Should an author have their own podcast? Today’s guest, Suzanne Kelman, offers advice on the topic. Podcasting is all the rage, but like any other creative endeavor, some personality types will take to it better than others. She is certainly cut out for podcasting with her warm and humorous personality that floods over into all she does. I met her through my client KJ Waters, and it’s been great to witness Suzanne’s involvement in the writing community and journey toward the re-release of her novel. Be sure to check out the amazing infographic at the end of the post as well.
Official Bio: Suzanne Kelman is the author of The Rejected Writers’ Book Club being republished by Lake Union on March 29, 2016. She is also an award-winning screenwriter and playwright. Her accolades include The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences—Nicholl Fellowship Finalist, Best Comedy Feature Script—L.A. International Film Festival, and Gold Award Winner—California Film Awards.
Should an Author Have Their Own Podcast?
Getting yourself above the social media clamor can be challenging. I am in the midst of a relaunch of my book The Rejected Writer’s Book Club and am always looking for creative ways to market it. One way I have found is podcasting. Podcasting is a great way to carve a niche and develop an audience for you and your work. I have been podcasting for nearly a year.
Back in 2012, I met another writer KJ Waters and we connected instantly. We were both in the midst of writing and self-publishing our first books and continued to support one another as we traversed the mountain to becoming published authors.
Our books had been out for about a year when we started talking about doing a podcast together to help promote our work.
Perhaps you have considered podcasting? Here are some tips from our experience to help you decide if that might be a good fit for you.
Branding: The first thing to consider before you even start recording is branding. There are a lot of podcasts to choose from on sites such as iTunes and Podbean. It’s important to clearly think through your brand. So, make sure your podcast banner and name stand out. We wanted to play up the fact that I was British and KJ was a blonde. But with no brand recognition to begin with, we decided to call our podcast Writing, Publishing, and Beyond—hosted by Blondie and the Brit. KJ and her book cover artist, Jody Smyers, created beautiful artwork that is a strong requirement for iTunes and making the “New and Noteworthy” list, which I’ll share more about later in this post.
Format: It is also important to think through the format of your show and your intended audience. The clearer you are about the audience that you want to attract, the easier it will be to sell if you decide to package for sponsorship in the future. Also consider the length of each episode, keeping your audience in mind. We decided to keep our show around 30-40 minutes in length, an average commute time, as our target audience is someone who may still have to work outside the home but dreams of being a full-time author. Thirty-five minutes for our show tends to be the sweet spot. It leaves them wanting more, not wishing we would get to the point.
Content: As well as the format of your show, you should also think through your content before you start recording episodes. Once you brand your show a certain way, your audience is going to expect a similar format each week. Unless you are a named celebrity, the rule seems to be less about yourself and more about the content they are expecting. We interview authors about their work and social media tips, and we chose a fun and conversational style of interview with clean content so it is acceptable to a larger audience.
Tools: All you really need is a microphone, a telephone, and a way to tape your episodes. We use the free Audacity software for recording, and we connect with our guests through Skype. It all tends to run fairly smoothly, but we did have Audacity crash after we finished an episode once. So now we create a file in Audacity at the beginning of each interview and back up the recording half way through.
Editing: Unless you are planning on podcasting live (which is too scary for us to contemplate), the bane of our experience has been the editing process. It is very time consuming. Consider paying someone else to do the editing for you. Believe me, it will be money well spent.
Audience Reach: In order to get your message out to a wider audience, it is very beneficial to get your podcast mentioned on the “New and Noteworthy” section on iTunes. This will give your early numbers a huge boost. One of the many ways to do that is to launch more than one podcast in the first week. We interviewed three highly social media savvy guests and launched the episodes on the same day. This created a lot of buzz around the podcast in that first week and got us listed on “New and Noteworthy” for several months.
Evergreen Marketing: lastly, one of the greatest things for you as an author, is how not unlike your book, podcasts are evergreen, which means, even if you taped a podcast 6 months ago, a new audience can find it today and in the future. This has been one of the best things about podcasting for an author who is always in the process of promoting their work. Unlike a Twitter or Facebook post, which has such a fleeting lifespan, podcasting is a great way to keep the word out there.
You can connect with Suzanne Kelman, her social media sites, as well as the Blondie & the Brit podcast via her website.
And as luck with have it, an amazing podcasting infographic created by Foundation Digital for copyblogger was published just last week. Take a look!
Like this infographic? Get content marketing advice that works from Copyblogger.
Would you or have you tried your hand at podcasting? How did it go? Do you have any additional questions Suzanne can answer?
Guest Post: Please join me over at The Writer’s Notebook for a post on Tips for Pitching to a Literary Agent at a Writers’ Conference.
All images are courtesy of Suzanne Kelman. Please share responsibly.
VERY enlightening. I have never even considered doing a podcast, but what a great tool for marketing! Looks like a great space to occupy given the growth noted above!
Thank you Jacqueline, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Yes, it’s a great way to connect with potential reader because it is very personable.
This was very interesting. I’ve not considered podcasting,but I can see how it could be very effective if done right. It sounds as if planning and content are key. That’s a clever tip for getting onto the New and Noteworthy list on iTunes.
Thank you Jacqueline, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Yes, it’s a great way to connect with potential reader because it is very personable.
I really enjoy podcasts and Joanna Penn has a great one (www.thecreativepenn.com) but they do seem like a lot of work. I love the name Blondie and the Brit, and I listened to the one with you Jeri and it was fantastic. Lots of great energy, and it makes the information very accessible and entertaining for people. Fantastic infographic- thanks for this, and great to ‘meet’ Suzanne:-)
Great to meet you too, Kathy. I love Joanna Penn too, she is a wealth of information on all aspect of publishing. We always aim to keep our interviews entertaining, yet with great and helpful content. We want to think our listeners go away inspired to write and with some nugget to help them in the process.
I hadn’t considered podcasting as I really don’t have a platform. Are podcasts used mostly to interview other authors and artists? How did I miss the podcast with Jeri? Now I must find the missing link! Many thanks Suzanne and best of luck with the re-launch!
Jan, if you go to the Blondie and the Brit page and scroll way down I’m on there as Episode 5.
Hi Jan, thanks for leaving a comment. And in answer to your question, podcasts can be about anything people would be interested in listening too. Think of it as an audio blog, so anything you could blog about you could podcast about. However, having guests on your show, just like guest blogging, will connect you with new listeners every week. And, yes, we loved having Jeri on the show she is an incredible editor. Thank you for your good wishes about the re-launch, it is very exciting.
Jan, it was a lot of fun to interview Jeri, She is my editor and it was a great way to get to know her a bit more. Here is the link for anyone that wants to give it a whirl. Jeri is a great wealth of knowledge, we really could have interview her for hours.
Great post. I always wanted to do a podcast but I didn’t know how to write up an outline for the podcast. Do you have any tips for writing up an outline for a podcast? I like the idea of outsourcing the editing. I never thought it would take a lot of time, but it probably does. Thanks for sharing.
We actually don’t write up an outline for our weekly podcast, we just research the guests and come up with 8 questions and let the interview take its own course. I wonder if you mean for the shows format? If that’s what you mean then I would start with brainstorming about who is your perfect listener. With that in mind, talk about the things that are important to them and create content around that as if they were sitting in the room with you. And yes, outsource your editing 🙂
Thanks for this post, Jeri. Suzanne is indeed a wealth of knowledge. I’ve never done a podcast myself as I admit to not particularly liking them. I’d rather read and interpret a blog post than sit and listen to someone go off on a tangent about something unrelated to the promised topic. That happened to me just this week when the fellow was supposed to be talking about content marketing and he spent a good deal of the time chatting with the guest about sports! A waste of my time. But I did find this post interesting and very creative with the infographic and all.
I so agree with you, I listeners to a podcast the other day where a guy spent 15 minutes telling me about how his boiler had broke down! Who cares about that. Both KJ and I are really mindful about that, we want to respect the listeners time which is why we try to keep the podcast to around the 30 minute mark and also on the topic they tuned in to hear. We want people to listen the following week, and we really learn a lot from our guest, and we hope they do too.
Most likely podcasts are a great tool for authors to promote themselves. Personally read at least one book a week but have to admit I never listen to podcasts for the simple reason that I would prefer to read what they have to say. But I may be the exception to the rule.
It is a great tool and perfect for audio learners, and it sound like you are more of a visual learner 🙂 The great thing about having a multi-sensory platform for us as authors is it is a way to create content for people in the way they like to receive it. I also like the fact we are out there as authors but it not about selling our book but connecting, which I love to do.
Oh, this is an excellent post! Thank you, Jeri & Suzanne! I’ve been listening to podcasts for years and some of the most entertaining ones were serials by writers who were (initially) self-publishing their novels. I also used to listen to a lot of podcasts similar to Suzanne and KJ’s. My favorite was The Writing Show with Paula B but she ended it a few years ago. Suzanne is spot-on about editing. I’ve started and stopped listening to more podcasts than I can count because they were poorly edited and/or of poor audio quality. It shouldn’t be a strain to make out what the podcasters are saying.
I’ve toyed with doing podcasts, mainly just to read aloud my own writing. I enjoy reading aloud, but I’m not a good narrator 😉
Thank you Marie 🙂
Yes, editing is the bane of our podcasting life, but it is also so important to us that the listening experience is enjoyable. Doing it yourself can take hours, so outsourcing is a great way to go. If you decide to podcast my advice is to give yourself a big lead in to prepare, so you can work through all the learning curves. We started recording podcasts in June and didn’t launch till October, we were so glad we did that, as there are many things to organize for the launch in order to make it successful.
Great post, especially the tips on how to crack the “New and Noteworthy” list. For now, I’m going to stick to guesting on podcasts, but I’ll pass this post on to others who are starting their own. Wishing you the very best for your book’s re-release, Suzanne!
Hey there Laura,
Thanks for your encouraging comments, I’m glad you enjoyed and thanks also for sharing!
Hi Suzanne and Jeri, this is amazing information. I’ve never really considered pod cast. The stats really show incredible growth. I think pairing up with someone, like you have is a fun way to do it. I imagine it’s hard to get noticed on itunes because it’s such a massive source. Thanks for this valuable info. I will definitely check out your pod cast now. Thanks Jeri for hosting this topic!
Hi there Lisa,
Thank you so much kind comments 🙂 Yes, it is much more fun with a co-host it also means we can half the work, as there is a lot to do with keeping everything going, including maintaining our web presence as well as, connecting with, booking and researching guests etc So, if you decide to podcast I encourage to think about co-hosting.
A very clear and thorough post on podcasts—-
The different sections highlighting variables such as format, content and Audience Reach are appealing at first sight…
The statistics speak out loud too. There are many tools nowadays to achieve better results and to conquer a more engaged audience!…
I am now thinking that a YouTube channel could be a great addition as well… (maybe a little bit too much exposition… plus, you need to have certain skills to create videos, which might be hard… but, assuming you do manage the “know-how factor”, and from time to time, it could be great)…
Sending all my best wishes, Jeri- Aquileana 😀
I agree with you about a YouTube channel Aquileana, and creating something on YouTube is actually in our marketing plan for later in the year. I think the key is the evergreen marketing aspect. That way you put the work in once and let it pay off over and over again. Thank you for your comments Have a lovely weekend.
I didn’t know much about podcasts, so this post helped me understand what’s involved. I’ve thought about doing a podcast because I wouldn’t have to be seen. LOL! After reading this post though, I’d have to put in a lot of work for branding, editing, etc. It’s always something to consider though. I’m curious, do podcasts have to go on iTunes? Could you create a podcast through ACX and just post on your blog and other high profile pages, such as Amazon Author Page? Thanks for your time and information.
That a great question, and I’m not sure, as we always wanted to be on iTunes. We are also on Podbean and I will have to check with Blondie (KJ) if she had the option to not be on iTunes, when she uploaded to Podbean, I think anything you do will help with website interaction there are definitely other sites you can upload to that’s for sure.
Denise, there are other publishing platforms for the auido that you can post directly to your website and not have to mess with iTunes. One is called stitcher that I know a fellow podcaster, Mark Combs uses successfully. You can also sell episodes to the public radio stations, which we hope to do soon.
Fantastic info here Suzanne and Jeri. I’m on the verge of starting podcasts with a fellow author and this info was timely. We are thinking of going live and using Blab, then sharing to Itunes and Youtube. I have to admit, I’m a bit fearful of going live.
Great DG I hope your launch goes well! We were also very nervous and there were all sort of thing that happened on that first podcast and that happens with podcasting in general. The way to deal with it all is with a sense of humor and that is what editing is for. You should listen to our blooper and behind the scenes podcast to see how we dealt with the things that came along!
I’ve never been a fan of podcasts. When I lived in Manhattan I didn’t have a car which is an ideal setting for listening while you’re driving. However, I now live in Sarasota and still don’t listen to podcast. I much prefer reading the written word which is faster. I don’t have the patience for podcasts, so I’ve never attempted any myself. I prefer to listen to classical music while I’m driving.
Jeannette, I hear you, I love classical music, too, and very rarely listen to other peoples podcasts. However, both KJ and I saw the potential to reach people through that medium, and realized how valuable it was to cater to readers and authors that do love that form of entertainment. 🙂
I’ve been toying with this idea for quite some time and was so close to starting a podcast before leaving Korea to travel through Asia. Thankfully I didn’t buy an expensive mic that would’ve been damaged through various boat, bus and plane rides but this post is really making me rethink the idea. Podcasts are an excellent way to get your message out and not just by repurposing content. I’d love to use it as a way to engage with other writers and travelers but am most worried about equipment. Do you think having the right mic would be the only thing really necessary to get this off the ground? Anyway, thanks for rekindling my thoughts on this and for probably putting a small dent in my bank account after purchasing the mic, haha.
Thanks, Suzanne and Jeri for bringing Suzanne on board.
Hi Duke, I’m the other half of Blondie and the Brit. Suzanne and I both use relatively inexpensive earphones with a built in directional mics and our laptops. The editing software is free (Audacity). The startup costs are relatively low if you already have a laptop. If you already have a microphone you should be good to go. The most expensive part of the endeavor so far has been the editing, which I did for the first few months on my own, just very time consuming (6 hours per episode).
Best of luck with your podcast if you decide to do it! Please stay in touch with Suzanne and I we’d love to give you any other tips on getting it started.
Hey there K.J. so glad you joined the party! And also that you jumped in and answered that tech question :–) Nice to met you Duke, and good luck with your launch and as K.J. says, “Don’t be a stranger!”