Posted in Interviews / Success Stories, Videos & Podcasts | Posted on 25-04-2011|
If you’ve read some of the past interviews here, you know several now-successful ebook authors started out podcasting their stories. Through Podiobooks and iTunes, these authors were able to build a readership (er, make that a “listenership”) before they released their first ebooks.
This is something I’m going to try with The Emperor’s Edge, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes. If this is a route you’re considering, then you’ll want to read today’s interview. We’re talking to Collin Earl, an indie fantasy author and part of the Darkfire Productions team (they’re doing the grunt work for my podiobook).
All right, here’s Collin….
As you know, I’ve interviewed Nathan Lowell here before, and he built up a large fan base by podcasting his novels long before he did ebooks or print books (which are now selling very well!). What do you think about podiobooks as a means of building a fan base? Can it work well today, or is the market too crowded?
I think the podcasted or serialized novel, like anything can be an arrow in your quiver. If it’s used right, it can be highly effective. As for market crowding, at Podiobooks.com, there are around 500 titles and they are the biggest distribution network I know of for serialized novels. If you consider that distribution centers like Barnes & Noble has over a million ebook titles and Audible has over 75,000 traditional audiobook titles, a place like Podiobooks becomes a drop in the bucket. Podiobooks is however, gaining momentum. They are adding books faster than ever before, but I think there is room for anyone who is willing to do it properly. But that is the key- the willingness to do it properly.
Do you see any genres or types of podiobooks being more popular than others? Or does it just take a good story of any genre?
I think there is less non-fiction on Podiobooks.com and that non-fiction is less popular than fiction. But that just might be a creature of the unique cutting-edge authors of Podiobooks.com rather than the audience. The fact that there are less non-fiction titles is not a function of the site either. Evo Terra, the master for all things Podiobooks, has made it clear that almost anything is welcome on Podiobooks (he’s turned down like 3 titles in the last 6 years). So I think you see the books of people who are willing to take the jump and people who take the jump earlier, let’s face it, have a head start.
I think good writing is important. However, and this is a BIG however, “good” is a relative statement. I read the first book in the Twilight series and didn’t care for it. But many, many people did. Good is relative. What I like and what you like is going to vary. So don’t waste your time trying to please everyone. It’s not possible. When it comes to a good story, I think you need to make your story the best it can be within its respective elements. And I don’t mean listening to every single person with an opinion, but getting the story properly taken care of like proper copy and story editing, cover art, etc.
Podcasting is the same way. I think much more than a “good story,” you need proper production, voicing acting, and mastering. You need to make sure you are doing it right because the people of the podcasting community will tell you if you aren’t. It doesn’t matter if the product is free. If it’s crap, it’s crap and they will let you know that. You don’t want your podcast to be crap. Some good production value can go a long way to getting people immersed in your world and that is always a good thing.
How should an author looking to turn his or her novel into a podiobook get started?
You need to decide how you want it done first. Do you want to do it yourself or have someone else do it for you? There are pros and cons for each. I would recommend at least TRYING to do it yourself. It can help with branding but more importantly it will save you some money and everyone knows how poor most authors are. We at DarkFire Productions are doing Lindsay’s book, Emperor’s Edge, but only after she understood what went into the creation of the podiobook. I am all for authors DYI-ing it so I want you to at least look into doing it yourself. I think if you can pull it off, you’ll thank me later.
If you want to do it yourself, the Podiobooks.com community page is great resource. Some of the old timers there are very helpful. You can also always look at Podiobooks.com for the specs that you need. Also there are many podcasting books out there, Evo Terra’s Podcasting For Dummies included, that can be helpful.
The very first thing you need to look into is software. You shouldn’t be spending any money on this. Audacity, which is a free download and GarageBand, which comes with a Mac, are more than enough for your podcasting needs. Next you need a decent microphone and wind screen.
If you want to do it the other way, and have someone do it for you. Just email me at DarkFire, look at Voices.com, Voices123 or another production company like ours. There are options.
Where can you host your podiobook, and what’s involved with getting it uploaded to iTunes and Podiobooks?
You can host your Podiobook anywhere you want- your website, your blog, other distribution points, and more. Podiobooks.com don’t take any rights at all when it comes to your product. You do with it what you please. You upload to Podiobooks and they automatically get you into iTunes, which will eventually filter out, to about 20 different places. You don’t have to do a thing.
How can you promote your podiobook once the first chapters are up?
So many ways…I like to use pass along cards. They are promotion cards that are bigger than a business card but smaller than a post card. They have your cover art on one side and a “pitch” of the book and where it can be found on the back. I passed those out to everyone and their brother and they worked well. Trading “promos” with other podcast novelists is a great way to spread the word as well. Some will do it and some won’t, but you can always ask and you’d be surprised at how helpful our little community can be.
Many of the podiobook marketing strategies are similar to ebook strategies that people are already implementing like tagging the project properly, reviews from bloggers, email campaigns, etc. The great thing about the podcast novel however, especially while it’s being serialized, is that it’s different. There are only 500 hundred titles on Podiobooks.com compared to thousands upon thousands of traditional audiobooks and millions of ebooks. The audience of the podcasting community is growing every single day. It’s a different experience than the ebook or trade paperback. You can be a part of that community, which is growing faster than ever before.
If your goal as an author, is to get this out in front of as many people as possible, which mind you that should be your goal, this is a great way to do it. Another great thing about the podiobook is you can hook them with something free and then hopefully keep them for life. Free is a powerful force. As the lowest barrier to entry into a particular community, it takes away the cost benefit analysis that all of us go through when we do something. People simply say “Something is ‘free’ so why not.” It’s your job to keep them there once you get them hooked. This means at least two things–Content and Consistency. I am going to say it again because people are ADD- Content and Consistency. If you do those two things, people will come to you.
You’re part of a company that helps authors put together podiobooks if they don’t have the time or inclination to do it themselves. Do you want to talk about what you guys do?
Not really. The last thing I want to give your readers is a pitch. I will say this: DarkFire Productions, which includes myself and two other podcasters, helps authors with digital production of their literary works, converting ebooks, creating audiobooks and podcasts etc. If you don’t want to do it yourself, we can help and you can learn from our mistakes or if you simply have questions, we’re always willing to answer them.
That is all the pitch I’m willing to give. If you want to know more, I am all over the bleeding Internet just contact me and we can talk.
Would you like to finish up by telling us about your own work and where we can listen to–or read–it?
LOL, I thought you’d never ask. Sure let me give you some information. I can be reached www.collinearl.com
To check out my books and to maybe figure out what this podcasting stuff is, you can go to Podiobooks.com or iTunes and look up my titles- The House of Grey and Harmonics: Rise of the Magician. Harmonics is available as an ebook, http://amzn.to/ffVZ4M, and a trade paper back http://amzn.to/i2XGhm
Thanks for all the great information, Collin!
Collin Earl is the CLO of DarkFire Productions