Storytelling has gone hand in hand with the audio format since our ancestors told each other stories around the campfire.
I can remember lying in bed listening to Peter and the Wolf on tape, and before I wrote fiction, I listened to audio fiction podcasts like Scott Sigler's Infected and 7th Son by JC Hutchins, early pioneers of podcast fiction.
Nowadays, we have super-professional podcasts like Welcome to Nightvale, as well as audio-dramas and radio plays. In today's article, Matthew McLean from ThePodcastHost, talks about why you should consider podcasting your fiction.
Why do you write fiction? What’s your ultimate goal?
Is it to get published, and see your book proudly displayed on bookstore shelves?
Or is it purely as an outlet for your creativity, and for the love of reaching people with your stories?
Whatever your reason, the decision to podcast some of your work can be life-changing.
Many writers have made the leap into fiction podcasting over the years. Probably the most famous example is American sci-fi and horror author Scott Sigler, interviewed here on The Creative Penn podcast.
Back in 2007, Sigler went from giving away free serialised content, to hitting the Amazon best-sellers list with his book Ancestor.
And while starting a podcast certainly isn’t going to guarantee you the same levels of success, there are still many ways it could benefit you.
Here are the five main reasons why I’d encourage you to think about podcasting your stories.
1) Reading Your Work Aloud
This seems so obvious, yet many writers overlook it as part of their process.
Your prose and monologues may look and read great in your head. But by simply reading them aloud you’re always certain to pick out a few clunky and awkward sentences.
A second draft, tweaked after a vocal read-through, can sound so much tighter and more fluid.
Sure, you don’t need a podcast to do this. But if you’re writing for audio then you soon begin to coach yourself into this way of thinking.
It’s a simple and effective way of improving your craft.
2) Hone Your Dialogue Writing Skills
Regardless of which route you take, dialogue is always going to be an integral part of your work.
This ties into the “reading your work aloud” part, but working in audio can really help train you to become a master dialogue writer.
In the beginning we’re always tempted to write conversations where two characters play “monologue tennis” with each other. This is unrealistic and creates the perception of two-dimensional personalities.
When you don’t just read these conversations, but hear them aloud, you’ll begin to write dialogue that’s authentic, vibrant, and visceral.
This breathes so much more life into your characters and can be the difference between mere props, and actual people.
3) Get Feedback
Fiction Podcasting is at a unique point in time where there still isn’t that much of it out there.
It’s common to find threads on online communities with listeners asking for recommendations because they’ve run out of shows.
That means that… people really want to hear your story.
Once you’ve been running a fiction podcast for a while, it isn’t unusual to stumble across discussions about it somewhere online.
Granted, anywhere you’ll find praise, you might also find negative comments. But that’s certainly going to be the case once you’re a published author.
All good reviews and positive comments can galvanize and encourage you to keep going.
Some genuinely constructive criticism may prove invaluable in your development as a writer too.
You can also start to make peace with the fact that not everyone is going to like what you do, and learn not to take any bad reviews or feedback personally.
4) Build a Loyal Fanbase
That means you’re actively “in the game”, building an audience – and a reputation.
This is a surreal transition if you’ve spent the last few years tirelessly trying to find people to sit down and read your work.
You can go from this scenario to fans tweeting and emailing you asking when the next episode is out.
You won’t need me to tell you why having a pre-existing fanbase is a positive thing. Especially when it comes to approaching agents or publishers.
Some of these fans will stay with you for the long haul too.
As well as reading or listening to everything you release, they’ll enthusiastically talk about and share your work with others.
That’s the sort of word of mouth marketing that money can’t buy.
5) Expand Your Opportunities
When you’re putting a podcast out there, new people find your work every single day.
Each download is a potential new connection and can lead to numerous opportunities.
Over time, as you build an audience, you might begin to get requests from other podcasters who want to interview you. You can even end up being invited to talk at meetups, events, or conventions.
The medium of podcasting provides you with the tools to build a business around your writing work. When you’ve grown an audience there’s the opportunity to monetize your show through things like sponsorships and affiliates. You can also direct your listeners to any books that you have for sale on your site.
It’s often said in podcasting that “you never know who’s listening”. And who’s to say that latest download wasn’t from a publisher, journalist, or film producer? When you’re podcasting, every day you open your inbox, there’s potential for an exciting new opportunity to be waiting for you.
Where To Start?
If you’re looking to start a podcast, then there are some great episodes on The Creative Penn that are well worth checking out.
- Podcasting Tips & Tricks with Jerod Morris
- Seth Harwood on podcasting to print publishing and building your author platform
- How To Use Audio And Podcasting Effectively To Promote Your Book With Viv Oyolu
- Tee Morris on Writing, Podcasting and Performance
- Philippa Ballantine On Her 12 Year-Overnight Publishing Success
- Audiobook Production, Distribution And Sales With J. Daniel Sawyer
Helping you to launch a successful podcast is also our primary goal over at ThePodcastHost.com
We’ve created a comprehensive step-by-step guide on How to Start a Podcast and we talk about running a great show every week on Podcraft.
For fiction-specific help, we run the Audio Drama Production Podcast, and have a blog series on How to Make a Fiction Podcast.
If you’re thinking of starting your own show, we’d love to hear from you!
Have you considered podcasting your fiction? Please leave your thoughts below and join the conversation.