I invited over blogging friend Tasha to share some more interesting things to add to your author toolbox.
Why – To Podcast or Not to Podcast
We’re writers, we deal in words on a page, so why should we be interested in podcasting? For me the answer was simple: it’s another marketing stream and a way to introduce my work to a larger audience.
Podcasts are an ever growing medium that many people rely on to relax or to get through their commute (remember those?😉). Fiction podcasts are popular and if we can hook an audience we can even use it to sell a few more books too.
Back in April last year, I launched my podcast Virginia Waytes’ Sexy Stories to tap into the growing demand for erotic fiction. Virginia is my alter ego for the podcast because I may have a naughty mind, but saying to out loud requires someone far more naughty than me and that is Virginia. My podcast is based around a paranormal romance series called The Manor about an adult-only club run by supernatural beings and all the adventures they get up to. Think TV show style, only with the spoken word and eBooks to fit all the plot there isn’t time for in the podcast.
It takes time before it is possible to monetise a podcast, hence the eBooks. So far there are 22 episodes of The Manor and so 22 eBooks for my audience to enjoy.
I have found that I really enjoy podcasting, at least the writing and reading out loud parts. What I find the most frustrating is the editing. I have become much better and quicker at it with time, but it can be mind-numbing listening to your own voice over and over and over again 😂. It’s worth it in the end though and seeing the downloads tick up is a great feeling.
What – Things to Keep in Mind Before Leaping In
Now a podcast might seem like an amazing idea, but there are things to consider before taking the plunge.
- The time is takes:
Recording and editing take just as long as writing the content, so we have to decide if we have the time and energy to put into a project like a podcast.
- The new skills needed:
We’re all familiar with creating via the written word, but recording and editing are technical skills we will have to learn.
- The right voice:
People need to want to listen to our podcast, we need to consider if we have the voice for it or if we need to practice a lot more before we are ready.
How – 10 Steps to Launch a Podcast
Launching a podcast is daunting, but as with any large project, breaking it down into simple steps can really help us get going.
#1 Decide What Our Podcast is About
This might sound like a no-brainer, but while a podcast can be about anything from the trials and tribulations of our cat, to a fantasy epic broken down into digestible chunks, it needs something to hook an audience. If we don’t know what our podcast is about, how can we entice listeners in to join us in our endeavour?
#2 Name Our Podcast
Decide on a catchy name that reflects the content of the podcast. This is what our potential listeners are going to see first and we need to hook them. If we look at my podcast as an example: Virginia Waytes’ Sexy Stories – it’s a podcast for erotic fiction hence the ‘Sexy Stories’ and Virginia Waytes is both a bit of a joke and makes the name unique. (Yes I did spend ages Googling possible names for my narrator 😉).
#3 Create a Hook for Our Podcast
We need to create a short description of our podcast to hook people in, just like a book blurb. This will appear where our podcast is listed to give our listeners an idea of what our podcast is about. It should be short and snappy and grab them in the first few words even if we elaborate a bit afterwards.
#4 Decide on Hosting
Decide where we would like to host our podcast. Podbean etc. There are many hosting options, including hosting our podcast on our own website. I would recommend using a specialised hosting service for a couple of reasons:
- We have to maintain personal websites and podcasting requires certain elements we may not be familiar with.
- The hosting sites are often integrated with the podcasting directories like Apple, Spotify, Deezer etc. which make getting our podcast listed much easier. For example, Podbean has a whole section in the backend with detailed instructions on how to have our podcast listed at various places that then integrates all the stats into one.
- Hosting sites are usually geared up to be faster than personal websites.
Hosting sites and podcasting directories are not the same thing. Hosting sites are often also podcasting directories, but podcasting directories are not always hosting sites.
- A hosting site allows us to upload our files and it is where our content is downloaded from when it is listened to.
- A podcasting directory is a site that lists lots of podcasts, like Apple Podcasts or Amazon Music, and streams to the listener from where the podcast is actually hosted.
Just Google “Where to host my podcast” and there will be many wonderful articles with lots of details. I chose Podbean because it has a good free option for trying out podcasting as well as lots of features, and it’s easy to upgrade to a paid package at a later date.
For transparency – links to Podbean are my affiliate links. If you decide to sign up with them I get a month’s free hosting time and if you are on a paid plan, you get a month free too.
#5 Equipment Check
Podcasts require equipment to create. Unfortunately it’s not just a matter of turning on our phone and recording our voice. We needs at the very least:
- Mic – there are many cheap podcasting mics on the market, get the best you can afford.
- Laptop/PC/Tablet to record onto.
- Recording/Editing Software – recommend, Adobe Auditions if you have the Adobe Suite, or Audacity as a free option. Audacity is a great editing option, so don’t worry about it being open source. I used to use it before I had the Adobe Suite.
#6 Create a Trailer
Create a short trailer for our podcast – up to 2min. Both Apple and Spotify will pin the trailer to the top of our podcast listing and allow listeners to try before they dive into long episodes as well as give them an introduction to our podcast. Podbean has a great article about how to go about this.
When preparing it is a good idea to write a script for the trailer so it sounds professional and this also makes it much easier on us as we don’t have to improvise. If you add music, make sure it is royalty free or you have the correct license or your podcast could be hit with a copyright strike and removed. A great source of royalty free music is Incompetech and Kevin Macleod – and we can use tracks for free with accreditation, or pay a small license fee with no accreditation.
#7 Choose a Look for Our Podcast
Our podcast will require artwork, just like a book requires a cover. For the main Podcast Logo it’s all about our podcast brand, so it’s a good idea to work on this carefully. Apple Podcasts requires artwork to be a min of 1400×1400 and a max of 3000×3000 in jpg or png, so this is the standard to go for or the podcast will be rejected when submitted to Apple.
Each episode can also have individual artwork.
As an example, here is my podcast logo and the first episode artwork:
#8 Decide on a Posting Schedule
We also need to decide on how often and when we wish to upload our podcast. Some options are:
- Twice a week
There are two important factors to consider:
- How often can we comfortably be sure of keeping to? Listeners will forgive an established, trusted podcast a delay on an episode, but they are less likely to come back to one that does it right at the beginning of its run.
- How often will our listeners be expecting an episode? Depending on how long we decide to make our episodes, whether they are deep dives with lots of research or discussions between friends, our listeners will have differing expectations. Long details episode based podcasts can be less often and keep listeners’ interests, shorter ones need to be more frequent.
#9 Plan Several Episodes
Before launching anything, plan ahead. This will save on a lot of stress.
For example, my podcast Virginia Waytes’ Sexy Stories, started with a 12 episode season of The Manor. I had the whole season planned and half of it completed before I even started recording. And similarly with the second season, I had it all planned in advance before I launched it.
The only part that was more ad hoc was the season break, where the episodes were planned less vigorously. However, they were still planned.
Depending on the format of the podcast, this is not always possible. For example, current affairs podcasts have to be current, so creating them too far in advance is not possible. However, if planning is an option, go for it.
#10 Get Ready for Launch
Finally we are prepared. We have all our ducks in a row and we have a launch date in mind. Now is the time to get our message out there:
- Upload the trailer to our podcast host.
- Submit the podcast to all the podcast directories (it can take a while for some of them to list it) – my biggest download sources are Spotify, Apple and iHeartRadio.
- Hit our social media with announcements just like we would for a book launch.
About Natasha Duncan-Drake
Tasha is a British speculative fiction author with Wittegen Press. She has been publishing since 2011 and her books can be found at all major eBook retailers with paperbacks at Amazon as well. She hosts the Virginia Waytes’ Sexy Stories podcast and publishes The Manor books under the pseudonym of Virginia Waytes.
That was absolutely amazing! Thanks, Tasha. Do you have any questions for her? Do you listen to podcasts? Have you thought about doing your own podcast?
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