We had the good fortune of connecting with Marnye Young and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marnye, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I actually never thought I would own a business. My husband is a self made man who runs a now booming boutique architecture firm and I thought nope I will never own my own business. I grew up with parents who owned not one but two restaurants one of which sadly failed and I thought nope that will never be me. I don’t want the responsibility and I won’t be any good at it. Nobody will want to listen to me.
I began my narrator career in late 2016 and I got very lucky early on as unbeknownst to myself when I sent out my third audition I was auditioning for a production company and not an author. I booked that role and many more after that. I was booking roles like crazy and started bringing them to the production company I’d signed on with as I didn’t have the skills to produce on my own. But then I paired up with an engineer and I was able to start producing with the engineer’s help. As I continued to get work I started thinking how fierce the competition was and how could I distinguish myself from the rest. In the acting world the market is flooded with female talent far more so than male talent and it is the same for the audiobook community as well. I realized I needed to brand myself but had no idea how to go about it. There was a potential client (now client) Sean McMahon over in the UK who heard my voice on Twitter (if you can believe it) and said I could hear you narrating my book. May I send it to you? When it arrived the package said Marnye Young Audio Sorceress and that’s when it hit me. That was my hook. That was my answer to getting myself out there. I then hired a cover designer to design my logo and made myself an LLC in August of 2018.
Shortly after becoming “official”, people started reaching out to me asking if I had males on my then non-existent roster. I promptly said of course and realized I knew noone in the industry. So I reached out to a guy who I knew was huge in voice over in LA and we had been on stage together to see if he wanted to narrate a series with me and he agreed. Then a few months later I had a client reach out to me about a female narrator. And again I took a look at my non-existent roster of talent and promptly said of course. And from there the business really took off. I had made my “in” with romance and they started coming one after another after another. It got to where I needed an administrative person and I needed more engineers. I also realized I needed a social media director to handle our fast growing following and to help expand it as well as provide soft promotion for our narrators and clients. And to get the word out and people pumped about the awesome work everyone was doing. I also wanted someone to do video trailers (something I wanted to offer to our clients). By God’s grace or fate or karma I assembled an incredible team and the business began to soar.
As all these pieces were coming together I really came to understand the dearth of representation for indie authors and I thought well I can fill that space. My company can do that. I can help them get more exposure because if we do their audiobook that will also draw attention to their book. I ended up securing a SAG AFTRA union contract which allowed me to keep the company’s rates affordable for the clientele and still take care of narrators by giving them the union standard along with pension and health benefits. Everyone wins. I also made sure to charge enough to take care of my sub contractors for all the incredible work they were doing.
Every day seems to present new challenges and there has been a huge learning curve. HUGE. In fact, I almost shut the doors two years ago. But like any good entrepreneur I refused to quit. I was going to make this company a success come hell or high water as they say. Perhaps I should have attended a business course or something before I started but I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t make all those mistakes (oh so many) along the way and learn from them. I never in a million years thought I would be the head of a company that is thriving especially as a mom of twins who are developmentally delayed and take up much of my time. But here I am a “mompreneur” whose business is growing at such a rapid pace I can hardly keep up. We have signed on with so many publishing companies to do their audio which is amazing. In fact, we recently had a major book publisher reach out to us to produce for them. I mean MAJOR-one of the big 5. It didn’t work out as we weren’t the right fit for them, but to be considered by this king publisher and being as young as we were meant so much to me. Having said that, we are now in the publishing industry too! We just published our first audiobook that is out now with another one out at the end of summer. So this company is truly bursting at the seams. What would you say if I told you we signed on ten books in less than 2 weeks? Yeah. I know it’s crazy, but I love it. I love serving our fabulous clients and those faithful listeners that bolster the audiobook community and I especially love getting to tell other narrators “congratulations you got the job”. And perhaps the best part is being surrounded by the talent that is my team. Their sheer brilliance and passion often takes my breath away. That and their generosity, I believe they want to see this company succeed as much as I do.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I always loved making me people laugh as a young girl. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and the more I had that feeling the more I craved it. I was shy in certain ways but man when the lights went down and I could be somebody else I shined. Well sort of. I actually had horrible stage fright and still get occasional bouts of it. But when I got over that stage fright and could just be in the story it was an incredible feeling and I was like a sieve it was never enough. I knew that the stage is where I wanted to be. I wanted that immediate connection with the audience to feel the energy crackle and sizzle and pop and to feel those moments where you could hear a pin drop. So from the time I was young I acted in school plays and then I would do community theatre. In highschool I spent part of my year attending Greenville School for the Arts where I learned voice and movement. That specialized training combined with my drama class in highschool enabled me to be selected as one of 9 actresses for The University of Evansville Theatre pogram which was the place to be at the time and extremely difficult to get into. I followed that up by getting my MFA from Yale and immediately secured a legit and commercial agent. I did the NY Thing and the regional thing and I worked corporate jobs that allowed flexibility so I could leave town to take gigs. I shot indie films and shorts one of which ended up on Cinemax and Showtime. The moment I broke into television (I had this great scene with Jane Curtain) I found out I was pregnant with twins so that turned my life upside down and inside out.
A few years after my twins were born I was acting as a toy demonstrator for Hasbro and this extraordinary woman, Patricia Santomasso, told me I had a nice voice and that I should try audiobook narrating. I had been pining for theatre and this was definitely one way to use my skill set. I could stay at home make some money and do what I loved! Acting! kind of as the “audience” was myself or my imaginary campfire friends and I was in a dark room where if I screamed noone could hear me. Anyway I started a mom’s play reading group that lasted a few sessions and I did a few minor acting gigs where I only had to be gone for the day. But those day gigs are moments I will cherish at a time when that call to be in a show wasn’t a whisper it was a command and it was loud-ear piercing even. I actually made it to call backs last year for the hilarious Kate Hamill version of Pride and Prejudice (the theatre was an hour away so it was a no brainer) but my children were having some major struggles one child in particular and I knew I couldn’t leave them even if it was just missing a few night’s dinners. I cried when I wrote that letter to the director letting him know why I couldn’t attend call backs. They had laughed through a great deal of my audition for Mama Bennett and Lizzy so I probably stood a good chance for Mama B but as a momma myself my kids had to come before that artist craving.
I have since found more ways to express my creativity and that includes directing my narrators in our duet audiobooks which is great fun. I have also been fortunate to shoot some more film work- Shakespeare (my absolute favorite) iphone selfie style. I have done a Macbeth (featured in Vanity Fair) which won for best feature at a film festival recently and I was part of Hamlet. Both the brainchildren of Christopher Carter Sanderson. And that same producer and director has asked me to play the lead in..eeps I wish I could tell you but the word isn’t out. Anyway I can say its a role many actresses dream of playing and he has brought me onto the project and has commissioned a person to write a more poetic adaptation of the play. And yes I am chomping at the bit. In addition to narrating for my company I also narrate for other production companies and other publishing companies and I am fortunate to be cast in almost all of the genres allowing me to work my acting chops.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
LOL. I don’t get out. Seriously. We have been here 6 years now and I hardly know a soul. But if I were to bring a best friend to the lovely town of Easton, CT I would show her Silverman’s Farm because its cute and they have all these knicknacks and fresh pies and there is a petting zoo. I would take her to the reservoir because its gorgeous. I would take her on a hike on this little trail I have walked a few times. Its actually where I was photographed for the cover of a Pride and Prejudice audiobook I did with the astounding film tv stage and audiobook star Ramón de Ocampo. There are so many beautiful flowers and butterflies and when there is a soft breeze blowing you feel transported. I might take her to the beach on Sherwood Island which isn’t here but isn’t very far away.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have to thank Patricia Santomasso Hopkins for telling me to try narrating. I would never had conceived of it without her encouraging me to do it. I have to thank my remarkable team of engineers Tyler Smith, Jason Lawrence and Ross Landy who really are magicians with what they do. I have to thank our videographer and website person (who is also one of our phenomenal narrators and books almost every role she auditions for) Katie Hagaman. Her artistry helps demonstrate the quality of our work. I have to thank our Production Coordinator Denise Black who is my right arm my left leg my right leg and maybe my left arm as well. She handles everything. And I mean everything. She is quite simply God’s gift and I would be lost without her. I have to thank Marissa DeCuir of Books Forward who introduced me to their indie publishing arm Books Fluent who we now partner with to produce their audio and set us on the track to producing for other companies. I have to thank Mike Olah of Dreamscape who took a chance on me and my clients and has allowed me to help some of our clients get their audiobooks distributed by them. And has made my dream come true by taking on a project of mine that is the most socially relevant thing I am sure I will ever be a part of. I have to thank Rich Miller (incredible narrator), Michael Levi Borkman of Extreme Carolina, Stephen Hill of ASA Publishing, Joshua Pantalleresco and Jason Foss. These men are all lovely insanely talented ridiculously driven individuals who have had me on their podcasts or their shows to share my story at various stages of my career and I am grateful to them. I have to thank my clientele who trusted me and continue to trust me with their “babies” to bring them into the wonderful world of audio. I also want to thank the nay sayers who told me I couldn’t do it and I wasn’t going to get anywhere going about building my career the way I was. I was blowing up back doors left and right, but hey it got me in the room and is one of the reasons I am doing this interview with you. Thank you Rose Young (wink). Anyway that lack of belief in me just made me push even harder to show them that I could. And finally none of this would have been possible without the love and support of my entrepreneur husband (whose work was featured on This Old House which I LOVED watching as a youngster) and my kids who have refrained from pounding the floor like elephants when mommy is in her studio.
Other: www.marnyeyoung.com That website is just me and not a part of my company as I continue to narrate for other producers and publishers.
Moonstruck Cover Design and Photography Christian Bentulan