You have an awesome story. Everyone you tell the concept to stares at you with wide eyes. “I would read the heck out of that,” they say. The other, more common reply: “I would so read that…if I could be bothered to read. I’m just not a reader, though.” With a shrug of their shoulders, they dismiss your next great piece of “Award-Winning Literature ™” because of their inability to digest a certain media format.
Look, every writer has been there before. At times, a writer can feel lost and adrift, afloat in a sea of ignorance. You know you have the writing chops to impress these people. So how do you reach them? In what way can you make your writing pop from the page?
Diversifying your platform can certainly help. We’re no longer in a purely paperback age where the printed word rules the roost. More and more books, magazines, and newspapers are making the jump to digital. Entertainment is coming less from DVDs and more from streaming services. The old reliable boys in blue, Blockbuster, witnessed this digital revolution to their own disastrous demise.
You can whine about it, or you can adapt. From ebooks, visual novels, plays, table readings, podcasts, or even the old amateur video à la Youtube, there are tons of options to get non-readers invested in your craft.
This series will be dedicated to a certain platform, the challenges of this platform, and ways to bridge from traditional writing to writing for that platform.
Today we’re going to be discussing podcasts.
Podcasts are a versatile platform with numerous benefits:
- They’re portable: who can’t download an MP3 to their car radio, burn a CD, or wire a download to their cellphone SD card nowadays? Streaming options abound for those who have internet on the go, depending on distributor.
- They’re immediate. The up-front nature of the audio experience invites the reader to take a walk down the wild side with their prefrontal cortex. Listening involves direct mental concentration that’s easier for some than staring at words on a page.
- They offer an interesting reprieve from boring reality: Ever been somewhere where you know you won’t be comfortable, that you’ll have to wait forever, and your time will be taken up with routine tasks that offer no enjoyment whatsoever? Yeah, I think everyone has. Whether you’re at the Laundromat with a set of earbuds and time, sweating during your morning cardio, or unpleasantly aware of a stack of dishes that only you, and you alone, can take on…then a podcast is the perfect minor distraction from your tedium.
- They have many styles: Podcasts can be anything from a single narrator drama, to a talk-show format, to full-blown audio dramas with multiple voice actors. The sky’s the limit for your creativity.
- They can function as effective advertisement: Have a short story you’re interested in giving up to the Gods of Writing as a sacrifice for your readers? Narrate it! Get creative with it. Showcase your writing. Make sure you tell your listeners you have other formats of stories. Hearing something great could be the first step to their hesitant ventures into the literary world. At the very least show off your website. Get famous enough, and advertisers might offer you some cash money depending on podcast downloads…
Podcasts are, however, a tricky medium to break into if you aren’t cogent of a few facts:
- Podcasts require vocal work: You’ll need audio equipment, mixing software, and sounds to punctuate the silence. Whether your narrator is you or a friend, it takes time and effort to get usable tracks. It also takes experience with mixing to ensure your repeated audio takes are a smooth product from start to end. Sometimes, if you lack these skills on your own, you may have to hire someone on to do any or all of this work for you.
- Podcasts require upkeep on an audience: Though definitely a great way to increase your audience, podcasts, like all mediums, require a following to continue being relevant. Whether this is a long, slow process or quick transition from a pre-established audience base, it’s important to understand that a Podcast, like any creative outlet, won’t just magically attract listeners all on its own. Cross-promotion with blogs, other podcasts, and separate social media platforms can help grow your audience.
- It’s relatively new: the format of the audio program has been around since long before TV, for well over a century of human history. However, podcasts represent another transitory digital platform which is decentralized. The various outlets for your program’s potential distribution each have different subscribers, so you may have to find a few good platforms after some time spent researching the subject and keep an eye on how thinly or thickly you spread your influence. Like any outlet for creativity, the wider your net, the better…but consider that there’s a whole internet ocean to trawl still.
Are podcasts for you? That’s up to you. Do the research and think about how your writing and resources can be applied to this new format. If it’s an easy fit, then do it. If it’s a hard fit, consider if you have the resources to devote to getting yourself out there in this way.