*Name: Michael (Mike) Hanko
*Tell us a bit about yourself:
How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? I was a Communication major back in college, studying Radio and desktop publishing. I love music and so I spent 2 years on air as a DJ while in school. Loved it! But could not find any work in radio after school, given how competitive it is.
A little later on, I started a career as a Training Specialist. So again, being able to get in front of people and be in the public speaking arena was not a bad move. It helped me to work on and polish my delivery/style. This whole time, though I was always interested in voice and just a year ago I started my professional voice career.
Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? So far, I have produced 31 audiobooks (in just my first year professionally). They have mostly been self-help and inspiration/Christian projects. Some of my biggest sellers have been Listening (Christian Olsen) and the Happy Puppy Box Set (Charles Nelson and Jennifer Smith). I have enjoyed producing all types of works, including (recently) game guides and now even biographies.
Do you have a preferred genre? Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? I don’t have a preferred genre. I truly just enjoy the different types of books that are published and trying to adapt my voice to some of them. The only style I don’t honestly do is adult/explicit material. And that’s because of my Christian faith. Just not a genre that I’m completely comfortable with.
What are you working on at present/Just finished? I have two biographies that I’m producing, both of NBA superstars. I had produced a similar title recently and the author and publisher have been super to work with, so I was happy to take on additional work from them. Also, I secured another scripturally based book that I will start shortly as well.
*Tell us about your process for narrating? (Be as elaborate as you like.) I look first for titles that I feel comfortable with. When I say that, I look for titles that fit me – adult, middle aged, midwestern accent (mine is not as pronounced though). But at the same time, I try to stretch myself by looking for titles that cause me to be more engaging or at least to strike a balance between more serious and more fun.
When I receive the manuscript, I will read it to try and get a feel for the tone, pacing, etc. I believe that any book’s translation/narration is that much more successful when I can make that connection. And just as important, when I’m editing the final tracks, I listen as a reader – is the volume good? Is the pacing and flow of the read good (not too fast or slow)? Are the pauses natural and help to convey the right tone? I love the process and hearing the project come together!
What aspects do you find most enjoyable? I love the read. I have loved reading since I was in elementary school. I was always one of the first kids to volunteer to read out loud. And I enjoy editing. I’m getting better all the time when it comes to that end and I love to challenge myself to make my edits better, to make the book sound more alive.
Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? I’ll consider any offer. All of my produced works have been royalty offers.
*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? I do. We have amazing technology and I know many people that are audiobook readers. Technology is allowing us to reach people in many new and exciting ways.
Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular? You can take that book anywhere, just like traditional books. But, with the added advantage of listening in your car, as many people have suggested to me. You take the portability of a traditional book and add another flexible layer.
Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) I’m still new to the industry (one year plus) but I enjoy seeing the numbers each month of sales, reviews, etc. ACX/Audible provides great tools and information for me as a narrator, making it easy for me to follow my own activity and to share in the overall success of the project. And their interface (receiving manuscripts, uploading, etc) is very user-friendly.
Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? Just once. I felt very strongly that the author was being aggressive in their wording (within the book). And I did mention it to them. Although it did not ultimately affect the final product, I will speak up if I am not comfortable, that it will not benefit either them or me.
Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I have a very dry sense of humor. So, I enjoy funny movies for example and especially those that are similarly dry and/or sarcastic.
Where can we learn more about you? I can be found on Facebook (artist page for my work), LinkedIn, Twitter and my own website, MikeHanko.com