For the first of my interview series, I’d like you to meet Deryn, voice over artist extraordinaire! Deryn has narrated two of my novels, she’s amazing, and you should get to know her too!
Hi Deryn, please introduce yourself!
My name is Deryn Oliver and I live in a village in Shropshire in the UK with my husband Richard and our dog and cat. I have been a voice over actor and narrator for the past five years and have recorded over 20 audiobooks.
How did you become a voice over artist? What attracted you to such a fascinating career?
My voice has always been commented on as I have a clear, confident voice and my father was particularly determined that my brother and I spoke ‘properly’ with no particular accent. I used to narrate in school assemblies and later in life took up amateur dramatics. I did consider a career in voice recording in my 20’s but back then all voice recording was done in studios located in cities and I lived in rural Shropshire. So I set up a beauty therapy business which I ran for over 20 years.
Then in 2017 I appeared on a TV game show and both the producer and the host – Bradley Walsh – commented that I would make a great voice over artist. I went on to win £12,000 which gave me the opportunity to consider a new career – I was becoming a little tired of waxing legs and doing nails – and so I re considered voice over and discovered that people could now work from home studios. And so I paid for training and equipment and here I am now!
What attracts you to a potential client?
When searching for an audiobook project I generally go to ACX and look at all the titles that are looking for an English accent. I scan the images and look for a cover that appeals. One that looks professional – so many covers can look cheap. I know the phrase ‘never judge a book by its cover’ but I’m afraid that is what I do initially.
If I see one I like I will read the payment terms and the length of the read – I generally look for a payment per hour title – ideally $200 + pfh .
I then read the title information – if that’s badly written I become wary.
If it sounds a good story I will look at the author and any other books that they have written and read the reviews.
I will then look at the audition piece and if all still looks good I will audition.
Do you have a process for how/when you work?
My voice and energy levels are much better in the morning so I if I have an audiobook to record I try to start at 9.30/10am and work through until lunchtime with a break for a quick coffee. I have lunch at about 1.30 until 2pm and then I might do some editing in the afternoon until 3.30pm when I like to take the dog for a walk. Then it’s about 5pm so I may finish for the day. Voice recording is quite tiring so although I don’t work for hours everyday I need to stop before my voice sounds tired.
What does your workspace look like?
My studio is built in the corner of a small bedroom upstairs. My husband made rectangular sound boards from acoustic foam and wood and I have acoustically treated glass in the window.
How does your work affect the books you select to read personally?
I hadn’t read much historical fiction before becoming a narrator but after narrating The Confessors Wife by Kelly Evans I started reading more of it and now read more by Phillipa Gregory, Sansom etc,
What do you do to wind down at the end of the day?
I have a little dog Tilly and I have to get out of the house for a walk everyday. If I’m getting tired in the studio and tripping over my words but need to get more done I will pack up and get out for a walk. When I’m back I will often be refreshed and able to carry on.
After work I might go to the pub next door with my husband for an early drink before dinner and TV. We like to watch dramas and films.
Your voice is one of your most important assets, how do you take care of it?
Drink lots of water. I have jug of water in my studio and sip water throughout the day. I do vocal exercises before recording and if I feel my voice becoming a bit dry or sounding a bit tired I will stop and won’t strain it. I love to sing and I think regular singing keeps my voice healthy too.
Quick Question Round:
- Favourite book: Animal Hotel by Dianne Cooper
- Favourite movie: Pretty Woman
- Favourite music: The Whole of the Moon by The Waterboys
- Favourite tv show: Game of Thrones
- Preferred tipple: Gin and Tonic
- Favourite smell: Garden after rain
Is there anything you’d like authors who wish to work with voice over artists like yourself to know? Ie anything we can do better regarding preparation on ACX?
Make sure your cover art looks professional.
It takes at least 6 hours to produce a finished hour so do consider how much you are going to pay Some narrators will work for very low rates but personally I won’t consider anything for under $150 pfh unless it was as a Royalty Share Plus deal.
If you can’t afford to pay PFH I would suggest Royalty Share Plus. That way the narrator is getting a small amount up front before the royalties. Personally RS+ makes me feel the author rates their work. After all an author can offer RS as there is no risk to the author if the book doesn’t sell. However the narrator is taking a big risk with their time and talent.
List the accents that are required in the book
I know you’re available on ACX, can we find you anywhere else?
I am listed on The Voice Realm and I would like to do more through them in future. I am also a listed narrator for WF Howes, Bee Audio, Deyan Audio.
My own audiobooks by Deryn can be found here:
The Confessor’s Wife: https://www.audible.com/pd/The-Confessors-Wife-Audiobook/B07Y2PGZNC
The Beggar Queen: https://www.audible.com/pd/The-Beggar-Queen-Audiobook/B09NWF4GCK
Copyright K Evans 2022