Sunday, January 27, 2013



I entered into the venture of developing my books for sale as audiobooks, not knowing what to expect.  I had heard about the website, uploading a book's audition pages and info to find a narrator/producer and decided to try it.  The narrator who auditioned for TOYS AND BABY WISHES, Johnny Peppers, nailed my characters and their emotions with such finesse that I decided to buck the trend in romance to utilize female narrators.  I signed an agreement with Johnny.  This was the best first experience for me.  He was an absolute treasure to work with--professional, reliable and upbeat.  Most of all, I couldn't wait to listen to the next chapter of my book and hear it come alive. I was so impressed with what he could do with characters' voices, even when there were several in a scene.  I have since made another agreement with Johnny to narrate WHEN MOM MEETS DAD and I look forward to working on that novel with him.

I'd like to spotlight each of my narrators so you can learn a little about them and how they came to the profession of narrating audiobooks, as well as what's involved in the process. So today I'm pleased to present JOHNNY PEPPERS, the narrator of TOYS AND BABY WISHES, Spotlight on Johnny, Part 1.

Tell us a little about your background (where you're from, schools, training) and experience thus far.

I grew up in Nashville, Tennessee (actually Franklin, a little suburb) with my beautiful wife.  I have many jobs, ranging from owning and operating a property management company to teaching Statistics at the collegiate level.  I have a MBA and am currently writing a dissertation for a Ph.D. in Business Administration.  I also work locally as an actor and director.  I mostly work with community arts programs, but I have been acting professionally since 2008 as well.

Did you read as a kid?  As an adult?

I was not an avid reader as a young child, but found reading as a great way to stimulate my brain with studying for school.  As an adult, I learned that reading books and using the comprehension and imagination of it was very helpful in keeping my brain clear and sharp when reading textbooks, studying for exams, studying lines, and just improving my memory for business and personal use.  I usually have one or two books going at a time, and I read every day for fun, regardless of what else I have going on.

Why did you decide to begin narrating audiobooks?

I was acting in a play in my hometown community theater when when one of the other actors mentioned ACX and that he was auditioning. I had always been told I have a decent voice, so I decided to give it a shot.  I didn't know I would love the process so much when I embarked on this new thing. 

What's involved in the process from setting up a home studio, to editing, to putting up the book for sale?  How long does it take?

Well, I first went back and listened to a few audiobook clips of different styles and narrations to see what was involved.  I love listening to books at the gym or in the car, but I always listened as a consumer, and I needed to listen as a creator.  It's just a different way to listen.  The more I listened, the more I understood what I wanted my style to be and what I would be the best at narrating.  Then I started auditioning, with the idea that it would take some time to get picked (I'm used to the auditioning process as an actor) and I would continue to practice and hone my skills from the voice perspective.  I just used the Garage Band App on my IPAD in a room in my house.

I started with non-fiction books, since I am a teacher and that style comes easy for me.  I found that maybe I wasn't best suited for that, and that my acting chops could be used as well.  So, I began auditioning with a romance novel.  Well, to my surprise, I was picked and it was time to get serious.  I researched all of the potential editing software platforms out there and settled on Adobe Audition.  Then I took a 6-hour online course through to learn how to use the software.  Once I was comfortable with using the software, I bought Audition, a good condenser microphone, and a fancy set of headphones.  I was on my way in about 2 days, once I decided what I needed.

I had read that narrating and editing a book should take 3-4 times as long as the finished product (for one hour of finished audio, it should take 3-4 hours) and that sounded reasonable.  However, I didn't know how difficult it would be.  You cannot talk for hours at a time (your mouth gets dry, sticky, more noise happens from your mouth, and words become harder to pronounce with enunciation with fatigue), nor can you hunch over the computer and edit for hours on end.  So I broke it up into a little every day (record for a couple of hours one day--edit for a couple of hours the next day) so that I would be fresh speaking and focused on the quality of the finished product.  From the time I was contracted for a my first book to the time it was submitted for the author's approval, it was 29 days for a 6.2 hour book.  And I was pushing to get it done that fast.  Of course, I also own my own business and teach part-time for two different collegiate institutions, so fortunately I am a good time manager.

In Part 2 of SPOTLIGHT on NARRATORS, Johnny discusses the toughest part of narrating and why he chose to narrate a romance novel.  He also discusses what he looks for in an author's history to sway him to audition for their book.

View a Book Trailer for TOYS AND BABY WISHES

Hear a sample of TOYS AND BABY WISHES or buy at:

TOYS AND BABY WISHES Audiobook on Audible 

TOYS AND BABY WISHES Audiobook on Amazon 

TOYS AND BABY WISHES Audiobook on iTunes

 ©2013 Karen Rose Smith

Karen Rose Smith's romance website 
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website


Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Thanks for doing these spotlights, Karen! I'm really fascinated about the whole process. It's cool how ACX is not only giving authors a potential new revenue stream, but also giving narrators great opportunities!

KRS said...

Natalie--Thanks for stopping by. ACX is getting busier and busier. But I'm hoping more narrators and actors sign up. I'm hoping the audio market bursts wide open! :)

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading this. I know a lot of authors have been thinking of moving their novels into the audio market. Very informative.

KRS said...

It was all new to me and I thought readers and writers both could enjoy getting to know my narrators while learning the process. Part 2 of this interview on Monday. Thanks for commenting.