Wednesday 3 May 2017

Audiobook Narrator: J. Scott Bennett Interview and Giveaway! #MayhemFeature

Welcome to the first interview of my month long celebration of all things favourites!! Please welcome J. Scott Bennett to the blog!!! I have listened to, and loved a lot of books narrated by him, with some of my favourites being: the Cold Hollow Mysteries, The Sorcerer's Saga and Floodwater, to name but a few. Before we get the the awesome interview with him, here's a little bit about him and where you can find him.

J. Scott Bennett

J. Scott Bennett 
Scott Bennett was born and raised in Nashville, TN.  He went off to the US Air Force shortly after a year of College. He served as a Spanish translator in the military and was stationed in Monterey, California and Key West, Florida. Returning home to Tennessee he met and married his wife Donna who is a registered nurse.  He moved to Kentucky and went back to college to study for the ministry.  He and his wife served various churches in Kentucky and Tennessee for the next twenty years, after which he decided to return to school and get credentialed to be a public school teacher.  For the last twelve years he has been a middle school teacher, and recently began working as an audio book narrator/producer.  He and his wife have two grown sons and one granddaughter whom they adore.

Find Scott: 

Here's a sample of his narration from Cold Hollow

Narrator Interview:

1) How many books have you narrated?

I currently have 117 titles that are available on Audible. Most are under my name - but a few are under a pseudonym.

2) Out of them, have you a specific genre you like best?
I like doing a variety of books. Most are fiction, but I’ve done a few nonfiction works like biography and true crime. In fiction I like thrillers/action, mysteries, fantasy, horror, and (yes) even romance. The last is not what I most enjoy doing, but I seem to get offered a lot of those to narrate.

3) How do you choose the books you want to narrate?
I go to the ACX website which is like a clearinghouse of sorts. There, authors who are looking to have titles produced will list their books and include a sample script as well as description of what the book is about and what sort of qualities they’d like in a narrator (voices, accents, etc.) I scroll through and first see what looks interesting and appealing. Then I do a little research to see if the book has sold well or if the author is prolific and seems to have a good following. I didn’t do this at first because I didn’t know to and wasn’t really sure what to look for. Now, I am a little more selective. I don’t really want to take a risk on investing the time/effort to produce a title that won’t sell but a few copies. It all depends on what type of contract and pay arrangements are in place. If I am only going to be paid based on royalty share arrangement - then I want to make sure the book has a good potential to sell in audio. If the author wants to pay “up front” I don’t concern myself nearly as much with its track record of potential to sell many copies. (I know, sounds kind of mercenary - but it is a business after all.)

I have found though that the longer I have done this, I don’t have to go seeking out as many books. Authors I’ve worked for will now often e-mail and tell me they have a new book coming out and would I be interested. This is a good feeling for sure.

4) Take us through a typical audition that you do? How do you prepare?
Well, I did two auditions today, so I can talk about this. The first was a title that looked very interesting to me. It is a nonfiction book that chronicles the experiences of some World War II vets who describe their experiences in the war. I read through the audition a couple of times, researched the book on Amazon. It was not a big seller yet, but that didn’t stop me. It was a book that the publisher is willing to pay based on the number of finished hours of the audiobook. After I felt comfortable with the material, I recorded it twice. The second take was the better, I thought. So I edited and cleaned up the audio to make it sound “retail ready” and sent it off. (I may not hear back from an author or publisher for a day, a week or a month. It all depends on how many auditions they want to listen to. I have had authors contact me sometimes within the hour and offer me the contract.)

The second audition was for an author I’ve worked with. I produced book one in a series for her about a year ago. She contacted me and asked if I’d be willing to do book to. The first book was a very good seller, so I didn’t hesitate to say yes on #2. I followed the steps above and recorded an audition and sent it off. By the way, sometimes authors who know me will forego the audition process and simply offer the contract based on the work I’ve done for them in the past. That’s always nice. However, each book is different, and an author will often want to hear just a sample of how I sound with the new material.

The audition scripts can be as long or short as the author chooses, but most narrators will only record about five minutes of the material, unless they specifically ask for more.

5) How do you keep track of the different character tones/voices?
This is a good question. If it’s within the same book, it’s not as tough. I will often make a “cheat sheet” during the preparation phase where I list main characters and assign voice types. I may even make notes like - “I hear this character as a Clint Eastwood type tough guy in my head.” or “This character is very weak and timid sounding.” - This is where it is so vital to read the book through carefully before recording. I will sometimes make a file on my computer where I record a snippet of the character’s voice and go back and listen to it if he/she hasn’t appeared in a few chapters. For characters who appear in multiple books I always do this.

6) Do you read the book before starting the narration or fly by the seat of your pants?
Yes. In fact, I will try to read the book at least twice. Once to get the feel of it and get to know the characters. And once to outline any words I don’t know that I may need to look up. I will admit, however, sometimes I will cheat on my own rule. If it is a book in a series with the same characters from a previous book, I don’t spend as much time pre-reading.

7) Best and worst thing about being a narrator?
Best part is getting to meet some really nice creative people (authors and other narrators) and getting to read their books and talk to them about it. I never got to meet an author before and discuss his work before I started doing this. The worst part has to be recording a chapter and going back to listen to it and find all the mistakes I made. Or (and this happens more often than not) I will listen to a chapter and think, “That’s all wrong. I’ve got to redo it.”

8) Who's your favourite narrator/s?
Grover Gardner and Scott Brick are two of my personal favorites. They are both at the top of the profession. I like Will Patton as well. I have listened to some of the others who narrate through the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) and really admire so many of them.

9) Is there any narrator you'd love to work with?
There are a couple I have in mind, actually, that if I’m ever asked to do a book with alternating POV’s I would consider asking. But so far, I’ve only done solo work.

10) Any tips for aspiring narrators?
Well, I hesitate to answer because I feel I am one. Even though I have several titles to my credit, I’m still aspiring to make it “big.” :-) For those just starting out I would recommend taking some classes or coaching. I’ve done some of that, and it has helped me greatly. It’s not free or even cheap, but well worth it.

Some get to know you questions:

What do you like to do when you're not narrating?

I’m an avid scooterist. I love riding my Vespa scooter. I go on group and solo rides. I especially enjoy going to rallies where I meet up with other scooter enthusiasts. I also sing and play guitar (but not while on the scooter). Also, I spend a lot of time at my day job. I'm a full-time middle school teacher. So I hang out with some terrific 11-12 year olds for a big part of the day.

What’s the best vacation you ever had?
What’s that? Haha Seriously, I don’t go on many, but my wife and I enjoy going to the mountains in Gatlinburg. Or we may take our camper and set it up for a week on the lake. Just so long as I can take the scooter.

What’s your favourite rainy day movie?
Silence of the Lambs, Die Hard, or Back to the Future. Love all 3.

If you could be any age again for a week, which would you choose and why?
19 or 20 I suppose. I was in the Air Force at the time. Young and carefree. And I was much healthier. (sigh)

If you could have personally witnessed one event in history, what would it be?
Well the Nativity would be pretty cool.

What's you favourite place to read?
(Beside my little recording booth?) I would say at the kitchen table or bed. But I fall asleep too easily when I read in bed. I love reading my kindle beside the campfire when we’re camping.

When you walk into a book store, where do you head first?
After the bathroom, I will go to the comic books, magazines, graphic novels, then work my way back to the fiction.

If you had a million dollars, what would be the first thing you would buy?
Another scooter or two.

Thank you Scott for stopping by. So there you have it!! Hope you enjoyed the interview :) Check out some of my reviews for the books he has narrated: 

Cold Hollow:
The Sorcerer's Quest:

Scott is also offering up a very generous giveaway of a Kindle Fire and some Audible Codes,  which has been incorporated into the big Mayhem Giveaway!! Enter below, and don't forget that the more you comment on the posts during Mayhem, the higher the chance you will win. 



  1. i didn't imagine that it was like that for narrartotr to pick which book they worked on Very informative. thank you a lot ( 117 that's a lot^^)

  2. I keep saying I will try audio books and never seem to get around to it. Due to various health problems I don't drive as much as I used to. My daughter does a lot of it. I get car sick, so maybe me listening to an audio book would distract me. I guess it would depend on the book, narrator and how I could/would listen to it. I got as far as buying an MP4 player but never taken the final leap to trying to listen to a book.

    1. I listen when I'm cleaning or pottering around! I was the same as you starting out but now I'm hooked. I think if you find a narrator you love, it helps a lot!!

  3. I enjoyed learning about your process. I love audio books and am fascinated by all that goes into putting them together.

    1. Me too! I love getting to know the narrator a little more.

  4. I had not thought too much about narrators before. Great post.

    1. Thanks. A good narrator can make or break a book :)

  5. Thanks for letting me be a part of your blog, Natalie! It's a real honor.

    1. You are more than welcome!! I'm thrilled to have you here :)