Authors & VO & More . . . Oh my!

I am often asked to share more about another aspect of my work as a Voice Over artist. Reposting the wonderful article, written by a NY Women in Communications colleague, Deanna Utroske for Digital Book World, is a great way to share this aspect of how I use my “voice” in the world.

Traditionally published authors are increasingly partnering with production companies and using social media in new ways to drive market attention to their titles.

Notably, it’s the creative professionals beyond the author and book-content folks that make these social and digital marketing strategies come to life and really resonate with consumers.

voice over artist Shira Adler

DBW spoke with one such professional to discover more. Shira Adler* is a sought-after voice over artist and commercial voice talent known for her ability to engage through a broad spectrum of VO services including, audiobooks, book & TV promos, eLearning & multi-lingual apps.

And, she recently recorded supplemental material where she played a female psychiatrist in Night Film, by Marisha Pessl, available from Random House on August 19. Adler’s job in this case was to reveal glimpses into the darker tones of one of the mysterious characters in the book by “recording notes” for her patient’s file.

Deanna Utroske: Talk a bit about your position as a creative professional in publishing and author marketing initiatives.

Shira Adler: As a creative professional, I enjoy being a part of the new trend that has emerged in the audiobook field. In addition to the standard publisher’s support of an author’s new release, the authors themselves are becoming more creative in evolving their PR campaigns through a wider social media platform to support of their new releases. To this end, I feel I am uniquely poised to be of assistance because I am not only well trained in the art of audiobook work, but on-camera work as well. A recent project [Night Film, by Marisha Pessl, mentioned above ] required both of me.

By downloading the app, fans of Marisha’s novel will gain insights into these characters almost as if they were eavesdropping [on the characters’] “professional confessions” as it were. Shortly thereafter I was asked to give a “man on the street” interview for the main protagonist, Stanislas Cordova. It’s an entirely different role and used in a promo video clip meant to help create “buzz” for the thriller’s release.

Note: Entertainment Weekly posted the video clip for Night Film, And the app will be available Wednesday, August 20th, in conjunction with the audiobook and print book release.

DU: What production companies are you seeing authors in the greater New York area use?

SA: There are no shortage of wonderful independent producers and production companies available to assist with these new creative cross-media ventures. For the Night Film productions, IPK was used and I personally love Punched in the Head Productions, based in Brooklyn, who specialize in reality-doc formats.

Most exciting is the new brand of media company, including a just-about-to-launch company that is really breaking new ground called Disruption Partners. I am working on projects with them right now and can promise that what they have in store through their cutting edge work across IP, branded content and even live event productions such as racing ventures (about to hit the streets, literally, in October, 2013) will blow you away.

DU: How involved is an author or publisher in the development of these projects?

SA: The author is intimately involved with the creation of what I’ll call the cross-media platform projects. It’s really their initiative and their producers’ genius that create these exciting collaborative PR efforts.

DU: Do you meet and work personally with the authors?

SA: Absolutely. Since it’s the author’s vision that is the starting point for these projects, hearing from the author directly is critical to being able to manifest and portray, whether in voice or in person, their vision.

DU: What strategies do you use to convey the author’s message, tone, meaning, intention…?

SA: The strategy for conveying the author’s message, tone, meaning and intention is becoming the “voice” of the author. Any literary work has more than a POV, it has a “sound” or a feeling that comes from the narrator being representative of the author.

Beyond that, the characters have to resonate with my own being. For every character I read, I have to find my essence in that character. That’s what makes it real. It’s a matter of opening [my] heart and telling the story the way I’d like to hear it with enough core truth from me, as the narrator and characters, and yet a bit of distance so as to not let my voice overpower that of the narrator’s or lend too much emotion so that I rob the listener of discovering their own feelings and interpretation of the story as it unfolds.

DU: What strategies do you use to connect with app consumers, for instance?

SA: I utilize a uniquely spiritual process for each of my VO jobs. My goal is to create an experience for the listener, regardless of the genre or requirements of the job, so they feel educated, elevated and entertained. Despite the expansive reach of apps and electronic media today, my job is to create something that feels intimate, comfortable and familiar. The voice that comes through the app needs to be relatable and resonant to the listener as if my voice is an extension of theirs.

DU: What makes you unique as a VO artist in the new cross-promotional market for authors?

SA: I understand both sides of this field. My experience is vast. Though my primary focus these days is as a VO artist, I am also a writer/speaker and have worked in social media, traditional marketing and as a producer. Therefore, I have the unique perspective to carry a media sensibility with the VO skill set that is not typical for people who work in my industry.

DU: Please share some different examples of how authors are using social media, digital marketing and creative production teams to reach readers.

SA: I love how the camaraderie is growing across social media to support authors and their PR ventures. Authors have gone beyond using Goodreads and Audible (Amazon’s relatively new audiobook venture platform) to promote their work.

Authors are taking responsibility for their own expanded PR measures by welcoming creative input and distribution across all media channels, especially through apps and videos. Of course, there are groups popping up daily to support readership and grow audiences through LinkedIn & FB not to mention the usual deluge found on twitter, tumblr, even Pinterest!

But creating cross-promotional digital media synergy in conjunction with authors’ landing pages is essential these days. That’s where the market has expanded to allow producers and production companies to reach out and create video and VO content to promote the books.

Cross-promotional collaboration between authors and audiences is now reached by multiple means including the creation of a Vimeo or YouTube video for a book promo, multiple audiobook versions read by different narrators, FB or twitter contests, sponsorship collaborations, etc. There is no end to the way books can be promoted and with audiobooks being the largest growing trend, it seems obvious that digital media is the new frontier for reaching a wider audience.

DU: What could authors being doing more of in this space?

SA: Even though there are a growing number of cross-media ventures between authors and social media and production experts, clearly there is room to expand. I suspect, a vast majority of authors are not utilizing all of these cutting edge methods yet. I think one of the most important steps for bridging the gap is to invite authors to create more supplemental material to support their books. Do a podcast series, produce a book promo on video, make an app with all sorts of “extras” that entice readers and reward the loyalty of their current fan base.

DU: Is this sort of marketing initiative one that entrepreneurial authors could affordably manage?

SA: Absolutely. There are economic ways to develop a simple app and no shortage of production companies and social media gurus who can help you do it. Do a Google search for explainer videos, or app developers for example, and watch how many items are returned. It’s mind boggling, really.

* Shira has worked for media and literary giants such as Viacom & Random House to professional organizations such as NY Women in Communications as VOG(dess) for their Annual Matrix Awards, grass roots organizations such as the Mamapalooza Festival and the Museum of Motherhood, to international communications companies and app developers in the UK, Israel and across the US. Her theatre background and an MFA in voice have lent themselves to an eclectic career where Shira has been able to showcase different voices and multiple languages (she has sung in 11 and is currently recording a translation app series in five). Shira is happy to be focusing lately on audiobooks and has experience in both VO and on-camera commercial and hosting work in the NYC area.
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About Deanna Utroske
Deanna Utroske is the Content Producer at Digital Book World and an active member of New York Women in Communications, where she serves on the Integrated Marketing & Communications Committee. Previously, Deanna worked in the editorial office of Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, a publication of the University of Chicago Press.

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