Transcript

Dave Bricker (00:01)

Want to expand your speaking and storytelling skills and grow your influence business? This is Speakypedia Media brought to you by Speakypedia .com. I'm your host, Dave Bricker, bringing you straight talk and smart strategies from visionary speakers and thought leaders. My guest has been seen and heard on the people versus OJ, Lost, How I Met Your Mother, The Bold and the Beautiful.

 

The Mentalist, The Unit, CSI, Chuck, Good Luck Charlie, Ant Farm, Touch, The Finder, Perception, and he's best known as the creepy evil puppet master Eric Doyle on NBC's Heroes. He teaches the art of voice acting to professional actors and voice talent at voheros .com, and he guides authors through the lovely process of narrating their own at narrateyourownbook .com.

 

Please help me welcome David H. Lawrence, the 17th.

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (01:02)

Woo! Woo! Woo! Woo, he's awesome! Woo!

 

Dave Bricker (01:04)

Yeah

 

Alright, was that for me? Did I do a great job on the introduction? Oh.

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (01:13)

That was great. I feel… I'm exhausted. I've been busy.

 

Dave Bricker (01:16)

Absolutely. So David, before we dive in, because there's got to be a story here, there aren't many people who get to put a 17 after their name. That's 18 generations of people who like their fathers enough to want to be named after them. And most people wouldn't keep track for what, a thousand years?

 

And most families would have given birth to daughters or died in some calamity. What is the story of David H. Lawrence the 17th?

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (01:40)

So.

 

I did just that, I have two lovely young daughters. So I'd just like to take a moment to remind you, after that lovely introduction, that I work in the world of show business. And perhaps, just thinking, just saying, perhaps, it might be a stage name. It might be, I'm just saying. What happened was, in the early 2000s, you have to pick a name when you join the union. At the time, it was just SAG.

 

And that name has to be unique. You can't have the same name as somebody else that somebody else uses for credits and for their stage name.

 

Dave Bricker (02:23)

So are you telling me that Benedict Cumberbatch's mother didn't name him that?

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (02:29)

As far as I know that's his actual name and I may be wrong But I'm pretty sure that's his name and of course he he gets all kinds of guff about that from everybody and When he was on between two ferns it was the funniest thing ever when they started talking about his name But no I was sitting there on the phone with the SAG -AFTRA lady trying to find a version of my name that wasn't taken already and I also was looking at IMDB and on IMDB I am the 17th David Lawrence because

 

there are 16 others that have taken all the versions of my name. And so just as a joke, I said to the woman on the phone at the office, at the union office, okay, what about David H. Lawrence the 17th? There's this pause and she goes, yeah, that works, click. So I'm kind of stuck with it, but I've created a backstory. One of the writing exercises was a backstory to respond to fans who write in and ask, what's the whole deal with the 17th?

 

Dave Bricker (03:15)

Ha ha ha!

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (03:28)

We talk about going back to Scotland in the mid 1500s. It's all made up. It's all made up.

 

Dave Bricker (03:34)

Hey, why let the truth stand in the way of a good story? I love it, but I had to ask and I appreciate your candor with it too. That's fun. So, okay, on to speaking and storytelling because there's so much to explore in this overlap between acting and speaking. Comment on that if you will.

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (03:37)

Exactly.

 

So speaking is a form of acting. Acting involves speaking, movement, understanding your environment, and reacting in a way that makes sense. The art of public speaking to me is a very specialized, stylized version of acting, just like being on the radio would be, just like doing a session in front of a group of executives might be.

 

And I've done all those things and they all have slightly different approaches to what is essentially the art of storytelling. It depends on the environment you're in, it depends on the content, the subject matter, etc. But public speaking for me is one of the favorite things that I do in life and I think I'm better at it because I do have some acting and I'm comfortable in front of crowds but…

 

I also think that there's this lovely humanity when somebody clearly is uncomfortable and they're trying to not show it. That's a moment that is just delicious. So I have no idea if that answers your question. Yeah, they do. They do. Yeah.

 

Dave Bricker (05:04)

And audiences love that. People need to know that. And it's funny how you bring that up, this relationship, because I've always called speaking the art of fourth wall theater. For those who are not familiar with the term fourth wall, think of the stage behind you, the wings around you as being three walls, and the audience is observing a play through the fourth wall. And when somebody…

 

Like when Ryan Reynolds comes out at the end of Deadpool after the credits roll, he says, what, you're still here? Go get a life. The movie's over. That's breaking the fourth wall. And this is what speakers do. But too many speakers are so wrapped up in their topic, in their information. What are they missing out on if they don't study acting?

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (05:54)

Well, you certainly want to be the most enthusiastic, world's number one cheerleader for your content, for your subject. You want to be enthusiastic about what you're talking about because that's infectious. You know, you walk down the street and somebody's looking up at the second story at a building. What do you do? What are you looking at? I'm now interested in what you're interested in, right? My acting coach said many times,

 

to be interesting, be interested. And people can't help but wonder why this is something that has captured the bulk of your attention. And so when you are interested, that's a great first step. But the second step for me is how do you serve the audience in a way that is really satisfying and really clever without being too clever?

 

that holds their interest and that gets your point across. I mean, it depends on the reason you're speaking. Are you speaking to convert the masses or are you preaching to the choir? Those are two different ways of approaching speech, a presentation. And there are a hundred other ways to do it. And I think acting does a great job of cluing you in on what you're working with. Who's the audience? What do they want?

 

What do you want them to have despite what they want? There's so many things to consider.

 

Dave Bricker (07:28)

Yes. And it's interesting. Like if you study acting at a university, you go to voice class, you work with a voice coach and you spend time working out because you are a voice athlete. And so many people who make a living with their voices don't think of themselves as professional speakers, teachers, attorneys, sales pros. And then most professional speakers don't think of themselves as voice athletes. But

 

We are voice athletes. What can we do to build power, tone, stamina, range, the same qualities we might try to improve in our bodies in a gym because speakers? Clueless.

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (08:12)

There's two levels to the answer to that question. Number one is you can do some reasonably easy things like go easy on yourself, hydrate, understand the differences between speaking softly and speaking with some force. The other side to that answer is don't worry so much about it. We don't get up in the morning and think I'm gonna be talking to approximately a half dozen people today. I better warm up.

 

I better do something. I better, you know, people ask me what my warm -up procedure is, and they're sorely disappointed when I share it with them, which is this. And the coffee that I'm sipping right now. I mean, it's like, there is no moment five minutes before you go on stage where you can change the world when it comes to your voice. It starts a few hours earlier when you're sipping water, staying hydrated.

 

Maybe speaking to others just on a casual basis to get the pipes flowing, but I think people worry an awful lot about that and they don't have to. Does that make sense?

 

Dave Bricker (09:22)

It does, but there's the pre -speech warm -up, which, like you say, hydrate, take care of yourself, and the obvious things like don't smoke and, I mean, take care of your vocal cords the way you would any other part of your body. And this branches into eating healthy eating, blah, blah, blah. But then there's…

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (09:43)

Sure. Well, look at me. Look at me. I don't, you know, this amazingly beautiful face and this gorgeous physique didn't build itself, young man. This is like, you know, I think that vocal coaches, some vocal coaches, make a great living scaring the bejesus out of people about their vocal health, about…

 

Dave Bricker (09:53)

Ha ha ha!

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (10:12)

you know, you have to stand when you do things. I narrate audiobooks. I know thousands of people who narrate audiobooks. Not a single one of them stands when they do their work. Uh -oh, what about all that I got about my diaphragm and my, you know, that's for singing. And singing is a very different animal than public speaking, than narration, than acting in general. If you were on a set,

 

I don't know, have you ever been on an actual professional television set before?

 

Dave Bricker (10:45)

Just briefly for interviews and things like that, but never for a dramatic production.

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (10:51)

Okay, so if you were maybe ten feet away from two actors that were engaged in a normal level conversation in the scene, you know, say, you know, you're two cops in the bullpen at a police station and you're discussing a case and you're not exercised about it, you're just talking normally. If you were 10 feet away, there's a very good chance you couldn't hear a single word.

 

that those people are saying. They often talk like this, very softly. And there's a reason for that. It depends on the size of the shot. The closer you are to the actor's face, the lower the viewer expects their voice to be. The further away you are, the louder you get as an actor. These are all things that are behind the scenes that we never share with the muggles out there. But the truth of the matter is, is that singing is a completely different animal. It's much higher sound pressure levels.

 

you're fairly shouting for three and a half to five minutes to a melody and on beat. And that's a different approach to how you use your lungs and your ability to make sound than sitting down and narrating an audio or even doing a speech that's microphone assisted from a stage. So it's a little bit different. And I think some people, because they see the end result,

 

make assumptions about how that end result is created that may or may not be true.

 

Dave Bricker (12:23)

Yeah, I know I've been doing a lot of work with mixing audio and things like that and really learning about compression and how it works and how you make the soft sounds sound loud but still sound soft, right? That kind of thing. And that's a whole different world of fixing up the sound. But let's get into this whole topic of audiobooks and narrators because I'm a big audiobook fan.

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (12:37)

Mm -hmm.

 

Dave Bricker (12:51)

I have read so many in my life and edited so many that when I'm looking at print, I find it difficult to get out of mode. So I look for great audio books because I can switch that part of my brain off and just enjoy a great story. But very few audio books really rise to the level of performance to me. And even the word narrator maybe suggests a role that's been

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (13:16)

Hmm.

 

Dave Bricker (13:21)

minimized. I really like the idea of being a voice actor instead of being a narrator. I hear so few audiobook performances in which maybe somebody changes accents or if they're a male speaker they imitate women's voices or vice versa. People tend to stay in that safe box. So what's missing in audiobook performance? Especially what's missing that you are on a mission to fix?

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (13:52)

So I think that the best answer to that question when it comes to how do you approach doing audiobooks from the acting perspective, from the narration perspective, is it depends. It depends on the title. It depends on the content. It depends on the character, the cast that you have in the , whether it's nonfiction or fiction. There's always a cast. And it also depends on your own personal style. There are audiobook narrators. Great example is Barbara Rosenblatt.

 

Barbara Rosenblatt is probably the world champion when it comes to drawing very clear accents, dialects, characters. She's hired by Broadway shows to come in and help the actors really draw a bead on the characters that they're creating and make them unique. And then there are people who just kind of nudge at it. They hint toward a difference in the voices of

 

the characters with no issues whatsoever for the listener. As long as you can make sure the listener knows who's talking when you're doing dialogue or knows that you're delivering information, environmental descriptions when you're doing exposition, you're fine. There are

 

Audi, which is the Oscar of audiobooks, they're Audi award -winning narrators who really don't try all that hard to draw specific southern Mongolian accents when demanded. And then they do what I do, which is they let the words do the heavy lifting. The big, huge gift in the world of audiobook narration to the narrator.

 

whether it's an narrating their own or me as a hired gun narrating a book for a rights holder or an is that these words have been crafted and edited and re -edited and proofed and mulled over and, you know, sweated against. I mean, these are the end result of a long process. And hopefully that process…

 

ends up with a better product than it would have been had you just released the draft. And so I always say, yeah, and I always say, let the words do the heavy lifting. Now, I enjoy doing a lovely North Coast, Cleveland, Chicago, Buffalo, Rochester, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario accent, Michigan accent. I love doing that. I love doing some of the accents that I do understand how to do.

 

Dave Bricker (16:20)

And we see that happen all the time.

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (16:43)

But I am not going to kill myself trying to figure out how to do an accent just because somebody thinks that's what you're supposed to do. What I want to do is make sure the character gets what they want. Or the character stops the other character from getting what they want. Whatever the job is that the character that I'm inhabiting for that moment needs to get done, that's my job. My job is not to do a pitch perfect panhandle Florida

 

southern accent. And so, again, I think that people sometimes talk themselves completely out of the game when they worry needlessly about this notion of, oh, I can't do this, I don't know how to do accents and dialects, my voice isn't good enough for all this. You know, that's a fear that you can safely put into the bucket of things that you don't have to worry about, because your voice is fine.

 

Dave Bricker (17:37)

And I agree with you on that, but just as for here's my speaking voice now. And right now you're not really going to believe that I'm a southern woman, but I'm speaking a little higher, a little breathier, but it's enough. For example, if I'm reading a female part, and I think that's important for some of our listeners to know that you don't have to be a chameleon who fools everybody. But a lot of people I find in audio books, they're afraid to break out.

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (17:54)

Mm -hmm.

 

Exactly.

 

Dave Bricker (18:07)

of their own voice, because their own voice is what they do. And they do that well, and they don't stretch out, and they don't get particularly dynamic with the performance either. And there's so many possibilities there. And I know that you teach this stuff and teach authors to do this. And that's a whole different thing. So…

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (18:09)

Mm -hmm.

 

Well, what you just did there is a great example of what we teach. You know, the first level of doing different characters. Women and children, raise your pitch a little bit. Men, drop your pitch a little bit. And be ready to break those rules creatively. You know, there's also subtext and the way those lines are written. Is that woman the hero? Is that woman…

 

the bitch. You know, how is how how are her lines? How is her dialogue constructed? I was the voice of a series of New York Times bestsellers. And the protagonist in this series, get this 27 year old, Harvard educated, Buffalo, New York native, Irish American police detective who is a woman.

 

And when I got booked on these books, I called Penguin Random House and I said, did you make a mistake here? Did you want me? I mean, Absalom Carney is a woman and they're like, yeah, yeah, we loved what you did with her. And her voice was actually a little bit deeper than mine. But she was the strong silent type. When she was saying things, no particular waste of energy, insightful, dramatic, but not.

 

over, you know, she didn't, she never talked anybody's ear off. It just was the way the character was written. And so these things happen all the time. Kids and women are often cast as inquisitive creatures. Men are very often cast as overbearing jackasses. And so you can use that to your advantage. You know this as you're reading the book. And so what the words are, again, back to the words doing the heavy lifting, they make all the difference in how you do this performance. And you're absolutely right.

 

When I coach narrators, whether they are professional narrators, actors, voice talent, or authors who are narrating their own books, this is where we start. Start with what Dave just did, raising your pitch a little bit, just to make sure that the listener knows somebody else is talking other than the neutral narrator or other than one of the other characters in the story. But don't worry so much about it. You're going to be fine.

 

Dave Bricker (20:54)

Yep, that's, I love that. And that's a big part of my message. Everybody gets caught up in this, what if, what if, what if I can't do that? I'm not funny. I don't have good stories and that stuff's everywhere. So I love that. So we as speakers, we're always being told how important it is to publish a book. And there are a lot of reasons for that, which we won't spend too much time on today, but it's just.

 

Having something to sell at speaking events doesn't hurt, it's a business card that you can use for credibility and so on. But what's the value of an doing an audiobook and especially narrating their own book?

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (21:38)

Where do you start? I mean, first of all, it's inside you. You gotta get it out or it's gonna blow up someday. You gotta get it out. But the advantages of narrating your own book in terms of your street cred as a subject matter expert, your ability to form a community, your ability to lead that community, your ability to get booked on speaking gigs, you know, the book itself seems to be these days a bucket list check.

 

checkbox and I kind of feel bad for people. It's kind of like when that really hot chick or that really hot guy from high school, you find him on Facebook and they were losers then and they're losers now, but they're a life coach. They've just declared they're a life coach and you know, you've had that feeling, don't, don't.

 

Don't write Dave and say, oh my god, he's so offensive, that David Lawrence. The truth is, you make judgments about this sort of thing all the time. And I would hate to think that writing a book starts to be that kind of thing. I don't think so, because it's a lot harder than just waking up on a bright sunny Tuesday morning and declaring yourself a life coach. But if you have that need in your life to…

 

do the things that are slightly different from being a blue collar, office worker, salesperson, customer service rep, you know, if it's the calling in your life that's different, writing that book helps you define what it is that you want people to understand. And it becomes sort of a reference, a textbook, to the rest of what you do. So if you're forming a course, or you're leading a community, or you're…

 

Offering, you know, you're trading time for money and you're offering hourly consulting services, whatever it is now You have a touchstone that you can point people to so that they get an idea of what your expertise level is, right? I'm I'm trying to figure out if there's something I can add to the discourse on this that that is To help me out here. Am I missing something?

 

Dave Bricker (23:51)

Well, I'll give you… Well, I like the idea that, look, if somebody reads one of my books, they get to hear my stories, my information, so on and so forth. If somebody listens to my book, they get to hear me tell the story. And I like this idea that the audio book, even though it takes longer to consume,

 

It builds more of a personal relationship between the author and the reader. You get to hear the story in the author's accent at their pace, with their emphasis, and there's so much performance data, if you will. I hate to diminish it by calling it data, but so many performance variables that just don't come through in the text. It's like you can listen to…

 

a fugue by Bach, or you can look at the sheet music. And if you're a trained musician, you might be able to look at it and even hear some of it in your head. But it's not the same as hearing the music from the source by the composer.

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (25:00)

Yeah, and you can also do things like telegraph subtext and hide the twists and you can do all kinds of things with your voice that you can't do necessarily with the book. Also, while you're consuming an audiobook, you can be doing other things. You can do the dishes, you can drive, you can fly, you can do all kinds of stuff. And so the consumption of audiobooks tends to be a little bit more efficient than having to set aside time, sit down and read a book or read it off of a device.

 

But yeah, the levels of nuance that you can generate from an audiobook are different and myriad compared to the book itself. There are advantages to reading the book as well. You get to make the voices up in your own head. But you also get some guidance from the narrator when you just don't quite understand what, what did they just write there? What was that all about? I don't understand. First of all, I gotta go.

 

Look up this word, what does that mean? You know? You also, we train, when we train authors how to narrate their own books, we talk to them about audio bookifying the manuscript. And that's a word that I made up, audio bookifying.

 

Dave Bricker (26:12)

I love it, and I was gonna ask that question, so go right into it. I think I grok the concept, but go for it.

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (26:16)

Okay.

 

Yeah. So when you're listening to an audiobook and you hear the narrator say, as you read this book you'll find, or you hear them say, on page 47, what? Or as you'll see below, you know, or clearly there was something that was meant for a visual reader of a printed version or an ebook version of your book.

 

that was then spoken aloud by the narrator. And that's the way it was for the longest time. Once the smartphone came into play and the hockey stick growth of audiobooks occurred, because you could go from wanting an audiobook to listening to an audiobook in less than 15 seconds with the Audible app, all of a sudden, the industry has started to pay a lot closer attention.

 

to the preparation of the manuscript in a way that is much more satisfying to the listener. So there's probably three dozen different things that we tell people to comb through their print manuscript for and make some changes for when they audiobookify. Look for the word book. Change it to audiobook. Look for the word read or see or visual references and change them to listen and hear. Don't reference page . Take all of the images that you have to have.

 

for the listener to understand the story, maps and diagrams and tables, and put them in a related PDF that people can download off of Audible at the same time that they buy the book. That's another thing that we teach people how to do. So we make it beautiful for the listener to consume this product, and it's something that big publishers have been doing more and more of over the years. It started one day, I got a manuscript that was just redlined, and it said, as you read this book,

 

read was redlined to say listen to and book was redlined to say audiobook and that was it and then oh it started to kind of kind of steamroll and now it's like it's an easy thing to do but it makes it all that much easier when you do your job of narrating to make that book really consumable by the listener rather than the reader.

 

Dave Bricker (28:38)

So let's, and I'm just curious, let's take that to another level because it's one thing in the book it says, where are you going? Asked Bill. Oh, just off to the store said Larry, I'll be back in a minute. But if you're voicing it, it's like, where are you going? Oh, just off to the store, be back in a minute. Okay. Okay.

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (28:55)

No, no, no, no, no. You still say the attributions. You still say the attributions, but you switch quickly to the neutral narrator. Well, where are you going? Said Bill. Right? You always say everything that's on the page. One of the questions, I don't know why people think this, but they ask the question, do you read all of the dialogue attributions? That's what those little things are called, dialogue attributions? Yeah.

 

Dave Bricker (29:07)

Okay.

 

Dia logue tags, yeah, whatever, yeah.

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (29:25)

Every single one of them Because when the writer wrote she fairly shouted He meant or she meant for you to understand. That's what was going on and that also changes Your performance. Why are you going there? She fairly shouted It changes what you do and you have to signal to the listener that that's what you're doing. So I I'm sorry. I did that was that the question that you had or?

 

Dave Bricker (29:28)

Hmm.

 

Mm -hmm.

 

No, that's great. That's great. I mean, I'm just curious. I actually have a book that has about eight characters in it and it's 98 % dialogue. And I thought of rewriting it for performance almost as a radio play because it's my book and I can do what I want with it. If I was doing another author's book, I wouldn't touch it.

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (30:10)

See, here's the thing. It is your book, you can do what you want with it. But understand, you're doing the listener a disservice when you force the narrator to do that. Number one, the narrator may lose track of who's talking. If you've got a back and forth that keeps going, you know, your eye, you're not putting one character in bold and another character in italics. Unless that character's only thinking about something or muttering under their breath.

 

We have a whole lesson on how to narrate things that are in italics because it can be different things depending upon the context of what you've written. But you also give the listener a fighting chance at acquiring all the information in that conversation. How that person says the three words, I love you, make all the difference in the world. Are they telling the truth? Are they being sarcastic?

 

Dave Bricker (30:40)

Mm -hmm.

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (31:06)

Are they begging for forgiveness? Are they saying it for the first time? You know, I have this app called Rehearsal Pro and it helps actors memorize their lines and actors have to say their lines and it plays back over and over again. And I get probably once a week I get the suggestion, why don't you just have Siri read the lines to them? To the actors. Because Siri would read, I love you one way and one way only.

 

and not understand the context of the scene. We don't know, we don't realize just how facile we are with our voices until we actually start doing narration and we realize just how varied we can be throughout the day. And I tell them it's because actors need to know the context. Actors need to know why they're saying it the way they are, what speed they're saying it at, you know, how energetic they are, how underwhelming they are, who knows?

 

It all depends on the story. So yeah, there's a whole lot that goes into this. And it's what I love about training other people about doing this is helping them realize they've been doing this their whole lives. They just have to do it for the book, right?

 

Dave Bricker (32:22)

And at the same time, this is great information you're giving me. I'm learning a lot here, which is wonderful. So let's say you're an author. You've been listening to our conversation and you think, yeah, I really should narrate my own book. That makes sense. So what are the next steps?

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (32:42)

So first of all, speakopedia .com slash narrate. I want you to go check this out because what I did, here's what happened. Okay, over the last, I don't know, two decades or so, I've trained probably 3 ,000 actors and voice talent on how to narrate audio books and do other voiceover activities. And they're responsible, that student base is responsible for a little over 7 ,000 books on Audible.

 

right now. They're my students. I cry when I think about that number. It's so amazing. And every so often, in probably the 40 or 50 different versions of the coursework that I've done over that 20 years, an author sneaks in because they want to narrate their own book. Right? And they sneak in, and then I start talking about acting things that actors are familiar with, like sense memory and emotional recall and prior moments and, you know, staging and all this stuff. And that's when the writer

 

That's when the author has to admit, oh, I'm not an actor. I have no idea what you're talking about. And that's when I get to say, well, it's too late. You're an actor now. So here's what that means. And so I love that authors have kind of surreptitiously gotten in and done. But had I known that it was something that they wanted, I would have crafted a version of my training specifically for them, which is what I just did.

 

So Narrate Your Own Book is maybe 80 % to 90 % of what I teach actors without the stuff they need to know to serve authors. And it's all about production and recording and and performance, all the things we've been talking about here, dialogue, exposition, prepping your manuscript, working with ACX, working with , with KDP.

 

And then how to actually craft the audiobook in the end so you can say at the very beginning of it, read for you by the author. That phrase to me is magic to authors because it's one more declaration that they did this. They created this. They made this for you, the reader and now the listener. And so…

 

If you go to speakipedia .com slash narrate, you'll see the whole curriculum, you'll see what we do in terms of training, what we do in terms of, we provide you with the actual gear, the equipment, the microphone that I use when I narrate. You know, this micro, oh, so good. And we just sent out a whole bunch of packages this past week for new students that include that and include other things.

 

But we cradle you. We take care of you from the very beginning, just like Dave does when you study his stuff. Let's talk about Dave as though he isn't even here in this podcast episode.

 

Dave Bricker (35:39)

Hey, that works for me. Speaking of Dave, you're tuned into Speakipedia Media for aspiring and professional speakers and thought leaders who want to make more money by changing hearts, minds, and fortunes. My guest today is actor and voice talent David H. Lawrence, the 17th. So David, we're talking about getting into the production of an audio book.

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (36:03)

Mm -hmm.

 

Dave Bricker (36:07)

What are the minimum requirements in terms of technology? We probably need more than a laptop. Can we use free audio software like Audacity? What type of microphones and other equipment should a voice actor invest in? And I use the word “minimum” requirements, but minimum viable realistic requirements, not the spit chewing gum entwined model.

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (36:29)

Yeah. Right. So the computer that you have right now is fine. It'll work. If you're in the market for a new computer, I suggest you get one that doesn't have a fan in it just for convenience sake. You know, I use a MacBook Air. As we record this in 2024, the MacBook Air currently is at the M3 level. You don't need an M3 or an M2. An M1 is fine. It's overkill actually for audio work.

 

So any computer you have will work if you're a Windows person, you know, any fanless computer if you're in the, again, if you're in the market for a new one. Lenovo makes them, Asus makes them, HP makes them, Microsoft, the Surface Pro, all of those will work. Anything will work as long as it has a USB cable input for your microphone and you can get on the internet. That's it. We teach Audacity. In fact, the secret sauce of the narrate your own book training is a process I call the stair step method.

 

that makes it really, really quick and efficient to record, making mistakes along the way, and making it really easy for you to do your work. And Audacity is the software that I've designed that process around. It's free. We show you how to set it up. We show you how to clean the interface, to remove all the musician stuff that you don't need. Everybody uses Audacity for different reasons. You're going to use it for audiobook narration. And we help you sort of polish it for doing that.

 

The microphone that we provide our students is the Audio -Technica AT2020 USB+. And yes, I said the three letters, USB. And I'm sure that somebody is sitting there right now going, he's full of crap, USB microphones. You're not supposed to use USB microphones. You're absolutely right. Except for this one and maybe a few others that use really high quality electronics.

 

in the bottom of the microphone as opposed to the crappy kind that you would get from a headset USB microphone that are what those people are talking about to never use. You know, the microphone that we have is a beautiful large diaphragm condenser mic that just simply converts the sound to data before it comes out of the microphone, just like it would if you were to go into an interface. And if all this stuff is gobbledygook to you, I understand. It's why I'm here.

 

But that's what we recommend. We recommend you use what Dave is using right now, headphones or earbuds as you're recording, so that you can hear yourself overdrive the microphone and pop a P or overdrive an S or hit a vowel a little too hard and see your waveforms jump so high, so that you can fix it. Write that in there. And that's about it. Now, a bigger question is, where do you record in your home? Because…

 

People are like, oh, I live in the middle of Manhattan, or I live near a highway, or my neighbors above me are cloggers, you know, who knows? But you figure it out. You adapt to what you have, what time of day you record, where you record in your home. There's really low cost, no cost options to make things quieter. And we walk you through all those things. Once you have a space to record in, a walk -in closet or a…

 

a basement or something under the stairs or who knows it might be in the middle of a room like this that during the day is quieter than it is in the afternoon or first thing in the morning when everybody's gunning their way to work. Who knows. But those are the things and it's different for everybody but we help you find that out. It's part and parcel of what narrate your own book is all about.

 

Dave Bricker (40:09)

of that. And an example, I have to bring this up because I wrote my sailing memoir, I think I published it in 2014. And I found somebody on ACX .com who was a professional e -audiobook narrator, and he agreed to do it for a royalty split. So I thought, okay, great. And one of the reasons I went with him, aside from the fact that I loved his voice, was that

 

He was living on a cruising sailboat and he was making his money recording audio books on the sailboat as he went through the Bahamas and the Caribbean, whatever. So as long as you can find that reasonably quiet environment, then seems like it's something you could find a place to do almost anywhere.

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (41:00)

Yeah, you have to meet ACXs, which is audibles, requirements for quiet, for, as you mentioned earlier, compression. They call it root mean square normalization. Why go with two syllables when nine syllables would work? But once you do solve that math problem, you've solved it permanently. Now, he was moving around to various locations, so he likely had something going on in his boat that

 

prevented the wave noise from happening. And I actually had somebody who just signed up for the course last week that talked about shrimp munching on the hull, that it makes a noise. She lives on a boat too. And I'm like, wow, that actually makes a noise? Really? OK. All right, fine. So yeah, but it's different for everybody.

 

Dave Bricker (41:48)

Yeah, that's just so much great information here. So you have this whole school for authors who want to narrate their own books at this wonderful, easy to remember, narrateyourownbook .com domain name. And of course, there's speakipedia .com / narrate, which will take you right there from within the speakipedia .com website.

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (42:12)

do that. Please do that. It's so much easier to remember than narrateyourownbook .com. Speakapedia .com slash narrate. Please use that.

 

Dave Bricker (42:21)

Thank you. So just you've talked about what's the end result of that program. Can you summarize that program very quickly just so our listeners understand what you have to offer there and what they're going to come away with?

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (42:35)

Yeah. So it's a course, it's monthly workouts with me or with a member of my coach, your choice, where you actually narrate excerpts from your book and we give you feedback on your performance, help you get better at it. It's the recording, , mastering to audible standards. And we even have modules on what to do once you've published, how to market it.

 

And then maybe you've fallen in love with audiobook narration. Maybe you want to do audiobook narration for somebody else. We have a whole module on what to do beyond narrating your own book. And this is a lather, rinse, repeat thing. Once you have this course, number one, you have it for life, including all updates. But number two, it's not like when you go to a D .F .Y. house and they go, give us $15 ,000 and we'll do your audiobook for you, that one audiobook.

 

Now you have a skill and the gear, you can do as many titles as you want. If you're a prolific writer and you want to narrate all of your books, that's fine, doesn't cost you, there's no incremental charge for any of that stuff. We help you all the way through to learn the skills you need. So instead of fishing for you and presenting you with the haddock platter, we teach you how to fish. And we think, I think, that that skill is so satisfying and so centering, especially when it's your title.

 

You know that story better than anybody on the planet. And you likely, if you're a non -fiction writer, want to use that story to build your cred. So all of those things are the things that we know you want and that we help you get.

 

Dave Bricker (44:22)

That's marvelous. And that gear. Yeah, so it's all you're set up and ready to learn and ready to get a new skill. And I would think coming back to people who are speakers who are looking for opportunities, what a great way to build your vocal chops, acquire a new saleable skill, because it's all professional speaking. And I love how the…

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (44:24)

And we give you the gear. I forgot that part. We give you the gear as part of the… Yeah.

 

Dave Bricker (44:50)

Love how you have taken your interest in acting, your interest in audio production, your interest in speaking, and put that together into a unique offering. And there's a message for that for everybody here. David H. Lawrence. Go ahead.

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (45:04)

So we have a.

 

We have a concept, I just want to real quick, we have a concept in acting, and many other areas have this, all boats rise with the tide. In our particular case, it is when you get better at a particular venue of acting, whether it's on stage, whether it's on , whether it's on mic, commercials, industrials, drama, comedy, you'll get better in other areas as well. And if you really hone and refine your ability to narrate your own book,

 

I guarantee you it's going to make you a better public speaker. It's going to make you better in front of audiences. It's going to make you better when that bookstore invites you to come and do a reading for a live crowd. You're going to take your time. You're going to be better at what you do. So it's a building skill as well. I'm so sorry to interrupt your amazing closure.

 

Dave Bricker (46:06)

David H. Lawrence, the 17th. Thank you so much for being my guest today.

 

David H. Lawrence XVII (46:13)

My pleasure, thank you Dave.

 

Dave Bricker (46:16)

I'm Dave Bricker, inviting you to explore the world's most comprehensive resource for speakers and storytellers at www .speakipedia .com. If you'd like to access the Narrate Your Own Book course, that's speakipedia .com / narrate. If you're watching this on video, please love, subscribe, and share your comments. If you're listening to the podcast, keep your hands on the wheel. Stay safe.

 

and I'll see you on the next episode of Speakipedia Media.