Episode 48 final (1)
[00:00:00] Heather Masters: The VO Meter measuring your voice over progress, whether you’re a veteran voice actor just starting out or don’t even know how to set a level. We’re here to help you avoid the pitfalls along your voiceover path to success. The VO meter is brought to you by voice actor websites, vocal booth to go, global voice acting Academy.
JMC demos and Sennheiser the VO Meter is produced in part using source connect by source dash elements.com and now your host, Paul Stefano and Sean Daeley.
Sean Daeley: Hi everybody. Welcome to episode 48 of the VO meter
Paul Stefano: measuring your voiceover progress.
Sean Daeley: We’ve got a great episode today. We have an audio book narrator and coach Shannon parks
Paul Stefano: AKA Marguerite. Gavin are really excited to have her on to talk about not only her narration, but how she coaches people in narration and [00:01:00] improves their, their skill level
Sean Daeley: and why you might be interested in a pseudonym if that’s a, if this is a line of work that you’re pursuing.
Paul Stefano: Yeah. Uh, I use ones we talked about and so to Shannon and, uh, you’ll hear exactly why and the pros and cons of, of using one or not using one. But before we do that, it’s time to talk about what’s going on in our VO. Where else with our.
Shannon Parks: Voiceover extra brings you the VO meter reference levels. Uh, seriously, guys, that’s the best you could come up with.
Hey, it’s your show.
Paul Stefano: So, Sean, what’s happening with you?
Sean Daeley: Well, I actually thought we could talk about what’s new for the podcast before we talk about our own V.
Paul Stefano: very good.
Sean Daeley: Yeah. So you guys might have noticed we had a new intro for the podcast and it’s voiced by the lovely Heather masters. She’s been an old contact of ours from a, you might recognize her from our old VO meetup round table that we did a long time ago, and we’ll have to cross reference what episode that was [00:02:00] in a minute.
We could be happier with how it turned out. And we’re so excited. And if you stick around for the end of the episode, you can hear the new out-tro too.
Paul Stefano: Yeah. And, um, Heather also was in the live episode we did at VO Atlanta a couple of years ago, because that’s where you go to YouTube and yeah, you can watch a Sean David, Heather and I ham it up after a long night.
The first night of view Atlanta, we all sounded like it.
Sean Daeley: Just like a quad, her quad of frogs or something like that.
Paul Stefano: But thanks to Heather, I think Sean and I were texting back and forth after we got the first read and Sean said, Oh my God, she sounds awesome. And I said, yeah, we totally don’t deserve her or we don’t deserve her,
but thanks Heather. Fantastic job.
Sean Daeley: Yes, absolutely. But yeah, so we’re really excited about some of the changes to the podcast format, and we hope you guys enjoy it as well. So that’s pretty much it for what’s new with the podcast. But what about you, Paul? What’s going on in your [00:03:00] VO world? It’s
Paul Stefano: kind of slow in, unfortunately, I don’t know what it is.
Some people say January is slow for me, it’s been February. I had a pretty good January. Um, I’m finishing up one really long audio book and maybe that’s why I’m not doing all the marketing I should be because I’m just engrossed and finishing up this 14 hour audio book. I finally got to about halfway through.
And yeah, it’s, it’s been rough. Not the book itself, it’s just that because it’s so long. I haven’t done one that long in a little while. Most of the ones I’ve done have been between six and 10 hours. So this is a marathon and it’s not something I’m used to, quite frankly. So it’s taking a lot of my time, but I’ll get through it.
Um, other things that are going on. Oh, one thing that was kind of cool. And in the middle of casting a project for a production company that my cousin owns, it’s a musical company, or they produce music mostly for artists. And then also they do some commercials and he came to me and said, uh, I got approached to do a voiceover and I never really done one before.
So. Thought I’d come to the expert. So I [00:04:00] took it and ran with it and reach out to a bunch of friends. Can’t really talk about what it is, but suffices to say that, uh, I was able to find people that can fit the role. It’s four different, sorry, five different voices that I needed. And I just reached out to people that I knew could do the voices of these characters.
And so far so good there. They sent it to the client and seems like they like it so far. So. And it just goes to show if you hang around long enough, you can start helping out by casting. If you don’t, if you can’t do the job yourself or you need an additional voice. I do this all the time for audio books and now I’ve gotten, I’ve been able to do it for commercial as well.
Sean Daeley: Well, that’s something that I’ve. I had been thinking about a lot lately too, and that the more actors and interviews and stuff like that that I watch you soon begin to realize that the whole reason that they’re able to maintain a professional creative career is because they’re not, they don’t have so big of an ego that they are only looking for acting jobs, right.
They’re looking for production work for, for directing work, for writing work, whatever their [00:05:00] skillset. Right. Sometimes you just have to accept that there’s not a part for you all the time, but there might be a role that you can play and still get paid
Paul Stefano: for. Yeah, I relish those opportunities. We talked about how I’ve taken on a bunch of jobs recently, full production for commercials, and I like doing that and I’m producing a podcast or a twin flame studios that I work for.
So I enjoy all that ancillary activities that are still related to the job because like we talked about when we first started the podcast, even if even the podcast itself is good practice for the skills we use everyday as voice actors and it just helps keep you sharp.
Sean Daeley: Absolutely. Very cool.
Paul Stefano: So other than that, there’s a couple of things.
My, my son did, my, my middle son, this has booked his first job on voiceovers.com and that’s out there, or it’s about to be out there now. He got paid, so I’m assuming they liked it or using it. I haven’t heard back from the client. Since then, but sometimes no news is good news, especially when there’s a check involved.
And then he did another job this week. It’s a documentary film. So he’s dubbing the voice [00:06:00] of a little boy who lives in the Dominican Republic doing the English version of that. So he’s got two jobs.
Sean Daeley: Interesting. Did they ask for any like accent work on that one?
Paul Stefano: Now they just want it straight English.
It’s, it’s basically for English speaking children, kids in America that they can learn about cultures around the world. And this kid just happens to be a Dominican born. A baseball player, a young kid who likes to play, you know, youth baseball. And that’s what my son loves more than anything. So it was perfect fit for him because he gets to play this kid who loves baseball as much as he does.
Sean Daeley: Very cool. This can’t help but thinking of the future on the episode where everyone’s like, professor, didn’t you want to sell this business? I always thought of it as a source of cheap labor, like a family,
Paul Stefano: and we’re giving him all his money, or at least as far as he knows. No, I’m just kidding.
Sean Daeley: How do you think we afforded that?
Paul Stefano: Yeah. All the money, ma minus the money. He owes me for his latest shattered phone screen.
Sean Daeley: Yeah. But [00:07:00] yeah, it’s the acquaintance and responsibility. They can’t learn it soon enough.
Paul Stefano: It is kind of cool to have that, you know, the family business going though, I think we talked about how my other son got me a job in Germany a couple of months ago because he was cast as a, as a little boy, and they needed a dad.
And I don’t think the company even knew I was a voice actor at that point. And basically because he got the job, I got the job. That’s
Sean Daeley: awesome. Reverse nepotism.
Paul Stefano: There you go. So that’s about all that’s going on with me. Uh, what’s happening with the Sean
Sean Daeley: crunch time is the name of the game. Um, so I’ve just been working all weekend.
I mean, we recently had a new membership launch for . For GVA. We kind of restructured the membership and we’ve gotten a really positive response. We got about, we’ve got about 20 new members and I’ve just been busy making sure that they get to work with that or whatever coach they want, if they, if they’re a little scared to join a workout, I’m like, all right, meet with me for a little bit.
We’ll talk about what you can do at this. I’ll even do a little mock workout with you for a little bit and see what it’s like. [00:08:00] And the feedback has been, has been incredible. And yesterday I was working pretty much all day. I hosted my own peer led workout with like eight participants. And so we went for like an hour and a half and I was just, it was weird cause it was kind of like, I feel like I’ve been working with GVA for four years and so I’ve kind of absorbed through osmosis all of the teachings of like Steven rieseberg and Brian summer and Sarah Jane Sherman.
And then, and I’m just helping these people with like all these different genres. I’m like. What the hell am I talking about? How did I know how to direct
Paul Stefano: their minds? What my experiences at the school were? All the things that are coming out of my mouth. I didn’t know were even in there until I started trying to teach somebody else.
Sean Daeley: Exactly. I mean, that’s why I love, and that’s another reason why it’s important to kind of try out different aspects of it. Like I think every actor should try directing at some point because that’s who we work with. Like you need to. You have to understand things from their side and you need to be able to articulate to another actor what performances you [00:09:00] want.
Because as I’m constantly saying, the easiest way to learn how to self-direct is to direct someone else, because you need to be able to learn how to analyze performances, how to look at them, objective Lee, and to be able to kind of encourage those special snowflakes that we are to get where you want without making them break down and shutdown and all of that stuff.
So. It’s been a really invaluable experience. I think. So, yeah. We had those. And then meanwhile I was trying to, I was doing a whole bunch of editing to try and get my last a eLearning module with English. Anyone done that’s due this weekend. So, um, it also happens to be when I’m picking up my brother from the airport from Boston, so.
Like I’m trying to get all of these other things, including an audio book that I’m finishing up this week. So like I said, crunch time is the name of the game, and I did want to give you a shout out too, because you found an interesting opportunity for me in my neck of the woods on Craigslist of all places.
There’s actually this [00:10:00] independent art school called rekindle school. They actually work through. University of Washington on their campus. Uh, they’ve been working with them for the last 20 years, just kind of trying to provide affordable, creative arts training to, to people who might not have the means to get it otherwise.
So they have, they have stage acting classes on camera, videographer, drawing, cartooning, all these other things. I was like, man, this sounds like. A wonderful opportunity to get paid to pay it forward. So I actually arranged an interview with them last week, and then it went over pretty well. But then over the weekend, I actually sent them some footage from some of our, uh, voiceover workouts through GDA.
Just be like, Hey, this is exactly what I would be doing for you guys, but in person. So there you go. You’re your move.
Paul Stefano: Any response yet?
Sean Daeley: I’m not yet. So I’m still, I’m still hopeful though, that I told them I wouldn’t be available to start until April, so maybe they’re waiting till closer to then. [00:11:00] They did seem a little disappointed that I didn’t have as much like animation video game experience within the local market as their previous instructor.
But I mean, he had been doing it for decades and honestly, a number of Seattle talent that I’ve talked to have just be like, yeah, man, a lot of that work has actually moved to LA or even to online casting, so. So I’m trying to convince them that like as wonderful as that experience is, not only can I kind of give people the skills to pursue voiceover as the industry is today, but anything that I don’t feel comfortable teaching, I have all of these wonderful industry experts that I can like.
That’d be happy to have as guest speakers. Help me with those particular lessons if that’s something that they would be interested in.
Paul Stefano: Even local ones. You said Debbie Hurghada and Pat Fraley on the show.
Sean Daeley: Oh, that’s right. I mean, absolutely. I’m just like, listen to our podcast for crying out loud. But yeah, so I mean, it would be a wonderful opportunity.
So I’m keeping my fingers crossed be a great way to spend my weekends
Paul Stefano: and weekend.
[00:12:00] Sean Daeley: Um, yeah, that cause they, they just had the, um, that was when they had the highest, uh, demand for, it was just, I mean, that’s when people were free. And honestly, if it frees up the rest of my week to pursue my own work, it sounds perfect to me.
Paul Stefano: Yeah, that makes sense. I think I mentioned on the show how I tried to sign up for an acting class at the community college and I kept getting canceled. There was, those were all during the week, so maybe I should try the weekends.
Sean Daeley: Absolutely no, I mean, and that’s, and that’s another thing if I ever got in with this school, I was like, Hey, do instructors get discounts on your other classes?
Yeah. It just seemed like, uh, like I was really. Uh, I really enjoyed their mission statement and their philosophy and just the, the person who coordinates it just seems like someone who’s been invested in the, like in just media and arts for decades and really just wants to give access to people who might be pursuing it is just like a creative hobby or who might actually be trying to get into that profession.
So I’m all about that.
Paul Stefano: That’s very [00:13:00] cool. So we don’t often share places to get leads, but I’ll share this one because in this case it worked and I’ll credit a voice actor Diana Conley for fraternity me onto this. If you go to Craigslist, go to the gig section and just type in the word voice. That’s where I found this job and I find several others there.
Every week. It’s not a huge gold mine, but the job I just mentioned about, uh, for my son, the, the little boy in the Dominican, that was a documentary I found on Craigslist and not locally. The one I found for Sean was in the Seattle area, the one where my son was in LA
Sean Daeley: right here. Maryland.
Paul Stefano: Yeah.
So I’m in Baltimore, and the one I found for my son was inL a and. I find jobs all over Craig’s list all over the country. I use a search engine called search Tempest and allows you to search all of Craigslist at once. So check that out. If you haven’t already been scouring Craigslist for jobs, they will warn you there’s a heck of a lot of scams, just like all the other freelance sites.
So for every five you send out at least two, it will be a phishing scam. Just be be aware of that, but you will find some, some [00:14:00] gold and all the in all those Hills.
Sean Daeley: And that was the funny thing is like I, I was really excited and I told my brother about it, who’s actually a, uh, an ESL professor in Boston and like, and he’s just like, warning, warning red flags.
I was like, alright, I completely frame this wrong. Instead of saying, Hey, I’m going to be working for an arts college in Seattle, I should have said, Hey, I’m going to be teaching a series of workshops or an independent arts school. And then that kind of made him understand it. And then it was just funny because I kind of got to let like to share my knowledge of pursuing like being a creative freelancer.
He was like, what do you mean you don’t get paid until like, what do you mean you have to invoice him? And I was like, dude, I write. voices all the time. People don’t pay for one month to three months. It’s perfectly acceptable. So it’s just really funny to kind of like toot my own horn and be like, look, I am aware of the potential for scams, but this guy seems pretty okay.
Paul Stefano: That was the interview in person. Yeah, it was, you’re fine. You’ve actually been in the [00:15:00] facility.
Sean Daeley: Yeah. I mean, it was on YouTube’s campus. I’m not going to get shanked in the middle of YouTube’s campus.
Paul Stefano: Well, not for that reason. At least.
Sean Daeley: No, not in broad daylight.
Paul Stefano: All right. Well, anything else you have going on in, in the business world you want to talk about?
Sean Daeley: Ah, no. I think that’s enough. I’m like, honestly, I’m just trying to keep my head above water and, uh, until Saturday, and then I’m going to take a little bit of a break for the next two weeks.
Paul Stefano: Gotcha. Well, that pretty much wraps up the VO meaner reference levels. We’ll get to our fantastic interview with Shannon parks in just a moment right after our
Shannon Parks: course.
Oh, hear her.
Sean Daeley: Before we jump into our questionable gear purchases a word from one of our sponsors. VocalBooth two goes patented. Acoustic blankets are an effective alternative to expensive soundproofing, often used by vocal and voiceover professionals, engineers and studios is an affordable soundproofing and absorption solution.
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Paul Stefano: So, Sean, have you done anything stupid this week?
[00:16:00] Shannon Parks: Well,
Sean Daeley: yes and no. Nothing particularly expensive. I love traveling with my, uh. With my studio headphones, my biodynamic DT, seven seventies and unfortunately they’re pretty big. And honestly, I, I don’t like them just kind of banging around in my backpack.
So I did find a nice case for them. It was like 2025. Or it was like 30 bucks called the slapper hard case. And I know it’s fun. It’s got a picture of a hand. It’s called slapper. Oh, nice. But it’s actually, it’s really nice. And honestly you, it could easily fit like a smaller interface in between. The headphones.
So something like the mixer face or the Mike port pro to you. Or maybe even like some of the newer units like the road AI one, things like that. And then I just have, uh, like my, my little backpack just has a lot of like hooks and rings on it, so I just got a little Caribbean or to hook it to that. And so it works really well.
I liked it a lot, but it was a little bit bigger than I [00:17:00] was expecting. So, um, I was actually hoping you’d be a little bit more compact, but other than that, nothing to really complain about. But. I think it’s funny because we, it sounds like we both actually picked up refurb a wireless keyboards like the magic keyboard from Apple, and I’ve already gotten one in the past and I think refurb is the way to go, cause $100 for a keyboard is pretty priceless.
So both of the ones that I’ve gotten refurbished are about half that unfortunately. The second one has a bum shift key and a bum Waikiki. And you don’t realize how important those two keys are until they don’t work.
Paul Stefano: Yeah. Those are kind of important.
Sean Daeley: Yes. I mean, I got it. Like how are you doing? And, um, and a lot of exclamation points that turn into ones.
Paul Stefano: Wow. That’s a shame. But hopefully you can, maybe if you say, can you return it? Did you get it from a company that will let you return it?
Sean Daeley: Of course it was after the warranty and the whole reason I got it is because I wanted a duplicate set up at my editing desk as [00:18:00] well as our, like when I do punch and roll for long form narration in the booth.
So before I was just kind of, I had a little lap desk that I could actually carry to and from the booth, but I wanted to not have to do that so. I mean, it worked for like, like I said, I didn’t use it that often, so I didn’t realize what an issue it was until after the warranty. It expired. So I am, I might take it to my local Apple tech and see if he can actually like if he can fix it or something like that.
Paul Stefano: Yeah, just shame. Well, I had no such trouble. I actually bought mine just straight use. I wasn’t refurbed off of eBay. It’s a magic keyboard to the one that charges with a lightening cable. Yeah, and it’s so far so good. It’s, it’s pretty robust. Actually, last week, only a couple of days after I got it, I spilled almost entire cup of water on it.
Oh my God. Yeah. It was a bit of a disaster. I got the headphone cable caught on the water, knocked over the water, and it was, I didn’t. Have any towels handy. So it was like slowly creeping the whole water towards the Mac mini. So I grabbed the Mac mini and basically shimmy the, or, um, squeegee [00:19:00] the water off with my hand, but it got all over the keyboard.
So I ran it under a blow dryer for a couple of minutes and it seems to be fine. It’s been a week now. No,
Sean Daeley: I mean, you could have put it in a bag of rice, but that works too.
Paul Stefano: I haven’t had a chance to charge it yet. It’s still in its original charge, so I couldn’t, I guess electrocute myself potentially when I charge it for the first time.
Sean Daeley: He made me make sure it’s in a surge protector
Paul Stefano: before. Yeah. Or I’ll use it too. I’ll plug it into a USB hub instead of plugging it right into the wall. It should be
Sean Daeley: okay. Okay. Okay. Uh, but
Paul Stefano: I also got a magic trackpad. I don’t know if you’ve ever used one of those or that thing. Oh, awesome.
Sean Daeley: I love those.
Paul Stefano: Never had one of those before. And it’s really cool for editing and twisted wave because all those functions that the drag, they expand the contract, they’re all right there and you don’t have to move your hand at all really. So I was getting some, some issues with a regular mouse cause my, I was using one of those small.
Wireless ones and my hand basically became like a rat hand rat Paul, because he was constantly in that [00:20:00] hand. Yeah. It was constantly in a position to where like if I, even now, if I let my hand go holding up in the air, my fingers will just naturally go into that composition, which is kind of scary. So the trackpad is the exact opposite.
My hands basically flat on this, on the surface of the track pad the entire time. And I’m hoping that’ll alleviate some of the issues I was having with my fingers.
Sean Daeley: So honestly, the best solution I’ve found is to kind of alternate between that and maybe a more ergonomic mouse. Cause you can still get an RSI or repetitive stress injury from that.
How do I know? Cause I’ve done it. Um, yeah. Cause I mean, like you said, when you’re using sort of the CLI, you’re working more of like the wrist flexors and then if you’re using the, um, the track pad, you’re working the extensors. So obviously if you’re spending six to eight hours at the computer doing yeah.
Audio editing, something’s bound to happen, but yeah, so just be careful. As you can tell, I’m a bit of an ergonomic health nut, mainly because I’ve constantly injured myself over the years. But yeah, so just be whatever you use, be careful and get away from the damn computer every now and then.
[00:21:00] Paul Stefano: Yeah, that’s probably the best advice.
So one other thing I should mention, and I didn’t buy this, which is why I’m a little hesitant to, but what the heck I was, I acquired a blue Yeti ex, the new version of the Yeti, the original a USB Mike. I have a friend who lives down the street who works for lodger tech, and. They just bought blue. If you guys didn’t know that they bought the whole company.
So he got a whole bunch of mikes in. He said, I didn’t know what to do with these things cause you know I’m a mountian and a trackpad guy. But he said, I know you will know what to do with it. So he gave me one to try out and I liked it a lot. I did a video that some of the listeners may have seen on YouTube comparing it to the my four 15 the Sennheiser
Sean Daeley: and it’s good.
Some people got them wrong. That was nuts.
Paul Stefano: Yeah. One of my friends who’s a audio engineer in LA. On LinkedIn. Got it wrong. He thought that the blue Yeti acts was the four 15 and I guess that’s to show is how far the USB technology has come. So it sounds really good. It’s still plug and play with the USB.
Little peculiar [00:22:00] that it’s still huge. It’s basically the same size as the original Yeti, but that same giant pedestal stand with the two thumbscrews. So in my opinion, is still a little unwieldy and it still uses micro USB, which I guess is good for people to have a lot of old legacy cables like me. I actually have a ton of those.
But not USBC in case you’re looking to double up on your cables and maybe use the same one you use for your phone with a microphone that won’t work. So carry around an old micro USB,
Sean Daeley: but the sound really great. Um, I found out about this, cause I have one for my Apogee Mike plus and the mixer face. They actually do make adapters that are USBC to micro USB.
Paul Stefano: Oh yeah. I have quite a few of those too.
Sean Daeley: So that’s another option to kind of get more life out of your legacy devices, even if you have. Like, say an Android phone or a newer Mac or laptop or whatever.
Paul Stefano: Yeah, that’s true. But as far as the sound of the Yeti acts really good, I think it’s better than the mouse.
And very similar to the mouse and tone, but doesn’t have, um, it’s a little more full probably because the capital’s bigger.
Sean Daeley: It [00:23:00] doesn’t mean like the frickin third, sorry,
Paul Stefano: sorry. Not the mouse. Not the mouse. The, uh, the raspberry.
Sean Daeley: Oh, okay. Okay. I was about to say,
Paul Stefano: no, the
Sean Daeley: mouse about that one in a long time.
Paul Stefano: It’s the mouse is a different sound. This is the, um, the raspberry that I, I still have my son uses to stream video games with. But that was my favorite blue Mike that was, you know, under $1,000 up until now. And now this blue Yeti acts maybe. It’s really good.
Sean Daeley: That’s awesome. And I do want to talk about USB Mike’s for a second because I had started an interesting discussion about it in the, uh, the GVA community group.
And then there were some audio engineers who were just like, we’re up in a Huff about it. I was just like, look, I get it. I’m on your guys’ side. But honestly, some we, like you and I know lots of audio book narrators. E-learning narrators and, and just other people who have managed to get by with, say, an 80 2020 or an Apogee Mike, or a Sennheiser or MK for digital.
And the truth is, is that. The sound quality is getting [00:24:00] better all the time, but that’s not the only feature that you can, should consider when trying to get a XLR versus a USB. Mike, like things that you should consider, like we were saying before, is the form factor. How easy is it to actually use and manipulate in your studio space?
Like. I, one of my first mix was a blue Yeti pro because Juan Carlos Bagnall, who was like a audio engineer and casting director, recommended it for voiceover as one of the only USB mics that he recommends for voiceover at the time. But still, it was huge. It was clunky. I wish I had gotten 80 2020 because it was so unwieldy.
So. Like I said, sound quality is great, but it shouldn’t be the only consideration you make because the usability and the functionality, whether or not it has headphone monitoring. And honestly, once you start doing more advanced functionality, like trying to Skype in a client or trying to work with multiple people across a podcast interview or something like that, [00:25:00] like you really start to see the weaknesses in those devices.
And so. For the same price, why not get a decent or a decent XLR Mike and a decent USB audio interface, and then just be able to upgrade one or both parts as necessary.
Paul Stefano: Yeah, it’s a fair point. But I think that the argument about sound quality is almost out the window. I even, I haven’t posted this video that I did in one of the Facebook groups and Amanda Rose Smith, who is a fabulous audio engineer who will be on the show coming up, actually even, um, acquiesced and said, you know what?
It sounds pretty good. So. I know she used to be a staunch supporter of never use a USB mic, never use, never use a USB mic. So even she’s coming around a bit, it seems, so I’ll ask her on the podcast and we’ll see what she says.
Sean Daeley: Yeah, it’s great. I mean, it’s an interesting thing too, because there are certain companies that are going whole hog with this.
Like I’m thinking of like antelope right now. They’ve got like the antelope edge go, which is like $400 and then the edge itself, [00:26:00] which is like this whole system in that he just fits in this Lake. Gun case or something like that, and it’s got like a modeling amp and something like that. I think something like the Apollo twin, but in a microphone and it’s over $1,000 like who would, who is it for?
Probably not most people who would be buying a USB mic because you’re looking at, most of those people are looking for cheap or portable. Right. So again, like at sound quality should not be the only consideration.
Paul Stefano: That is the wave of the future though. You’re right. Louis is doing a product like that too.
I, I haven’t been able to figure out if it’s a USB or XLR connection, but they’re doing a modeling Mike now too, and I actually put in to be a beta tester. We’ll see if they send me on. I
Sean Daeley: hope so. Please. I’ve been asking them for their DGT four 50 for like years. Ever since I did their, uh, their four 40 pure, they’re like, Hey, thanks for doing a free review.
I was like, Oh, can I get a mic for another one? Hm.
Paul Stefano: Maybe some
Sean Daeley: of your listening Louis send us stuff please. [00:27:00] We love you.
Paul Stefano: So it’s now time for the interview portion of this show. We had audio book narrator and coach Shannon parks
Shannon Parks: as a voice talent. You have to have a website, but what a hassle. Getting someone to do it for you.
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Sean Daeley: Hi everyone, and welcome to the interview portion of this episode of the V O meter. We are very excited to introduce our latest guest. Margaret Gavin, AKA Shannon parks, has been a professional audio book narrator for over 20 years with over 500 titles, numerous audio nominations and earphones awards, and a devoted fan following.
She’s been described as a genre defining narrator by audible.com having a sonorous voice, rich and full of emotion, and is having the coveted ability to disappear as the narrator letting the story take the limelight it deserves. In audio file magazine. Her narration spans nearly every genre from mystery science fiction, fantasy, romance, and children’s fiction to a huge variety of nonfiction and documentary work.
She’s also a seasoned theater, veteran acting and directing and hundreds [00:29:00] of productions as a highly respected acting teacher. She was on the graduate acting faculty at Catholic university of America. Directed children of all ages and Shakespeare for many years, and now coaches, narrators, and the art of acting the audio book.
Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming our guest Margarie Gavin, AKA Shannon parks.
Paul Stefano: So Shannon, tell us a little bit about how you got started in the audio book business.
Shannon Parks: I’ve told this story a number of times and, uh, but it is the, it’s the truth of what happened. I was working as an actress in the DC Baltimore market, in the theater, and DC was the home of many, of sort of our, our, what we, I think of as our elder narrators coming out of the library of Congress.
And, um, so I knew a lot of them. Narrators that were, uh, a new, a lot of theater people that were doing audio books and had the privilege of working with them, the theater community in DC at that time and and now it’s grown so much, but [00:30:00] at that time, it just was really quite vibrant. And a lot of people were the audio books where their bread and butter, it’s tough to make a living in the theater.
And so I was sort of aware of audio books and surrounded by people that were working on them. And then I did a show with Grover Gardner and he really encouraged me to make a demo. And I was very resistant because I’m a people person and I thought, this is just not a great fit for me to be in a little padded room, not just with myself, and I thought, this is, this won’t be a good fit.
I was actually very resistant. I was already doing some voiceover work and some commercial modeling and commercials and that sort of thing, so I was, I was familiar with the voiceover industry, but hadn’t really. Done any work on investigating audio books. So I was one of those. Lucky people and, and in retrospect and incredibly lucky, I had a family [00:31:00] at the time.
I still have a family of course, but I had little kids. And Grover was just really very encouraging. And then he was kind enough to shop my sample around. He was an established narrator at that point, shopped my assemble around. And you know, I got my first books because he did that. And, um. That was sort of the, the beginning of it and it, it for a very long time, um, just allowed me to have a family and have a, a life without having to sort of, also have a regular day job.
There was. A lot of flexibility with the audio books as anybody that knows them, does not, you know, anybody who does them. Gnomes. So, yeah, that’s how I got started. I think my very first book was with books on tape, and then the second book that I did was, um, a lovely. Katherine Mansfield book called the garden party, and that was through Blackstone [00:32:00] and just started to build up some clients, send a body of work.
So yeah, Grover was very, very instrumental in all of that. And I, I had the good fortune of working with him in the theaters, so he knew my work as an actor. Dress and just kept saying, you have a family, this is going to be great for you. And I did kind of go into it kicking in stream, screaming a little bit.
And at the same time, um, Sean Pratt, who was my partner for many, many years, and the, the father of my kiddo Olivia, he was investigating getting involved in audio books as well. So because we were together, we could build our own studio and, uh, share it, which we did for many years.
Paul Stefano: I think we can all thank Grover to an extent.
I had Sean on our show is thank Grover and we can thank her over for being a guest on the show. He actually talked about the theater, the every man theater in Baltimore. Is that where you, you worked with him.
Shannon Parks: Um, yeah, I worked with him and then I worked with him in a, in a couple of other, uh, venues on, on things.
Um, we were just, our paths [00:33:00] kept crossing and this case, I believe that he was directing something that I was in, think it was as bees and honey drown or something like that. So he really was able to, we got to know each other’s work and there was sort of a Catholic university of mafia, and you see at the time.
So a lot of us knew each other because we were Catholic alumns or I was teaching a Catholic at that time. I’d gone through their MFA program and um, you know, sort of kept my connections there and, and was able to go in and teach the undergraduates and graduates in voice and movement into acting. So I think he might’ve been teaching there.
I, it’s a long time ago, honestly, it’s a million years ago. But yeah, it was partly just the great, good fortune of being in that community of people that were. Making a living, doing audio books before, you know, when I was a a student actor, it wasn’t something that we really much thought about. It [00:34:00] wasn’t, it wasn’t, there weren’t a lot of publishing houses there.
It just wasn’t something we were kind of going . You know, you didn’t go, Oh, I’ll go do soap operas or I’ll do audio books, or I’ll vote. You know, it wasn’t part of the equation in terms of how to make a living as an actor. So I was very lucky in that regard.
Paul Stefano: There must be quite a connection to the Catholic university.
Uh, I’m about to go to a fundraiser for my kids’ school and talk about how small the Baltimore Washington area is. One of the teachers might mind. Older son’s fifth grade teacher is a graduate of Catholic university. And the first time I went to the back to school night, I think I was wearing an Eagles hat or something, and he had a Phillies hat in his, in his office.
And I said, are you from Philadelphia? And he, he said, yes. And then it turns out I was from this small town where one of his, his, uh, students that he advised as the student advisor lived like three doors down from me. So. But he was a Catholic university graduate as well. So there’s a lot of connections in this small area.
We, that’s why we call it small tomorrow, right
Shannon Parks: here. Right when I was a Catholic MFA [00:35:00] program, it was just there. There was such good teachers. Uh, we were really very fortunate to have wonderful acting teachers there and people who had been company members at arena stage from its inception. It just some fad Jackson FIP and was there from center stage.
I was just very, very lucky when I was there. I don’t know much about the program now because I’ve been so far away from it. For so long. But, uh, it certainly was instrumental in for me, in, in, in creating the actor, giving me an acting process that I could absolutely rely on.
Sean Daeley: Wonderful. Well, speaking of sort of the connections and influences that impacted your early career, how important do you feel networking for the audio book is?
Is both when you started and now, and whether these could be like in-person appearances, like conferences or just, uh, any other meetings like working with fellow educators, like you mentioned before.
Shannon Parks: That’s a little bit of a loaded [00:36:00] question for me because I really think, I don’t consider myself a lazy narrator, but I have been lazy about the networking piece.
The truth of it is that I haven’t had had to do much of it. I created these relationships early on. There weren’t a lot of. Networking events. It wasn’t, there wasn’t social media when I first started. So those connections, cell phones,
Paul Stefano: when you first started, I mean, not a date, you know.
Shannon Parks: Exactly. Um, you know, we used to record on VHS tape and send it off in, in, in the mail, you know, so it got lost in the mail.
You were going to have to redo the, there wasn’t
Sean Daeley: a cop. Oh my God.
Shannon Parks: But what I have discovered is that the industry has changed so much and that the networking that, well, first of all, the audio book community I have found in just investing in it in the slightest way and sort of . [00:37:00] Dipping my toes and into social media and making a little bit deeper connections.
And certainly coaching has gotten, has, um, opened things up for me in terms of the number of people, what they’re doing, the kinds of work that they’re doing. So, yeah, I think that where networking and marketing may not have been as important in the early, you know. First decade even now, I feel like it’s absolutely necessary and it’s not my natural habitat at all on I’m actually very, I’m not a shy person, but I’m shy about that.
There isn’t anything that makes me more nervous. Then going to say, uh, an opening night reception after I’ve done a show in the theater that makes me very, very nervous. I’m not a good salesperson of myself. It makes me uncomfortable as it does so many narrators and doctors. So [00:38:00] I have to hold my own feet to the fire on that and really hold myself accountable.
And I do think, Sean, that it’s changed. I just. I think that certainly with the amount of independent work that’s happening out there, narrator’s really creating relationships with others. And I love that there’s a, there’s a different kind of autonomy there. Um, then sort of hoping, you know, con being in touch with them.
The big guys and making sure that you stay on their radar and hoping for the best, which is really how it is with the, with the major publishers. There’s something quite wonderful about saying, I like that writer and I know that their stuff hasn’t been recorded and I’m going to go get it. And I’m going to have a relationship with this author, and I’m going to be a part of this process from start to finish.
I think that’s really quite wonderful. I’m so excited when my students talk about doing that and making that, making the work happen for themselves. [00:39:00] So yeah, I think the networking piece has, has drastically changed, and I’m only just understanding the necessity of it. And not just the necessity, but the rewards of it.
Right. Really the FaceTime, for instance, I’ve never been to the audio awards even when I’ve been nominated, and I just was too busy working. Right. I just did not create the space for it. So, no, since I’ve been coaching, uh, I want to go to APEC. I’m, I’m doing two workshops at APAC. I’m so excited to. Lay eyes on people that I’ve just been communicating with electronically all these years and on the phone used to be, we would get on the phone with people, Ron Paul, but not anymore.
You know, it’s all email. And so I’m super excited to, to, um, to actually lay eyes on those people and certainly to wrap my arms around my [00:40:00] students that I’ve just been Skyping with and so often wish I were in the room with.
Paul Stefano: Yeah, it’s great that the, the industry is so rewarding. And like you said, that’s probably the best part.
I just recently did a book where I landed on ACX. It was actually a cold offer to me, but it turned out, again, I don’t know why it keeps happening to me, but the guy’s wife was from Frederick, so we, um, when he was in town for the holidays, the author and I, uh, went out and had coffee with the whole family.
He and his little. Little daughter and his wife and we met in person. It was the greatest thing just to have that connection, which I didn’t really plan to do. I wasn’t asking him for any more work or trying to get them to refer me to anybody. It was just a nice way to meet the person who I had spent all this time going back and forth with it, made sure I got his work right and had that conversation.
Shannon Parks: I love that. And there seems to be a, um, a different dynamic with authors because of course, you know, if you’re doing, uh, generally the books that I do, I don’t have much contact with the authors. That’s changed too with the [00:41:00] open up the internet. So it used to be that you would go to your author first for pronunciations, and hopefully they knew most of them, and then you’d go, you know, go into your heart copy dictionaries of German or Latin or whatever.
And it seems that those, and that was sort of your entree to a conversation with the author. And you sort of got to know them that way. It’s just changed now. A lot of times I get a list of pronunciations for a book that I’m doing, so I really have no contact at all with the author except to be inside of their book.
And, um, I think there, there’s the, that, that little piece, I wish it sometimes it really does feel like it’s missing. So I love that you got to have coffee and sort of just be in that. You get so intimate with the work, right? It’s, it’s a deep connection, hopefully to the book that you’re recording. So I love the relationships that I have with the few authors that I have them.
I truly [00:42:00] do. I’m grateful for them. So, yeah, with the advent of ACX and, and people independently publishing, it just seems that there’s a. You know, it’s just that the industry is, is, is changing drastically, radically. And I’m excited about that. I think that’s, I think that’s quite wonderful. I also think it’s wonderful that it’s opening up and that people have an Avenue to become narrators and get those titles under their belt so that they can sort of
Then keep working in support themselves. Um, anything that will help an actor continue to do their work as a fan and, and be paid for it is a fantastic
Paul Stefano: thing. Absolutely. So you mentioned, uh, working with publishers that you primarily work with publishers. That’s sort of the, uh, the golden goose that all new narrators are looking for.
What is the best way to make that happen to contact publishers or get on their rosters?
Shannon Parks: Well, um, I think, I, I. [00:43:00] I think that the, um, opportunities of FaceTime, you know, the speed dating, the, you know, as much as you can sort of get your, get, get, get that person to know who you are. It’s one of the things I find that’s missing for me and his relationships is that it really is an electronic relationship.
I was working with someone for a long time, back and forth, back and forth. And, um, I, in my mind thought that I was dealing with this woman for all like years. And then it turned out it was this guy that was way younger than I thought he was. You know, we just never laid eyes on each other. And so I think that personal dynamic that face time is important.
Um. I, I don’t cast audio books, so I don’t know how many sort of newsletters and reach-outs these people get. Um, [00:44:00] the casting directors get it must be a little bit overwhelming. Um, so, you know, I think whatever you can do. First of all, that to me, and this is, this is really the Avenue that I take with coaching.
Um, to me the most important thing is that your, your work is solid and that you know that your work is solid and you know what you’re doing. Before you ever start trying to create those relationships, you’ve got samples and demos and, and a solid grounding and process and in what you’re doing. I think people get ahead of themselves sometimes.
Um, but once you’ve got that, and once you feel like, yes, I have a piece of this, I’ve got books under my belt, then I think it’s about finding as many ways as possible to create a, a personal dynamic with. A person in that, in that building, you know, whoever it is. Um, [00:45:00] and I don’t think it’s an easy thing. Um, but I, it certainly is possible, right?
We see people make that leap all of the time.
Paul Stefano: I think the, the relationships is really important. I actually have started doing some casting and, uh, in fact, I just hired Sean for a book. Sean Pratt. It’s coming out. I went to retail
Shannon Parks: yesterday.
Paul Stefano: Yeah, I know you like that. So, yeah, he’s, it’s coming out in the next two weeks.
Went to retail today and. Just like you said, people do reach out to me all the time, and especially following up on auditions. If they’ve had an audition for a piece, they’ll reply and ask me like, what can I do? What could I have done better? Why didn’t you pick me? Is there anything that you can offer as a tip for next time?
And most of the time I just don’t have the time to respond, but if it’s somebody I’ve met either at APAC or a. Sean’s pre, pre APAC cocktail party or something like that. I will absolutely talk to them. This just happened last week. A narrator who we did [00:46:00] not pick, but I know very well because she’s been at the last couple of uncle Roy’s barbecues, uh, followed up and, and I had a personal conversation because that’s someone I know personally and it’s all about the relationships.
Shannon Parks: Yeah. I think when you can put a face to it and you can put a, uh, a dynamic, you know, that that person has a three year old at home, or this guy used to be a professional, you know, shot Porter or whatever, you know, you’ve got a, a personal thing. And I think because the industry is, um, I don’t want to say glutted because I don’t even have a sense of how many narrators the audio book industry can hold.
I, I just don’t. Um, but I do think that it must be very overwhelming, um, to sort of have that constant, a constant information from narrators. And, and if you can’t hang on just something about them, then they probably just get put in, into the, into the pile of narrators that. It’s [00:47:00] just overwhelming. How do you feel about people asking for advice from you when you’re in the role of casting director?
Paul Stefano: For me, I think it’s just a waste of time and not because I don’t value people wanting to improve themselves, but I don’t have time. When I get 120 auditions, I don’t have time to respond to 50 people or even really. 10 I might respond to two or three. Again, if I know them personally, but I don’t want the time to go through that many and respond to individual questions.
My job is to get a cast as quickly as possible with a quality narrator, and that usually happens in the first couple of days.
Shannon Parks: Yeah, I would think so. I would think so. And I mean, the other thing is that it doesn’t strike me. That is, that is, it is a casting director’s role to teach you what you’re supposed to do.
And often I, I say this to my students all the time, you have no idea why you weren’t cast. It might have nothing to do with your. [00:48:00] actual audition. It’s just the sound, you know? It’s just a, it’s a personal sound. And so what personal sound is that author one does the cat is the casting director trying to find for that author’s piece.
And you know, it really doesn’t have any . If you, if you need to improve your work, and we all do all the time. Um, but if you sort of know that you’re not quite there yet, that’s a different thing, then why wasn’t I cast? Because there’s no way to know. You know, it’s just too nuanced, I think. Um, and once you release yourself of that, that you didn’t get past because you weren’t good enough.
Um, I think that. That just sort of allowed excuse me, allows you to open up, relax a little bit. Understand that that’s not really, that’s not really what’s going on. When you don’t get a part. It’s not always because you didn’t perform well. [00:49:00] It’s often because you just weren’t exactly what they were looking for.
And when you learn not to
Sean Daeley: take that person,
Shannon Parks: it’s a very free one. I
Sean Daeley: said that’s the fear, isn’t it? I wasn’t good enough. But, but I agree completely and it’s just, that’s not the casting director’s role. And if you want feedback, that’s what coaches are for, which I believe is a service that you offer. So how exactly did you get into that?
Oh thank you. Thank you. I was stayed up all night, but anyway,
Shannon Parks: um, well
Sean Daeley: go. I felt like we were skirting the issue cause. Sorry, go ahead. I didn’t mean to
Paul Stefano: interrupt.
Shannon Parks: Um, so I have been, uh, teaching, acting and directing for the last 20 years. Uh, and I love teaching. Um, and, uh, you know, so for years, I mean, uh, Sean, who I was married to has been coaching for a long time [00:50:00] building his coaching empire, his ginger, Yoda, empire, and he knows.
What kind of a teacher I am and what kind of a director I am. And he’s been encouraging me to do this forever. And because I was so involved with the balancing act of doing theater and narrating audiobooks and raising a family, um, it just wasn’t a piece that I could put into place and I just sort of didn’t pursue it.
And last year, um. I started to think about it a little more and I thought, well, you know, why not give it a try? And it is one of the best moves that I’ve made in my career and artistically because I love working with people I love, I love directing and I, and I love facilitating another person’s success.
And I love talking about acting. So figuring out sort of how to talk about how to marry [00:51:00] narration and, and bring the acting into it, um, and talk about it in that way is, is infinitely interesting to me. And each person that I work with, you know, I want to create a dialogue. Uh, a dialogue that helps them.
So it’s very specific and very nuanced and very personalized. So I have loved it and I’ve been really fortunate. Um, I just sort of basically hung out my shingle and now I have a waiting list. Um, so, you know, it’s, it’s been, it’s been intensely rewarding, um, in, in every way, and I really think it’s making me a better narrator.
What I’m, what I’m listening to the people that I have the privilege of working with and trying to figure out a way to facilitate, you know, they’re sort of, um, getting them maybe to be more relaxed [00:52:00] now, maybe to be more on voice. Um, finding a way to access character, helping them deal with the process towards character.
I realized very early on, like. A student in that I wasn’t walking that walk. I was sort of treating audio book narration as a day job and then giving all of my juice to the theater and I was getting bored in the, in the studio. I was bored with myself, frankly. So. Having this conversation, this ongoing conversation about how to create it, to be honest as a narrator, and to create, you know, a deeper experience of the book.
I started to put myself through the same paces that I was putting my narrators through that I get to work with, and my work, I think is better, but it’s also just . Infinitely more interesting to me. Um, so yeah, it’s really been a win win all the way [00:53:00] around. I am so happy. And I told Sean just the other day, I said, I, I really don’t understand why it took me so long to get here, because it’s a variable.
Good fit. Um, and as I said, you know, I really, I like people and so this, this profession can get a little isolating for me. So it’s quite wonderful to take a couple of hours out of every day and go talk with somebody and be present with another human being as opposed to just with myself and my little middle little room, you know.
Paul Stefano: Well, if you ever sat down and watched some of the sessions where Shawn was with some of the wackos like Sean Daley and myself, he probably was scared away from coaching.
Shannon Parks: Well, I have to say I’ve listened to many, many, many, many hours of show. I’m coaching audio books. Yeah.
Sean Daeley: Um, yeah.
Shannon Parks: Well, yeah, it, it’s, [00:54:00] we share a few students.
I send him students and he sends me students and it works out very well because I, we were having the, you know, in the development of his curriculum while he was developing it. We were having all of these conversations, so I know it very well and he knows what I’m going to bring to the table. So we’ve had a, that’s been a, that’s been a really quite wonderful thing is that, uh, sort of once we get permission from a student to say, Hey, you’re working with John.
Um, is it OK if we, if we discuss what you’re working on. Um, they’ve got, I’ve got a package deal and coaches there, and I’m coming at it from a really a totally different direction than he is and vice versa. So, um, yeah, that’s worked out. That’s worked out very well. I think he’s pretty happy that I’ve started coaching and, um.
I’ve been very happy to watch his, uh, growth in, in sort of, um, [00:55:00] simple things. Not simple. That took time, but branding and, uh, just getting very, very established. That’s been fun for me to watch. Um, so yeah, I tend to be a little, a little less, uh, splashy. Um, but it’s, it’s really been just so rewarding to, uh.
To have an a and then then when you’re the people that you’re working with, when they have a breakthrough, when they start to really get a piece of it, um, there’s just nothing better than that. I was working with a student today who. But you know, we’ve had maybe six sessions and she sent me a sample of something she’s been working on, and it was sort of like, you know, night and day from end with just a few adjustments.
Just a few things to work on different ways, in different ways to relax and have a relationship with your audience of one, usually with [00:56:00] audio books. So, um, yeah, it’s, that’s been, that’s been really quite wonderful. Oh, that’s
Sean Daeley: amazing. I’m so happy that it’s been so rewarding and reinvigorating for you and your career.
Shannon Parks: Yeah. Yeah.
Sean Daeley: So, so talking about your students, that’s great. So talking about your students a little bit, you mentioned some of the victories that, um, that you get to witness every now and then, but what about some of the defeats? Like what are some of the, the hiccups or obstacles that students tend to, to have when they first come
Shannon Parks: to you?
Yeah, I would say that everybody, and this includes me and I’m sure, uh, you guys right? I’m sure, because we all have it. It’s that. Really active inner critic. It’s that I’m doing it right or I’m doing it wrong. Same thing with auditions, right? When you’re reaching out and saying, what did I do? Kind of, how can I be better?
There’s an implicit [00:57:00] sort of imposter syndrome in there. Um, and so quieting that inner critic, which is a very difficult thing to do in audio book narration because we are have to, there are so many things that we need to monitor. Whoa. We are recording, right? We’re, we’re, we have to observe ourselves. So how can we observe ourselves with some generosity?
Um, I’ll give you, uh, uh, a great example. It’s, but it’s a consistent example, um, simple though. So, um, when I make, I make a lot of mistakes, I, when I’m narrating. And punch and roll is my best friend, but I don’t try not to make mistakes. That’s why, and when I make a mistake, it is making a, unless it’s maybe I have to do four takes of the same darn medical term or whatever.
Um, I. It is so natural. [00:58:00] It’s like, Oh, I made a mistake, dude, did it. Dip, punch, row, drop, start, and in there there is no time in which I’m going code, you know, and angry with myself about it. I’ve really just gotten to the point where mistakes are so deeply part of the process that I’m not activating that inner critic and telling myself, what an idiot I am.
Um, so I had a, a student that was, that was what was happening. Every time he made a mistake, he would get so angry with himself. And. So if you think about that, that takes you so far away from the work that you’re doing, you’re angry with yourself, you’re stepping out of the book completely, then you have to have this big effort to drop back in and be there.
Um, so yeah, I would say that. Inner critic, that thing that is constantly badgering at you. You know, if I [00:59:00] spoke to myself, if I spoke to any other human being in the universe, the way that I speak to myself sometimes, well, I simply wouldn’t do it right. It just is not part of what I went through. Um, so yeah, of quieting that crises of confidence.
Um, I think one of the things also that happens with coaching is that you have to remember all of the great stuff and hopefully your coach will affirm all of the great stuff that you are already doing. Already bringing to the table and working on something doesn’t mean that you have to reinvent the wheel, right.
You don’t have to, you know, you have to hang onto the stuff that you understand to think you’re doing well and know that coaching is just about building that process and, and, and yeah, getting better. But. I even think about it not as getting better, but getting deeper. Right. Getting more honest, getting more into the, into the process.
Um, and [01:00:00] once you’re that concentrated. And once you’re offering that much of yourself up in an audio book narration, um, there isn’t a whole lot of room for, Oh, well who let you in the door and why are you here? And you’ll never make it as a narrator, right? You’ve got too many other things to do. So that’s one of the ways to quiet that voice.
And I would say, yeah, it’s just about a constant crisis of confidence, which. Is frankly part of every actor’s experience. You know, we all go through that. It’s an, it’s an extremely vulnerable thing that we do. As actor narrators, right? You’re putting yourself out there. Um, so yeah, those are the hiccups. Um, the end, and as we were talking about before, the auditions that you didn’t get the bad reviews, right?
The, the negative reviews. Making you think, Oh, that one review that just sticks in your column makes you [01:01:00] feel horrible, horrible about yourself. Um, can sort of, uh, I mean, we’ve all had it happen. I had a. Uh, of review. Uh, I had to look at reviews because it was building a new website and I wasn’t building it.
Andrea M’s was building it cause I, I could never do that. I was having to gather material. So I never read my reviews and I was gathering material and I had to read the reviews. And one of it was a customer review on audible. And one review of this book said, Margarie Gavin has a Brown sugar voice that I could listen to all day long.
The very next review was Margaret Gavin’s voices like nails on a chalkboard. Well, what do you think I walked around with for the next four days? Not Brown sugar voice, that’s for darn sure it was nails on a chalkboard and it got into my consciousness like an ear worm, you know, it was like in me and [01:02:00] I just, and I thought, I’ve got, you know, more than 500 books I’ve got.
I’ve been working full time as a narrator for 20 years. And yet this is making me feel uncentered and like, I’m terrible. So how has it making my newer narrators feel when they get a nasty review? Um, you know, so figuring out ways to helping narrators, um, to really be able to go. I know what I’m doing. I have a process.
I’m coaching, I’m working to get better. Right? And instead of there met their measure of their ability as a narrator, always being external validation to start to get their own sort of compass about that, of what’s work that is strong and how they might make it better. Um. But I think that’s very common.
I, there isn’t a [01:03:00] narrator that I’ve worked with yet, and I think I’ve worked with at least I think I, I hit 35 and I’ve only been coaching for a year. Um, 35 people, all of whom that inner critic needed to be quieted a little bit. You know, or a lot just needed to be quieted so that they could do their work.
You know, it stands in the way of your work when that chatter is going on in your head about how terrible you are.
Paul Stefano: We talked about that a lot too. We had a whole episode almost on imposter syndrome and voiceover in general and hell, that really can, can bring you down. I think the key is, is perseverance.
And once you’ve, once you’ve stuck around for long enough, even if you don’t think you’ve done a good job, because I critic is too strong. When you look back at your accomplishments and you see you’ve done several dozen books maybe, or you have a few books with several, four or five star reviews and really helps.
Shannon Parks: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And, and, and also figuring [01:04:00] out a way to, to measure your own success that doesn’t have anything to do with starred reviews. That you know, that what you gave on that book was that you did everything that you possibly could and you that and also that you really can’t please everybody.
You know, I mean, I’m certain that people listen to my voice and they don’t want to listen to me because I remind them of their ex wife or something. Right? That’s not something I can control. Not at all. Um, so all I can do is my very best work and often. For a off of myself. I’ve been as honest and as concentrated and prepared way as possible doing my job.
Um, but that does not mean that, that, that I’m everybody’s cup of tea. And I th I think also once you release yourself from that, it makes this job a little easier. Um, on other podcasts, I’ve talked a lot about sort of the [01:05:00] isolation of, of audio book narration and that it can really, um, that when you have that noise in your head of a lousy review where you didn’t get the part or you’re not getting the auditions, you haven’t gotten the last eight auditions or whatever.
Being alone and not having any release for that can it’s an isolating, you know, you’re in your own space. Um, sort of like, you know, writers have to, you know, they have to be alone and in their own space to write can be isolating. So, um, I think that can sort of, um. Creating an environment where you really feel, um, where those voices that are negative though, that those rejections get very loud.
There’s no release for them. Um, and it, it, it’s important to remember that, you know, those are just, that’s [01:06:00] just one review. That’s just one author that didn’t want your voice. That’s not the measure of your ability. Or your, or your potential, really. You know? Um, so I think, yeah, that’s sort of the biggest thing that I encounter is, uh, eh, or all of the other things that are, that, that my students so far have encountered.
I didn’t get this part, or I tried to create this relationship where I’ve been trying to contact this publisher with no response forever and ever. Um, all of it does. Actually boil back down to that idea of I’m not good enough. So what do you do to. Say, okay, I’ve, I am good enough. And that does have to do, I think with training.
Um, I, I actually, one of the things that, that really gets under my skin is when people think that they can do this job with no training, I find it insulting, [01:07:00] first of all, you know, um, but that they can, it’s an easy job. They can jump right in. They don’t need any coaching. And. Um, I felt this way long before I ever started coaching.
It was sort of like, wow, you know, you really, you really have to learn it. You would never go off and become a, you know, a radiologist without going to school for it. Right. Um, you would never learn to be a carpenter without sending it. Somebody need to learn how to be a carpenter. Um, so that is one of the things that I sort of get irritable about.
Paul Stefano: Yeah, absolutely. Well, it’s good to know for people out there that it does happen to everybody. And thank you for sharing your story. Like I shared on the podcast before that I’ve had, uh, there’s this book out there that overall has four and a half stars, and one of the reviews said, quote, Paul Stephano killed the book for me on quilt.
Sean Daeley: Yeah,
Shannon Parks: I had an acting teacher one time and [01:08:00] I’m sure it was just horrible. It was dreadful. Paul, I had an acting teacher one time say she was, we were, um, uh, she said, okay, well when you’re on stage, think about it this way. A third of the people in the audience are really not going to like you for whatever reason.
They’ve, you just, you’re just not their deal. They just can’t relate. A third of the people are going to be in different.
Well, when you start to look at it that way, you go, Oh, I can’t please everybody. All I can do is my work. And if you know, if you’re getting repeat reviews or feedback that, for instance, you’re to whispery on the Mike, or you’re not natural, or you know, whatever, if that keeps repeating. That’s something to pay attention to, but something that vague like pasta Fano ruined the book for [01:09:00] me.
That’s personal. It’s just personal. It’s one person and there’s nothing you can do in your performance to change that or make it better,
Paul Stefano: right? No, absolutely not. So Shannon, one of the thing we’re going to talk about is the use of pseudonyms. Sean actually introduced you by your pseudonym, so I was wondering when’s the best time to use one, and is there a time when maybe you should stop using one or sort of, you know, out yourself, so to speak?
Shannon Parks: Yeah. You know, I really feel, uh, my Marguerite Gavin is my grandmother’s name. And, uh, when I started recording audio books, most everybody was using student pseudonyms for various reasons. Um, I feel like I’m stuck with it now. So I coaches Shannon parks. That’s who I am. Um, but Margaret Gavin does have a bit of a fan base, and I’m not certain that, uh, starting to record as Shannon parks is going to be that useful.
Um, [01:10:00] so I do feel a little stuck with it, and it’s confusing. You know, it’s, it, it, it, the, the, even with social media, it’s confusing, you know, sort of being, uh, uh, being on groups and things as Shannon parks and knowing that nobody knows who the heck Shannon parks is. Because Shannon parks isn’t really an audio book narrator.
Um, so, uh, I have a pseudonym for racy stuff as well, um, that I will not announce on the air. Um, but, um, you know, and I don’t do that much romance. Um, but there is stuff that I just absolutely can’t do under my grandmother’s name. She’d roll over in her grave. So, um, I think it, it, for me at first, uh, the pseudonym was a matter of privacy.
Um. It is an intimate thing, uh, being in [01:11:00] someone’s ear, talking at them. And I wanted just a little privacy. I’d had a couple of experiences, um, that made me want to sort of keep, keep myself, uh, a little, a little separate and a little private. Um, now I, I don’t think that’s necessary. Um, and. I, you know, I really do wish that I had early on switched to Shannon parks.
I think it would be just make my life a little less complicated, a little easier. And people would go, yeah, we know who that person is. Right? It’s not confusing in any way. Um, but I do think that if you’re doing romance. If you’re doing anything that, uh, you don’t want your, you know, next door neighbor to search and know about, then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with narrating under a pseudonym, you know?
Um. It’s just, uh, yeah. Again, and especially now they, [01:12:00] it’s a matter of privacy that you died. You don’t want it all to be sinked up. Now I know that at some point somebody outed me, so my romance name and Margaret Gavin and Shannon parks all got sinked up on the internet. Doug, just a little, you would find it.
Um, but I don’t have the hubris or the ego to think that anybody’s going to do that deep of a search on me. And if they do.
Paul Stefano: Yeah.
Shannon Parks: I don’t have anything to be, but I also, I don’t really, I don’t have anything to ashamed of. It’s just a matter of not wanting to, um, have the, you know, racy or not even Bracey romances.
But, um, I do a lot of thrillers that, that tend to be just, you know, just kind of, um. Intense, and so sometimes they’ll go under that pseudonym. If there’s a lot of, if there’s a lot of violence and a lot of sex and drugs and rock and roll, then yeah, they’re going to go under that pseudonym. Um. But, uh, I [01:13:00] don’t have any illusions that it’s not easy to figure out the other.
Um, and again, I, I’m now I’m careful. I, I, I narrated the book that I didn’t have any work, things risk tightened, slim and scary as they get for all of us. And so I took this book that was . Absolute political opposition for me. And, um, it was just painful to record. And it also, I just felt like ethically, I was so upset with myself for taking, so, um, that’s the last time I did that, I really learned a lesson on it.
Um, but you know, there is, otherwise, there’s really nothing out there that I. I would be ashamed about except for that one book. I have to say, I can’t say it because it would set off a firestorm of comments, but we don’t need that.
Paul Stefano: No, definitely not. It’s funny you mentioned that being stuck with it. I’m sort of in that situation now.
I started doing a pseudonym [01:14:00] and I don’t really know why. I really don’t care. The is out there and because I’m a terrible secret keeper, I’ll tell pretty much anyone that wants to know. Um, so there’s really no point in having it, but now he’s much more popular than I am, and I sort of have to keep up the marketing and branding on it.
Shannon Parks: Right. Well, that, that’s exactly right. The branding. Uh, you know, when I, I, I just realized that there’s, you take starting to narrate as Shannon parks, nobody’s going to search for books that John Parks has recorded, right? They’re only going to search for Marguerite Gavin if they’re interested. So, um, there’s too big a body of work out there for me to switch it.
Um, you know, but I think, I think with, there are a lot of people with pseudonyms out there. And I think in the industry, everybody’s kind of used to that. And, you know, they just sort of organize it that your producers and your casting directors and the, you know, we just start to go, Oh, okay. They record as, but, um, [01:15:00] it does become a little bit of the marketing issue.
Um, I know that a lot of people, uh, when I started coaching really, you know, they, they couldn’t search for audio books that Shannon parks had done, right? And so there was sort of like, well, what kind of experience does she have? So I send everybody to any, you know, people that are interested in might be interested in coaching with me.
They go to Margaret Gavin’s website. Because I really don’t think that anybody that, I just think that if you’re going to coach with somebody that is a regular, consistent audio book narrator who you need to like their work, right? So I always, when people approach me about coaching, I say, okay, well go and go and listen to some samples.
So you can see, you can decide if you feel like you can learn anything, uh, you know, or, or stylistically, if there’s simpatico. [01:16:00] So, um, yeah. But I agree. Polly gets a little . It’s just a little crunchy. It’s just a little kind of a pain.
Paul Stefano: Yeah,
Sean Daeley: I agree. Brings whole new meaning to the idea of you’re only competing with yourself.
Shannon Parks: I love that. I love that. I do know there was something on a thread recently on Facebook about, um, somebody, uh, uh, a female narrator. She was. Trying to come up with a third pseudonyms. So she did straight stuff, and then she did romance and she was getting some, um, Christian audio, religious work. Um, and she really felt like she had to invent another pseudonym for that, for that.
And I, I didn’t weigh in because I just thought who that’s going to get complicated, you know. But it’s, it, it, it kind of, I just feel like that’s it. It’s really a matter of if you feel it’s [01:17:00] material that you don’t want to do under your own name for whatever reason, maybe it’s that you don’t want your teenagers to search it or you know, anything.
Um. Or you don’t want the, the people at the fundraiser, Paul, that you’re going to for your elementary school.
Paul Stefano: Oh, they already know
Shannon Parks: you, right? Cause you’ve probably, you’ve been through all of Shawn’s seminars, so you’re working on marketing
Paul Stefano: yourself,
Shannon Parks: telling everybody about it.
Sean Daeley: Aimless, self promotion,
Shannon Parks: shameless self promotion.
Exactly. Shameless self promotion. It feels like, like self torture and strenuous exercise. For me, it’s really not natural at all to my personality, so I have to work on that. We’re going to
Paul Stefano: you one more time because unfortunately we’ve come to the end of our time, but before you go, before we go, where can people find you if they do want to coach with you.
Shannon Parks: Oh. Um, you can just go to Margaret gavin.com and it’s spelled with a U, [01:18:00] so M a, R, G, U, E R, I, T, E Gavin, G a V I n.com. And, um, that’s kind of the catchall websites. So there’s a coaching page on there and you can contact me through that and email me and if you have any, um. Any, um, things tune up if you need a tuneup or you really are a brand new person.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with narrators of all experience levels, and that’s been really exciting too. So, um, and, and what I am doing is I’m. I’m really an acting coach. Uh, that’s what, that’s that will, that we’re working on performance. I’m not really the person that’s going to teach you how to market or brand yourself on the person that’s gonna teach you how to be a better, be a better narrator.
Be a D, be an actor. Right?
Paul Stefano: Well. That’s great. So Shannon’s thanks so much for being a migraine. I should say. [01:19:00] Thanks so much for being on the show. We really should have done this long ago, and I apologize for not having you on sooner, but we were delighted to have you today.
Shannon Parks: Yeah, no, it’s really a pleasure to touch both you guys.
Sean Daeley: Thank you. It was a pleasure getting to meet you digitally
Paul Stefano: and we’ll see you at apex
Shannon Parks: because I think that’s the goal for all of us. Right?
Paul Stefano: You said you’d be an APAC, right?
Sean Daeley: Hopefully sometime.
Shannon Parks: Yeah, I will. I’ll be at apex.
Paul Stefano: I will definitely see you then. I’m still trying to twist Sean’s arm to go, but hopefully I’ll be there as well.
Shannon Parks: Oh,
Sean Daeley: okay. Well now I have, thanks for throwing me under the bus.
Shannon Parks: I think I’ll be at cocktail party, so, um, we can hopefully, if you’re there, we can, we’ll definitely,
Paul Stefano: I plan to be. All right. It’s a date. We’ll see you then.
Shannon Parks: Thanks. You guys have a really good night and thank you so much for the the evening of talking with you.
It’s really been a pleasure. How many times is this happened to you? You’re listening to the radio when this commercial comes on, not unlike this one, and this guy starts [01:20:00] talking, not unlike
Paul Stefano: myself.
Shannon Parks: Maybe it’s a woman that starts talking, not unlike myself. And you think to yourself, geez, I could do that.
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Sean Daeley: and we’re back.
Thank you so much Shannon, for being on our podcast. I learned so much about [01:21:00] the audio book industry considerations for broke performance and looking for people to train with within the industry, and I love the L. Discussion on pseudonyms cause a lot of people think automatically assume it’s for protective reasons
Paul Stefano: with that erotica or romance.
Sean Daeley: Yeah, exactly. Erotica or like trying to basically hide yourself from work that you don’t want people to find out that you do. And sometimes as you saw with Shannon, it could be completely innocuous.
Paul Stefano: Yeah. And then sometimes, like when we talked about with Shannon and my case, it’s a matter of marketing.
Now that I’ve established his name, I’ve got to have to just go with it and it’s fine. It helps make sure that I publicize both names as much as possible. So thanks to Shannon, she really is a giant in the audio book industry that, in my opinion, doesn’t get enough credit, so hopefully we can help fix that.
Sean Daeley: That pretty much wraps up this episode of the VO meter
Paul Stefano: measuring your voiceover progress.
Sean Daeley: Next episode. We have Baltimore talent, Jack of all trades, Rex Anderson, and he’s a recent Sovos winner. So we get to talk about how that [01:22:00] has impacted his career. And then after that, what do we got going on? Paul.
Paul Stefano: Uh, we’re working on, uh, efforting to get a few more people scheduled, but most importantly, it will be at VO Atlanta.
So is it, this’ll probably air right before BW Atlanta. So Sean and I will both be there. If you’re there, come say hi. Don’t shake hands,
Sean Daeley: don’t shake hands. Maybe an elbow bump or something. Don’t take out my temple. But we
Paul Stefano: always love to talk to our fans and still amazed. We have some, but it happens every time we go to event.
Sean Daeley: But honestly, we appreciate every one of you. Thank you so much. Thanks for listening to this episode of the BEO meter.
Shannon Parks: Follow
Sean Daeley: along. Visit us at www dot dot com
Paul Stefano: we’d also love to hear your comments or suggestions for the show, or do you have a question? Look, your purchase,
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Paul Stefano: on our Facebook page or on Twitter at the V O meter.