Reassurance after a bad-recording day

Some ways I use to feel better about my recordings, when self-doubt sneaks in, or I discover I’ve plain voiced something very badly:

  • I listen to someone miles better than me. For me, this works because my most loved voices are very calming, soothing ones, and really, nothing can be all that wrong in a world with Alan Rickman’s voice in it. (If you’re reading this page, Alan, and finding this hint most unhelpful, may I recommend Juliet Stevenson’s audio recordings?) Plus many many years have been spent honing such voices and technique, and while I’ve done some work, it’s nowhere near that league. Puts things in perspective.
  • I listen to someone worse than me. Okay, this is a rather negative method, but let’s be honest, I suspect many listeners have thought, on occasion, “well, at least I don’t sound like THAT”. Listening to that voice also helps me put things in perspective. The world is a big place, and every voice is going to find some fans and some people who hate it (and that latter applies even for famous and respected voices.) There’s honestly room for all sorts of recordings.
  • I think about something great I’ve recorded! Note, I don’t actually listen to it – in a mean mood, I’d tear it to bits entirely undeservedly. I just remember that this one *worked*. That I can do good reading. That sometimes the author, microphone manufacturer and audio software developer have conspired to make me sound amazing. I just showed up and showed willing.
  • I get a second opinion! For this, I try to pick someone who’s going to be nice but constructively critical. There is definitely a time and a place for being told that something is “just fine, stop fretting about it”. Or for hearing that a pop-shield or volume adjustment would make the world of difference. Or for agreeing that a character voice is too annoying for words and it needs revisiting. I also try to avoid nay-sayers and pessimists like the plague. I’m already my own worst critic, I don’t need to audition anyone else for the role.

What else could I try..?


  • I know a lot of people who would take your worst-ever recording in their desert island cache! My brother recently joined Librivox, and told me his favorite reader was – surprise! – Cori. This is a common happenstance.

    You ought to be famous, or at least have the opportunities to read that you want. You’re that good. Your voice (and your reading) has a captivating effect on people, no matter what you’re reading. Just keep doing what you’re doing and good things are bound to happen for you!

  • I haven’t been on LibriVox for long, but your recording of The Wood Beyond the World was really phenomenal. I seldom check up on an audio recorder, but after only a few minutes of the first section I couldn’t resist googling your name. I showed it to a few of my friends and they agreed that your recording was magnificent. Keep up the good work.

  • A bonus of literature as MP3 files I think you’ve missed is that it is a very casual way of discovering new authors. I ‘sort of’ knew about Eliza Cook for nearly thirty years – but I’d never noticed that there was anything particularly special about her. I stumbled on your reading of Be Kind When You Can last week – clicked on it just because I had a spare five minutes – and I am seriously reconsidering my original apathy.
    Quite a few of the Librivox readers have nudged me into reconsidering writers I’d grown tired of, or even overlooked. I adored The Water Babies when I was little, but later lost patience with its intellectual laziness. You reminded me that Kingsley may have been slack, but he was fundamentally good-hearted. I very much doubt I am the only lifelong lover of books who has found this.

  • I just listened to your Paradise Lost recording also…. AMAZING! Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re the best reader I’ve heard yet!

  • Thank you so much for your reading of The Wood Beyond the World. You made the book come alive. I enjoyed listing. I listen to many books and you are very good. I am looking forward to listening to more books read by you.

  • I’d listen to you read the phone book.

    You have a delightful voice, but that is just the beginning: The care with which you approach each project is always evident and appreciated.

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