Butt-Kickin’ Books

Posted on October 5, 2015 by rfulginiti No Comments

Voicing the Mixed Martial Arts “Worth the Fight” series by Michele Mannon has been so much fun. “Knock Out”, the first book in the series, has been very popular with listeners and I’m happy to see the same enthusiasm for the second and third books, “Tap Out” and “Out for the Count“, both released a few weeks ago.

Michele Mannon has a smart, conversational writing style that makes narrating her books easy and pleasurable. She uses lots of fun humor and creates feisty characters with real heart. Her male characters are the ultimate alphas – gorgeous, edgy and hulking with a quiet tenderness underneath.  She definitely gets the love scenes right; I have to admit to it getting rather steamy in the booth while recording!

The last book in the trilogy, “Out for the Count”, was especially cool to work on because it centers around a female MMA fighter.  I was recording it right around the time of Ronda Rousey’s big fight this summer, so I had a huge dose of real-life inspiration! I love that this genre is getting so popular and it was an honor to voice a book about a woman who kicks major butt. Very timely, indeed!

The Girlfriend Game

Posted on October 5, 2015 by rfulginiti No Comments

Getting ready to launch my brand new website this week! SO excited; it’s been in the works for quite some time! Just a heads up that this and the next post (which will follow directly) are both regarding audiobooks, and a little different than my normal posts. Moving forward, we’re intending to utilize categories more, so it’s easier to find things in archive and have specific things appear on specific pages (like audiobooks)… So, here goes!

I was so excited to join the stellar cast on this cool indie project produced by Eric Martin Multi-casts always excite me (I think they remind me of my theatre days!) but when I saw who was on this, I was immediately “in”… Scott Brick? RC Bray? Kirby Heyborne? Um, yes! Truly, all the narrators attached are impressive and it is thrilling to be a part of that list.

The Girlfriend Game is a collection of short stories by Nick Antosca. The writing is stellar. Nick is a rising star in both literary fiction and Hollywood. He’s won the Shirley Jackson award for his novella “Midnight Picnic,” and in the last year has worked with JJ Abrams and Alfonso Cuaron as executive story editor on the series “Believe”. He also wrote and produced for the last season of “Hannibal” and was just tapped to write next year’s “Friday the 13th” for Michael Bay’s production company and the team behind “V/H/S”.  Two of the stories in this collection have already been adapted to film.

I have to say, this was one of my favorite projects so far this year. If you like stories that are creepy, weird & dark with plenty of black humor, you will find this genre-bending sci-fi-horror-thriller hybrid to be well worth your time!

Rain Day

Posted on September 16, 2015 by rfulginiti No Comments

rainy-day-wallpapersIn LA, rainy days are like Snow Days. We don’t get them very often, and when we do it feels like a special treat. It makes me want to stay inside and bake cookies in my pajamas. Somehow time seems to stop and frivolity feels justified. BUT, on a workday, cookie-baking can be a bit of a time waster, so instead, I opt to do things a little off the beatin’ path – tasks I wouldn’t normally do on an average day, but that are still useful and will make me feel good. This way I get to enjoy the “school’s cancelled” vibe while still being productive!

Today my “freebie” day consisted of getting all the voice memos and voice mails I’ve been saving off of my phone and onto an external hard drive. Almost daily, I save voice messages and memos on my phone for referencing later – everything from character samples, to accents and dialects. The problem is, they tend to STAY on my phone for a very long time, using up memory and at risk of being lost.

For narrating audiobooks, in particular, I find I can never have enough authentic voices to stow away and draw from when developing characters. Real people are so much more compelling and “using them” in my work really helps me identify and connect quickly and authentically. Engineers often remark that I rarely need to hear voice samples for character reference (when a character re-appears in a book and you need to remember “who” that person is, so you can “do” their voice). That’s because I’m not “doing voices”. I know who these characters are; they are usually based, in some way, on real people.

I often save voicemails that people have left for me.  I’ve been stowing messages for nearly a year from my nieces, my Aunt Joan, that client who called from Texas with the twangy accent, my friend Tess from Australia, the kooky administrative assistant from my Doctor’s office…the list goes on. These are great references to have. Sometimes I run out of ideas and I love having these real-life examples to jog my memory and stimulate my creativity. I also like to record things I hear on TV. I find the best things on the news. There is nothing like an authentic character sample of a real person talking about some real thing that happened. (Sidebar: I also like to record the newscasters – which I find come in handy for video game auditions, especially).

So today, on this rainy Tuesday, I set about getting these all out of my phone and into my computer, to file away for future reference. It’s oddly time consuming, but now that they’re all labeled and stored properly, I actually feel like I gained some time, and just a little bit of my life back (along with my phone memory!). I feel organized and satisfied, like I cleaned out a closet or something…and it was a lot less fattening than baking cookies!

Doing it Anyway

Posted on August 28, 2015 by rfulginiti No Comments

feel-the-fear-and-do-it-anyway-quote-1If you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.

Here’s the thing. Now is the time to step out of the comfort zone. It really is time. We have all waited, we have all prepared, we have all been through struggles and challenges over the past few years. There has been no way around that. The paradigm has shifted and we surfed or got swept away.

I don’t know what it is that you’re up to in your life. I don’t know what secret dream you have, waiting to be born, what small idea you have lingering there deep in your brain or knocking softly inside your heart, but this morning I want to be a cheerleader from the sidelines. Think of me as a messenger from somewhere in the Great Beyond, telling you to feel the fear and do it anyway.  I am channeling my own Messenger as I write this.

New ideas feel good. They are exciting and energizing. You get that spark – Yes! THAT would be cool! I want to do this. THIS is a great idea. Inspiration is a gift. But often, once that initial glow dims, it can be tough to follow through. Perhaps we’re left feeling overwhelmed with where to start, so the idea just kind of stays there, unformed.  Maybe we are afraid to actually take that step forward because we want it to be so good that we’re afraid to put it out there. As long as it stays an idea, we’re safely protected from failure. Nothing risked.

And as the saying goes, nothing gained either. So, if you’re like me you sit with that immobility and you get this subtle pulling in your heart, this slight tightness that is unnamable but impossible to totally ignore. Nothing feels really good because you are avoiding your work. You are squashing that idea, by virtue of putting it off. And it doesn’t feel awesome. For the past few days, I have been avoiding something. A creative something that I really want to do, that I am committed to. If I’m honest there are actually several creative somethings that I really want to do. That I am not doing. Why can’t an artist just create?

I can say it’s being busy or whatever, but the truth is, I know by now. It’s my old friend Fear, along with his cousin Perfectionism.  They’re at my door again. These two are no fun. They stop everything. Prevent dreams from taking shape in the physical world. Keep people trapped and stuck inside their safely cloistered, invisible, self-made protection chambers.

Today I am instructing Fear to take his mean-spirited cousin and get the F outta my yard.  I encourage you to do the same.  Ironically, they won’t split until I ignore them and decide to leave the house anyway. I know the game. If I wait for them to go away, they will be there forever. But if I step outside, they will somehow dissolve and disappear.  Or become thin and transparent, like ghosts. I know this to be true.

We artists, we need to get used to this. Feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Kicking fear and perfectionism to the curb. Risking something to reap the rewards we all so earnestly seek. It doesn’t work any other way.

This is your mission, should you choose to accept it. I am accepting mine. Let’s check back in about this, shall we?

Here we are!

Posted on December 31, 2014 by rfulginiti

Golden 2015 Happy New Year Greeting Card With Sparking Spot LighWell we made it! Here we are at the last day of the year. I couldn’t let it go by without a quick post to wish you all a happy New Year. I still have one more post about agents in VO, but the holidays got the best of me so I figured I’d save that for January. Right now I just wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude for all of YOU, my peeps who have been along with me this year, for your comments, posts, shares, enthusiasm and connection. The fact that I could write something that might help someone in some way, anywhere, is an absolute honor and a privilege, and feels like part of a lifelong heart-mission that I’ve become willing to commit to. So thank you for helping me become more me!

This time of year always has me in self-seeking, soul-searching, ritual-mode. Here are a few favorites I’ve been playing with:

What do I want to release/ what do I want to bring in? I like to ask myself these two questions and do some free-writing about them both. Reflecting on the past year I begin by stating what I’d like to let go of. Then I do the same with what I’d like to welcome in. This year I’m wanting more calm, more joy and more focus. I’d like to let go of stress, angry driving and complaining. I find it especially powerful to burn this writing when I’m done, or offer it up to Mother Ocean, if that’s a possibility (assuming it’s biodegradable paper, that is!).

3 adjectives: This one is new, and comes from a wonderful year end strategic planning/closure workshop I attended last weekend with Kristine Oller (She is wonderful, btw, check her out!!). The exercise was to write down how you’d like to feel this coming year (as opposed to focusing on what you want to do or achieve). After some spontaneous free-association, the ones that resonated the most for me were: creative, supported and healthy. Supported is such a new and exciting possibility to me! It’s not that I haven’t been supported before, necessarily, but that this year, I’d like to feel more supported. To that end, I’m hiring an engineer for all my audiobooks, moving forward…what a revelation! I already began to do that with my last two books and it fits in perfectly with my desire to feel supported in the year ahead! I’d also like to go back to my Sunday habit of shopping and food prep for the week ahead, so I have healthy food available during the week that doesn’t feel hard to deal with. And if that feels too hard or I know I won’t have time for it, I will hire a food delivery service for the weeks that are crazy. I’ve been having fun researching some super healthy options. They are not inexpensive, but I think they are totally worth it. Finally, I will be practicing saying no to more things this year, in order to hold space for the things I do want. This isn’t always easy for me to do. I’m looking at it as an experiment for this year.

Choose a word: Last year a good friend told me every year she chooses one word that will serve as her touchstone for the year. It sort of encompasses everything you want the new year to be about. Last year I chose “Expansion”, and indeed, it truly resonated throughout the year. It seemed my entire life this past year was about expansion – physical expansion (we bought a house!), career expansion (more blog writing and leading workshops through Deyan Institute) and family expansion (my father-in-law came to live with us for nine months and we had a friend living with us for two!). This year, I’ve chosen the word magic. It came to me rather quickly and resolutely. I’m ready to let the magic in, to be present to the magic that’s always there, to welcome it, to trust it, to ride it!

My homespun theory: Since the beginning of my adult life, I’ve had this theory that whatever you do on New Years Eve / New Years day, and how it sort of “plays out”, sets the tone for the rest of the year. Somehow, it always seems to end up being an interesting foreshadowing of what’s to come…so I’m careful to be cognizant of the choices I make on these days and I try to be tuned in to what comes up around me.

It’s funny because I woke up this morning at 5:30am, completely unable to sleep another wink. Checked my emails and browsed Facebook from bed (one of my super no-no’s, something I truly kick myself for doing every time, but there you go). Went into my freezing studio and set up my new space heater, which promptly blew the power, reset everything, only to have the smoke alarm start beeping for some reason until I snatched out the battery. I have been texting back and forth with friends about the plan tonight and find myself absolutely unable to concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes. The truth is, the energy and anticipation of the last day of the year/beginning of the brand new is so palpable, I am really feeling it.

I thought I’d be off today. Doing yoga, organizing and cleaning my house, preparing for the year ahead, having downtime with my husband and my dog. Instead, as it turns out, I’ll be in my booth for 6 six hours recording. I’m grateful for the job, and grateful for sneaking in this post, too! Tonight will be spent with close friends at an intimate party and tomorrow I will do no work! Rest and renewal are on the agenda…So it’s looking like a nice combination of work and play (with some surprises sprinkled in!) and lots of simplicity and intimate connection with the people that I love. At least that’s my intention…we’ll see how the next two days reveal themselves!

In any case, I am wishing you whatever it is that your heart desires this year. You deserve it and you can have it! If you haven’t already, consider taking a moment over the next 24 hours to reflect and get quiet. Pay attention to what emerges and write it down.

Happy 2015 (…that is so futuristic, yes?? Something about it that sounds more futuristic to me than 2014! And it makes sense because the future is HERE. I’m reminded that there’s no more waiting to do things I’ve always put “out there” for “someday”. The time is now and the universe supports our deepest convictions and desires!).

Mazel tov! Peace! Blessings!

Oh yeah! I’ll be featured today at 2pm EST/11am PST on April Holgate’s wonderful audiobook site, Eargasms. Stop by and comment here for a chance to win a free download of one of my audiobooks, plus check out a different narrator every hour today! I am lucky to be in such wonderful company!

Agents Part 3: Working with them

Posted on December 9, 2014 by rfulginiti


This is Part 3 of my 3 Part Series on Voiceover Agents. If you missed them, here’s Part 1 and Part 2. I’m so pleased to announce that the series has been picked up by VoiceoverXtra, as well. VoiceoverXtra is the industry’s leading online Voiceover publication. I’ve been reading it since I started in VO, so it’s been lovely to become a contributor this year! Click here to check it out. 

Congratulations on getting a Voiceover Agent (or being in the position to start looking for one…!) This is a huge step. It’s very important to acknowledge and celebrate our victories! That’s number one. But the actual “work” doesn’t end there. This is just the beginning!

Having an agent is a partnership and each side has responsibilities, just like a marriage or any other business partnership. I know a lot of people who start with an agent and then it kind of fizzles out and never goes anywhere. The actor is left feeling confused, frustrated and embarrassed, scratching their heads and asking themselves: Am I even still with them?  Don’t let this happen to you!

The key to avoiding this is to establish a personal relationship from the get-go. Let yourself be known! Establish a good rapport and keep the communication flowing. Do your job and do it to the very best of your ability, consistently. Be someone they grow to count on and expect great things out of. I know it’s hard but DON’T BE AFRAID OF YOUR AGENT! REFRAME the relationship if you need to: They work for you, even though at the beginning it doesn’t feel like that at all. Practically speaking, in actuality, it sort of isn’t that way at the beginning…the dynamic definitely feels like you are working for them. But somewhere along the line, that will start to change. Here are some thoughts on how to embark upon this new journey.

The first several months of working with an agent is definitely the “dating phase”. You are testing each other out to see if it is a good fit. It’s also like starting a new job, in that you want to put your very best foot forward. What does that look like?

Communication: It’s up to you to ask questions at the beginning if you are unsure about procedure or what to expect. Agents are busy people; lots of times they are on overdrive and will just start sending you auditions without giving you any details about what they expect. If they don’t tell you, ASK how they want the files labeled, do they mind more than one take – and if so, is two the limit, etc. and anything else that comes up. The time to ask these questions is now. Find out how they want things submitted and do it right, every time.

Timeliness: Get things in ahead of the deadline. It makes their life easier and they will love you for it.  It also makes you more likely to book a job! With so many people competing these days, you want to be one of the first to be submitted, not one of the last. If you wait, the job might already be booked before you even send yours in!

Be a Pro: Follow directions and do excellent auditions. Every time. Make sure both the acting and the sound quality of your auditions are competitive. If you include more than one take, be sure the takes are different – some sort of different style, approach, tone or feel. If you can’t make them different, just send one take.

Keep in touch: Stay in touch regularly with your agent if you don’t hear from them. Be on the conservative side in terms of frequency and definitely don’t bother them with random nonsense, but  do drop a line now and then with a friendly hello. Keep it brief, light & polite and offer up something fun or (even better) let them know what you’ve been doing on your end. Agents like clients who are pro-active. For example, if you take a workshop, particularly if the teacher is a working industry pro (Producer/Director/CD), tell them about it!  I always let my agents know who I’m working with. It gives me an excuse to drop them a line and it’s also practical – if their paths cross, my agent knows we’ve just seen each other and can mention me!

Keep records: Take note of all the auditions they are sending you. I always keep a file with all of my auditions for a couple of reasons. This allows me to track of how many auditions they are giving me and what types. It will be important a few months down the road when you are assessing the relationship. Instead of “feeling like” you’re not getting a lot of auditions, you will have a record of exactly how many and what type you are getting per week and per month. Likewise, if they seem to be out of your wheel house, or if there’s a particular type of copy or genre that you’re not getting, but would like to be reading on, you can discuss this with them with specificity. Note: Make sure you do this within the “trial” period of a few months; in other words, don’t wait six months or a year to bring up an issue if it has been on your mind! Finally, by keeping good records, you can also refer back to them easily if you book a job, and you can keep a tally on your booking ratio, auditions to jobs booked with this particular agent.

If you impress your agent out of the gate by being a complete professional who consistently submits above average takes, they will grow to love you. That is your job: to do great work always. In the beginning they are feeling you out, so PUT YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD. DO NOT MISS AUDITIONS. DO NOT TURN THEM IN LATE. DO NOT ACT WEIRD. Do your job: be courteous, polite, grateful, graceful, impressive and fun to work with. That’s our side of the street.

Now, what should you expect from them? Join me next week for: How do I know if my agent is good?  If you haven’t yet, sign up for my blog on the top right hand corner of the blog page so you don’t miss it…and if you liked this article, please share it… Cheers and happy voicing!

Agents – Part 2: How To Get One

Posted on November 21, 2014 by rfulginiti

How to Welcome to Part 2 of my 3 Part Series on Agents for Voiceover: How to Get One. If you missed Part 1, click here.

Once you’ve determined that you’re ready to look for an agent, the obvious question becomes, how do I do that? There are a bunch of different ways and they all require acumen on your part, as well as good luck and good timing.  The important thing to remember is that it is a process. Try to make peace with and enjoy the process, rather than despairing or despising it! Believe in yourself and stick to it; graceful persistence is key. Know that it will happen eventually.

Get a referral: Like anything else in life, having a personal contact refer you is usually the most effective way to get someone’s attention. The very best way to get an agent is through a referral. A referral from a well-respected casting director, director or producer (rather than another actor) is a wonderful thing because it carries a lot of weight. Having that person offer to refer you, rather than having to ask, would be best, of course, but that rarely happens. We can’t sit around hoping people are mind readers. Sometimes you have ask for what you want; you just have to make sure you approach the topic with sensitivity and class.

Let’s say you have a great relationship with someone in the business; you’ve worked with them (or have been studying with them) consistently and they respect your work. You might consider letting them know you’re looking for an agent. Ask them in a professional, no pressure way, if there is anyone they think might be a good fit. If they take the initiative and offer to contact the agent on your behalf, you’ve struck gold. However if they don’t offer, or if they don’t feel comfortable doing that, perhaps they would be willing to allow you to use their name when contacting the agent yourself. “So and so recommended I contact you…” If they say yes to this, be sure to put the referral’s name in the subject line of the email to grab the recipient’s attention!

Note: DO NOT USE SOMEONE’S NAME IF THEY DID NOT GIVE YOU PERMISSION TO DO SO. That would be the height of bad form and totally uncool. Likewise, please be prudent with whom you ask and how you ask. Be sure the person is very familiar with and likes your work. Be polite and sympathetic to the fact that they might get asked to do this ALL THE TIME. Some folks have a policy of “absolutely no referrals, no matter what” because if they were to refer everyone that asked, they’d be doing it every day and exhaust their contacts. And by all means, if you ask and they decline, please don’t make it personal. You have a right to ask and they have a right to refuse. If they say no, it doesn’t mean they don’t like you or believe in you.  Don’t hold it against them. Be graceful and move on.

Take a workshop: In Los Angeles (and possibly other cities), there are opportunities to take workshops in person, directly with agents or agent assistants. This is an excellent way to get in front of someone you normally wouldn’t have access to and show them what you can do. Be ready and definitely bring your A game. It takes a lot to truly blow an agent away, but it does happen; I got my first big agent this way! Mary Lynn Wissner runs an excellent “Meet the Agents” program (as well as lots of other cool casting director/producer/director workshops). If you’re outside of Los Angeles, you can also sign up for Voice Registry workouts; they host many great agents from all over the country as guest directors. Even if you don’t get signed, it’s a wonderful chance to get feedback from these professionals and begin an on-going relationship. Keep in touch and let them in on the progression of your career. Remember, “no” rarely means “never“, it means “not right now“.

“Cold” Submit: Ahhh, the cold submission…not the optimal choice, but probably the most common. Although the scales are tipped in favor of luck and timing with this approach, it does work sometimes and there are some ways to make it more effective. Firstly, you’ll need to find a list of exactly whom to submit to.  DO YOUR RESEARCH and be careful to follow submission guidelines, otherwise you will be spinning your wheels and wasting time & energy. The VoiceOver Resource Guide lists agents in New York and LA. You can also do a Google search for regional agents/agents in your area, check out Voicebank.net, visit successful voice actors’ websites and see who they’re with, or contact your local SAG-AFTRA office.

When reaching out, KEEP it BRIEF, professional and courteous; don’t tell them your life story; agents are busy people and anything too long will almost certainly be disregarded. Be sure to send a link to your website (directly to the demo page – don’t make them click around!) and let them know you have a home studio (you do have a home studio, right??). Also be sure to mention what work you have booked - the best (and arguably the only!) way to get an agent’s attention. Keep a spreadsheet or some kind of record of who you submitted to and when. This will be crucial when following up.

About following up…I’d give them at least a week, probably two weeks before following up. Keep it light and polite, and try to add something new – “Since writing to you I’ve booked X“. Just a sidebar: it’s been my experience that if an agent is interested, they will contact you right away. If you don’t hear back from them initially, give it the two weeks, then follow up. If you still don’t hear, I’d wait another few months and again, add in what you’ve been doing since the last time you wrote. Keep it friendly, personalized and positive! You might end up pursuing them for a while, so make sure your emails are ones you wouldn’t mind receiving. It’s ok to be persistent, but not needy, demanding or annoying.

A few words about strategy: A lot of people wonder if they should submit to all agents at once or if they should hold out for their top choice (s) first. I say, go ahead and cover a lot of ground all at once. Why not? What’s the worst that could happen: you have multiple offers? That’s a good problem to have. Getting an agent can be tricky; to me it’s a waste of time to hold out for your number one pick. There are so many factors that go into whether or not someone wants to represent you. They might love your work but already have enough people in your category. Blanket submit and keep excellent records about who and when you sent out and what response you got, if any. If you’re lucky enough to get an offer, even from someone you see as a “lower level” agent, I’d probably go for it – assuming you’ve checked them out and they are REPUTABLE. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, as the saying goes. If necessary, you can always “trade up” as you become more experienced and outgrow that agency. That’s not mean, it’s business. Folks rarely stay with their first agent. Here’s a quick preview of next week’s post: The best agent for you is the one that’s working for you. What works for you may change over time, during the course of your career.

A final piece of advice: Stay committed to your goal of getting an agent, but know that you don’t really need them to survive and make it as a VO. They actually need you!  Keep the focus on your work and develop as an artist. Getting an agent (or multiple agents) will be a natural outgrowth of that, if you stick to your path.

This is a big topic. If you have any questions, please ask away in the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer them. Join me next week for Part 3 on Voiceover Agents: What to do once you have one!

…and if you enjoyed this article, please share it! 


Agents – Part 1: The low-down

Posted on November 6, 2014 by rfulginiti


Today kicks off the first in a new three part series, inspired by one of my readers (thank you Britt Dyer!). Over the next several weeks I’ll be talking about agents: what they do, how to get one and how to work with one once you’re in partnership. It’s a subject that can often feel mysterious or frustrating. Sometimes it’s a challenging part of getting “to the next level” in your career, but it doesn’t have to be confusing!

What exactly does an Agent do? Well, the short and sweet is: they negotiate contracts. Legend has it, there was once a day when they sought out budding young talent with potential and cultivated it…but that doesn’t happen much anymore. Basically, you and your agent are part of a team. You come to the table a completely formed product, and then your agent (hopefully) helps to sell it. Ideally, they find lots of opportunities for you, they talk you up, push for you and go to bat for you, and when you book jobs, they get you the very best deal they can, which will be mutually beneficial for both of you, as they earn 10% of what you make. With union jobs, that 10% is typically added to the top of your rate, so the agent’s cut doesn’t actually take away from what you’re making on the gig.

Wait, how are Agents different from Managers? Technically, to call themselves an agent (at least in the state of California), they have to have a license, adhere to certain guidelines and practices, and they can only take 10%. There are no requirements for someone calling themselves a “Manager”. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some great managers out there, and typically they get more involved in the day to day career of the talent (or at least, they used to), but beware, there are tons of unscrupulous ones out there, as well. Most managers take between 15- 20%. A lot of times they will add an additional percentage onto the client’s bill and still (also) take 15-20% out of your cut. That being said, if they are getting you work that you wouldn’t have had otherwise, then it’s probably still worth it.

So, do I need one? It used to be that if you didn’t have an agent, you couldn’t really be in the game. Before the internet era, it was a pretty closed circuit; there were no other ways to get auditions (and hence, jobs). These days, with the explosion of online casting and home studios, you don’t really need one to be a full time voice actor anymore. But you probably want one. Or more than one. Yes, probably many more than one. For example, I work with my main agent here in Los Angeles but I also have agents in Chicago, Atlanta and San Francisco. The thing about having agents is they get you access to jobs you wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Union jobs. Higher paying jobs. Higher profile jobs. So it depends on what you want. If you are content to hustle all your own work, you might not need one. I know lots of great talent throughout the country that don’t have an agent and they do really well. But for me personally, it’s a crucial part of an overall strategy. While I’m out generating my own work, I also appreciate having someone looking out for and delivering me opportunities as well. And I want a shot at the Cadillac jobs.

When should I start looking for one? As I mentioned before, you need to come to the table as a complete package. You should have at least a commercial demo – professionally produced, not home made! You should have a web presence – or at least a web page –  with your contact info and demos/samples of your work. You should be sufficiently trained as a voice actor and ideally, working already. One of the best ways to attract an agent is to let them know that you’re a booker! There is absolutely no incentive for them to take you on unless they think they can make money by working with you. The way you prove that to them is by telling them about the work you are already doing.

Stay tuned for Part 2 on Agents next week! If you liked this post, please share it….and if you’re not already subscribed, go ahead and subscribe at the top right of the blog page so you don’t miss anything. Cheers!

Getting Paid

Posted on October 1, 2014 by rfulginiti

Paid StThis week I received a delightful and unexpected gift. I got paid for a job I thought I’d gotten burned on. Let me backtrack. My business is divided into two parts. There’s the agented side of things: I audition for jobs with my agent (s) either at home, in their office or at casting places and when I book a job they send me to the studio. These are the “Cadillac Jobs”. Kushy and smooth. I am just a voice for hire. I go into an awesome studio, record for a half hour and then get a check sent to me a while later. No engineering, no invoicing, no call for pickups, (unless there’s another paycheck attached!); it’s pretty sweet.

But to make it as a VO in this day and age, you pretty much also have to have a home-based business, as well. On this side of things, I am not only the “talent”, but also the engineer, as well as the accountant and office manager. Most times, I am also the director and sometimes the producer. Jobs come to me through referrals from past clients, online sites, or by people finding my website.  Someone contacts me about a project, I provide a quote and tell them my policies, they send me a finalized script and I record it, either with them on the line or on my own depending on their preference. Then they may come back to me with one round of pickups. After that the job is usually (hopefully) just another good memory. Next. I fondly refer to these jobs (privately!) as “turn and burn”. No disrespect, they’re great. I get paid, complete the job quickly and it’s wrapped up nice and tidy with no unnecessary time and energy lingering. Everyone’s happy.

To this end, I always ask for payment up front, especially the first time I work with a client. I didn’t always do that, but I learned the hard way. Many times, clients seem to magically disappear after they get what they need, and understandably so; they are typically on tight deadlines and still have post production ahead of them. A few times I was stiffed completely. More often, I would eventually get paid, but it might take months and months…and that meant months and months of me following up with them, sending gentle reminders, more terse reminders…you get the idea. The whole process was a hassle, uncomfortable for me, a time suck and just plain not fun. So, I decided to adopt a policy that was in place at a corporate job I had years ago.

Before starting in voiceover I worked for a short time as a customer service rep at a business that sold news clips to PR companies. At that job, it was the company policy to ALWAYS get the first payment up front with a credit card. After that, we would give the option of “establishing terms”, which involved checking at least three references, to make sure that they paid their bills and did so on time. Only then would we set up a payment arrangement of either NET 14 (they pay within 14 days of receiving the bill) or NET 30 (they pay within thirty days of receiving the bill). There were no exceptions, not even if they insisted on “speaking with a manager”. If they wanted the clip, they paid in advance.

Taking a page out of that playbook, I started requiring payment up front, unless it’s a client I know and have worked with before. I send the file within 24 hours of receipt of payment, usually less. Most of the time people don’t have a problem with it. If they want to work with me, that’s my policy. Occasionally, someone does have a problem with it. They plead their case and there are extenuating circumstances. And sometimes, being an understanding and flexible person, on a case-by-case basis, I decide to take them at face value and go ahead and do the job first, without being paid. Usually this works out just fine.

But sometimes, it doesn’t. And then I ask myself why did I just do that again?? What is it that makes me cave? Why and when do I do this? Well, sometimes…I just…I dunno, trust them… It’s more of a sixth sense, really, than anything else…This person seems honest or seems legit…But sometimes, they’re not!

I guess that’s why I am a voiceover person and not a psychic! Every time this happens to me, I learn the lesson over again. YOU CANNOT TELL IF SOMEONE IS HONEST, HONORABLE OR IF THEIR BUSINESS IS SOLVENT BY TALKING TO THEM OR EMAILING WITH THEM. You just can’t.

So, back to this week. In May, a client I had worked for last year contacted me with a new job. I had done a similar project with him a year before and had gotten paid, no problem…Although I realized (later) that I had worked with him through Voices.com, not one-on-one, whoops! I should have checked on that. Of course I got paid, no problem. Voices.com requires payment up front!

Anyway, he calls me and says he needs the voiceover for this awards ceremony and he needs it right away (a red flag, by the way – the times I’ve gotten burned, it’s usually from a client who is “on fire” about getting the VO right NOW!). So I say sure, and give him a quote. He says great. I say I require payment up front. He says, Oh…I can’t do that, blah blah, I don’t get paid right away from the company, etcetera…I stand firm. He persists and asks, can we just do NET 14? I can pay you within two weeks, not a problem. I cave and say ok, figuring what the heck- I’ve worked with him before, we’ve been talking for twenty minutes and he seems so nice. Ha. My country girl naivety still sometimes shocks me in retrospect.

So I agree to NET 14, executing the job quickly and professionally, and deliver, as promised, right away. I send over an invoice. I never hear from him again.

I will save you the prosaic details of how I followed up numerous times, first by email and then by phone.  I end up talking to a colleague whom I happen to know provided the male portion of the VO for the same job; he too confirms he was never paid. We both did some digging and came to the same conclusion: the company he worked for is now closed. The website is down and it looks like the company is defunct.

Months go by. I could really use that money. In a last ditch effort, I decide to contact the head of PR and Marketing for the company I actually did the video for. A long shot, but I figured it couldn’t hurt. I write a short, congenial and professional email to this person, explaining who I am and that I have never been paid. I cc the guy who hired me and state he has been unresponsive. I’m hoping she can be of some assistance in settling this matter. I throw in that the use of my voice without being paid is illegal. I never hear anything back.

Oh well. In the meantime, I notice this guy who stiffed me is now on Linked In with a brand new job – Director of Marketing at Progressive in the Cleveland/Acron, Ohio area…! How bold to be out there, with your swanky new position, potentially hiring and screwing over more VO’s! I am livid…but don’t really know what to do, so I do nothing.

Then this past Monday morning, about a month after writing the email to the PR person, I wake up to an email out of the blue from the Chairperson of the Board of Directors, who apologizes profusely. She states they had paid this guy right after the job was completed and had of course assumed we had been paid. The next email is a payment confirmation from Paypal…she paid the invoice in full! Yipee. Vindication! There is justice in the world! I, of course, write her back to immediately thank her and I tell her that she should be aware that he did the same thing to my colleague. I ask if I can pass along her contact info to him and she says yes, of course.

SO, why am I going through this whole big huge long scenario? Well, to share the happy ending, yes. But more importantly, to share what I’ve learned.

1. Business is business and policies are policies. I’m not saying it’s not okay to be flexible, of course it is, and everyone needs to make that call for themselves…but know your policies and stick to them! And be willing to accept the consequences if you get burned.

2. There are red flags that show up over and over again in these situations: the “barn burning” urgency to get the voiceover RIGHT NOW. The fast talking-ness. You know what? If someone needs the voiceover immediately, then they can pay immediately. They wouldn’t walk into Costco saying they needed an air conditioner immediately and then ask if they can pay for it in two weeks. If they can’t do it because they haven’t been paid yet, I understand, it’s a common problem for producers, but it’s not my problem, it’s theirs. When I’m firm, they can usually figure it out.

3.The no mailing address/no phone number situation is also a red flag. Ask for these things when you are first opening up the job. Many times I’m busy, things are moving fast and I’m so eager to get down to the task at hand, that I forget to even ask for this information. Then when and if I need to follow up later, I realize I don’t have any information besides an email address and maybe a website. What was I thinking?? If I was at that job I used to work at, that would never happen. I would not be able to fulfill a customer order without basic information – so why would I allow that to occur in my own business? The time to get the client’s information is right at the beginning, before you do the job.

4. If you do get into a situation with an overdue invoice long after you’ve completed the job, try contacting the company that the job was for (if different than the producer of the job). Start with the PR/Marketing department, if there is one. Keep your communication brief, unemotional, polite and professional. Ask if they can please be of any assistance in the matter. (Throwing in the line about using your voice without being paid is illegal is always good too – thank you Golden Nugget of Faffcon 2012, Ventura!)

5. If you’re unsure about someone, look them up online and check in with your online communities, the Better Business Bureau and other consumer advocacy groups to see if there are complaints about the person or the business in question.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it – thanks… and good luck out there, fellow travelers! 

Preparing for an audiobook

Posted on August 27, 2014 by rfulginiti


Recording an audiobook at home is quite a project. The scope is much bigger than anything else you will do as a voice actor. I remember when I first started, I would become a slave to my internal anxiety. I didn’t even realize how secretly freaked out I was under the surface; it was this low-grade anxiety that would follow me around and be under my skin for days. Recording an entire book by myself felt like such a huge responsibility: I want it to be great and there’s no director or anyone giving feedback and it’s taking so long and I have to juggle all my other work and…it’s TAKING SO LONG and…ai yai yai…a recipe for a not so fun time. I would end up working every waking hour, pulling all-nighters, eating junk food and getting no sleep or exercise. My mindset was kind of like: Let’s just hunker down and get through this!

Thankfully, after two years I’ve figured out some coping strategies to quell that anxiety and make the entire experience more sane and enjoyable! There’s lots of great articles on how to actually prep an audiobook for record, but lately I’ve been thinking about how I’ve learned to prep myself for the task at hand. Here are five things I do to set the stage for success.

Give myself time.  I used to think I had to rush into the actual recording almost as soon as I got the book. I would race through reading it so that I could start recording – potentially missing things and making myself crazy in the process. Now I always check in with the publisher to find out how much time I actually have. Is there a hard deadline? Maybe I have more time than I think! Based on the word count of the book and how difficult is it (how many accents/dialects, for example), I estimate how long both the reading and recording will take. Then I try to give myself a few days wiggle room just in case something comes up to throw off my schedule or slow me down. I try for at least 3 days to prep a book. The more time and focus I put into prepping the book, the easier recording is. It also makes the work deeper and more resonant…and you don’t miss those pesky details, like finding out the main character has a Southern twang- which is mentioned only once- in Chapter 11!

Stock up. The day before I start recording, I go to the store and buy healthy prepared foods for the week. I need nutritious grab and go food available for my breaks…and for anytime the hunger monster strikes. It’s too much to have to think about meal prep while I’m recording an audiobook and I’ve learned the hard way that if I don’t have good food ready, I eat crappy. And that makes me feel crappy. I also make sure I have plenty of beverages on hand. Coffee is a no-brainer, but I also like Kombucha, ginger tea and/or Kefir, to help keep my energy up. One well placed Ginger Kombucha can keep me going for the rest of a session without having to eat again and again!  And my secret weapon is to have some type of raw vegan cacao energy treats in the freezer. I keep them in the freezer so I won’t eat too many at once! They can really help me push through if I start fading, providing hours of sustained energy…and they just make me happy!

Clear the decks. I tell my family and friends I’ll be working on a book and therefore somewhat MIA, so they know if I don’t pick up the phone not to worry or be offended. It’s not the week for doing extra things, like lunch with a friend or coffee with an aspiring VO. I need to focus my time and attention on getting the job done well and efficiently. I’m also sure to stock the kitchen with easy meals and snacks for my family so I know they won’t suffer while I’m working…and I don’t have to feel guilty!

Plan my schedule. As someone who juggles voice over and audiobook narration, this is crucial. Ditto that for someone who works from home. I schedule myself in 6 hour increments and make a commitment to those times. Inevitably, things come up – an audition or a booking – and I might need to make changes, but at least I have a plan that I can try to stick to. This frees me up to know that for that block of time, I’m working and after that, I’m done – so my whole life doesn’t become about the book. I’m also careful to choose my yoga classes and dog walk breaks for the week, so I know I’ll be getting exercise. There are few things worse for my body than sitting in a chair for days on end with no movement!

Be good. I try to get lots of sleep and to stay hydrated for a few nights before recording. No tequila benders for me, and no loud bars or clubs where I have to shout to be heard. Recording an audiobook is a marathon. I need to be energetic, healthy and at the top of my game from the start.

If you’re new to narrating audiobooks, trying some of these tips might help the entire process become a bit more manageable. Good luck and as always, I’m curious to hear what works for you!