Contact would work.

      I like the way you think, and I’m grateful that you stop by from time to time to read my blog. Hope your family is well, and have a great weekend!

      Dave Courvoisier

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