Top podcasts for authors

It’s been a while since I did a list of podcasts for authors.

A writer’s got to stay healthy, and I go to the gym every weekday.

Don’t get me wrong, I do NOT like gyms and am no exercise junkie. It’s frikken BORING. To relieve the boredom, I listen to podcasts while I walk to the gym, at the gym and on the way back.

I’ve been listening to publishing podcasts for a long time, and have probably outgrown certain shows, so the list below is highly personal.

With that said, these are the podcasts I’ve been listening to recently:

The Creative Penn Podcast

Joanna remains a favourite of mine. Her interviews are extremely varied, covering a huge range of issues of interest to writers. She truly considers that the world is our oyster and does away with the myopic attitude of so many self-publishers where they care solely about sales on Amazon and only Amazon US at that.

Marketing SFF

The true insider show. Selfpublishers interviewing other selfpublishers. I really appreciate the variety of guests doing a wide variety of things. Lindsay and I go back all the way to the SFF-OWW online critique forum.

Writing Excuses

A show about craft, and specifically the craft of plotting. They’re doing lots of discussion about characters at the moment. Selfpublishers don’t like talking about craft. They should. Without good craft, you can’t sell books.

The Smartypants Book Marketing Podcast

There are a good number of marketing podcasts. What sets this one apart is the absence of snake oil or any talk of dollars and cents. Chris has worked in marketing for a long time and gives advice based on the principles of marketing, so the advice is timeless and replicable across many venues. The recent interview with Tammi Lebrecque about email lists was golden. So was Chris’ down-to-earth analysis of online crisis management.

The Writers’ Detective bureau Podcast

Adam is a real live detective. Who better to learn from about police procedure and crime? When a crime happens, who handles what? How do agencies work together? When are certain searches called for? It’s all very uS-centred, but if you take away the names of the agencies, the procedures will be similar elsewhere, including made-up worlds.

Casefile

A treasure trove for authors looking for ideas for crime-related plots. Each episode goes into depth about a past crime, and how the case unfolded, how the culprit was identified.

Science Friction

Discusses different issues in the area where science meets ethics and the public perception. Lots of great potential for story ideas, such as: the market for fake peer reviews and fake research in China, the role of women in early maths research, the gaia theory.

Honourable mentions:

Self-publishing Formula Podcast

The book lab episodes are excellent, and so are a number of interviews. I’m a wee bit critical of episodes that seem too infomercial for my liking.

The History of Rome

Not recent and no longer updated, but this is a huge archive of over 200 shows going through the entire history of the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. It’s all history so doesn’t really go out of date, right?

Dropping off:

The Author Biz – appears to have stopped. Pity. There were some good interviews.

Sell More Books Show – I quite enjoyed this up until recently. I do not like the new happy-go-lucky direction which makes the podcast little more than a mouthpiece for a certain facebook group, by regurgitating the “I wrote three books in two weeks and made a billion dollars!!!” pieces that are just “congrats fluff”. By its very definition news is usually negative in tone, and it should incite discussion about ethical lines and desirable procedures, not be a cheerleading squad. Forced “positive” news is non-news. We can’t be ostriches putting our heads in the sand about unethical, unfair and predatory practices.

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Getting hung up on the wrong things

Further to the epic rant I shared last week, I listened to Mark Dawson’s interview with the mysterious Data Guy this morning. I got up at 4am, drove to the city to drop off my husband to the bus to Canberra (where he has a course this week, so has to start early), went back home (still very dark), walked to the gym (scared the bejesus out of a possum in the dark, or maybe it scared me), where it was still very empty at 5.15am. I always listen to podcasts at the gym, because gyms are boring and I can learn something while I’m there.

An interview with Data Guy is a real scoop for the show. I guess Mark knows who he is, but we’re all speculating. In short, every three months, he rents hundreds of servers for an hour or two and they crawl across the entire book section of whatever site he chooses (mostly Amazon US, but he’s done others) and collect publicly visible data. Title, author, publisher, ranking. He does this for an ever-increasing portion of the books for sale. He uses this data to create an immediate snapshot of the industry. The book industry at large is now beginning to see the value of this, because all of the data they can collect does not offer them as complete or immediate a picture.

Data Guy writes the quarterly Author Earnings reports together with Hugh Howey, and these reports give a lot of insight into what’s happening in the book industry. Too much to mention here, but everyone should read them, whether you have a publisher or are self-published. If you’re really keen, the data is publicly available, so you can download it and play with it.

Back to the podcast.

Apart from all the things I mentioned in the rant from last week (people don’t use ISBNs and those books are not counted; people buy even their print books online), I’d like to highlight this quote from the transcript (bolding mine):

James (interviewer):
Is there a particular area do you think you could point people towards they should be looking at?
Data Guy:
Absolutely, and that is marketing and advertising. What is conventionally understood by traditionally published authors to be important absolutely isn’t. Newspaper and radio ads, book signings at the occasional book store, they’re fun. They are enjoyable. I’ve done them. I’ve really enjoyed as an indie author signing at Barnes and Noble. But 70 books in a day in print, where you basically earn very little with your POD books, is not comparable to selling 1,100 or 2,000 books in a day, which is what you can do with an online promotion without too much difficulty if you plan it right. Focus the energy on what works today.

Yet, I see authors getting hung up on in-person sales, signings, presence of their books on shelves, con appearances etc. every day.

This stuff is FUN. It strokes your ego. For sales, it does diddly squat.

Next month, I’ll go to Supanova on the Gold Coast. It’s a tax-subsidised holiday. That’s it. It’s fun. Yet at these events I meet people who don’t even have ebooks. Or who have their ebooks farmed out to daft third party joints that are inflexible and expensive.

Selling print books at stalls or signings is successful when you sell 50 books or more. During my biggest sales day online, I sold 3046 books. In a single day. I can go back the next day and sell 1000, and the next day, and the next day, and…

Ebooks, online, that’s where it’s at. That’s where you should advertise.

Yes, it was still dark when I got home at 6.30. The possum was gone because the rubbish trucks were prowling the streets. We need the end of daylight saving, please?