Basil Sands | Voices in My Head: the Wonderful World of Narrating Audiobooks

I have a confession to make. I hear voices in my head. Male, female, young, and old. Since I was a kid, they’ve spoken to me for hours on end telling stories. It’s like magic. In 2006 I learned the secret of the magic, the secret that enabled me to actually become one of those voices in other people’s heads. Suddenly other people were walking around, wide eyed with wonder as my voice unraveled the mysteries of the world in their minds.

Don’t worry, no need to call the men in white jackets, I am talking about audiobooks, something I have loved with a passion for most of my life.

After I wrote my first novel, Karl’s Last Flight, in 2006 I knew I had to create an audiobook version of it. Learning of a website called Podiobooks, where you create a serialized audiobook that is given away in weekly twenty minute podcast episodes, I set out for glory. Now, I have always enjoyed telling stories. Once I was even awarded the “Wizard of The Campfire” award by the Great Alaska Boy Scout Council here in Anchorage. But telling stories professionally behind a mic is not as easy as acting out an abridged version of Beowulf for a troop of Boy Scouts on a rafting trip. That said, the podcast did really well, as a matter of fact it, and the next couple of books after it, all did well enough that I was able to earn enough dough to build a real, professional recording booth… in my walk-in closet, with my wife’s clothes and stacks of blankets and pillows surrounding me for sound proofing, and my gun safe… in case of, you know, the apocalypse or something.

I was having a blast narrating my own books, without of course realizing that, according to the industry, very few authors should actually undertake narrating their own work. It is not because they can’t tell their own story; rather it is because telling it in writing versus telling it orally are two entirely different realities. And when I say entirely different realities I am thinking as in multi-dimensional, Dr. Who, alternate universe kind of different, where you’re on what appears to be the same planet, in the same year, and even with the same manuscript in front of you, but every other paradigm, such as how to phrase words, how to draw attention to a scene, how to raise or lower the stress levels of the story are like two alien languages trying to vie for your brain’s communicative power.

Luckily for me, I had been a stage actor off and on for most of my life since about age twelve and knew something about oral communication versus written word communication. That background in acting, while not necessary, really helped. After having performed audiobooks for my own novels and short stories, some author friends from a blog I was a regular on asked me to narrate an anthology of their short stories. That was a major step, as shortly after one of them, best-selling author John Gilstrap, said “Hey, the guy doing my audiobooks really isn’t that great, do you think you could do better?” To which I replied “I don’t know about his work, but I can certainly give it a go.” Next thing I know, his publisher contacted me and BANG I was hired for my very first International Bestselling narration.

Whoa…. That was cool.

Then the work started pouring in and next thing I knew, I hardly had time to write my own novels which were still pouring into my head and had to get on digital paper ASAP. That was 2011. Now, in 2017, with over 80 narrations since the big leap, I find that I am loving this job more and more every day even as I struggle to keep up with writing. My current novel series was recently picked up by a major—

not big six but still pretty impressive—publisher, which means now I have real contracted deadlines to keep up with, but I also have to keep recording audiobooks to make a living till the novels make me millions… er… whatever.

With all that said, and the experience under my belt that can speak to bits and pieces of life in this fast lane, I will close with this. Audiobooks are an amazing piece of our future literary world. You as an author need to think about grabbing a piece of that pie because 30% plus of the market prefers getting books in that format. Some authors may well be able to narrate their own books and do a great job, but most can’t, so be willing to look into resources that can get your work out there. And more than anything else in the big wide world of reading, writing, and stories… be willing to look beyond the space you think your reader may lay, and dive in to new realms reaching folks who would love to hear what you have to say.

And if you can do the narration yourself, good on you… I might even be able to help you toward that goal with my third annual Alaska Audiobook Narrator’s Workshop this summer.

No Experience Necessary!

This could be your ticket to making a good living as an audiobook narrator. Thousands of new audiobooks are being produced every year and the demand keeps growing. And with modern technology, narration work that was once only available if you lived in LA or NYC is now available even here in AK!

DATE: Friday, May 26, 2017
WHERE: Alaska Communications Business Technology Center (Anchorage)
COST: $150 per person
WHO: Anyone interested in becoming an Audiobook Narrator or Learning how the industry works.

1. What is involved in becoming an Audiobook Narrator
2. Building a Home Studio
3. What is the best software for recording audiobooks
4. Getting Paid to Act Without Memorizing a Script Or Doing Improv in a Smoky Bar
5. One on One Sessions with Johnny and Sean (and a live studio audience).

If you are interested please send an email to basil at basilsands dot com with the following information: name, email address, Phone # (optional), Experience, if any, in the following areas: audiobooks, stage, on camera, radio

If I don’t respond to your email with an acknowledgment that I received it within 48 hours please send me a FB Messenger message with that information (just in case the internet gremlins sent your email into the spam folder by mistake).

Basil Sands is the author of action packed thrillers, novellas, and short stories as well as a single foray into romance. He is also a professional audiobook narrator. From his home in the foothills of Alaska’s Chugach Mountains, he gets inspiration from his surroundings, as well as an exciting past. Born on a homestead outside of Fairbanks, Alaska, he served in the Marines, was Chef to the Spies (dining manager at the NSA), owned a computer shop, worked as a lumberjack, ambulance driver, Boy Scout leader, radio host, and government IT guy. He lives in Anchorage with his Porsche driving Korean wife, and has three grown sons and a four pound Yorkie named Heimdall, The Norse Dog.

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