When a kid returns to school in the fall during a movie or TV show, they invariably must write and recite a report discussing how they spent their summer vacation. I never recall having that assignment at the start of any school year.
If I had, my report probably would have included the number of books I checked out from the library and the songs I learned to play on piano, and, from 5th grade on, the music I played on clarinet, oboe, and flute. I also would have talked about my daily trips to the pool.
My almost daily pool time would certainly remain present in such a chronicle today; some things never change. However, today’s account also would be bubbling with discussion about my new web site NarratorsRoadmap.com, which is fully launching today 9/16 at 9:00am!
Looking back, I can connect the dots and see this site has been in my destiny for quite a while and is a natural evolution and expansion of things I’ve been doing.
When I worked my day job in IT, I planned software, hardware, and wiring purchases, installations, and upgrades and solved daily operational problems. Other network administrators asked my advice when they’d run out of options in troubleshooting difficulties like an inoperable email server. In addition to helping my peers with technical issues, I wrote software tips for the users every week for over 5 straight years.
Soon after starting my voiceover business in 1999, I created my first web site. Other people found me on-line and began asking me how to get into voiceover, so I created an advice page.
That advice page and the emails I kept receiving led me to start this blog.
Once I got back into audiobooks after ACX.com launched, I found myself answering questions from new narrators in Facebook forums. Over time, I created an extensive FAQ in one group. I’ve become well known for being the Queen of Links since I provide so many of them on-line and throughout my articles.
After noticing how positively other narrators responded to my advice, one of my mentors frequently told me that I should write a book containing all of this information. I resisted that suggestion, in part because I felt a book wouldn’t reach the right audience and would be difficult to update so that the material would remain fresh.
Last year at the Audio Publishers Association Conference (APAC), several events occurred in rapid succession that caused me to see so clearly that I needed to create a new web site to aid narrators!
First, I heard some narrators on a panel talking about how we all bring different things to the table and have different goals. Four comments stuck with me and may help you see the next signpost on your path:
- Ask yourself throughout your career what is unique to you.
- Just because there’s a gold rush going on in audiobooks doesn’t mean you need to always be the one in the creek panning for nuggets.
- It’s helpful to stop thinking of yourself in the limited role of narrator.
- Use what you have to get what you want.
I arrived late to lunch that day, so most of the tables were filled. The panelists’ remarks were swirling in my mind, and I thought I might find a quiet place and write about them in my journal. At that precise moment, a narrator friend intersected my path and asked to have lunch with me. (I’m convinced the Universe planned it that way.) She thanked me for all of the info in my blog articles and told me they had been a tremendous help to her. She also suggested that I write a book using my blog articles as the basis for it.
As we talked, another narrator friend stopped and asked me a question, which I was able to quickly answer. (I think the Universe sent that person across my path then, too, to drive home the point that helping narrators is part of my purpose.)
I didn’t write anything until I was waiting at the far-from-quiet-gate that evening at LaGuardia Airport. By the time I boarded the plane, I realized I needed to create a membership site! In addition to the all of the information I typically disseminate through my articles and links to other sites, I also knew that some things aren’t easily found on-line. For starters, narrators were re-inventing the wheel to discover training and networking events they could attend and bloggers who would write thoughtful reviews of their audiobooks.
In addition, experienced narrators constantly needed ready information to pass on to newcomers who asked questions about how to get started in the field. Why not create one comprehensive list of resources to answer them?
The solid idea came together that day, but I was delayed in doing much on it last summer and fall because we were house-hunting, moving, and settling in our new home.
Although I earned an MS in computer information systems and worked in technical IT positions for 25 years, I never wanted to develop my new membership site. Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you should! I discussed my ideas with Joe Davis at Voice Actor Websites soon after arriving home from APAC, and we started implementing my planned site toward the end of the year. I chose that company to create the site because they had done a marvelous job with this one, and I wanted continuity between the sites, both in the user interface and the WordPress construction.
Phase 1 was a splash page that was overflowing with articles, books, videos, and links to help newcomers learn how to be a narrator. We launched it on 19 January so it would be available for people who attended the APA’s open webcast on 22 January titled What I Wish I Knew.
Phase 2 would be the roll-out of the full site, complete with a knowledge base, comprehensive event calendar, reviewers directory, and video courses. I’ve lost count of the number of Zoom meetings Drew and I had with our wonderfully responsive project manager Alex Sanchez. The VAWS team developed a gorgeous and highly functional site that exceeds my vision and expectations!
In addition to all of the design discussions with the developers, I’ve been writing articles for the Knowledge Base and creating an incredible list of helpful links on the Welcome Center page. Drew and I have researched and added to the site calendar color-coded events in 8 categories, as well as detailed information about audiobook reviewers. As you’ve probably guessed, all this work required far more time and energy than a summer vacation!
NarratorsRoadmap.com is THE destination for audiobook narrators of all levels!
I’m overjoyed that the full site is finally HERE and LAUNCHING TODAY!
The site has more links than even I thought possible — and that’s saying something!
To celebrate the grand opening of this unique repository of goodness for narrators,
I’m holding a CONTEST!
To participate, look through the free areas of the site (Home page, Knowledge Base, and Welcome Center) to answer these 3 questions in a comment below before 11:59pm ET, Monday 23 September 2019. I’ll award 3 random winners with a 3-month Members Express Pass to the site, which gives you access to all of the calendar events and audiobook reviewer information. If you can’t find an answer, I’ll give you credit for creativity!
9/17/19 Additional info: In order to maintain the secrecy of the contest answers, I decided I won’t publish comments related to the contest until next week.
- What number is on the mile marker, and what is its significance?
- What is the name of the song that is no longer under copyright that appears in one of the Knowledge Base articles?
- What is the name of the only marketing book mentioned on the site?
Bonus question for an extra free month:
I asked the developers to include an Easter Egg, which is a special object that is significant to me. Like any Easter Egg hunt in real life, the surprise can be “hiding” in plain sight. Can you find it? I’ll even throw in a 2nd extra free month if you can tell me its significance.
Thanks so much for your interest, and good luck with your entries!
Gordon Blodgett says
I saw your interview on ACX University and loved what you had to say about marketing. I had viewed marketing in narrating (as well as my own field of opera) as a dirty word. But, after watching your interview there, I joined the audiobook crowd and indie narrator groups you mentioned. I found David H. Lawerence XXVII, Jeffrey Kafer and many others that have seriously helped me in my progress as a narrator. I have only completed a few books on ACX, but the help you are providing has been so helpful to me. I can’t thank you enough.
I am currently in the process of saving money to buy a better booth and microphone, and educating myself more about how to be a better narrator. Do you have any advice for someone so green in this business? I would love to hear anything you have to offer.
Again, thank you so much for all the help.
All the best,
Karen Commins says
Hi, Gordon! I’m so happy to hear you found my ACX University video to be beneficial!
Since you asked for more advice, have you looked at my new site NarratorsRoadmap.com? (You posted this comment on my article about the site launch.) It is overflowing with all kinds of advice and resources! Plus, as I discussed above, I’m running a contest for a 3-month Member Express Pass!
I hope this info helps and that I see another comment from you with a contest entry! 🙂
Karen, Congratulations on the launch of your new highly educational website. I love Joe and Karin with VAW. Your website with all it’s signs is so cute and fun! Like you are. I’m working on my first Public Domain book inspired by you!
I love the new site. You are so generous with your knowledge. There’s so much incredible information on your new site that is still going to be free. I think the schedule of events and reviewers directory will be worth the subscription price.
I noted that you’ve got a contest going. Because I’ve reviewed almost all your material in the past (and the public domain recently) I had a good idea where to look for answers to your questions.
1. The faint mile marker was 115, 2. Happy Birthday and 3. C.J. Hayden’s Get Clients Now (which I am ordering on Amazon shortly). In terms of your Easter Egg, may be the sun rays? They reflect your personality and attitude about life. I will say that I can tell from the colors in your studio and what I see you wearing typically, your favorite color is likely purple. I’m stumped. I can’t wait to meet you in person at APAC next year. Blair
P. J. Morgan says
Answers for the trivia contest:
1. Mile marker reads 115, and I’m just going to throw a wild guess out there that it was the number of days to create the site, since I have no idea! (And I got pretty creative with my Google searches, too!)
2. The Happy Birthday song
3. Get Clients Now! by CJ Hayden
Thanks for building this amazing resource!
Amy Deuchler says
Hi Karen, This is such a great site. It’s pretty clear you spent your summer “vacation” working really hard. I’ll take a stab at the contest guesses:
1. 115 but I don’t know the significance – years it would take any other person to launch this site?
2. Happy Birthday
3. The Guide to Publishing Audiobooks: How to Produce and Sell an Audiobook by Jessica Kaye.
Bonus: Twitter logo. This is due to your awesome Twitter lists. (At first I thought it had to be the Eiffel Tower, but I could not find it on the site). Or is it the “Georgia Welcomes You” because you’re from Georgia?
Amy Joy says
Hi, Karen ~ what a fabulous site!! Congratulations – and thank you for the invaluable treasure trove of information, I’m sure I will be visiting often!
Here’s my answers:
1. Mile marker 115 – significance…is your birthday January 15th??
2. Happy birthday! (January 15th??)
3. Get Clients Now by CJ Hayden
Easter egg? No clue. I have spent an inordinate amount of time looking for the egg, but I must stop at some point. I’ll be thrilled to find out where it is!
Thanks for the fun and the diversion from my real life!
Suzanne Barbetta says
1 – MM 115. It’s not #of your audiobooks so I thought perhaps it was relating to Georgia SR115 or something relating to Tara. Then i thought you wrote 115 blog articles on your home site but you have MORE! So now I am guessing that you have 115 links on Narrators Roadmap site at this time.
2- Happy Birthday!
3 – Get Clients Now!
Easter Egg: [REDACTED because she figured it out! 😃]
Madeline Mrozek says
Hi Karen! Here are my answers to enter the contest:
1. Mile Marker 115…..115 being the number of minutes I scoured the site trying to find the significance of the number 115, blargh! LOL! This one’s gonna drive me nuts!
2. “Happy Birthday”
3. “Get Clients Now” by CJ Hayden
4. My guess for the Easter Egg is the grey “Georgia Welcomes You” statue on the Welcome Center page and it’s significant because you are from Atlanta!
Congrats again on the launch of your site, it’s AWESOME!
Sunny NB says
2. Happy Birthday
3. Get Clients Now! by CJ Hayden
Easter Egg- Twitter Bird/Link sitting on top of the sign
Kendra Fountain says
1.The number on the Mile Marker is 115. I can’t for the life of me figure out the significance. My creative answer is.. your birthday is 1/15 or 11/5
2. The song no longer under copyright is “Happy Birthday”
3. The only marketing book you mentioned on your site is “Get New Clients” by CJ Hayden
Thanks for the opportunity.. I love your site!
Karen Commins says
Congratulations to the contest winners! 🎉🎈
— Suzanne Barbetta for winning a 5-month subscription after figuring out both the Easter Egg and its significance.
— Blair Seibert, Amy Joy, and Sunny NB for winning a 3-month subscription in the random number draw.
— I’ve decided to give all other entrants a free month just for entering!
Look for an email coming soon with login info.
The answers to the contest questions are:
1. Mile marker 115 has very literal significance in my life. It’s the exit number on I-85 in GA that leads to my house!
2. Happy Birthday is the song no longer under copyright.
3. Get Clients Now! is the name of the only marketing book on the site.
I love all of the creative answers! Since the Easter Egg proved to be such a tough question, I’m going to leave it a secret! When people find it, they can claim a 1-month membership by sending me an email.
Thanks to all who participated in my grand opening contest!