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APAC Round-Up

Audio Publisher's Association Convention 5-28-09

So, APAC has come and gone.  This was my first year attending, and if there's anything else I've learned, it's that I suck at networking.  I did get to meet a lot of "names" in the industry, though, and learned a bunch of new things that will influence how I produce more audiobook demo tracks and market myself to producers.

Morning Session: Employment and Visibility for Veterans

Ostensibly this session was to be about marketing yourself - what genres you're best in, and how to extend your flexibility.  We ended up talking about everything under the sun, a pattern I would see repeated the rest of the day.  Not necessarily a bad thing :)  There were a nice mix of producers, agents, and narrators on the panel, almost too many in my opinion.

A point that stood out to me:

  • Sue Mackewich from Gizmo AudioBooks stated "we remember the weakest track on your demo."  The other producers nodded their heads in agreement.  This is scary since it came up amidst the discussion of extending your range - or putting genres on your demo you may not have that much experience in.  John McElroy from Gas House Productions backed this up when he said that he loses confidences in narrators if they're clearly out of their depth.  This makes for hard decisions, do you put on your demo a track in a genre you're not super-experienced in in an attempt to get cast in that genre?

Accents, Race and Age

  • They called this session the "elephant in the room" and it's easy to see why.  There was some interesting discussion around race-casting, and why people want to hear certain ethnic sounding voices for certain books.  All the producers on the panel seemed united in recommending learning as many dialects and accents as possible...but then only putting them on your demo if you're "exceedingly good" at them.  Age came up in the question of whether to ever associate your picture or headshot with your audiobook or voiceover work.  The majority seemed to not care, or advise to not put your picture anywhere.  There was only one producer who said she likes to see pictures, so she can match up a face with a voice.

Added Value in Narrators: Productivity vs. Cost

  • This session was the weakest of them all.  It was supposed to be a discussion of how to increase your flow/productivity in order to save the producers money and therefore be more employable.  It quickly degenerated to narrators swapping stories of horribly unprepared people they've encountered.  We were also reminded, for the 14th time, that reading the book beforehand is a good idea...  There were some interesting little personal notes, one narrator on the panel said he searched high and low for exactly the right height of book stand, and another shared how he does push ups during breaks to get the blood flowing.

Navigating Through Genres

  • This session also covered a lot of the same ground that was covered in other sessions.  There's a few random things that stuck out to me.  Numerous people asked about how to create character voices for characters in a book when there's no physical or vocal description for them.  Some people suggested accents, but one of the panelists had an interesting insight: she suggested paying close attention for clues to physical action, or clues in the text about how the character is moving or interacting with other characters.  Throughout the day one of the veteran narrators would say "acting trumps accents," by which he means accents can be distracting, and good acting will often do the job better.  You don't need to change your voice to an extreme all the time, but by just having the attitude of the character the listener will be able to sense a difference.

Phew.  So those were the sessions.  Overall I was a little disappointed at the lack of "hands-on" sessions or anything similar.  That's not what the conference was about, though.  I wish I were better at elbowing right up to producers to hand over my card, but it takes me a while to work up to that.  I don't want to be that schmoozy actor-boy so much that sometimes I err too much in the opposite direction.

Here's a good take-home note: no one wants physical demos at these events!  I spent the money to get 50 copies of my demo printed and beautifully packaged, and no one wanted them!  Most producers just wanted to be emailed links to a website with mp3s.  There are still the hold-overs, though, that want a demo mailed via snail-mail.  So for now we'll have to keep wasting the money until the digital conversion is complete.

Of course, I learned a few things at the conference that leads me to go back and re-record or tweak some tracks, so those 50 beautiful demos...$200...down the drain.  Live and learn.

Reader Comments (2)

Hi, Adam! Thanks for posting the summary of this event. I couldn't attend this year and enjoyed your report all the more. If you join the APA, you can get a member list, which may help with marketing your audiobook demo.

Best wishes for your continued success!

Karen Commins

June 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Commins

Thanks Karen! I am an APA member, and I like that little badge on your site - "APA member." Did you make that yourself or get it somewhere?

June 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

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