I actually wrote this comment as my Facebook status a while back:
If I could go back and give my younger self some advice, I would tell her not to stress and fret so much about the future. Spending time and energy focusing on what she DIDN'T have actually kept her from enjoying the present moment and also kept that sense of lack showing up in her life. Things will happen and dreams will come true in their own good time.
#2. Are there any books that you've done that you are especially proud of? If so, which ones?
I’m proud of ALL of them!
I admit that I have particular fondness for the DIXIE DIVAS cozy mystery series and BLY VS BISLAND: BEATING PHILEAS FOGG IN A RACE AROUND THE WORLD, for different reasons.
The DIVAS are fun fiction! I’ve done 5 books in the series and eagerly await the next one. One reviewer noted that I have:
“expanded and fleshed out Bitty and Trinket way beyond what even the author had in mind. To read the text of the Divas would only be a shallow and two dimensional personification of Bitty and Trinket, whereas listening to Ms. Commins, they explode into your mind and come to life.”
BLY VS BISLAND is truly a dream come true! On 16 November 2014, I was lying in bed about to go to sleep when this divinely inspired idea came to me:
Do an audiobook mash-up of Nellie Bly’s and Elizabeth Bisland’s books about their record-breaking race around the world!
Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland were NYC journalists in 1889. On 14 November 1889, Nellie Bly’s newspaper sent her, a woman traveling alone, out on a trip around the world. She wanted to beat the time set by Phileas Fogg, the fictional character in Jules Verne’s AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS.
The morning Bly left, Elizabeth Bisland’s magazine decided to send her around the world as well, intending that she race against Bly and beat her back to New York.
I can't imagine going alone today on such a bold journey, especially with such little planning! I truly admire the courage and adventurous nature of these Victorian ladies!
Bly sailed east toward London. Bisland departed by train going west to San Francisco. They each wrote a book about their trips. Although they traveled to the same places in the same time period, they wrote about their journeys in totally different ways.
I decided to create a ** NEW BOOK ** from their accounts, interweaving their narratives along the same timeline!
I asked the very talented Melissa Reizian Frank to co-narrate with me. I was thrilled she immediately said yes and found room in her busy recording schedule to accommodate my short deadline.
I narrated Nellie's account, and Melissa narrated Elizabeth's story. The audiobook was released in late January 2015 to coincide with the 125th anniversary of the end of the race.
I truly have loved every book I’ve done. Every book has left some part of itself with me and changed me in some way. In researching pronunciations, I invariably learn lots of fascinating facts and stories about history, geography, and pop culture that I wouldn’t know otherwise.
#3. What professional organizations do you belong to?
I’ve been a proud member of the Audio Publishers Association for over a decade.
#4. How do you decide which books to audition for? What criteria does a book need to have?
In my blog article titled Karen’s Primer on Narrating Royalty Share Audiobooks, I outlined my selection criteria for all of my books under the heading labeled METHOD.
#5. Can you briefly describe your typical day?
1. A great joy and blessing in my life is that I no longer wake up to an alarm clock! I wake up when my body says it’s time to get up.
2. I am developing a new routine where I exercise in the morning. I listen to an audiobook while I work out.
3. My husband Drew and I usually go out to breakfast.
4. My recording schedule takes priority for any work in the day. Drew is my director and engineer so I can concentrate on my performance. We usually work 3-4 hours on recording days. I may go a bit longer if I have auditions and/or a tight deadline.
5. On days that I’m not recording, I might spend time editing my recordings, writing on my blog, doing client attraction and management activities, learning a new skill or improving an existing one, and/or marketing my audiobooks. Of course, I might do any of these things at any time.
6. I don’t have lunch most days. When I do eat lunch, I often listen to an audiobook at that time.
7. I schedule Wednesdays off every week. Reality doesn’t always go according to plan!
8. During pool season, I rearrange my days so that I can enjoy the pool in the sunshine, hopefully including a swim. If you looked at my Facebook status in item 1, you’ll note that I was sitting poolside when I wrote it! J I listen to an audiobook while I swim. I realized that I need to already know the storyline when I’m listening while swimming. This will be the year that I finish listening to all 49 hours and 7 minutes of GONE WITH THE WIND!
9. Drew usually walks our dog Yogi in the morning, and I take Yogi for a walk in the afternoons. I listen to an audiobook while walking.
10. If I’m prepping a book for narration, I’ll do it in the evening before the recording session the next day. I’ve found that my performance is better in each session when I prep the book in small chunks rather than doing the whole thing at one time.
11. We usually eat dinner out. We’ll watch a bit of TV at night, particularly if we can find something funny.
12. The TV is off by 10pm. I finish the day by listening to the Beautiful Instrumentals internet radio station and writing in my journal.
My work is my passion, so I do tend to do it to the exclusion of other things I love, such as playing my harp.
#6. I know you have tips for marketing your audiobooks, how much time do you spend marketing/promotion?
My top priority in my business is to find my next job, not to market my last one. Therefore, I don’t do specific marketing or promotion tasks of my audiobooks every day or even every week. The key is to be consistent with these tasks over time.
I created a publicity template in Evernote for every audiobook, so I can keep track of the tasks that I have done. I also have a promotions calendar where I plan promotions past the release date.
On any given day, I might do something quick and easy, like tweeting a tie-in to a book (especially if I can glom onto a popular hashtag like in this example) or adding the retail sample of my latest release to my Soundcloud page. I schedule things that require more time like writing blog articles in between my recording sessions.
#7. Are there any books, webinars, classes, or conventions you have found particularly helpful and informative?
I’ll break these resources down by topic:
· Grammy-winning director Paul Ruben’s audiobook narration workshop was a game-changer!
· I also adore Pat Fraley! I’ve taken 2 of his workshops and bought practically everything in his on-line store.
· An astute person would notice that I wrote under item 5 that I listen to audiobooks every day. Each audiobook is like a mini-masterclass. I listen not only for the content, but to hear and analyze how the narrator delivers it. My constant listening gives me ideas that improve my performances.
· George Whittam led 2 excellent webinars on Pro Tools for VoiceOverXtra. You can contact John Florian at VoiceOverXtra to purchase copies.
Voiceover books are on my Amazon recommended reading list, which I need to update!
The best book on marketing your services is GET CLIENTS NOW! by CJ Hayden.
· I filled out what Fabienne Frederickson, founder of ClientAttraction.com, calls your Unique Quadrants of Brilliance, as explained in this article. Once you’ve figured out your areas of Unique Brilliance, it’s much easier to outsource other tasks or decide not to do them. For instance, I plan to delegate some of my marketing tasks to an assistant. I can still have the ideas and leave the implementation to someone else.
Making A Fast Decision
· Steve Pavlina wrote a great article about a super easy way to make a fast and good decision.
How to Use a Journal
· When I started my voiceover business in 1999, I began keeping a journal on the advice of a friend who said I could use it to track my growth. I wish I had heard this fabulous and highly practical program from Jim Rohn when I started my journaling practice! I have implemented many of his ideas in my journals to make my journals even more useful and inspirational.
How to Become BETTER at Anything
· Jerry Seinfeld is credited with a secret to success that is guaranteed to make you better at anything you want to do.
· I attended Faffcon2 in Atlanta. The generosity of other VO professionals in freely sharing ideas at Faff events is incredible!
· I’ve attended several Audio Publisher Association Conferences (APAC). These conferences offer great opportunities to meet people in the industry and learn essential information.
#8. Is there anything I didn't ask that you would like to share?
Most people spend more time planning their vacations than they do in planning their LIVES.
I always recommend that people download Barbara Sher’s groundbreaking and transforming FREE book WISHCRAFT and do the exercises. If you don’t do anything else, at least complete your Ideal Day Exercise as described in this article.
When you always keep your ideal day in mind, you can make decisions based on whether the outcome brings you closer to or takes you further from your ideal day.
#9. A brief profile of your statistics like how long you have been doing this, how many books you've recorded, what software/hardware do you use, etc.
I have been a professional voiceover talent since 1999 and full-time since 2012. I’ve recorded almost 40 audiobooks in my stunning soundproof studio, where I have a Neumann TLM 103 mic, an Apple iMac, a Grace M101 preamp, and Pro Tools.
#10. What is your favorite part of being a voice actor? Least favorite?
I am living the life of my dreams, so what’s not to love?!
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/KarenCommins/ My audiobooks on Audible: http://bit.ly/KarenComminsAudiobooks