One of my lovely clients, Susan, wrote me recently. She was distraught.
She had been asking one of her high-profile clients, an author with a series of books she’d been hired to narrate via ACX, for feedback on her work. She was concerned because she was getting quick approval on her first 15 minutes, and then — radio silence.
But she was concerned about something else.
Susan knew that I advise clients to stay on their authors to give them feedback on the work, chapter by chapter, as they work through their books.
The author had contacted me to audition for the first series — but the timing wasn’t great and it went to another producer. The following week the next series was up on ACX, this time with a stipend attached, and I auditioned for it and received a contract to produce it the following day.
I uploaded the first 15 minutes of the first book, and it was accepted the next day with no comments — just to continue by ACX, which I did. Upon uploading the additional files (it’s only two hours long) each time I uploaded I kept asking for feedback, otherwise figured no news is good news, and if not to please contact me should you have any edits/corrections, otherwise I will assume we are good to move forward.
Well — I uploaded the first 15 minutes of the second book and the same thing happened — it was accepted the following day. I expressed that I had other work/contracts and wanted to stay on track but with no feedback wasn’t sure where I stood and still don’t. It’s just super odd. I know if they didn’t like what they heard by now, they would have said something and not accepted the first 15 of the second installment.
And that’s absolutely correct. You can ask for feedback, but you don’t want to hound them – and if they don’t get back to you, you don’t want to complain unnecessarily. If they give you feedback, great. And if there’s something like a pronunciation you are concerned about, well, that’s why I advise you to message frequently, both on ACX and via email.
Then, I got this from her:
Well I just checked my e-mail for the first time since I wrote to you, and was informed by ACX that the first two books in the series have been approved. No edits or corrections. It would have been nice to hear some feedback but at least they were accepted with no edits.
Thank you for listening and for your input as always dear coach and friend! :)
Ah. That’s different.
What I don’t want you to do is to fall into that trap – if your client doesn’t have any comments or corrections, then count your blessings and move on.
Do not put any other meaning on that – assume that you did a great job, and that they simply don’t have any corrections. Or maybe they didn’t feel they needed to listen because they trust you, or whatever it was – you probably won’t ever know what life did to get in their way.
Bottom line: it’s nice, but you don’t need feedback to be a great artist.
Don’t look for it. Just do your work and own it.
We can have that feeling every time we get a pleasant “Thank you, that was great.” from a casting director or session runner. We wonder how we failed to get the effusive “AWESOME!!!” that we look for.
Here’s my advice: act for yourself, not for others. Enjoy hearty approbation and lavish praise, but don’t be disappointed when, in the business of show business, someone doesn’t hold your hand and tell you just how great you are. This is a business – some people have schedules that are too filled at the moment for niceties.
Get the information you need from your client, but don’t be that guy (or girl) when it comes to feedback.
Do you worry when you don’t get feedback on a performance? Do you wish casting directors would tell you what you did right and what you did wrong? Join in the conversation below.
Hope this helps.
I haven’t run into that as often. However, the reason for this is that my primary client on ACX has a lot of projects going at any one time, so her narrators are instructed to police themselves. They do a random spot-check at the end, but it’s up to the individual narrator to ensure they’re work is top-notch.
It’s actually helped me pay even closer attention so that I catch mistakes earlier in the recording/editing process. And I always (as recommended) do a final listening check of the whole thing which, with the length of projects I tend to take on, can take two or three days.
So, effectively, she’s offloaded her responsibility onto you – and that’s not fair to either of you, and it can be very detrimental to the quality of the work. It’s not your problem that she’s managed to shovel too much onto her plate – and my reply would be a firm “I’m sorry, but that doesn’t work for me, as I’ve got a lot going on as well. I’ll review my work as I do it, as I do with all my clients, but it’s never a good idea to have the composer do his own proofreading (or prooflistening). I need you to be the final listening point.”).
“,,,act for your self not others… don’t be disappointed when, in the business of show business, someone doesn’t hold your hand and tell you just how great you are.”
David, that is some of the best advice I have ever heard for a perfomer. I wish I had been told that five years ago, It would have saved me a small fourtune in therapy.
Great advice, which I will heed.
Would you advise putting a read receipt request on an emailed audition?
That’s the thing I have found to be a bit awkward: Emailing off an audition and then not knowing whether they’ve actually received it or whether it could be stuck in their spam folder.
If you want to, but don’t try to extend the usefulness of a read receipt: it doesn’t say that the recipient actually read it (just that SOMETHING opened your email), or listened to it, or (get this) that it even got to the right email address. It’s not awkward to ask every so often (every year, not every week) if your intended recipient is getting the emails you’re sending. I usually just say, “Here you go – let me know that this played OK.”
So, I had an experience that really reminds us why we ask for feedback as we go.
I was working on my second audiobook via ACX. My rights holder approved the first 15 minutes. I continued to record, edit, and post work as I finished it. I would message the rights holder after every couple chapters to make sure everything was still good and I could move forward. I never heard back. I assumed this meant I was doing fine, so I kept going. I would message them, not hear back, and go on until the book was complete. Then I messaged them one last time to see if there were any concerns before I pushed the Done button. Silence. So I pushed the done button.
Then, after an extended wait, I received a message telling me that my product was awful and not professionally done at all and that I needed to fix it. I asked the rights holder to name specific problems and that I would be happy to fix them. She told me that there was too much wrong with it to name and by our contract I was supposed to provide a professional quality audiobook so I needed to fix it. I replied that I’d be happy to fix it, had messaged her several times throughout the process to make sure this exact thing didn’t happen, and that our contract clearly said that she needed to give me a detailed list of the errors she wanted fixed at this point. She said that would take too much time and that it was my job to make it right. This went back and forth a couple times before I just stopped, copied all of our correspondence, including my requests during the process for feedback to ACX and asked them to advise me on what I should do. I did not hear back from ACX or the client for some time.
The next message I received said that the book had been approved. Then I received a message from the rights holder asking me to invoice her for the project. I did. She paid. Then she promptly pulled the book before it could be released. And that was that. I heard nothing more from her or from ACX about the project.
I moved on to other projects and now have 4 books published and am presently working on 4 others. I really liked this project, I would have liked to see it released, but I guess the lesson learned is to explain to the client Why you are asking for feedback throughout – because you want it to be a project Both of you can be proud of. Also, that radio silence from a client does not always mean that they are ok with it.
Jen et al
I’m sure that I’ll be chastised for this comment but for me, the optimal way to handle the rights holder is to set reasonable expectations when the first fifteen is approved. “Thanks so much for entrusting me with your work. In order to insure the best product reaches your audience, let’s do our best to make this a collaborative process. I’m here for you.”
I explain to them the wisdom of the spreadsheet and how it helps to insure we’re “on the same page”. To me, if they don’t respond then I’ve done everything I possibly could. People in the creative process can be quirky. Just my two cents.