This is the bio I wrote:
From an early age award-winning audiobook narrator R.C. Bray despised reading. Truly hated it with a passion. And audiobooks? Even worse. Those were for people too lazy to read (not to be confused with those like himself who didn’t want to read to begin with). R.C. eventually got older and wiser and eschewing his capricious convictions fell head-over-heels for reading. Not just to learn words like “eschew” and “capricious” so he could use them in a bio, but because someone was actually going to be foolish enough to pay him to do it!
Note: R.C.’s gorgeous wife and three beautiful children begged him not to make this his official bio.
Clearly he misunderstood.
This is the gorgeous bio Audible took upon themselves to write and I'm humbled as hell:
From outer space to the Old West, narrator R. C. Bray is an expert guide. He switches settings as seamlessly as he switches characters. His extraordinary range takes in stories about human kindness and barbarism in Glacier National Park or a Vietnam combat veteran’s struggle to cope with life at home or a fantastical story about giants, bigfoot babies, and dragons.
He has participated in ensemble, multi-voiced, and full-cast productions, many of which have won awards, and is a multiple AudioFile Earphones Award winner. Bray has been named an AudioFile “Best of the Year” narrator in Fiction for “The Reason You’re Alive” by Matthew Quick (2017). Bray is a multiple Audie Award finalist and received an Audie Award in 2015 for Andy Weir’s sci-fi novel "The Martian".
When he performs a mystery, Bray's impeccable timing and cadence keep listeners hanging on his every word. In Bradford Morrow’s whodunit "The Forgers", Bray opens up a world of high-end forgery with perfect pacing and a professional voice artist’s subtlety. Bray understands his characters and consistently hits the dramatic, shocking, or humorous notes expertly. In Walter Wager’s thriller "58 Minutes: The Basis for Die Hard 2", Bray adds to the excitement as his broadcaster's voice gives a play-by-play of the heroics. Bray also shines in the horror genre, notably in his work on Craig Dilouie’s grisly tale "Suffer the Children", where a disease converts children into bloodthirsty parasites. His fatalistic narration edges listeners toward uncomfortable revelations and unspeakable acts done in the name of parental love.
His work within the science fiction genre is always something more than caricature. In "The Martian", he handles split points-of view, still maintaining and building character. In Michael Mammay’s sci-fi tale "Planetside", an Audie finalist and Earphones Award winner, Bray provides a riveting listen, while in his Earphones Award- and Independent Audiobook Award-winning narration of Dean F. Wilson’s "The Coilhunter Chronicles: Omnibus (Books 1–3)", he juggles several distinct voices throughout the three books set in the Wild North.
Bray is just as at home in Keith Marcotti’s children’s fantasy "Falling Through Blankets of Stars", taking listeners into a fantastical world that is home to remarkable dragons, giants, and bigfoot babies.
Bray’s husky baritone and smooth delivery are also a terrific match for Clarence E. Mulford’s 1908 seminal western "Bar-20: A Hopalong Cassidy Novel", and the others in the series. Bray’s rough-and-tumble voice and characterizations fit the period.
Bray gives vocal differentiation to his characters, making conversations and events easy to follow, no matter the genre. His voice can be youthful and appealing or tough-as-nails.
Take your pick.
There’s lots to choose from.
TOP PICKS FOR R.C. BRAY
"What advice would you give someone interested in becoming an audiobook narrator?"
Being a narrator is extremely rewarding and, in some cases, money can even be made! So I can most definitely appreciate your interest in becoming a narrator. The good news is as long as you’re under no illusions (it looks fun, setting up your own hours and/or working from home sounds perfect, it's something you "always wanted to do”, someone told you you have a nice voice) that it’s by any means easy, then you’ll do just fine.
As a narrator I hear a combination of all of the above in addition to “I really like to read!” and "is there good money in it?" all the time. And to be blunt those kinds of comments are a little insulting. It's akin to saying what narrators do for a living is so simple anyone can do it. Not the case I assure you.
Here’s an example of what I mean.
I was approached by a gentleman asking for advice on becoming a narrator. He told me he worked in Aerospace for 30+ years but had always wanted to “give narration a shot.” He loves reading and after being told several times that he has a pleasant voice, he decided to look into it. All the stars (pun intended) were perfectly aligned for my reply. Here’s my response: “Imagine me - the once upon a time paper boy, video store clerk, deli manager, and now 41-year old audiobook narrator who was never good at math - telling you - the 30+ year Aerospace scientist - that I won an Audie Award for my narration of The Martian and therefor could probably survive alone on Mars for a good deal of time. If you just could put me in contact with the dean of administrations at Space Camp…”
In short, just because I can carve a turkey doesn’t mean I should be a surgeon.
We had a great laugh about this and I’m so happy he took it as it was intended: a lighthearted way to say yes, being an audiobook narrator is pretty cool, but no, it’s not just something “cool” that anyone can do. Writers, artists, and actors likewise have folks looking to them for help getting into the industry and rightfully so. Everyone has a creative side they want to engage and get out and I applaud anyone looking to do so. But you have to be real about it. Maybe it looks so simple to do because we make it look simple. It’s work. Lots of it.
As promised, here are my two cents:
Voice talent = 20%
- Having a “great voice” makes little difference; it’s just a bonus
Performance training = 30%
- Training outshines a good voice any day, and training can take years
- You can’t just read the page/lines, you have to interpret it. Internalize it. Make it as only YOU can. Doing an impression or in the
style of Morgan Freeman, Liev Schreiber, or Simon Vance doesn’t cut it.
- You MUST be comfortable and confident in what you do. Any bit of doubt in you, then don’t do it. Because once your performance
is done, it’s “out there.” Ain’t nothing you can do about it.
- If you can’t take rejection or even if the idea of rejection bothers you in the least, move on. You’re not made for it.
Innate Ability = 50%
- Whether narrating an audiobook or selling toilet paper, you need to be a natural storyteller; not a reader.
- In addition to what I said about training, sounding like James Earl Jones and having been trained at Julliard won’t save you if you’re
not a natural. It’s there or it’s not. Take an honest inventory of yourself. This is not a power of positive thinking/“one day my dream
will come true” Disney outlook arena
- Put yourself in an honest position as an outsider and don’t BS yourself. What would an uncensored Simon Cowell or Gordon
***And remember... I could be wrong about all of this so ignore it all and go for it!
Here are a few links you should have a look at and/or read.
Sean Allan Pratt’s “So you want to be an audiobook narrator?” is first and foremost. You will not find a better litmus test for the aspiring narrator.
Rachel Fulginiti’s two-part blog "Breaking Into Audiobooks" is priceless.
My pal, Matt Godfrey, beautifully breaks down his approach to prep and recording in his piece "Process"
Classes & Workshops:
APA (Audio Publisher's Association)
Neumann BCM 104 Cardioid Broadcast Mic
Pro Tools, Avid MBox Pro 3
Mac mini (Late 2014) 2/6 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3