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What it’s like to be a Music Writer and how much does it cost | Rare Techy


  • Hillary Huber has authored nearly 700 books since beginning her commercial voice-over career.
  • According to him, the most difficult part is combining complex sentences with human voices.
  • Self-starter thinking is key to entering the field. “It’s about building relationships,” he said.

You may not know Hillary Huber’s name, but if you’re a music fan, chances are you’ll recognize her voice. Her catalog of nearly 700 titles includes a variety of genres and romances such as Annabel Monaghan’s “Nora Goes Off Script,” Margaret Atwood’s “My Evil Mother,” and Elena Ferrante’s “My Brilliant Friend.”

Before bringing stories and fairy tales to life, Huber spent a decade working as a voice-over artist. “When I moved to LA, my husband was reading, and I was sitting around all these people saying, ‘Oh, listen to your voice. You should do voices,’ and I thought, ‘ That’s kind of fun,'” Huber told Insider.

Although Huber said she had a “very good short run” as a voice actress, she recalled seeing older women in commercial auditions and watching their opportunities dwindle: “I thought: ‘I have to change. I have to do something. I can do it forever.'”

Over the past decade, audiobook sales have skyrocketed. A recent study conducted by the Audio Publishers Association and the non-profit InterQ found that audiobook revenues are expected to reach $1.6 billion by 2021, representing a 25% year-over-year increase. marking the 10th consecutive year of double-digit growth.

Huber shared what it takes to cultivate a career as a successful audiobook publisher.

Talking can be both mentally and physically draining

There is a woman in the house of mourning

Huber in his laboratory.

By Hillary Huber

Huber said the process involves more than just reading.

“It’s not about the voice – it’s about the acting skills,” he said. “A lot of people get into this because someone told them it’s good to do funny things, because it’s good to read. It’s important to love reading, but understanding to the text and connect it to the information in a meaningful way, and then get out of the way.”

When he takes on a topic, Huber reads the book slowly, holding a book by his side. “I write all the characters and everything that shows them, whether it’s physical or mental,” he said. “I love what other people say about them – everything that shows what they sound like.

Huber said he learned the hard way that there are no shortcuts. “I read a book and I read about three quarters of the book, and then I was like: ‘You know, I’m good. I know where this is. I’m included in all the situations. I just started.’ I got to 80%, right before the point where I read it, and they said it was one of those people who grew up in London.”

Huber had to go back and re-record to give the character the proper British accent. “That’s why you have to read the whole book,” he said. “But most importantly, you need to know how to breathe the story. I want to know who the bad guy is so I can highlight the red herring.”

He splits his time between California and New York and spends most of his working hours in a 4-foot-by-4-foot recording studio. To keep his vocal cords in good shape before the recording, he says, he avoids alcohol, as he’s dehydrated, and loud restaurants where he can shout to make a speech. In addition, he does language training.

By the third day on a project, Huber said, his voice was at its peak, but his voice wasn’t his biggest concern. Instead, the purpose is to keep people’s voices correct and to achieve speech-language sentences that are free of defects. “After five or six hours you’re like: ‘Whoa, I don’t know what I’m talking about,”’ Huber said.

In addition to the mental fatigue, there are also the physical limitations of spending long hours in a small recording studio.

“You learn the mechanics of your body like nothing else I can think of,” he said. “You’re locked in there for hours, sitting for a long time, you hear all the noise, so you learn what you can and can’t do. food.

The weather is also a challenge. Winds and taps or anything that creates background noise is not a good idea. Huber said every June, commenters take to social media to vent by sharing posts saying things like “I have an ice pack on my neck” or “I’m talking in my father.”

It is possible to work from home – if you want to raise money for a proper studio

Huber works with recordings from home. Although it has its advantages – it can save on travel, for example – because having your own studio comes with its own costs.

A lot of people, especially those who live in quiet, rural areas, do it by changing the walking distance, but Huber said you have to do two things: keep the tone and treat the pain. internal sound. “You can’t just go into a closet and record, because the sound waves bounce off the walls and you get this sound, it’s an open sound,” he said. “So, a closet in a quiet area is good. If you’re in the city or the suburbs, that’s a different story.”

But the hardware, including the computer, interface, and proper microphone, can be found for under $1,000, Huber added. “I don’t recommend using a USB drive,” he said. “That doesn’t cut it. You need a proper microphone to create a digital signal to get it into your computer, and there are a lot of free editing software.”

For speakers looking for a top-of-the-line experience, the booth du jour is StudioBricks. “It’s from Spain, and it’s beautiful and beautiful,” said Huber, who estimated the price at about $10,000.

Getting an editor to check your computer, mic placement, and levels every year is also a smart investment. “I’d say spend the $100 it takes to get an editor to FaceTime with you,” Huber said. “I’ve been doing this for many years, and I always trust the experts.”

Audiobook readers have different prices

Similar to the cost of a home studio, the amount of money a voice actor can make varies. “A lot of people start from the sidelines,” Huber said. “Some are doing it for royalty sharing through ACX, for the authors who publish it. Basically, those authors are writing for free, then they edit and own it themselves, or they get paid. one to do.” Although it’s a lot of work and there’s no guarantee of a set amount of money to pay for their work, Huber said, it’s a way for new speakers to gain experience and build a budget.

More experienced speakers like Huber are paid by the hour. “If you get paid $200 per hour done, and the project takes 10 hours to complete, then you get paid $2,000, even if it takes 30 hours to write,” says Huber.

A 300-page book, about the average length of a book, takes five days to write, Huber said. Reporters submit files for quality control when they receive “snaps,” and lines that require redoing. “You do that, and then you put your calendar in and it comes out so you can promote and follow the author,” he added.

Rates also vary depending on the publisher or production company and, of course, the experience of the speaker. “So it went from free work to low $200s an hour,” Huber said. “There’s a perception among new speakers that seasoned speakers are making $600 an hour, and that’s not the case. Maybe it’s going to increase in popularity, especially if you can ask for everything you want.”

A seasoned bookworm who works full-time can earn in the low six figures, Huber said. Seasoned professionals can also supplement their income by offering training or classes.

The most successful speakers are personal speakers

When most people think of becoming an actor, they think of an agent involved. It’s not just about reading audio books. “We do it alone,” Huber said. “Every audiobook narrator is a real startup. It’s about building relationships with publishers and publishing companies.”

The rise of virtual conferences during the coronavirus pandemic has made it easier for speakers to connect with companies looking for talent, but it also means the field has become more competitive. Because of that, many voice actors are needed to check out, which Huber really supports. “I’m a big believer in following the author back reading their book, so I think it’s a good idea to do a screening,” he says.

Like any freelancer, Huber said, he’s always on the lookout for his next project. Although he says that he tends to take books that come to him as if they are “small sites,” he draws a list of topics that he finds objectionable and recommends so do new speakers if they don’t like the content.

While writers dream of having a famous narrator take on their characters, voice actors also hope to work with some of their protagonists.

“I love working with Kristin Hannah,” Huber said. “She’s a dream for me — and Gillian Flynn. I also like the memory of the girl on the railway.”

“Some of my favorite books about women have been through some taxing tests,” she added. “It’s something to connect with that really tastes good to me.”

Huber, who studied acting but prefers to stay off-camera, offers the following advice to untrained actors: “Go follow someone community-college-arts class or an improv class to understand how the actor relates to the material.”

But even before considering that step, Huber suggested reading a book for a long time. “It takes three hours at a time to read it out loud and see what you think about it, because it’s not for everyone,” he said. “When most of my business colleagues found out I was doing audiobooks, I can’t tell you how many of them tried and said: ‘No effing way. .Give me a 30-second interval.’ It’s very difficult. It’s not like reading to your kids.”


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