Relational Diplomacy, Part 2: Epic Fail

by | Feb 19, 2019 | VO Business | 11 comments

A Diplomacy “How (not) To”

 Today brings the unexpected follow-up to yesterday’s blog.  Many of you responded favorably to my suggestion that relational humility might be the best tack to disarm your antagonist.Thanks!

Then, Monday, I had another exchange with someone who offered a back-handed opportunity of work.  My guess is, he really just wanted to prove his own skewed belief that he was right…but I was his guinea pig.

The Epic Fail Trail

Once upon a time – 12 years ago – when I started getting into voice-overs, I just knew I was the next Scott Brick, and had a promising future as an audiobook narrator.  By the time I had recorded some 50 titles, I’d had enough.  My hat goes off to the many who do this medium so well.  But I realized it wasn’t for me (another blog, another time, maybe).

Occasionally, I will be talked into narrating an audiobook, but for no less than $350/hour minimum.  It’s meant to discourage anyone from hiring me, really, Like I said, I really don’t want to do them anymore

Monday, a local author contacted me with a query about narrating a book he’d written.

I’m the author of an approximately 50,000 word non-fiction historical book that I’m Looking to convert to an audiobook.

The Narrator should be able to send me a finished edited audio file. Being able to include some light ‘mood’ music is a major plus.

For a sense of the ‘atmosphere’ Im looking for see link to my website below which describes synopsis and reviews of my work.

Oh, and one other thing. I’m just a lowly independent writer without a deep pockets publisher so cost is of course extremely important.

My response:

Thanks for getting in touch.
Maybe a good place to start would be to tell me what your budget is.
A 50,000 word book will result in an audiobook of just a little over 5 hours according to my math.  I would require no less than $1500 for that work…narrated, edited, and mastered (and that’s with a $300 discount because you’re a local).  
Adding the music is another level of complication, and I’d have to work with you on that added  production expense.  I’d expect you to provide me with the music.  Choosing music is one of the most subjective decisions humans can make,so I wouldn’t presume to do that.  Then there’s paying the royalties (rights) for using the music, or buying non-royalty stock.
This is probably not all what you wanted to hear, but I specialize in non-fiction, and I love historical works, so I’d be happy to dig into this project if I haven’t scared you off already.
Thanks again for presenting me with this prospective audiobook.

His retort:


Since I wrote the book for nothing wondering why I would pay someone $1500 just to read the book out loud ? Seriously.
Willing to pay $500 ‘with’ music.
My reply, which went unanswered:
You didn’t write it “for nothing”.  It took hours of research and time to write the book, I’m sure.
I’m an experienced voice professional, and I know the value of my contribution.  What goes into that quote?  Lots of coaching, experience, practice, and expertise; not to mention the cost of lots of top-notch equipment, a studio, and editing capabilities.
I’m also a published author, but narrating a written work is not an easy task.
Thanks again for contacting me.
So whadya think?  Did I practice my humble relational diplomacy.
Honestly, sometimes I think people are spoiling it for eveeryone!



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  1. Scott Cluthe

    Dave, thank you for consistently reminding me of the “value” of the special gifts of voice, production, editing and creativity I have worked to “master” over 30 years plus of media. I know that when I was slicing audio tape on a steel block with slit in it, then splicing it back together, it was the “mastering” in mastering ! Yeah, that’s what you are investing in.

    • CourVO


      It’s so easy even for US to overlook all that has gone into our professional service. So, I think it bears mentioning to some clients who have NO CLUE what all we do, and in all we’ve invested.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      Dave Courvoisier

  2. Beverly Bremers

    Dave, thanks for reinforcing the scope & importance of what we do. That guy’s reply to you is, unfortunately, too typical of the overall attitude & ignorance of people. And people who should know better! Soldier on, my friend!

    • CourVO


      Right…that “just reading out loud” comment got to me… but it’s not like we haven’t heard it before, right? After all…it’s just “talking”.

      Thanks for visiting!

      Dave Courvoisier

  3. Nathan Carlson

    Well written replies. Especially because you educated the author. Not that he’s necessarily willing to accept it.

    Sadly I think he will find some misguided individual to do the work and then this author, like so many others these days, will feel empowered to pay below market rates in the future.

    • CourVO


      That education part is important, I think. I hate to offer a response without it.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Dave Courvoisier

  4. ladychamberlain

    Hi Dave, You did a great job of educating the author without being condescending or rude. There was compassion and understanding in your teaching. So, in answer to your question, yes, you used relational wisdom and humility. Well done.

    Perhaps the author will narrate his own book. He’ll be able to work well within his budget, have complete control of the process, and he won’t have anyone but himself to blame if sales are low. After all, he will have “hired” an inexperienced, untrained and uneducated narrator. Worth every penny of his $500.

    • CourVO


      I always try to dissuade authors from narrating their own books. Very few can…and the rest have to find out for themselves, right?

      (the other) DC

  5. Deidre


    Well said!

    • CourVO

      Thanks, Deidre… Sometimes you just have to count to 10. 🙂

      Dave Courvoisier

  6. Peter Christofferson

    Gee, I can’t wait to read this guy’s book for free. After all, he wrote it for nothing; why should I pay good money just to read it to myself?

    (See what I did there…?)


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