Episode 5: Gary Bennett, Narrator

Episode 5 June 12, 2024 00:45:39

Hosted By

Shana Pennington-Baird

Show Notes

Gary Bennett is an award-winning audiobook narrator who has narrated over 200 audiobooks. He primarily focuses on mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, and fantasy genres. He works in a professional home studio and uses the punch and roll technique to record his narrations. Gary is a full-time narrator and completes an average of 2-3 hour sessions per day. He aims for a 2:1 ratio of finished hours to recording hours. He is proactive about his health and takes precautions to avoid getting sick during recording. Publishers and authors have been accommodating when he has had to pause a book due to illness. In this conversation, Gary Bennett discusses his recent projects, including thriller franchises and an epic fantasy series. He also shares how he got started in audiobook narration and his journey from ACX to working with publishers. Gary emphasizes the importance of continuous learning and improvement in the field. He also mentions his passion for writing and his current project of writing a novel. The conversation concludes with a discussion on finding the right environment for creative work.

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:02] Speaker A: Hey, everybody, welcome to go to your room and make stuff, the podcast about making art, any kind of art, all by ourselves in a room or a studio, maybe outside. No one is telling us when, where or how, or any combination of those things. This is a podcast for solo artistic adventurers. Those who are doing it and those who want to try it, support ideas and just plain fun. Hey there. Welcome to another episode of go to your room and make stuff. Today's guest is Gary Bennett, and I will be introducing him shortly. He is an audiobook narrator up here in the Pacific Northwest, and you should run out and listen to his books. They are, they're absolutely, they're wonderful and they're thrillers and they're spy novels and really, really good stuff. He's going to talk all about that. Before we get into Gary, I just have a quick go to your room and make stuff tip trick. I think today is a really good day to talk about. Just do it. Just get started. If you have a project, if you have something that you think is a great idea and you think, I really want to go do that, do it now. Or at least take action on it. I say this because prior to my heart trying to explode in Ireland, I could put things off like we all do. I could faint resistance or maybe people won't like it, or maybe it's not a good idea. Maybe, maybe, maybe all that. If you take anything away from today, just do it. It doesn't have to be perfect. When you start, show up for the work and you will get better. And Gary and I are going to talk about this. We talk about how we get better as we go while doing the work. So if there's a project out there that you've been like, hmm, I should, oh, man, just get rid of that word do and you can always improve later. So don't self edit so much that you don't. Right. Just get started. That's all I'm going to say this week. And with that in mind, let's talk. And let me introduce you to Gary Bennett. Gary Bennett is an award winning SAG AFTRA audiobook narrator and has narrated over 200 audiobooks so far for nearly every major publisher. He has trained with top coaches in narration and accents and records in his professional home studio. He's a huge fan of mysteries, thrillers, science fiction and fantasy, both epic and urban. He's also a huge did that totally wrong. We're going to do that again. Gary Bennett is an award winning SAG AFTRA audiobook narrator and has narrated over 200 audiobooks so far for nearly every major publisher. He has trained with the top coaches for narration and accents and records in his professional home studio. He's a huge fan of mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, and fantasy, both epic and urban, and he also loves recording romance and nonfiction. Born and raised in California and then in Bozeman, Montana, Gary now calls the greater Seattle area his home. And he's a huge fan of the Seattle Seahawks. He's an avid outdoor enthusiast, a private pilot, an aspiring author, a sometimes musician, a huge sports fan, and he loves living in the Pacific Northwest. Gary also narrates under the pseudonym Liam Sanderson. So welcome, Gary. Hey. So I am here with Gary Bennett, audiobook narrator, and I'm so excited to have you on the program because I have listened to your, and it's really, really good. And I have hung out with you at conferences, and I have seen you at events, and I want to know more about the work you do and how you do it. And I've done some audiobooks, but really, I tend to be, like, all over the place when it comes to voiceover work. And so it is lovely to meet with someone who is extremely focused. And when I go to your website in particular, I'm like, wow. Okay, audiobook narrator. So, before we dive into the details, can we get to know you a little bit better? Can you share a fun or unique fact that our listeners might not know about you? [00:04:14] Speaker B: Absolutely. A unique fact, I think. I don't think I've shared this much. I play pool, billiards in a pool league once a week, and last summer, after our inaugural year in the league, my team and I played in Las Vegas in the world championships of pool. So that was pretty darn cool. [00:04:38] Speaker A: That's awesome. Okay, so here's the follow up question. [00:04:41] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:04:42] Speaker A: Do you win? [00:04:43] Speaker B: We do, quite often. [00:04:44] Speaker A: That's awesome. [00:04:47] Speaker B: Amazing. [00:04:48] Speaker A: I'm a very inconsistent pool player. I get lucky. It's sort of like how I bowl. It's a strike or it's in the gutter, and it's really never in between. I have no control over it either. So pool is the same way. [00:05:01] Speaker B: Well, you have a lot more balls to play with pool than with bowling, so. Right. [00:05:05] Speaker A: Oh, that's awesome. Well, congratulations. Sweet. And I'm gonna bring up something that I know you do that I think people would find fascinating. You fly planes? [00:05:14] Speaker B: I do fly planes. I have flown planes. I have my pilot's license. I got it in 2019 after it took me about two years of non regular training and dedication to getting it and it was a lot of work. It was very difficult. And then I flew for about a year and my camera just tilted. [00:05:39] Speaker A: Flying as we speak. Actually this is Kaiser's coffee. [00:05:44] Speaker B: I flew for about a year and then my airport shut down all rentals because of COVID and made it very difficult to continue flying. And so since then I haven't flown at all and I'm really kind of disappointed. It's very expensive. Yes, very expensive. But it's something that I'll definitely do again because I love it. It's amazing. The sense of freedom and just the views from 5000ft in the air is just amazing. It's really cool. [00:06:19] Speaker A: It's cool. That's really cool. Both of my parents knew how to fly. Yeah. And I hold the airplane up with both arms when I fly. I'm better than I used to be. When I head to Europe now I'm too excited to go to Europe to get to worry about it. Too excited to go. So I get over it really fast. I think I enjoy it now more than I did. Cool. [00:06:40] Speaker B: I love it. Yeah. [00:06:41] Speaker A: So tell us about your art medium. So like when you go to your room to make stuff. Yes, tell us about what you do. [00:06:47] Speaker B: What I do to make stuff primarily is I sit in this room where I am now. It's a little three by five box sealed up with a big glass door. It's a little sauna in the summertime and I speak into a microphone and I try to bring the words of authors to life. As an audiobook narrator, that's my creative endeavor. Yeah. [00:07:16] Speaker A: And I happen to know that's no small piece of work. They tend to be fairly big projects. They tend to be a lot of hours in that booth. Yeah. So tell us about your room, your studio. Tell us about your booth. You can see out. Mine does not have any windows. [00:07:35] Speaker B: I think I would go completely claustrophobic if I had no windows. No way out. So it's a big glass door. It's a. It's called a studio bricks booth. They're made in Spain and they're. They're like big Lego assemblies. The pieces fit together and they're. In theory you can move them about pretty easily. [00:07:56] Speaker A: They're heavy. Man, those walls. Holy cow. Is yours a single, double or triple walled? [00:08:03] Speaker B: Double wall. [00:08:04] Speaker A: Double wall. [00:08:05] Speaker B: Yes. Yeah. [00:08:06] Speaker A: My experience with single wall whisper rooms years ago was don't bother. [00:08:11] Speaker B: Yeah, that's what I've heard. [00:08:13] Speaker A: Build your own. However, the studio bricks, you kind of. You can always tell the studio bricks by those cool squares. Cool squares. You can see behind Gary, you can see the white. You can see the gray. Yeah, those, man. Studio bricks are cool. And were I to suddenly move and need a studio, I would be getting studio bricks. [00:08:30] Speaker B: Yeah. I love it. [00:08:31] Speaker A: What color is yours on the outside? [00:08:33] Speaker B: It's white. [00:08:34] Speaker A: Okay. We've had someone on with the bright pink one, so I just. I want people to know you can. Special colors. [00:08:40] Speaker B: I didn't even consider a color. I thought that would be really cool, but, yeah. [00:08:46] Speaker A: Oh, well, as long as they keep it quiet. Do you have any issues with neighbors? Any, like, does the studio bricks do what it needs to do? Cause audiobook work. And while I was gonna admit how long you're in the studio, how long your sessions are. Yeah. Does stuff make it into that room? [00:09:02] Speaker B: Low frequencies make it into the room. So cars driving by in the front street, especially big trucks rumbling. Okay, so I live in what was once at the end of a cul de sac, a nice, quiet neighborhood. [00:09:17] Speaker A: I'm in a cul de sac. It's good. [00:09:19] Speaker B: Yeah, it was wonderful. And then about six years ago or so, they decided to open up the cul de sac and make it a third street and build a 200 slot subdivision, clear out the woods where we used to hike our dogs. And it was two years of absolute hell because pile drivers and cement layers, asphalt layers, the whole works. Construction trucks all day long. So it was. It was a lot of nights spent in the booth to get away from the noise, which was horrible. But now it's quite a down, except for the little racers, the little teen racers and their loud cars roaming by in the big delivery trucks. And then sometimes a plane overhead. There's a little airport not far from where I live. [00:10:05] Speaker A: I feel like you live near my mom. Just a hunch. I just have. She's in Maple Valley, Auburn, and all of that. Just. Nope. Okay. She deals with all of those things. [00:10:15] Speaker B: I think that's kind of a universal. And then I've got. It's a fairly nice neighborhood, and a few of our neighbors get a little zealous in their care of their lawns and landscaping. So leaf blowers, lawnmowers, edgers, all that stuff tend to. [00:10:35] Speaker A: I find it fascinating that I'm in a Harry Potter cupboard under my stairs of my house. So not the most romantic. The spiders are gone. I've cleared them all out and put lighting and everything, but I do not hear my neighbors mow the lawn. [00:10:48] Speaker B: That's amazing. [00:10:49] Speaker A: And I. Because we're a cul de sac, I tend not to get the low frequency. I also have rubber. My husband is a stage carpenter, so he put an incredible amount of rubber underneath the raised floor. And I'm always curious. And he also did, like, green glue, which I don't know how they make the studio bits, but green glue is an acoustical foam that absorbs sound. [00:11:09] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:11:10] Speaker A: I get the dogs. If the dogs go ballistic during our interview, we will hear them. So I hold for dogs all the time or they get put away. [00:11:19] Speaker B: Cool. [00:11:19] Speaker A: Thank you. Thank you for that. Yeah. And when you do. So you're in your room, is your computer in the room with you? How do you handle. Where's the rest of your stuff? [00:11:31] Speaker B: Yeah, yeah. Computers right outside my room. And then long HDMI and USB cables snake through into the booth to power up my monitor, my interface, and various little stuff. [00:11:44] Speaker A: I do the same thing. Someone out there is wondering what kind of mic and interface you use. I know it's. [00:11:48] Speaker B: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I have a. My mic is a Neumann TLM 103. [00:11:53] Speaker A: Ooh, I like those. [00:11:54] Speaker B: It's wonderful. Really, really love. So I started out with a. With a rode nt one. A, which was great. [00:12:01] Speaker A: Lots of people do. Yep. [00:12:02] Speaker B: Yep. It's cheap and it's very functional and very, very up to the task. I upgraded the capsule on that at some point to make it emulate a U 47. That was really nice. It was really nice. But I wanted something a little more, so I upgraded to a TLM 102. [00:12:22] Speaker A: I have one of those. [00:12:24] Speaker B: And then in New York in 2019 for APAC, I wandered down to b and h photo and they have this most amazing room full of mics that you can just walk in and do an AB test, ABCD test, for whatever mic you want to choose. I pulled up my 102 and I pulled it to 103 and just did an A B test between the two. And the difference for my voice was night and day, I bet. It was amazing. So I fell in love with the 103, the sweet mic. And then that's hooked into an audient id 14 interface. And then that then connects to in studio monitor, JBL monitor. [00:13:08] Speaker A: I had a monitor in here, but it caused me issues. So that's why I still have my headphones on in here. Mine's so little. I could put. I put monitors in here a couple times and they always cause me grief. So I really am out. [00:13:19] Speaker B: Yeah, yeah. [00:13:21] Speaker A: Nice. [00:13:22] Speaker B: I have some cans that I. That I have. They hang on a little hook. What are these now? They're akGs. I had the Sony 9702 or 9706, whatever. [00:13:31] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:13:32] Speaker B: And they always hurt my ears. [00:13:34] Speaker A: Lots of headphones hurt. These don't. These are beyerdynamic 770 DT Pros. I love these. I can wear these 10 hours a day. I'm fine. I get hair breakage. [00:13:44] Speaker B: Oh, well, what are you gonna do now? [00:13:46] Speaker A: When you record, do you wear cans? [00:13:48] Speaker B: No, I don't. I am can less, and it is so once I started doing that, I never looked back because it freed me up. It made me feel much more free in the booth to move around. [00:14:00] Speaker A: Great idea. [00:14:01] Speaker B: Tangled up with the cords and not get my ears overheating because of the pads on the cans. And so. [00:14:07] Speaker A: And you're not listening to yourself? [00:14:09] Speaker B: I'm not listening to myself. I'm just acting. Yes. I'm not being overcritical or hearing every little thing that I want to go back and punch in. And, yeah, it's wonderful. [00:14:20] Speaker A: So you said punch in. Those of us who do audiobook were like, oh, yeah, I know what punching in is. What is punching in? It's not hitting the sides of your booth in frustration because the author. [00:14:32] Speaker B: But sometimes punch in. Punch. So it's a technique that's called punch and roll, and it's named after when people used to actually punch tape and roll back and punch in correction. But what it does is when I'm going through a piece of text and I notice myself making a mistake or I want to do a different take on emotions or whatever, I'll stop recording. I'll reverse my. My track to right before I made the error. And then there's what's called a pre roll, which is about 5 seconds of the audio that's been recorded up to that point, and then it starts recording. My daw starts recording from that point on where. So I punch in at that point and read it the way I want to or make the correction. [00:15:19] Speaker A: And do you like, five second pre roll? I do. Three. [00:15:22] Speaker B: I think it's minus three, actually. [00:15:24] Speaker A: Okay. Yeah, three seems to be just about right. Ten is like, I have no time for this. Five feels the hair too long. And anything shorter than three, what's. I can't find where I am. [00:15:32] Speaker B: Yeah, exactly. [00:15:34] Speaker A: And then, of course, there's punch again, which is. Oh, I missed. Wait, where am I? No, I still haven't found where I am. Wait. No, I still have no idea where I am. Hang on. Punch in, like, six times. That's me, though. Cool. Yeah. Punch and roll is. If anyone is doing audiobooks and has not learned the technique of punch and roll, go learn it now. Learn it yesterday. [00:15:52] Speaker B: It is such a game changer. [00:15:53] Speaker A: Yeah, absolutely. First book I did, yeah, I clapped twice for every single pickup, and then I would have to deporecupine my files. And then your timing's wrong because you have to respace, right, the timing of the entire performance. So it's just not a good idea. And learning to punch in is sort of its own art form. So learning to get the timing, if you put your cursor in the wrong place, you cut off a word. If you put your curse in the middle of a breath, now you've got them, you've created an edit. If you put your cursor too late, your timing is going to. If you come in too late. So if I hit punch and roll and then I can't find where I am. Can't find where I am. Find where I am and start. Okay, now we have more editing, right? [00:16:31] Speaker B: Exactly. [00:16:31] Speaker A: Because the flow is off. So the whole point of punch and roll is to keep flow. [00:16:35] Speaker B: Yep. Yep. [00:16:36] Speaker A: Once you have recorded. Okay, here's a question. How long are your sessions and how much do you. Yeah, how much do you do at a time and how much do you do in a day? [00:16:45] Speaker B: So I'll usually do between two and three hour sessions throughout the day. I'm pretty consistent with about a 1.7 to one ratio. [00:16:58] Speaker A: That's good. Two to one is considered professional. [00:17:01] Speaker B: That's good. So I'm a little ahead of the curve, which I credit a lot to the punch and roll technique. And just being able to scan the text ahead, I aim for about anywhere from two to two and a half hours a day on a typical day. [00:17:18] Speaker A: And for anyone who's wondering what two to one or 1.7 to one means, so for every finished hour. So in other words, if a book is 3 hours long, it takes your average beginner three to one. So 9 hours to read the book out loud. A professional would be two to one. So a three hour book would take 6 hours to read out loud. And then Gary's quicker than that. So a three hour book is going to take Gary 5.75 or 5.6 hours to read out loud. And me, I take less because I'm talking too fast. I need to slow down. Figure. So, yeah, that's what they mean by. And audiobook narrators, we are oftentimes paid by the finished hour, her finished hour. If anyone ever sees that stuff. [00:18:00] Speaker B: Yeah, you don't want to talk too fast because that just takes away your pay. [00:18:05] Speaker A: Paid less and people can understand you. [00:18:08] Speaker B: Can't understand you. [00:18:09] Speaker A: Yes, that was my big lesson. It's funny because when I do animation, they're like, man, the pacing on that, just write on the money. And it's about four times faster than audiobook speed. So I have to learn how to shift gears. Where do you find in the spectrum, where do you fall in the spectrum of like full time hobby to occasionally. [00:18:27] Speaker B: You do it full time, no question. [00:18:30] Speaker A: How many books have you done this year? It's May, by the way. [00:18:34] Speaker B: How many books have I done this year? I think I'm doing, I can tell you because I have a very, very finely attuned tracking. I'm on, I'm recording the 16th book of the year right now. [00:18:49] Speaker A: That's not a small number of books. Congratulations. That's awesome. [00:18:52] Speaker B: Thank you. [00:18:53] Speaker A: And how long does an average book take you? If it's a. I mean, I know it depends on how many words. And by the way, we tend to count in words. Words, yeah. [00:19:02] Speaker B: Pages. [00:19:03] Speaker A: And what is the typical length of book? There you go. There's two questions in a row. How long and how many words? What are your averages? [00:19:09] Speaker B: I usually do, so I do a lot of fantasy and thrillers, and even within those genres, it varies widely. I have a series of thrillers that averages maybe 7 hours a book and another series of thrillers that averages about 14 to 15 hours a book. So it just depends on how prolific and how detailed the author wants to go into the. [00:19:35] Speaker A: So if it's a 14 hours book, what's your start to finish in terms of weeks or days? [00:19:43] Speaker B: For a 14 hours book, it's going to take me two weeks. I plan on two weeks. Sometimes it's usually closer to like eleven days. Eleven to ten to eleven days. But that's what I plan on. And I schedule myself, I actually schedule myself for one and a half hours of finished a day because shit happens. Life happens. So some days I won't record at all. Some days I'll have to get three and a half to 4 hours a day just because of whatever else is going on. [00:20:11] Speaker A: So do allergies affect you? Because, I mean, we're talking about this. It's may right now and the lilacs are blooming outside, which for me is our health. [00:20:19] Speaker B: I'm proactive with my allergy regimen. Usually I get hit pretty bad in June, late May or June is when it hits me. And so I'm already ramping up on extra Claritin and, and allegra and all the other stuff. And lately it usually hits me in the eyes more than anything else. So I get red irritated eyes more than anything, it doesn't affect me. It doesn't congest me up too much, and my throat isn't too affected. [00:20:53] Speaker A: I've been known to lose my voice completely. [00:20:55] Speaker B: Wow. [00:20:56] Speaker A: I start in February 15 on Claritin, and I take it through June. [00:21:00] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:21:01] Speaker A: And I use voice mist, and I don't go outside. I don't mow the lawn. I actually do not mow. I do not garden until June is over. Those are the rules. It was only one year. I was doing a show, theater, singing, and I was really bad. And ever since, doing audiobooks, I'm proactive, or any kind of audio voice over work. Very proactive. [00:21:21] Speaker B: Yeah. You have to be. That's your livelihood. Yeah, yeah. [00:21:24] Speaker A: And have you gotten sick and had to pause a book a couple times? [00:21:28] Speaker B: Yeah. It hasn't happened very often. And I'm always again, like, allergies, as once I started in this industry, I realized how important my health is. Before, when I went to work, when I had a job, I could go into work feeling like crap and sore throat and sneeze, and then I could still get my work done. If I get even a hint of a cold coming on, then that's going to change my voice. That's going to change my, my stamina, and it's going to absolutely affect the work. So I'm very, very. Anytime one of the one, somebody in my family gets sick, I isolate immediately. [00:22:11] Speaker A: Right. And how do you communicate with publishers and authors when that happens? [00:22:16] Speaker B: Every time that's happened, and it's just been a handful of times, they've always been very, very accommodating. I haven't had that happen where it was, where the completion of the audiobook was critical in that it had to be released simultaneously with a traditional print. So I've been lucky in that matter. Yeah, I've just been lucky. [00:22:42] Speaker A: It's only happened to me once. And she was, I had bronchitis, and she was so lovely. So this is direct to author, and she understood because it was not going to sound the same. I remember coming down here and thinking, no, I was not fine. And as long as I communicated, you know, professionally, no, it's not rocket science. Right. No one's actually trying. And I agree, though, if there is a launch date where they're going to be launching the actual, or there's. Or there's events scheduled, things like that. [00:23:11] Speaker B: Right. [00:23:11] Speaker A: That's probably a little different. Although I think effective communication, period, because they're going to want the best art. They're just not going to want you to sound scratchy. [00:23:20] Speaker B: Absolutely. [00:23:21] Speaker A: When they hired you. So, yeah. Can you talk about your recent projects? Stuff that you, recent projects. What can we go listen to? [00:23:29] Speaker B: So I've got, I've been in this thriller kick for the past year and a half or two years, which I love. Before getting into audiobook narration, if I would, if I were to go pick up a book, it would probably be a thriller. Scott Horvath or a, or a Mitch rap or something. So I love, I've always loved thrillers and so I've been super lucky. And I've got five or six different thriller franchises that I'm bouncing between, which is awesome. It's my happy place, so I love it. I've also got this epic fantasy series which I just recorded book two last month, and I'll be starting book three in a week. It's really great. Elves and dragons and magic and revenants. [00:24:18] Speaker A: Easy to say place names, right? Easy to say place names trippingly off the tongue. Okay. [00:24:25] Speaker B: The author was generous enough, so this is through a publisher, and it's not often where you have such great communication between yourself and the author when you're going through a publisher. [00:24:38] Speaker A: Right. [00:24:40] Speaker B: But she's been super, super generous with her time and we've developed a rapport. When she first found out that I was narrating the book, she reached out to me and friended me on Facebook and invited me to her reader group and all this stuff, and it was pretty cool. So that was amazing. And she's been super generous in getting me, um, very, very well. The word is escaping me and I. [00:25:10] Speaker A: Deal with pronunciation prep or. [00:25:12] Speaker B: Yeah, pronunciation. How you write pronunciations. [00:25:15] Speaker A: Phonetic is it? There we go. Phonetic. I got you. Okay, no worries. No worries. Yeah. [00:25:20] Speaker B: Really, really generous in giving me all the phonetic pronunciations of all the names and place names and where to put. [00:25:26] Speaker A: The syllable is what I need. [00:25:28] Speaker B: Exactly. Right? Yes, yes. So it's fun. So I love it. I would welcome more opportunities to do more. I did a really cool fantasy series last year, which is a lot of fun. So I like that. [00:25:43] Speaker A: So how did you get started doing audiobook work? [00:25:48] Speaker B: I kind of fell into it backwards. I was running an engineering firm. I'm a degree electrical engineer. I did that right out of college. And ten years, eleven years into it, I opened my own engineering firm and ran that for about 1516 years. And I had a couple big projects that just completely wiped me. And so I took a break because I just needed to step away for about three months or so. And all through this time, my family and I had always been voracious readers and audiobook listeners. So I developed, I listened religiously. It kind of became a summer, summer lesson for us. Every time we got on a road trip to go camping in the summertime, we would listen to the iron Druid chronicles by Kevin Hearn, narrated by the incomparable Luke Daniels. [00:26:45] Speaker A: Okay. Yeah. Okay. [00:26:46] Speaker B: So amazing, amazing stories, an amazing narration. And I happened to listen to, I came across somehow, during this break from my work, an interview that Luke did for ACX. I think it was ACX. And in that interview, he described how he got started in the industry. And I thought, and that was a light bulb moment for me. I thought, wow, that's a job. People actually do this for a living. I'd never even considered that before. And it was kind of a revelation for me. So I thought, well, I've got some time now. I'm not doing work. So I thought, well, that would be fun. I could do that. Sure, why not? [00:27:28] Speaker A: And ACX stands for audio. [00:27:30] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:27:31] Speaker A: Audio audio creation exchange. There we go. Yep. [00:27:34] Speaker B: That's a subsidiary of Amazon and Audible. And that's kind of the match.com of the audiobook world. [00:27:41] Speaker A: Way to describe it. Match.com. [00:27:43] Speaker B: Yes. Authors come in and post their books for, for audition and narrators come in and audition for the books and they get. Made it up. So. And so I bought, I went in and checked out this acx.com, perused their help pages and they had a nice little tutorial on beginner and they even had a, I don't know if they still do, but they had a Amazon wish list of beginning audio equipment including an interface, a mic, boom, whatever else you needed, software. So I said, okay, cool, I'll do it. I'll check this out. This looks like fun. So I bought all the equipment and transformed my home office into a temporary recording studio with moving blankets and PVC pipe and all that stuff. [00:28:32] Speaker A: You create a fort like adults do when they go into voiceover. I know. Yes. [00:28:35] Speaker B: Yep, yep. And played around with the equipment, got on, created a profile on ACX, and just for the hell of it, I thought, yeah, I'll throw up an audition or two. Just see. [00:28:47] Speaker A: Yeah. What happened? [00:28:49] Speaker B: I got booked right away for three little children's books. [00:28:52] Speaker A: Oh, I bet you that. [00:28:53] Speaker B: Oh, crap. I have no idea what I'm doing. [00:28:58] Speaker A: I got a book the first night I posted. [00:29:01] Speaker B: I think it took me two days. [00:29:03] Speaker A: Oh, gosh. [00:29:03] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:29:03] Speaker A: Like I had nothing. I was like, honey, I have five books. He's like, you don't have a studio that was. There's my welcome into voiceover. [00:29:14] Speaker B: Yeah. Yeah. Very similar. Yep. So I scrambled, realized how much I didn't know, and I really needed to get some professional help. And so I got online and did some voiceover coaching. I found a local outfit in Seattle, some community college that did some acting and voiceover coaching. So I enrolled in their courses. And the more I coached, the more I realized, the more I needed to coach and just continue. That's been a continuous effort since I started almost seven years ago. [00:29:48] Speaker A: How many books did you do on ACX? And then how did you transfer from ACX into working for publishers? [00:29:54] Speaker B: So ACX, I still do the occasional ACX book, but mostly because I'm taking authors to ACX. But I think my first publisher book was a book on Bob Dylan by, produced by, through Dreamscape. And I got that in February of 2019. So two years after I started, one and a half years after I started. [00:30:24] Speaker A: Okay. [00:30:25] Speaker B: Doing this work. And then it was amazing because I didn't even know Eric, Eric Black from Dream state. I had never even had any communications with him, never even did any, any reach outs to publishers at that point. But he, he saw something. So I'm internally grateful for that. [00:30:48] Speaker A: He reached out to you? [00:30:50] Speaker B: To me. Wow. [00:30:51] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:30:52] Speaker B: So that was pretty amazing. So, yeah, what was the question? [00:31:00] Speaker A: How you transferred over into publishers or how that. So obviously, he listened to some of your work and was like, this is great. And then he reached out to you. [00:31:10] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:31:10] Speaker A: Yeah. So how. And now you work for, like, a bunch of different publishers. How did that continue to progress? How did all that go? [00:31:17] Speaker B: So in, later that in March. No, May of 2019 was AIPAC in New York. The first AIPAC I attended. [00:31:27] Speaker A: Okay. [00:31:27] Speaker B: I was selected. No, I got that wrong. [00:31:30] Speaker A: And AIPAC stands for Audiobook Publishers association conference. [00:31:34] Speaker B: Correct. [00:31:35] Speaker A: Every other year it's online or in New York City. This year it was online. Next may it will be in New York City. Okay. [00:31:40] Speaker B: That's correct. And so actually, I didn't do any more publisher work until about a year later, I think. And I was lucky enough to attend AIPAC in March. No, not, I don't think it was a PAC. It was some other conferences. I was there for the Audi weekend in, in March of 2020, and I was only there because I was selected for the in person, which happened to be the very last in person speed dating event. [00:32:10] Speaker A: The round. Yeah, those rounds where you get to. Oh, yeah, read for everybody. [00:32:14] Speaker B: Speed dating was an event that was held in person a couple times a year. I think. Sponsored by the APA, the audio publishers organization, and they select about ten to 15 different audiobook narrators of varying experience. Put them in a room filled with publishers and casting directors from about 20 different publishers. [00:32:39] Speaker A: Yeah, it's a way to be seen and heard. [00:32:42] Speaker B: Yes, we've seen and heard. They still do speed dating. It's called. [00:32:47] Speaker A: They changed the name. You're right. You have to enter by lottery. Now. [00:32:51] Speaker B: You get selected by lottery, and it's all online, so you don't get the personal one on one interaction, which is a shame, because that's, I think that's what really sold a few publishers on me. So I met, in that event, I met representatives from Tantor, from Simon and Schuster, from Dreamscape, from podium, I think a couple others. And shortly after that, I got work from Tantor, which was, I think, the second publisher that I ever worked for. And they continued to be a solid client. [00:33:29] Speaker A: This podcast is brought to you by the Seattle Voice Academy, and your host runs the podcast and the Seattle Voice Academy. This online voice school specializes in vocal health, singing, voiceover, and public speaking. Come check us out. Seattlevoiceacademy.com. [00:33:44] Speaker B: So I'm not sure I really have any mentors currently. I have a lot of people who have influenced me over the years, for sure, coaches, but in the truest sense of the word, I don't really have any mentors that I can just. That I meet with regularly or I bounce ideas off or anything. But that being said, a lot of my friends I would feel super comfortable going to if I had anything I needed assistance with or whatever, but Sean Pratt, Johnny Heller? Yeah, both of them definitely comes to mind right away. [00:34:25] Speaker A: Have you gone to one of the retreats back on the east coast? [00:34:28] Speaker B: I've been to three or four. [00:34:31] Speaker A: I want to go. It's on my list. [00:34:34] Speaker B: It is so much fun. It's so much fun. It's so rewarding. I go at this point mostly because of the social aspect, because I've made such solid friendships through that and other related events that I just. I don't get to see my people very often. [00:34:51] Speaker A: So because you're all talking to yourselves in padded boxes all over the country or world, right? [00:34:57] Speaker B: Yep. Yeah. [00:34:58] Speaker A: How many books have you done in a single year? [00:35:02] Speaker B: I usually get between 40 and 50 books a year. I think between 30, yeah, about 40, 40 to 50 books a year. I think I do. [00:35:09] Speaker A: Okay. That doesn't sound too insane. I've heard higher numbers and I remember. [00:35:12] Speaker B: Thinking, and a lot of. A lot of it depends on the length of the book. Right. If you're in, if you're doing all romance, dual pov or multicast, you can. [00:35:24] Speaker A: That's when I started to hear 70, 80, 90. We're basically those, for sure. [00:35:28] Speaker B: Yeah, yeah, yeah. If you do. [00:35:29] Speaker A: Have you been involved in a multicast production yet? [00:35:34] Speaker B: At least once. I think just once. I think once. And it was, it was, it was fun, but it wasn't. I just recorded my lines and then submitted them. So it wasn't, weren't all in the same room or going at the same time. [00:35:48] Speaker A: It's really different than doing audio drama. [00:35:50] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:35:51] Speaker A: Where everyone's on stage, you know, performing their parts. Yeah, yeah. I have not had the honor of doing one of those yet. I'm fascinated, as the theater person to me is fascinated. [00:36:00] Speaker B: Sure. Yeah. [00:36:00] Speaker A: I mean, I'm just like, I want to do that. Mostly it's just been me. I'm talking to myself. [00:36:04] Speaker B: A little difficult because you're saying the lines of your character, but you're. As opposed to like an audio drama where you're, where you're working or even when you're doing it live with your co actor, you're not able to bounce off and work from their energy to deliver your life. [00:36:21] Speaker A: It has to all be in your head, much like all the other voiceover work out there. [00:36:24] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:36:25] Speaker A: Video game animation. [00:36:27] Speaker B: So, yeah. [00:36:31] Speaker A: Let's see, when you are not creating and not working on audiobooks, what do you love to do? [00:36:37] Speaker B: So I'm not creating. I walk the dogs, go for drives I love. One of my therapy sessions is to just get in my car and drive. [00:36:49] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:36:50] Speaker B: Go destination. Just to drive. Go through back roads, just chill, put on a good book or put on some good music and just disconnect for a little bit. [00:36:59] Speaker A: That's a great question. Do you still listen to audiobooks voraciously? Yeah. [00:37:04] Speaker B: Like almost every, every waking moment I'm either listening to music or an audiobook. And I do that because one, I still love the experience of having that intimacy that somebody in your ear just telling you the story. But also because I'm always listening with a critical ear now I'm listening for cues and how the truly great narrators go about doing their work. [00:37:32] Speaker A: They say, great writer. Great, great writers read voraciously. So I would say the same thing works here too. A great narrator needs to be listening. [00:37:41] Speaker B: Listening continuously. [00:37:42] Speaker A: Continuously. Agree? Yeah. And then do you have any advice for. Not so much, just young artists, because young artists could be like, 62. Do you have advice for burgeoning narrators, people who are just getting into the audiobook world. [00:37:58] Speaker B: Listen. Listen to audiobooks. Listen voraciously. Get exposed to as many different styles and actors as you can, different genres, especially if you're looking at it as a serious hobby or something even more. Then by all means, listen to the types of books that you want to be performing and then get ye some coaching. Find a mentor. Find a coach, coach, coach. Learn as much as you can. If you come from an acting background, great. You have a step up. I didn't, and I had to make that step myself. But acting in plays or on screen is great, but it doesn't translate 100% to voice acting, to audiobook narration. [00:38:54] Speaker A: And if you don't have a huge background in acting, here's what you won't have to worry about. For those of you who are shakespearean trained, lose your diction, like, 90% of it. What do you mean? They're like, oh, you're a singer, aren't you? What? Can you please back those t's off? [00:39:08] Speaker B: Right. [00:39:08] Speaker A: Yeah. There was a learning curve, both sides. I think great storytelling is what goes into books. And my hunch, not having been there right when you started, I have a hunch you've always been a good storyteller, a staunch, and that's what they heard. And then also. And lots of training, too, right? [00:39:26] Speaker B: Training. Lots of training. [00:39:27] Speaker A: And how would you say your growth has been from when you started doing the books to where you are today? [00:39:34] Speaker B: Oh, my God. [00:39:36] Speaker A: Like, have you improved just a little bit? Yeah, he's being facetious, but, like, several. [00:39:44] Speaker B: Multiple orders of magnitude. [00:39:46] Speaker A: Can you go back and listen to your early stuff? Neither can I. [00:39:48] Speaker B: No, no. Not even from even three years ago, two years ago. It's the improvements in technique and my acting ability to bring a story to life. Even in the last two years. Even in the last year, I feel like I'm always improving, obviously. And you have to have that mindset. You have to have that mindset to one. You're always going to be better than you were yesterday. And don't beat yourself up because you're not as good as you want to be, because you're never going to be as good as you want to be. But as long as you're making even the little improvements from one day to the next, that's success. [00:40:34] Speaker A: Yeah. Learn by doing. Oh, I love that. Is there anything you want to add to the conversation? Anything we didn't talk about? This has been fantastic. Thank you. [00:40:43] Speaker B: So much fun. Yes. We're talking about creative endeavors, right? Yeah. One of another creative endeavor that I am plowing my way through, albeit very slowly, is my debut novel is in the works. I'm writing a book I've always wanted to write. Ever since before I can remember, I've always been just writing little stories or whatever. And I've been inspired most recently by a good friend of mine, Travis Baldry, and he inspired me to get my butt off the couch and get my pen and hand and paper to start actually writing the book that I've always wanted to write. And I'm writing it. I'm about a third of the way through. I've got most of the skeleton outline completed, and now it's just dedicating myself to actually writing it. [00:41:40] Speaker A: Where do you work on the writing? [00:41:42] Speaker B: That's a challenge because I have an office which is not really super conducive to writing creatively the way I need to. I end up a lot of the times with my laptop and my lap on the couch. [00:41:59] Speaker A: Away from your email, maybe away from that space. [00:42:01] Speaker B: Yeah, one of the I go to a coffee shop, so that's something that I'm going to actually try this week. This week is a unusually dead week for me. I purposely left this week open because I had a lot of stuff going on prior the last couple weeks, and I've got some other big projects coming up in the next few weeks and I thought I should take a break and just give myself a break. But at the same time, I also wanted to start dedicating myself to writing because I haven't been very persistent, I haven't been very regular in when I find time to write. So that's one of the things I'm doing this week, and one of the things I'm going to do is find that place where I can be most creative, whether it's a coffee shop or at the library. [00:42:47] Speaker A: Is there a difference from when you come in to record your audiobooks, which requires incredible discipline, but there's a deadline, and when you are writing and the deadline is different, how are you going to. That's my question for you, because this is why the podcast exists. How do we go to our room and get it done? Yeah, that's what are the tips and tricks to make us do that? [00:43:11] Speaker B: So what I'm learning is I have to look at my writing, however that manifests itself. I have to look at the writing as something I need to schedule and something I need to treat as if it were work, even though it's not work, even though I don't. I want to avoid the stigma of work being associated with a creative endeavor like writing, because it's, I don't, I don't want to look at it work because then it's going to be like drudgery. Right. [00:43:40] Speaker A: There was a wonderful, I'm trying to, I'm floating around it. When I was in college, I went to college for theater, something was said, something along the lines of it's art. And to do the art, you have to put in the work. And work is simply creating of the art. So whether you are. So, yeah. There's always that definition of the place of the workplace that can feel like drudgery. But if you can engage more in that, well, I'm just making art. But to carve out the time for that art, there's a whole set of books by Stephen Pressfield. You're probably familiar with them. The war of art. [00:44:15] Speaker B: Yeah, I forgot. Yeah. [00:44:17] Speaker A: The war of art is a real good one. [00:44:20] Speaker B: Yeah, yeah, yeah. [00:44:22] Speaker A: Oh, my gosh. Yeah. And I also go to coffee shops because there's chai lattes there. I am not above bribing myself with an hour of writing for a chai latte. [00:44:32] Speaker B: There you go. I think that's a fair trade off. [00:44:35] Speaker A: Right? Because. Yeah, yeah. And I think, and thank you so much for coming on and discussing the fact that there's no one easy solution to that either. [00:44:42] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:44:42] Speaker A: It's just the, how do we, how do we get inspired to put in the. I guess. And how do we use the word work? And what does the word work mean to us? Or do we change the word to art? [00:44:52] Speaker B: I think I love that reconfiguration of the term. So. Yeah. [00:44:57] Speaker A: Yeah. Because there are days I come down here and it's such a joy to be in this room. You know, most people are like, wait, you go in a closet, a paddock closet. Yes. [00:45:06] Speaker B: Yes. [00:45:07] Speaker A: And during the pandemic, my family was home. But this is like, it has a lock on the door. You know, I could. This is great. I can hide in here. So, Gary, thank you so much for coming on. I appreciate it so very, very, very much. Anyone listening, please go out and listen to audiobooks narrated by Gary Bennett. Go check it out. And I want to touch base again, you know, in a while and see how you're doing on your novel and your book and how it's going. And I'm also in the throngs of writing my trilogy of ologies, so. Fantastic. And I don't know where you're going to find a narrator. I mean, really, it's hard. It's tough. [00:45:42] Speaker B: Well, there's this place called ACX, so maybe I'll do so. [00:45:45] Speaker A: Yeah, but you can post, see what you get. Gary, thank you so much for coming on. [00:45:49] Speaker B: It's been a pleasure. Thank you. [00:45:50] Speaker A: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Hey, everybody, thanks for listening. To go to your room and make stuff the podcast for artists of any kind who want to make art by themselves. Be sure to subscribe to our podcast in all the places where you find podcasts, find us on social media. And if you ever have any artists you would like to see featured, please let us know. Now go to your room and make stuff.

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