Today - my ready reader, we're talking sample strategies. What makes a great sample, where doth one GET their sample materials, and Wwwwwwhhhhere to put them once you've got them.
A great sample is something that shows off your skills and gives a potential casting director, producer, or publisher a glimpse at your finished product. It is around 2 minutes in length and is fully edited and mastered. It should be the shiniest of the shiny, friends. This is your business card and headshot all in one. And the best part is, you can (and should) have several on your website, your ACX profile, Your Soundcloud account etc. for potential pay people to choose from.
Generally - When looking through the pages, you're going to want a snippit of something that has an "event" in it. You want a discovery or what us actor's call a "Beat" that shifts the perspective of a character or gives some new information. This allows for there to be a story arch in your piece, usually gives some good dialogue and description, and gives you something juicy to play with.
ALSO - GREAT NEWS! Much like you can use a monologue from any play to audition with, you can use ANY writing as a sample. Because you're not selling the sample, and it's not being broadcast, it's not infringement of any copyright. So - bust out the bookshelves and start looking for that perfect peice.
NOTE- I recommend staying away from anything that is already very popular and finding gems that are less known. Let YOUR voice be the one they think of, not someone else's.
The advice when I first started was to get three samples up and available for listening.
A First Person POV with at least two people talking (dialogue)
A Third Person POV with at least two people talking (dialogue) and some description.
A non-fiction sample.
Now - these are still good bedrock foundational samples. They're just also very broad descriptions of what will market you, best.
I recommend to my coaching clients that we get some basics out of the way, first.
WHAT GENRES DO YOU WANT TO BE BOOKED IN?
Do you want to do Romance, Sci Fi, Horror, Memoir, Poetry, Historical? Business? How to? Cookbooks?
Now-narrow it down AGAIN. Sci Fi Space Opera? Or Sci Fi Dystopian Earth? Fantasy Faerie, Wolf Shifters, or Fantasy Vampire Contemporary?
If you want to get booked in a few of these sub genres, get samples that work for them. Or record one of each and make THOSE your top sample selections to get clicked on first. Make it as easy as possible for casting peeps to see you recording their work.
DO YOU HAVE ANY EXPERTISE?
In your non audiobook life, do you have hobbies or interests or previous careers that make you REALLY knowledgable about a topic? Find a book that talks about that and USE IT. The confidence that you have talking about something you have expertise in will show through and be 10000000000% more entertaining to an audience, and - a CD.
HAVE A WILDCARD
Is there an accent you're particularly good at? Have you been told you have the BEST old woman character voice? Can you do an impression of Obama? USE IT. Put it toward the end of your sample list as a wildcard. It shows versatility and it's a great way to give the CD a little extra somethin' somethin' to remember you better.
DON'T MAKE THEM GUESS
Name your sample files with everything that's in the sample.
This way if they only have time to listen to ONE thing, they'll know which one is exactly like the thing they're trying to cast and you my future audiobook rockstar, will nail it without even trying.
DON'T THINK MORE. THINK ENOUGH.
There are people out there with 25 samples on their website, and people out there with 5. It's really up to you how many and what talents you want to showcase, but the bottom line is to make sure they are snippits that you love. Take the time to record them as their own peice and polish them to perfection when you're editing and mastering.
Hope this helped a little and if more questions arise, you know where to find me, friendlies.
In the meantime, as my mom says - Have fun, play nice, don't fight. <3
*Photo Credit: Collin Quinn Rice