Showing posts with label Sienna Beckman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sienna Beckman. Show all posts

ACX - Narrator Sienna Beckman - Guest Blogger

Guest Post by Sienna Beckman
Posted by Elysabeth Eldering

Since I've been posting my progress with the audio book side of things, I thought I'd let my narrator for Finally Home show you her side of things.  I have received the files but haven't had a chance to go through it yet as work has been rather hectic.  I'm shooting to go through the audio files this weekend and possibly the first part of next week.  For the release of the audio book, I've put Finally Home back in the KDP select program.  I'm offering it as a free download Monday and Tuesday, so if you haven't already purchased a copy or would like to gift a young girl who enjoys Nancy Drew mysteries my book (which is similar to a Nancy Drew mystery), next week will be the time to do so.


My name is Sienna Beckman and I’m an actor based in Los Angeles, California. I’ve been recording audio books for about 4 months and have loved all the learning experiences. Both of my parents read aloud to my brother and me when we were growing up, so telling stories has always been a big part of my life. I studied music (piano and trumpet) and played soccer growing up and was very focused on those activities. When I was required to be a part of my 8th grade operetta, Guys and Dolls, I discovered my love for being on stage. I was in several plays in high school and my passion only increased. I attended Occidental College in Los Angeles and earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts.

Becoming a narrator through ACX was very easy. They make all of the audition files and contracts very accessible and straightforward. When I’m looking for a new project, I will search through available titles for books that fit my voice type. It’s especially exciting when I find one that requires an accent, because I love accents and it always adds an extra challenge for me. Then I will record an audition file and send it in to the author via the ACX website.  (Audition files are submitted by the author and are usually a few pages or a chapter to get a feel how the narrator will read the characters and the story itself.)

(Of note, Sienna does read the books first before she starts recording.)  When I hunker down with each new book I’m going to record, the process is always slightly different. Depending on the amount of time I have, how long the book is, and how many characters, my process always begins with notes. I make a list of all of the major characters, some minor ones too, and decide how I’m going to shape their voice. Because audio books have no visual aid, it is up to me to create a very distinct line between characters, so the listeners don’t get confused as to who is talking. In my notes I also make notes of pronunciation questions I might have. My voice is best suited for young adult fiction and some fantasy novels.  If there are unusual names or countries or worlds that I don’t know how to pronounce. I always like to check with the author beforehand, if I have any questions.

When I actually get to recording, the chapter breaks are perfect break markers for me. I will record each chapter and then be able to take a break and rest my voice for a few minutes before continuing. There are several techniques to recording audio books, but my method is as follows: if I misspeak or make a mistake, I allow the software to keep recording and simply back up to the beginning of the sentence, or to the last logical point where I can easily make an editing cut, and begin again. This way I can keep my rhythm and continue along with telling the story. If I were to stop the recording and delete the outtake right then, I would lose momentum and the story telling would suffer.

After all of the tracks are recorded, then comes the editing and mastering process. This is the most time consuming part of being an ACX narrator by far. As the narrator, I am also the producer and editor, and must be responsible for making the completed files sound professional and ready to be sold online. I have to go back, listen to all of the tracks, and delete all of the outtakes. Or if I say a sentence or a phrase two different ways, I have to decide which way I like best. Then I have to go through the tracks and take out any background noise there might be, soften any speech plosives or mouth sounds I might have inadvertently made, and make it all sound seamless. Then I export the files as mp3s, and they are ready to be uploaded to ACX.

Along with audio books, I also write, produce, and record my own audio podcast, called “At the Beep.” It is a passion project that I began in the New Year that is about environmental and social awareness. Each week I highlight a different individual who has dedicated his or her life to making the world a better place. There is so much negativity and selfishness and greed corrupting the world in this time, and the premise of my podcast is that, on the flip side of that, there is also so much love, conscientiousness, and dedication to peace, health, and happiness. There are so many people out there who are so passionate about finding innovative, intelligent, and accessible ways for the general public to learn to live a green, healthy, clean, and un-wasteful life. A few of my highlights have been the Straus Family of Straus Family Dairy and Creamery, Medea Benjamin of the women’s anti-war organization Code Pink, Father Gregory Boyle of Homeboy Industries, and Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms.

Please subscribe to my podcast by searching “At the Beep” on iTunes. I aim to spread happiness, helpfulness, and awareness in the most accessible way possible.

Please visit my website for more information or if you would like to contact me.  You can also follow me on Twitter @siennagrace89

Posted by Elysabeth Eldering
Author of Finally Home, a middle grade/YA mystery

ACX Update

Last month I posted about the process of turning your print/ebook into an audio book using ACX.  I've now contracted a narrator or producer as they are actually called and she is perfect for the reading.  I've checked out her website and she looks exactly how I pictured Kelly looking so her voice and looks actually are a perfect fit for Finally Home.  I posted on my blog this past Sunday a bit about my narrator and links to her website and twitter as she has a podcast going and would like some followers. 

I will tell you  this, if you are considering putting your book(s) up as audios, the process is not a fast one because the narrators actually get offers during times they are working on projects.  If you plan on going this route, remember that the word of the day is PATIENCE.  If you don't get any auditions in the first couple of days, persevere and listen to more sample files and contact several narrators.  When contacting them asking them to audition for your book, mention what caught your attention on their sample files, tell them a little about your book and what you are looking for for the final book. 

Several folks have commented that the process has gone rather quickly for me, but in reality, I started looking for a narrator right after hearing Nina Bruhns from Entangled Publishing mention it at our local Sisters in Crime meeting, the 7th of February.  I listened to over 50 samples and contacted my top 3 choices (including the one I've actually contracted), and after getting their auditions, listened to a few more voice samples and contacted about 3 or 4 more before I actually got the audition from the producer I settled with.  By that time, I had already made a contract.  Before narrowing my choices down by genre, gender, payment type, the options were over 10,000 narrators.  When I narrowed it down by genre (teens), gender (female for obvious reasons - a male wouldn't be able to do Kelly and Emma Louise justice), and payment type (royalty split opposed to upfront payments),  I ended up with  79 voice files to listen to, but two of those were actually male (and how they slipped in there with me specifying female, I'll never know).  Of those 79, there were several samples by the same person or people, so I didn't really have 79 files to listen to.  Once I listened to the files and if something piqued my interest, I would then go to the narrator's page and check out  their other sample files and their credentials and all the other things in their profile.  Then I made contact if I liked what I saw and heard. 

I think this is a great route to go and if you  are not in the United States or probably  in North America (I think Canadians are included in the ACX process), I hope there are other platforms out there for you to get your books out as audios. 

For the release of the audiobook I've taken Finally Home off smashwords and Nook and put it in the KDP select program.  I will be offering the kindle version as a freebie on April 15 and 16 and again the end of May/first part of June (May 31-June 2).  I hope to have the audio released about the same time as my first freebie offering and hopefully more projects will be in the works by then.  I hope to get back to my state stories soon, trying to raise money via a funding campaign on IndieGoGo, to pay my illustrator so we can get the series completed in the near future, and maybe look into doing more of a series with my characters from Finally Home so there are a lot of pokers in the fire, I just need to get myself in gear and get to work.  I'm still looking for some story ideas to turn my character-driven story into a series, so if anyone would like to brainstorm some ideas for the characters, I'm open and can be reached at eeldering (@) gmail (dot) com. 

See you all in the postings - E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of Finally Home,  a middle grade/YA mystery very much like a Nancy Drew mystery
Author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad (JGDS), 50-state, mystery, trivia series - Where will the adventure take you next?

Ms. Eldering is the award-winning author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad (JGDS), 50-state, mystery, trivia series.  Her stories "Train of Clues" (available in print and as an ebook on kindle), "The Proposal" (available as an ebook), "Tulip Kiss" (available as an ebook), and "Butterfly Halves", all placed first, second, or runner up in various contests to include two for Armchair Interviews and two for Echelon Press (Fast and ... themed type contests).  Her story "Bride-and-Seek" (available as an ebook) was selected for the South Carolina Writers' Workshop (SCWW) anthology, the Petigru Review.  She also has written several other short stories for contests including the second place winning story, "Zombies Amuck", and "La Cave".  Ms. Eldering makes her home in upper state South Carolina and loves to travel, read, cross stitch and crochet.  When she's not busy with grown children still at home, working her full-time job as a medical transcriptionist or participating in virtual classroom visits, she can be found at various homeschool or book events and festivals promoting her writing.

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