JIAM2012 Behind the Scenes Interview #10
Danielle works at Blackstone Audio, but we’d never met or even emailed. I’ve worked as a proofer myself, so I have a great deal of respect for this job!
DG: My job title is: Audio Proofing Specialist. Broken down in its simplest form it is listening to a recording of the narrator while following along with the manuscript. Now I know this sounds like an easy job, a job where anyone can do it. But let me set the record straight: this is a very difficult job that requires the ability to focus on precise details all day long. If I miss something then it goes out to production with errors. No pressure, but my department is the last stop for quality control. After a book has been assigned to me I am in charge of making sure the narrator stays true to the written text. This is a very important step because we want to honor what the author wrote; they put it in there for a specific reason and we do not have the right to change it. I am also in charge of making sure the narrator has pronounced every single word correctly. This step requires many hours of research — digging around in the depths of the World Wide Web can be very exhausting. I need to provide sources for every mispronunciation; I can’t go off a hunch or a guess. Finally I need to make sure the audio engineer is aware of every single noise that disrupts the listening process. Some of these noises (pops, clicks, breaths) I can fix myself, but the really bad ones need to be noted in my Adobe Audition program and will be fixed by the engineer after I’ve finished the book.
KW: Who works near you and what do they do?
DG: The room my department is located in has 6 other proofers. Each proofer does the same thing I do, we each have smaller side projects we do when a book isn’t ready or we are waiting for answers. It’s great to have other proofers close by; we bounce ideas off each other, answer research questions, and give moral support when needed. Our department is very well rounded, each of us having something we excel in.
DG: I started working in the audiobook industry out of dumb luck. I worked at an airport during my college years. My major was English Literature. I knew I didn’t want to teach, but I didn’t have any other concrete plans. I was kicking around the idea of getting my Masters, but wasn’t sold. I was nearing graduation without a clear path ahead of me, getting more nervous every day. It was a smaller airport so it wasn’t any secret about my graduation approaching and I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had a good friend who was a security guard. One day he struck up a conversation with a woman who was getting off a plane. He asked her the normal questions: business or pleasure? She said business and he proceeded to ask what she did. She said she was in New York trying to find some narrators for the audiobook company she worked for. His attention perked up, and went on to tell her about myself. She handed him a business card and told him to have me send my resume through. Two months later I was hired. And I couldn’t be happier.
KW: What is your dream job?
DG: My dream job would be pretty similar to what I’m doing now. For an English major who didn’t want to teach, this is perfect. I deal with the books all day long, I get to hear up and coming narrators, and work from one of the most beautiful places in Oregon!!! What more could I ask for?
DG: I love being immersed in all things books all day long. After 5 years I learn something new every day, I’m still growing as a proofer. I love all things creative, being led into someone’s mind through words is creativity at its best. The authors and the narrators leave a piece of themselves behind in each book. We as listeners get to enjoy the final product; we get to explore the imagination through the spoken word. What’s not to love?
KW: Do you have a pet peeve?
DG: The thing I hate and wish to avoid at ALL costs is splitting a book with a fellow proofer. Sometimes due to deadline changes we are forced to re-think our game plan. There isn’t a sure fire way in trying to guess how long a book will take to be proofed; so many variables go into account. This seems to happen when I’m really enjoying the book, I have a hard time letting go.
KW: What do you think audiobooks will be like in 10 years?
DG: I think the audiobook world has a strong future. We are already phasing out paper and going digital. I think in 10 years discs will be out and apps will be in. Companies such as Amazon will be offering a read along type products. The book and audio will be bundled as one, creating the perfect balance of the written word and the spoken word.