Would you have the courage or foresight to approach a big name talent to record your audiobook?

Would you have the courage or foresight to approach a big name talent to record your audiobook?

March 30, 2023

Australian author Phillipa Nefri Clark did just that recently when she signed Logie-winning Australian actor John Wood to be the voice of retired cop Vince Carter, in her gritty new police procedural, Lest We Forgive.

As the star of Rafferty’s Rules and Blue Heelers, with a range of appearances across Neighbours, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, The Doctor Blake Mysteries and Murder in the Outback, John Wood is a well-known and loved face and voice across the country and an inspired choice for the role.

Though it can work well to narrate your own business book or memoir, skilled voice actors are normally required in fiction to give reader/listeners the best experience possible. That said, some authors and publishers are also turning to AI for speed, economy and the potential for efficient (if not currently effective) translations.

I first met Phillipa in a buzzing online indie author group and we went on to appear in an online panel (all about self-publishing, book marketing and how to reach an audience) for the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) alongside Australian authors Annie Seaton and Adam Wallace.

There are lots of indie authors out there pushing boundaries, not just creatively, but also when it comes to building an author business and book marketing. Phillipa is one of them.

It takes courage to invest in an author career, but in what can be a cluttered book market, working with a name actor is certainly one way to lift a book’s profile. As the book is the first in a planned series, it also makes sense to give it the best start possible.

I love unravelling the stories behind books and their authors, and Phillipa shared that Lest We Forgive had originally started life as a screenplay, one of five full scripts she’d written years ago. The story never left her though and with the help of book coach Louise Guy she slowly shaped the ‘hardest book I’ve ever written’ into a book worthy of investment in print, ebook and audiobook formats.

Initially terrified of approaching John to be the voice of retired cop Vince Carter, she summoned her courage and contacted his agent at CMC Talent Management. John enjoyed the script and characters, so agreed to the challenge of narrating his first ever non-fiction audiobook (he’d previously narrated his memoir, How I Clawed my Way to the Middle, in 2020).

It took six sessions in Square Sound’s audiobook recording studio plus an extra session for all the ‘to-do’s’ where changes are made.

John said of voicing the audiobook character, “Vince is the plainclothes version of Tom Croydon and after fifteen years since “Blue Heelers” ended it was wonderful to be back in harness, despite being, like Vince, past my use by date as a copper. I had a ball narrating it.”

Phillipa’s choice of John Wood as narrator is already leading to publicity (including on ABC Radio), a feat that would have been harder to achieve with an unknown audiobook narrator. The increased opportunities for the book have come about partly due to Philippa’s savvy and partly due to the author listening to her own gut feel about what her self-publishing enterprise needs to set the stage for more growth.

And another thing I love about this audiobook collaboration? Years ago, Philiipa had been an extra on Rafferty’s Rules, seated on the other side of the café from the ‘star’. That’s when she heard John for the first time, and even though they never spoke that day, his voice made a huge impression on her then. And for her readers and listeners, now.

If you’re thinking of writing a book, are already mid-career or just want to understand more about the option and tools open to traditional and self-published authors, these resources might help.

Actor and audiobook narrator John Wood