Dwight finds his accolades don't pay the bills





Dwight finds his accolades don't pay the bills


I was recently a guest on Ana Clements Clubhouse Room “Narrators Assemble”. If you don’t know Ana, you should. She’s a delight and a wonderful source of good things in a universe that is rapidly filling with wanton ickiness…and what’s worse than an icky wonton?

If you don’t know Clubhouse, it’s a social media thingamabob where hosts, attendees, and guests gather in a “room” which is based on some sort of theme – like “Narrators Assemble” or “Audiobook Schmooze” or “Left-handed Insurance Adjustors with Deviated Septums”.  It’s not on zoom. You don’t see anyone, you only see their headshot/photo and host can ask the attendees to speak live or they can just put their comments in the chat.
Unlike zoom or skype, you can be totally naked on Clubhouse, and no one will know – unless you post that you are naked and then everyone will know. I’m not sure why you’d want to be naked or let everyone know that you are, but the point is that you could be.
There you’d be, a guest on someone’s clubhouse and you could be talking about the military exploits of the Visigoths without a stitch on and no one would even think for a second about your fleshy bits and pieces.  I mean, why would they? They wouldn’t know – unless you were talking about King Euric attacking the Vandals and you suddenly shouted: “damn! I just spilled coffee on my testicle!” Then they would know. Which is why I suggest that you always use a thermos coffee cup with a tight lid.

Oops. I’ve gone completely off topic here. This blog is not about being nude on Clubhouse.

Where was I?…
…Of course, when you think about it, there are lots of rooms on Clubhouse – I suppose if the Clubhouse room was called “Nudists Hour”, you’d expect that at least some of the people there would be naked.
You know what? I suspect that nudists don’t get invited out all that much. You never see them at Denny’s – a group of naked seniors at 3pm eating Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity dinners- in their birthday suits, sticking to the fake leather booth backs and seats…  eww.
And another thing, you wouldn’t expect nudists to just pop by for a visit, would you?

How would that work? They’d stop by for tea, and they’d sit on your new couch and sip and chat and you, being polite and nervous and likely quite ill at ease, would have to pretend there wasn’t some naked person sitting on your couch, sipping and chatting and after they left, you’d have no choice but to throw the couch out. You might even have to move and leave all your stuff behind because how could you escape the memory of it any other way?
And I bet you’d never go to Denny’s again either.

Dammit! I did it again.
No more nudity stuff. I can’t believe you guys led me there.
Let’s move away from your fetishes and move on to my complaints. And believe me, my first complaint is now you guys and your need to push this nudity thing all over the place. You’d all be banned in Florida.

So back to Ana, and I apologize to her for linking her to the previous nonsense when it was always my intention to link her to the following nonsense: Ana asked me what I thought about the current trend on social media for audiobook actors to post their accomplishments. Is it bragging or celebrating? Let’s discuss, shall we?

We work -for the most part- in isolation, yet we are, as a group, some of the most welcoming, mentoring, and community building people on Earth. There is absolutely nothing wrong with shouting for joy and sharing good reviews, awards, a new client.
I understand that in the “real world” people at the office don’t typically post that they just got an “atta boy” from the CEO for making the coffee or that they closed the MacIntosh deal they’ve been working on for the last month or that they finally data entered all the data they had to enter. That’s because they aren’t actors and they don’t live in constant need of validation – we are. We do.
That being said, I am dead certain that posting everything you do is a drag for everyone. No one cares if you spent 7 hours in your booth today. Why not tell us that you sat on the couch all day?
There are tons of social media VO groups and almost all of them have a “let’s share news” day – usually weekly or monthly. That’s your opportunity to mention that you are working for Aethon Audio or finishing a project for Podium or whatever you’re doing and happy about.
There is NO right time to share a good review from some unknown listener on Audible. There is NO right time to jump on someone’s good news and comment that you taught them how to use the record button. If you coach and an actor you coached gets an award, that’s theirs. I bet you weren’t their only coach and I bet they want to own their own moment. I’ve coached hundreds of actors and if anything, I helped them with, made them better story tellers, that’s quite enough for me. If they want to thank me, that’s fine but whatever honor they received belongs solely to them and they have every right to share it.
If you get an award or a nomination, of course you should share it with the world. Why not? What good does an award do unless you get to tell everyone you won the damn thing? Even when Marlon Brando refused his Oscar, he made such a production of it, that even people who didn’t care about such stuff knew about it. That’s the way to refuse an award!

Now let’s talk about the value of any of this stuff.
Getting a nomination for an audiobook award is nicer than not getting one. The same goes for winning. The joy you get for either thing is its value. I can promise you that most publishers and casting directors don’t mind that you won an award, but that fact won’t win you the job. While getting consistent positive reviews, nominations and awards means that you are likely doing a good job, the only thing that’s going to keep winning you gigs is to keep doing good work. It’s that simple.

I have narrated over 1000 books. I have over 30 Earphones, 4 Audies, 3 SOVAS, an Odyssey Award and I’m a Golden Voice, wonderful honors! And guess how often I hear – “we appreciate your audition, but the author went a different direction”?  I have gotten that note for my last 5 auditions and I have 2 more chances to get the same news before the year is out! No one cares about the trophies on my shelves. They either want me to narrate their story, or they don’t.
Side note: I have a standard response to such news. I always say how sorry I am that the author made such a big mistake and I hope they realize their mistake in the very near future.

The point is, the awards are nice. The accolades are wonderful. None of it gets you the next job. It might get you the audition, but the job? Nope. These days, authors have a lot of say and if you don’t have the voice they hear in their head, you aren’t gonna be the narrator, regardless of the fact that you are the actor the story needs.
That issue-of authors having too much say in casting- however, is the stuff of future blogs.


All year long, and all of the years before this one, I read social media posts from wanna-be/sort-of are audiobook narrators asking if they have to read the book first.
The question is almost always answered by actors I’ve never heard of who insist that reading before performing is a waste of time and they, being far more gifted than normal humans – one supposes, do not need to pre-read. On social media, I respond with tact and decorum. Not here. This is my blog and if I feel just fine offending certain sensitive souls. READ THE DAMN BOOK. No one is exempt from knowing the story before telling it. It cannot be overlooked or skipped. You can, if you are that busy (and I have been) send it out to a prep reader who will then send you a chapter-by-chapter story breakdown, so you know the characters and what happens. Even in non-fiction, you need to read the thing. Not reading is a disservice to the author, to the listener, and to the craft. Full stop. This is not improv. If you think you have certain skills that make you exempt from this, you are wrong. You don’t. No one does. So shut up and read the book.


I have a JOHNNYHELLERVO page on Twitter. That’s it. I make no political statements there- only acting stuff. I disabled my main Johnny heller page as I was tired of dealing with all the hate, idiocy, intolerance and all the general MAGA nonsense. I could no longer tolerate antisemite Elon Musk allowing raging assdoodles and pudsprockets to post lies and praise Nazis. So, I quit.
You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

A quick word on politics. That Donald Trump is the leading candidate of the Republican Party tells you all you need to know about the GOP clown show. They are addlepated blunderbusses. The lot of them are racist lobcocked jolterheads. And I will not pretend otherwise. When someone tells you who they are, believe them.

Since the APA Conference will be virtual this year, I have no plans to do a Splendiferous Workshop in New York City. However, plans are afoot for a number of workshops. I make no promises except for the LA and NE workshops.
1. LA: Scott Brick and I are looking to a Sunday, March 3rd date for our Business of Audiobooks Workshop in LA, the day before the Audies and a week before VO Atlanta.
2. NEW MEXICO: Sean Pratt and I are looking into an Alburquerque NM workshop at the end of March (if this happens, I am going to have to stop looking up how to spell Alburquerque.) It would be the last weekend of the month. If this interests any of you, please DM me. We need to make sure that we have a pride of narrators willing to attend so I can justify the trip! If this goes off, Ana Clements and Jo Anna Perrin will be on the team! So, it will be great!
3. NEW ORLEANS: New Orleans Splendiferous in September. This will be Sean and me and maybe a few other coaches in a workshop/vacation setting. We will meet at a swell hotel and bounce between learning events and NOLA-centered tourist stuff so everyone can bring their partners and we can make it a vacation workshop!
4. NEW ENGLAND NARRATOR RETREAT – this is planned for Oct 14-17th. We are likely to return to the Warren Center.

  1. UK WORKSHOP – Sean and I are looking to returning to the UK in June or July.
  2. ASK US ANYTHING – Don Baarns and I have been doing a live broadcast on Facebook and YouTube (more platforms coming) every Tuesday at 1pm ET. Please join us and ask away!

Stay tuned for more information.
Wanted to add that April Richwine and Pink Flamingo Productions put out a collection of Christmas Stories from some pretty swell narrators and I got to do an original story! Look for it wherever audiobooks are sold!

Stay informed by subscribing to my YouTube channel and by joining the Johnny Heller Alumni Workshop page on Facebook.

And I want to give a shout out to the fantastic Daniela Acitelli for fixing up all of my videos and making them YouTube-worthy.  THANK YOU DANIELA! Be sure to catch her Narrators Cup of Joe videos!


Comment (1)

  • Paul Heitsch Reply

    Once again, you have failed to tag me. Why do I even bother anymore?

    December 7, 2023 at 7:50 pm

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