We thought theprocess would be easier than it was. We were disheartened. Not yet willing to give up, we reached out to a couple of additional vocal actors, we received their audio auditions, and we sat down to listen.
These auditions were the best yet, by far. Smooth, professional, nice stuff. Even though they didn’t quite catch the sound of a 17 year-old teenager, the actresses were almost perfect….
And that’s the rub, isn’t it? Is it better to take nearly-what-you-want or should you hold out for exactly-what-you-want? More importantly, is exactly-what-you-want even available – especially on a 50/50 royalty basis?
We weren’t sure that perfection was achievable but we knew it wasn’t right to say “maybe” to any of these good people. We’ve been writers long enough to know that maybe sucks. Some time ago, one of our stories in After Things Went Bad dropped onto the ‘maybe’ list of a hardcover science fiction anthology being edited by a big name science fiction author. The story lingered in limbo for months…and we didn’t know it because the editor didn’t drop a hint that we were still under consideration. After we withdrew the story, he told us he'd been holding it for possible inclusion in the tome (the implication being, of course, that we were close but -- what if something better came along?). At that point, we didn’t care. We were tired of being a maybe. You either love the work or you don't.
Since we liked the auditions but didn't love 'em, we knew what we needed to do. We emailed the pair of narrators, told them quite honestly that they were great but not right for the role, and considered shelving the whole thing. Then one last audition arrived, the version promised by our last possible actress, the one who promised an audition in two weeks.
From the very first sentence, she was perfect. (Not that Renée was surprised. Renée thought her audio samples rocked and she'd mentioned it a few times. But a sample doesn’t = a finished product so he refused to be impressed. He is now.) We were delighted to offer the contract, our actress was delighted, and we’re working together. Per ACX rules, we were given a listen to the first fifteen minutes of the thing – and the tiny bit that didn’t work was played with, changed, and plays very nicely now.
So, yep, we're pleased. Because, when it comes to listening to audiobooks, we're satisfied whenever a vocal actor manages to bring a book's characters to life. We're happy if somehow the reader makes the book sound even better spoken than written.