Narrator dives into recording audiobooks

Andy Flathers records an audio book in his apartment on King Street in Strasburg.   Rich Cooley/Daily

Andy Flathers records an audio book in his apartment on King Street in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG – After his first venture into the world of narrating audiobooks, Strasburg resident Andy “Leander” Flathers is waiting on the return in sales but has already seen plenty of prospective new projects.

He’s currently anticipating the release of an audiobook version of “Concrete Jungle” by Gerald W. Darnell that he’s been working on since the summer. Released in 2013, the mystery book chronicles the dangerous dealings of ex-Miami cop Jack Sloan.

Flathers’ style strikes a balance between typical audiobook narration and a full out audio play, creating distinct voices for each one of the characters. Although he thought he had the characterizations down for “Concrete Jungle” between the gutsy gumshoe and foreign drug lords, there were still a lot of challenges associated with speaking as some of the Cuban characters and deciding how to interpret the female characters without sounding too comical.

“A lot of it is just how I would tell a story,” he said. “Some of it comes so natural.”

He finds his work through Amazon’s Audiobook Creation Exchange, which brings narrators or producers like Flathers together with authors. With the growing popularity of audiobooks for readers on the go, he said the market is huge on both ends.

“I think that … a great many authors now would like to take advantage of the idea of turning their regular books into this audiobook,” he said.

Since joining the marketplace in March, Flathers has met an extremely different market in narrators vs. voiceover workers. He said that whereas a voiceover audition may have a competitive list of talented people in line to be heard, the niche world of the audiobook is much more personal.

“It takes a different breed to do that because not everybody’s a storyteller – plus, I do over 20 voices in this,” he said.

While the timeline for recording a 30- or 60-second spot for a voiceover might end up being only a few hours, he said it took him about four months to finish work on “Concrete Jungle” – about 10 to 12 hours of work per recorded hour while working through various limitations. Some of those included problems with background noise – among street sound, sirens and pet noises – while recording with his own equipment in residences.

Because he’s paid by royalty share, Flathers hasn’t seen any money from his project yet and won’t until it’s released. He said much of his work will be paid through royalty shares rather than per finished hour of material, so he’s still working multiple odd jobs in the meantime. Within a year, he said he hopes to be well seated in narration and keep it as a full time job.

“It’s good in the long run if it sells well, so I’m taking as much as a risk as an author is writing a book,” he said. “The hope is that I’d like to be doing this full time. Right now it’s getting the ball rolling, it’s a lot of risk.”

So far, the going is good. Flathers said his next few projects are already laid out in front of him and that he’s even had to turn authors down because of commitments he’s already made. Darnell has discussed recruiting him for a “Concrete Jungle” sequel in the works and given him the pick of the remaining seven books in his “Carson Reno” series. Flathers is starting work on S. K. Ballinger’s “Stanley Swanson – Breed of the Werewolf.”

In the meantime, he’s waiting on word from Audiobook Creation Exchange about the release of “Concrete Jungle” through Amazon, iTunes and Audible and said he may host a release party for his friends at the Wayside Inn.

Although Flathers has thought over pursuing multiple avenues within voice work, he’s enjoyed the creative exercise in voicing narratives and the encouraging response thus far.

“I would love to do other kinds of voice work, this is just something that’s taken off,” he said. “I’m getting a lot more hits than I did when I was doing voiceovers, so maybe it’s just the market, maybe it’s just more of the genre.”

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com

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