Hi Reddit!

My name is Corey Snow, and I'm a full-time audiobook narrator and voice actor. I've been in the business for about three years now and have nearly seventy audiobooks to my credit (some under a pseudonym). I work with a number of publishers, including Tantor Audio, Bee Audio, Audible, and directly with various authors and rights holders to produce their audiobooks.

Although the bulk of the work I do is in audiobooks, I also do e-learning, corporate narration, and commercial work. I've auditioned for a few videogames but so far, no dice there. :)

Proof: https://twitter.com/vox_man/status/547430016766971905

You can find all of my currently available titles on Audible here: Corey Snow on Audible

I'm here to answer any questions you might have about what I do or the business in general. So ask me anything, and thanks! I look forward to answering your questions.

Also, if you're interested in audiobooks, be sure to subscribe to /r/audiobooks! I sometimes giveaway free copies of my books, and you'll find other great narrators and producers doing the same from time to time.

Edit: Wow, so many great questions, thank you all! I'm going to be here for a while longer, so keep the questions coming. :)

Edit 2 (12 PM Pacific/3 PM Eastern): I'm having a great time, and I hope you are too. I'll be continuing to answer questions but I also have to get something to eat, so I may not respond right away. Be sure to check out the books I've narrated on Audible- and maybe get one for yourself! ;)

Edit 3 (1:30 PM Pacific): I'm going to have to get going pretty soon, holidays and all- but if you leave a question, I'll definitely follow up with you as soon as I can. This whole experience has been great, thank you reddit!

Comments: 130 • Responses: 56  • Date: 

Machoape11 karma

How does your "work voice" compare to your normal speaking voice? Do you speak similar to what you do at work in your normal voice, or is the difference very large?

corey_m_snow9 karma

That's a really good question, thanks! (Never gotten that one before).

The answer is that my normal tone is pretty similar to what you'd hear me say on my audiobooks. I'm perhaps a bit more... formal? than I would be over a beer, but what you hear is pretty much what you get.

For my commercial narrations and stuff (you can find some on my website if you're interested), I sometimes have a different delivery because I have to be excited, or speak fast, etc.

valiskane10 karma

I love audio books and go through a fair amount of them on long car drives. I was wondering why are audio books almost exclusively voiced by a single person? Wouldn't it be easy to get a male and female to voice the respective genders? Some narrators do a great job on gender voices but they can still sound silly.

corey_m_snow5 karma

Excellent question. There's a few reasons, but a lot of them are simply around cost. Audiobooks cost quite a bit to produce, and adding in multiple narrators makes that more complex and increases cost. Getting two narrators to have consistent sound for the voices, for example.

That said, I've done a few dual narration projects and if you're paired with the right narrator, they can be a lot of fun!

Some publishers also do full-cast recordings, but those are very expensive to produce and typically only done on very high-profile titles, like Neil Gaiman's American Gods.

nmutrpredditor99 karma

How did you get started in voice acting? How did you land some of your gigs? Do you think it's more about talent, or connections?

Also, if you don't mind, how is the pay? And how would you suggest someone to get into the business?

corey_m_snow13 karma

Hi, thanks for the question!

I wanted to be a VO since I was about ten or twelve years old; playing with my record player in my bedroom as a kid, I'd announce the tracks and pretend to be a DJ- that's what I wanted to do when I grew up.

Life didn't quite work out that way- I did look into it as a teenager but the only schools I could find for voice work were quite dodgy. I ended up going into IT and did a couple decades in software.

I then started working slowly and on the side to establish a voiceover career- at first working in commercials, but that didn't pan out (commercial VO is a very competitive business)- however, I found that I had a facility for narration, and started doing it more and more. About the time I was getting burned out on my former career, I was pulling in enough work to make it a viable, if challenging, change.

As to how I land gigs, with audiobooks it's about auditioning, establishing a reputation and being good at what you do. The part about talent vs connections isn't quite right- talent only gets you so far, talent and training gets you farther. Connections are great but to be honest it's not that important.

The pay is variable. It's getting better- I've had a lot of challenges in my time as a full-time VO. With luck and knocking some wood I'm able to support my family with it, but I will be the first to tell you that my story isn't necessarily typical.

If you want to get into the business of narration, it's a lot of work. Start with coaching and training. Take improv classes and acting courses, and get very comfortable with exposition and owning a character. Then start taking some coaching or courses focused on audiobook narration (if that's what you want to get into).

Pat Fraley and Paul Ruben both offer great coaching courses for people interested in narration. They're not cheap, but they're also not prohibitive. A word to the wise- avoid at all costs any course or coach that offers a block of training followed by production of a demo. You should never make a demo until you're ready.

rg0092 karma

Thanks Corey for doing this AMA!! I want to do VO but I don't have an agent. I'm working on putting together a demo, but is that necessary if the clips aren't professional? Who is your agent and how much help are they to you? And also how old are you? How did you put your demo together "starting slowly on the side"?

corey_m_snow3 karma

Don't put the cart before the horse- the demo is the last step in the process, and you and your coach will know when you're ready for that.

You don't need an agent to work as a VO, although many have them, especially in the commercial side of the industry. I don't have one myself, but I know a lot of folks who do.

Never put together a demo yourself (unless you're a trained pro, and even most trained pros I know go to another demo producer). Get coaching and training for your chosen area of VO- there's a ton of different areas to work in- and train your ass off before making a demo.

When I said I was starting slowly on the side, I simply meant that I was keeping my job and working at this on the weekends and evenings. It can be expensive to get the training and coaching, but in the long run it's worth it. A good coach who will tell you what you need to know and not what you want to hear is worth their weight in gold.

orange_cuse6 karma

I work in the publishing industry and I've visited a recording session for one of our audio books and it was a really cool experience! One of the producers told us that a certain voice actor would record his lines while wearing nothing but his underwear, so as to avoid any extra sounds being picked up by the mics from his clothes. Do you have any interesting habits/approaches to recording?

corey_m_snow8 karma

Heh. I don't go so far as the underwear-only route, but I always have my Camelbak water bottle with the sippy straw (no spills on super-expensive mics!) and keep hydrated. I also do warmup exercises, that sort of thing.

I use an iPad to read from so there's no paper noise, and wear clothing that's loose around the body but not long sleeves or anything but cotton because it makes noise that a sensitive mic can pick up. Most people don't realize how sensitive a good condenser mic can be and how much they really pick up. :)

Maddie_N6 karma

How long does it take to record an audiobook? What does the process of recording one look like?

corey_m_snow10 karma

Total time varies but a good rule of thumb is about four to six work hours per hour of finished audio. It can be higher.

Recording an audiobook starts with the script prep. I'll read the book before I record it, take notes on pronunciations and so forth, then do my research (or pay someone to do it, depending on my schedule).

Next I'll record the book using a technique called "punch and roll", which means that when I make an error, I stop, roll back to a pause and hit record, the software plays a few seconds of what I recorded, then I "punch in" as it changes to record mode. The other way is called "rolling record" and means you just keep going and edit out the errors later.

The former takes longer to record, and less time to edit, the latter, the reverse. Most publishers prefer punch recording these days.

After the punched audio is done I send it to the publisher for proofing, or I send it to my proofer (she's absolutely brilliant), who then listens to the book and sends me a list of errors, which I re-record. The editor takes that along with a list of stuff that needs to be fixed like clothing noise, mouth clicks or excess breaths, and does their magic by fixing all of that, then the mastering engineer produces the masters.

These roles can be separate people, a team or sometimes all in one. I've done all of them, but I prefer to just focus on narration these days.

mk722062 karma

Holy crap...that is around 150 hours for the average audiobook. 4 straight weeks of work, doing nothing but reading one book.

corey_m_snow2 karma

Well, keep in mind that's total person-hours across everyone involved.

For me personally, I can record about 1 hour of punched audio in 1.5 to 2 hours of time and I can typically record 2 to 3 hours of punched audio in a single workday.

So for a 15 hour book, yeah- it takes a few weeks to a month to produce, but not everyone is working on it full time the entire time. :)

KottonQueen5 karma

Hi, thank you for your time. What voices do you do? What are you most popular for? And at what age did you realize you can speak in many forms?

corey_m_snow9 karma

Thanks for the question!

I can do a variety of accents- German, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian (I'm pretty good with Eastern European accents), Chinese, etc.

With most books you don't want to be very over the top on the accents or characters- you're suggesting the character, drawing broad strokes. The listener fills in the rest. You can go too far easily into caricature.

I frequently get cast in nonfiction books, because my voice is deep and mature-sounding- very professorial, which lends itself to things like history and military history, which is also helpful because of my military background- less research to do!

Chickenbutt7235 karma

Do you ever start to get sleepy when you're reading a less interesting book? Seems like it'd be hard to keep your enthusiasm and concentration going on a book you didn't really like.

corey_m_snow9 karma

Why, I love ALL of the books I've ever recorded! /s

In truth, it happens. When I find myself getting a little mic-muzzy, I'll take a stretch, go out on the back deck or reddit for a while. Maybe have a cup of coffee.

For a while I recorded standing up but my feet just can't handle it any more. :(

Chickenbutt7232 karma

I always picture the reader sitting in a leather recliner drinking a glass of scotch. Is this accurate?

corey_m_snow4 karma

Ah, I wish. I really love scotch but I have to stay away from it until my workday is finished, sadly.

And leather would be bad because it'd be so noisy. I sit on an elevated stool that looks a bit like a fancy barstool- perhaps because it is. It has a back to it and I just put my feet on the crossbar.

If you're reclined too much or too relaxed it interferes with your ability to really get a good lungful of air and to keep your voice in proper form. It also tends to make you sleepy. ;)

pokeaotic4 karma

Possibly a silly question, but do you work multiple jobs at once, like on Monday record for this book, then Tuesday through Thursday that book, then Friday this book again, or do you only do one job at a time, like commit a couple weeks or however long it takes to one job before working on the next? If it's the latter, how long do you like to wait before working the next job? Or does it just depend on how long it takes to find the next job?

corey_m_snow5 karma

Nah, not silly at all. The short answer is that I very much prefer to work on one title at a time. Changing gears is hard to do. But sometimes scheduling forces me to have to work on multiple titles at once. It varies from month to month.

jocasee3 karma

There are some audiobook voice actors who can transfer the listener seamlessly into the story universe, people such as the late Frank Muller and Jim Dale. Do you have any inspirational voice actors you look up to? If so, what works would you recommend listening to which inspired you to read audiobooks for others?

corey_m_snow5 karma

Tough question- so many amazing talents out there!

I really admire some folks not only for their talent, but just for being really cool people.

Scott Brick, Dick Hill, Johnny Heller, Simon Vance, Jeffrey Kafer and Peter Berkrot, Xe Sands, Andi Arndt, and Dawn Harvey- just to name a few. These are some really nice folks that I've had not only the opportunity to listen to, but to meet and in some cases call my friend.

lakelady2 karma

OMG - Dick Hill is an old friend of mine. Great guy.

corey_m_snow2 karma

Indeed! And nowhere near as curmudgeonly as he would have you believe.

GHarriott3 karma

Do you do any research on the books, authors or characters prior to voicing sessions?

corey_m_snow11 karma

Absolutely! Nothing worse than getting to the last chapter and have a character you've been voicing as having a southern accent have something like this:

"Oh really?" he said in his thick Scottish brogue.

sjwillis1 karma

Do you usually just read the book for research, or go further in depth?

Also, do you read a page ahead and then act out that page or just go on the fly?


corey_m_snow1 karma

I read it fairly quickly to find the things I need to know in order to record it- names, foreign words, made up words in fiction, that sort of thing. I have a speed-reading app that I use sometimes, or otherwise I just spend some time snarfing it up on my iPad in bed.

Mysticpoisen1 karma

You use one of those single word at a time apps?

corey_m_snow1 karma

I sometimes use Flash Reader, yes.

tculpepper3 karma

What are some of your favorite words to say? Least favorite?

corey_m_snow2 karma

Heh, good question. I don't have many "hated" words, but I do have a lot I tend to mispronounce. I think my proofers just shake their head when I get "wary", "mischievous" and "proselytizing" wrong yet again.

I love when I get to do new words that I don't know or take on stuff in foreign languages, like characters who will have a line in something other than English. Doing the accent right is a challenge and a lot of fun.

mk722062 karma

How much does one audio book recording pay? Based on your previous comment, it sounds like a book takes about 150 hours of work to record.

corey_m_snow5 karma

Pay to the narrator is usually in one of two methods- Per Finished Hour (PFH) or Royalty Share.

PFH means you agree to a rate which is calculated based on the final runtime of the book, usually prorated to the minute.

If I'm just doing the recording, my PFH rate is lower, and if I'm doing all the production it is of course higher because I have to pay for the other parts of the process.

Rates for full production typically go from $300 to $400 per finished hour, but that's just a very general guideline- rates frequently go outside that range (up or down) depending on various factors.

Royalty Share means the narrator/producer isn't paid up front but takes a cut of the royalties. This is a common arrangement on ACX (acx.com), where a rights holder/author shares the risk and the reward with the narrator.

MrAnthonyBolino2 karma

How could I get into voice acting? I've been told i have a voice for radio and more

corey_m_snow2 karma

I've answered this and several very similar questions elsewhere in the AMA- take a look at those and if you need a clarification, let me know!

Echo12782 karma

I have always been curious about the voice acting industry. How'd you get into your profession?

corey_m_snow4 karma

Hi there! I answered this one upthread- I hope that's OK! :)

2BNamedLater2 karma

Which book would you LOVE to record the audio version of (even if it's already been done by someone else)? Why?

corey_m_snow2 karma

I would dearly dearly love to be given the opportunity to record Jhereg by Steven Brust. Or better yet, the entire Vladimir Taltos series.

As to why, because they're my favorite series of books of all time, excepting only possibly the Chronicles of Amber by Zelazny.

2BNamedLater1 karma

I think doing a series would be awesome. I'm currently listening to book five of the Outlander series. I've read posts where people have said that, as far as they were concerned, the voice actor (Davina Porter) was James Fraser for them; that her voice is the one they hear in their heads when they think of him. I bet that would be cool. (Also, it looks like there are 13 books in the Taltos series.. that'd be some nice, steady work for you. :) )

corey_m_snow1 karma

Indeed! I've done a few series, and I'm the "voice" of one of them. As to the Taltos novels, they're already solidly cast and well-produced, so my desire to record them is simply a pipe dream. But a fun one! :)

freakybubblewrap2 karma

Hi Corey! I've been told I have a pretty good speaking/singing voice; and being recently unemployed I've been thinking of trying my hand (or voice) at some voice acting. So I guess my question is; how do I get started? Can I actually make money off of a recording made with a laptop and a $5 Radio Shack mic? Or do I need to soundproof my closet and buy a $200 mic? Thanks!

corey_m_snow6 karma

The simple truth: Having a good voice is arguably the least important factor in your potential success as a voice talent. It's counter-intuitive, I know. In fact, the statement "I've been told I have a good voice" is kind of an inside joke in the industry (please don't think I'm mocking you!).

If you want to get started, and are serious about it, you probably can't do it from unemployment unless you have a serious nest egg to fall back on- six months to a year, preferably more, to live on. Building a business takes time, effort and money.

The place you should be spending money if you're interested in learning the business is in coaching and training. Acting classes, improv lessons and vo coaching. The gear is important, but it should be among the last steps in the process, because you need to get an understanding of your skills, your limits and the process of recording before you drop money on gear.

However, I can say that a $5 Radio Shack mic isn't going to cut it. There's plenty of great mics in the $150 range and up that are, if not top of the line, at least serviceable.

lakelady2 karma

Do you work from home or in a studio? If at home what's your set up. Are you SAG/AFTRA or non-union? What are the pros/cons of either? What's the process of getting your union card for VO? What's the best way to go about auditioning? Submitting online? if so where? If you can do a variety of voices how do you choose audition matierial?

corey_m_snow4 karma

I have a studio in my home, which is in an old bedroom in my basement.

I'm not a member of SAG-AFTRA but I do work under covered agreements frequently and intend to be a member, hopefully this year. Working as a member means that if you're in commercial VO you can't work for non-signatories and have to deal with some overhead, but especially in audiobooks, the upside of having the power of the union behind you with regard to rates, health and retirement and other factors is (in my opinion) worth it.

A good place to get started with audiobooks is to do pro bono recordings for Librivox- they're the Gutenberg Project of the audio world. If you're ready and able to do professional-quality work, a great place to get started is ACX.com - the Audiobook Creation Exchange. It's a way for small press and individual authors to get their work published in audio, and connect with narrators directly.

With regard to demos, for audiobooks you'd typically want a variety of short 1-3 minute clips showing off your range- nonfiction, fiction with one character, fiction with a group (especially opposite genders having conversations), and so forth.

lakelady1 karma

Thank you! I've dreamt for years about getting into VO work but never quite got off the ground. I've got decent recording experience from working as a sound tech and sound designer for theater as well as some acting chops. I've also read for Radio Talking Book (a service for the blind for those unfamiliar with it) and even DJ'd for a college station years ago.

What equipment do you use in your studio?

What does it take to become a union member?

Where are you located? What advice do you have for breaking into work other and audio books?

corey_m_snow2 karma

I use a large-diaphragm condenser mic for most of my work. I have several, and some dynamics. My current "go-to" is a Chameleon Labs TS1 Mark II with the LDC capsule. I also have a modified Alesis GT and a Cascade M20u.

My interface is either a Steinberg UR-22 or a MicPort Pro USB interface. I have some Tannoy monitors and use Cubase 7 as my DAW.

To become a member of the union you have to be qualified (meaning you have to have done a certain amount of work- check the SAG-AFTRA website for specifics on that) and pay the initiation fee. That varies depending on several factors, including your location.

I work out of my studio in Olympia Washington. As to advice, get coaching, get a solid demo together when you're ready, get a portfolio together via Librivox and/or ACX, and start shopping your demo to publishers. Just be sure you're ready because it's a small world. :)

lakelady1 karma

Thank you again for taking the time to answer our questions! Excellent informative and fun info :)

corey_m_snow1 karma

My pleasure, it's fun! I spend most of my days cooped up in a 10x11 box in a basement, so this is a nice change of pace for my morning. :)

enduremyworld2 karma

Hi Corey, Just checking in from /r/audiobooks and I have a question.

What is your favorite part of creating the audiobooks you narrate? Reading the book? Working with the author to get the voices right? Getting paid?

corey_m_snow2 karma

Thanks for the question!

That varies based on the book- sometimes I look forward to the check. :) But for most of my books, I really enjoy the process of finding the right voice and then bringing the words to life. Some books have brought me to literal tears, others to spasms of uncontrollable laughter, and more than once a character has shown up out of nowhere when I'm recording. I love that part of the process.

LuciferFan2 karma

Hi, how do you get inside a character's skin when narrating a book, and are there any athros whose books you'd love to record? Merry Christmas in adavance!!

corey_m_snow1 karma

I try to find the subtext of the words- what's really being conveyed on the page. The character voices are less important than the author's words, and you can easily let a voice dominate the narrative, so when recording audiobooks it's a balancing act there.

Most characters have some thing about them I can identify with, and I'll use that to try and find a space where I can evoke what they should sound like.

As to authors I'd love to do- I mentioned it elsewhere in the thread, but Brust and Zelazny! :)

Hironoto2 karma

Hey there Corey!

I've done some narration myself (mostly fan stories as a hobby) and like to try and give inflection to the narrative parts of the story as well as the speaking parts. However, from what I've heard, a lot of professional readers tend to go somewhat monotone during the narratives. Is there a reason behind this common practice? or is it because it gives more life to the characters?

corey_m_snow1 karma

I think it's stylistic more than anything. With nonfiction and narrative elements you tend to be a little more flat- but frequently that's just because the exposition is itself kind of flat sometimes.

I really try to avoid the "monotone" sound as much as possible. You want to find the "subtext" and let that define how you give energy to the words- what's the author really trying to describe or convey and what elements of the narrative are important and what are less so?

Hironoto1 karma

So taking in context, judging the message the author is trying to convey, and using that as a base to determine how you read it? Such as "The character is getting into a fight. I'll read it with a slightly darker and faster tone to convey the mood" or "This is a love scene, I'll speak more gently to convey the feelings"?

corey_m_snow1 karma

Yes, to an extent. The narrative informs the reader's emotions, so if things are getting tense in the narration, even if characters aren't talking, it should maybe not speed up but get more intense. Sometimes I'll even go so far as to adjust my pacing to suit things like a guy running down a street; I try to use pacing to emulate the huf-puf-huf-puf sound you hear in your own head when sprinting, that sort of thing.

TheCheshireCody2 karma

Hi, Corey, thanks for taking the time to do this.

How do you balance straight reading with "performing in character" - accents, different voices, etc.? I listen to a lot of audiobooks, and it seems like a really fine line to walk - too straight and it's boring, too "character-y" and it's overly dramatic.

Do you ever consult with the authors on how to handle a specific section, theme or character?

corey_m_snow2 karma

My interaction with authors is usually to get their feedback on character notes- like who this guy is, what his accent should be, that sort of thing, and to tell me how specific words that aren't easily found are pronounced.

In some cases, I'm actually not allowed to contact the author, usually when the rights have been sold on and the author doesn't want to be involved, or he or she is deceased.

But no, I typically let the manuscript define how it should sound. The balancing act you describe is where the art of narration meets the craft. I tend toward what I think of as subtle- I try to evoke the character voices without going too far- they all obviously sound like me, but I vary them enough that the listener can (hopefully) fill in the gaps themselves with their own ideas.

If I do it too strongly, I'm taking that away from the listener, and it is a book, after all- the listener's a part of the process.

hem_claw2 karma

What's the next big thing for you as a Voice Actor? Is there something in particular you'd like to do to leave a legacy behind?

corey_m_snow2 karma

I don't know about next big thing- I'm enjoying what I do! I guess it'd be nice to do some more prominent work and to expand my stable of publishers.

I'm pretty proud of some of the work I've done so far- I was the narrator for Phil Hartman's recent biography You Might Remember Me and I just finished the audio for the upcoming book Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone by Marky Ramone. I've done some other very cool projects that I'm pretty proud of.

I look forward to each book in its own way. I'd like to continue to expand my skills and craft, and continue to work to the top of my newly chosen field. :)

bombinabirdcage2 karma

Hi Corey!

I have worked in a call center for years and I am not kidding, I have had multiple people tell me over the phone that I should be a voice actor. A lady last night told me she was in marketing and encouraged me to contact someone about it. I wasn't allowed to ask her questions for obvious reasons, (the boss frowns on job inquiries when I am getting paid). She told me that you are supposed to contact a casting scout and they would help you make voice tapes. Is that true?

moon_at_the_wayside2 karma

What's the recording process of narrating? Do you do you narrate one character voice at a time or do narrate like how you would read a book?

Does a writer of a book gives suggestions on how to voice a character?

corey_m_snow1 karma

I read the book straight through. The writer will sometimes provide character notes, yes.

drink_yer_koolaid2 karma


corey_m_snow3 karma

Hire me! :) I produce audiobooks from end to end and even if I don't narrate them I can coordinate production for my clients, to include auditions, narrator selection, recording, editing, mastering, and so forth.

Alternatively, I can recommend a few really good folks who do the same thing, so you can have a few options.

If you're looking for information on how to handle it in-house, that's a tall order just because of the amount of expertise and equipment you'd need, but I'd be happy to talk with you about it. You can email me at corey at voxman.net. :)

MindOfMetalAndWheels2 karma

How do you and other audiobook narrators maintain such consistent pacing and tone over many days of recording?

corey_m_snow2 karma

Well, there's a lot of practice involved, but it's not as difficult as you might think. The majority of narrators have to work at slowing down, because our tendency is to read too quickly. But once you establish a good pace, you can come back to it.

It's kind of like walking, I guess. You can find a good pace and stay at around that speed. With narrating it takes some practice, but after that it's automatic.

RedditMayne1 karma

If you had an audiobook of your life, who other than you would you want to narrate it?

corey_m_snow1 karma

Hah, interesting question. I don't think my life is interesting enough to make a book, but if it did, I'd probably write it and narrate it myself.

If it was a biography and I wasn't able to narrate it, let's see... Either Hugh Laurie or John Lithgow. I just love both their voices- Lithgow's especially, he's incredible to just listen to.

censorshipwreck1 karma

Hi Corey! Quick question: do voice actors get typecasted? Like if you excel at some action books, are you less likely to get picked for a romance novel?

corey_m_snow1 karma

Interesting question! I think... maybe? A bit, anyway. I typically do military history and general American history quite frequently, as well as biographies and memoirs of celebrities (love those).

However, I don't think that's typecasting so much as a good casting director knowing where my strengths are and what they need. I'd be good at science fiction, and would enjoy it, but if the casting director has a military history title and a SF title, and needs to cast them both- I'll usually end up with the military history because of my background and established rep doing them, plus my delivery is very well-suited to it.

So, I think it's not so much that I'm less likely to be picked, it's just that I'm more likely to be picked for what the casting directors know I'm solid at.

And actually, I do quite a bit of steamy romance (some have erotic content, but aren't erotica per se) under a pseudonym. They're very popular and sell remarkably well.

censorshipwreck1 karma

That makes sense. More about playing to strengths than being stuck.

Why a pseudonym for a romance?

corey_m_snow1 karma

Because the content of some of them is not what some publishers want to see when researching potential narrators, or would be concerned their customers wouldn't want to see on their narrator's bios.

Adamj11 karma

Anything of yours available on Youtube in authorized postings?

corey_m_snow1 karma

You can find my corporate narrations and such on my website: voxman.net. There are some samples of my audiobooks, but nothing complete. The best place to hear samples of my audiobook work is on Audible.com.

cinepro1 karma

Hello Corey. I've noticed some audiobooks change certain passages, so instead of saying "when you read this" they say "when you listen to this" and so on. Who makes the call on when you do this, and are you in favor of this or against it?

Also, some authors seem to use "he said" too repetitively, and it's like nails on a chalkboard to listen to the audiobook where the narrator has to say it a bazillion times during every conversation. It's especially bad during conversations where they're doing voices and it's obvious who is speaking. Are you ever allowed to take out all the "he saids" and "she saids"?

corey_m_snow1 karma

Hi there! Thanks for the question.

With some publishers they will send me a prep copy, which is the print version (once in actual print because there was no digital version of the original), and then send a recording copy that's been edited to remove things like photos and sometimes will change "when you read this" to "when you hear this" and similar modifications.

That's not typical, however- in most cases you just read it as written. When there's a lot of voice tags (he said, she said, etc), it can become annoying, but it is what it is. I really like it when authors don't include that at all- and many don't, or only use voice tags very sparingly.

But in the end, the script is the king. When it comes time for pickups, if I read it according to the script, I did it right. I'll fix obvious typos and sometimes not quite so obvious grammatical errors, but that's as far as I'll go without checking with the publisher/rights holder/author first.

lakelady1 karma

How many hours a day do you spend recording? How many days a week? I'm assuming the rest of your workday is spent reading and researching. How important are the acoustics of the room you're recording in? Are you hired as an independent contractor or do you work through an agency? How do you track your time for payment/taxes? Do you find you lose out on opportunities because you're non-union?

corey_m_snow1 karma

In order:

  • About four to six hours per day. It depends on what's going on.
  • The acoustics are important. When I'm recording chapter 12 it needs to sound the same as chapter 1 in terms of room tone and so forth. Many narrators use booths, some record in a closet with moving blankets, others like myself have a treated room.
  • I'm a freelancer who owns my own business.
  • I don't track time that way, I pay estimated taxes and do my return as a self-employed person.
  • No, union membership's not a deal-breaker one way or another in the world of audiobook narration. I intend to be union this year- I've been eligible for about 3 years now- but it won't affect any of my audiobook work. It could affect some of my other work.

i_am_average_AMA1 karma

Hello Corey, thanks for doing this. As someone interested in getting into voice acting, are there any tips you could possibly give to me? Some other questions:

How long are sessions for audiobooks per day? How are the other actors in the industry?

corey_m_snow1 karma

I've given a ton of tips and pointers in the rest of the AMA- if you still have questions after browsing those, let me know!

I typically spend about 4 to 6 hours per day "behind the mic", so to speak.

The narrator community is truly amazing. Really, really nice people top to bottom. It's a small community, and just about everyone I've worked with, whether narrators, producers, editors or publishers, are just very cool people. I had to get past my awe when meeting a few really big names at conferences, but found they're just very nice people. And even take you to dinner sometimes! :)

polaroidgeek1 karma

Hi Corey, thanks for the AMA! You've mentioned coaching in a couple of responses, but could you maybe provide insight/tips on where to find a coach & what to look for? Also, if you could voice any character (that you haven't had a chance to) who would it be?

corey_m_snow2 karma

Some good coaches:

Paul Ruben
Marc Cashman
Pat Fraley

When looking at a coach, ask yourself if they're telling you what you want to hear or what you need to hear. Are they talking you up? Telling you how amazing you are? Big red flag.

If they're offering a weekend class or a series of courses followed by a demo production session, run away. A major problem the industry has is that there's a lot of people who will take money to stoke people's dreams- and they'll let you believe the VO business is glamorous, fun, easy and/or extremely lucrative.

It can be all of those, but it's also frustrating, a LOT of work, a business that you have to run, and far more effort than most realize. In the trenches, it's business and that's it. So look for a coach that will tell you the truth.

As to characters, I'd love to voice Vladimir Taltos from Brust's Jhereg. ;)

lostmylizard1 karma


corey_m_snow1 karma

Well, with nonfiction the expectation is sometimes to have a more formal sound. However, if you're hearing that, I should probably give some thought to it and see about adjusting it.

lickguide1 karma

How do you keep track of all the different character voices? I'm always amazed that one person can keep so many choices consistent through out a whole book!

corey_m_snow1 karma

I take notes on them, but with most books there's only a small handful to keep track of that are on the stage for any length of time.

ThatSteeve1 karma

Great AMA!

Edit 3 (1:30 PM Pacific): I'm going to have to get going pretty soon, holidays and all- but if you leave a question, I'll definitely follow up with you as soon as I can.

Now that's the way to make a straggler, me, happy!

Do you have any pictures of your studio? It's always cool to see different setups.

corey_m_snow1 karma

My studio is a complete mess, so I'd probably feel ashamed of posting any photos of it. But it's just a small bedroom with auralex on the walls and some old blankets tacked on the ceiling. :)

dutchkimble1 karma

Do you listen to audiobooks?

corey_m_snow1 karma

I do to hear what other narrators are doing. I also listen to them for fun, but I prefer to read a book myself if I can.

lakelady1 karma

I just remembered another question I wanted to ask earlier . . .

Do you annotate your script on your ipad? If so what app are you using to do so?

corey_m_snow1 karma

I do, and I use GoodReader myself. A lot of folks I know swear by iAnnotate, which is one I keep meaning to check out.

mak14051 karma

Why is it that audiobooks are so much more expensive than paper books?

it does not have shipping, printing, publishing cost. Not even cover design cost and cost nothing to reproduce.

corey_m_snow2 karma

Well, there's the cost of purchasing the rights to it in some cases. But you have to pay all these people:

  • Producer
  • Narrator
  • Editor
  • Proofer
  • Engineer

And more (casting director, etc). There's also a lot of overhead in getting an audio production right. If I make a mistake, it's harder to fix and requires more specialized expertise than just editing a manuscript in Word to correct a typo.

A ten to fifteen hour book can involve a month's work for a whole team of people. It's not a minor undertaking! :)

Many audiobooks are distributed in physical form on CDs, and there's still an infrastructure cost associated with the ones that aren't- websites, e-commerce systems, and all that. The costs associated with an audiobook are quite significant.

That said, they're comparable in price to print books by and large.

OldSkoolSoul1 karma

Hopefully you still see this: how did you get started? I'd love to do voice acting and audio books, but I have no idea where or how to start

corey_m_snow1 karma

I answered this question elsewhere in the AMA, but please feel free to ask for further clarification if need be!

G4XTR1 karma

Do you do any exercises/gargling/etc to relax your vocal chords before recordings? Do you also do "long-term" exercises, such as regular neck training, stretching, yawning to maintain your voice? Thanks!

corey_m_snow1 karma

Hi there! Thanks for the question.

I typically "loosen up" in the mornings with some vocal exercises, nothing major. I don't do any general exercises over the long term, but I do try to care for my vocal health (not screaming, avoiding overusing my voice, not working when I have a cold/sore throat, etc).

Vazmanian1 karma

Have you ever done erotic narration? Or would you?

corey_m_snow1 karma

I've done a fair bit of books with erotic content in them- not pure erotica, but romances with sex scenes. I do those under a pseudonym.

ninfan2001 karma

I'd like to Narrate an Audiobook someday, how do I get into a job like that?

corey_m_snow5 karma

Same way you get to Carnegie Hall! (practice, practice, practice).

One thing I did for years - and still do, in fact- was read out loud, all the time as much as I could. I read to my family every night, for up to an hour before the kids go to bed.

We've gone through libraries of books together- Harry Potter, Dune, the Taltos novels, Foundation, the Dark is Rising sequence, LOTR, The Hobbit, His Dark Materials, The Hunger Games... it goes on and on. My son is 15 and I've been reading out loud to him every night since he was five.

It's a great way to build your skill, stamina (a very important factor!) and your confidence in a non-threatening environment. Another thing to try is to record yourself reading a book you like, and play it back. What did you like, what did you not like? Compare it to a professionally produced audiobook and see what sounds different, and iterate on that.

But as I've said elsewhere, nothing's more valuable than training and coaching in this business.

AnotherDrunkCanadian1 karma

Hi Corey,

I've been playing around with an idea for quite some time now - something like a podcast, or live-reading of a book - maybe a chapter per night, and people can tune in to listen to you read in real time.

Have you ever thought/considered something like this? Think it could become a thing? Has it been done before?

corey_m_snow2 karma

I'd love to do something like that. I volunteer at my local library to read every month, and it's a lot of fun to do. I also used to read to my corp in EVE Online (corp==guild if you've never played EVE) when we were on Vent together and bored.

But the challenge behind something like what you describe is simply copyright. Public performances without permission are forbidden. It becomes a big nasty mess and quickly too much trouble unless you're dealing strictly with stuff that's out of copyright.

piponwa-2 karma

How much work do you put into a 30 second ad?

corey_m_snow1 karma

I don't really do commercials, but in the few cases where I have- quite a lot more than you'd think. Sometimes an hour or more can go into it, if you're doing a directed session.