Tuesday, November 18, 2008

PODCASTING: The New Serial Radio?

Note: We're reposting Lisa's article today because a cyber gremlin kept it from appearing on some browsers on Sunday.

The Kill Zone is thrilled to have author Lisa Cotoggio join us today for a post on podcasting, with an eye both on the past and the future...read on to discover more.

by Lisa Cotoggio

Recently I moderated a panel for the Mystery Writers of America’s New York Chapter Dinner, the topic, “Solving the Promotional Mystery”.

Now, while I thought I had assembled an interesting group of publicists, marketers and authors, who I must say gave an excellent overview of all authors can do to extend the sales and shelf-life of their books; the audience seemed to focus all their questions on one single point: Podcasts. Which, by the way, can be attributed to Jonathan Santlofer’s keen insight on the subject.

As an author, it made me ponder the thought: Are we as authors missing out on a generation of readers whose maturity has impaired their eyesight? Though the answer to that question is quite obvious we now through the magical technology of Podcast have the ability to change it in our favor. And why shouldn’t we?

Looking back to the early days of my childhood my father used to tell me of the nights he spent with his family gathered around the radio listening intently to every word of The Shadow, The Lone Ranger; and of course, The War of the Worlds, made infamous by the actual belief of an alien attack.

And while I belong to the tail end of the “Babyboomer Generation”, the opening lines to those three shows still haunt the dark corners of my mind merely through memories of conversations with my father, born during the era known as the “Silent Generation”:

Who knows…what evil…lllllurks…in the heart of men? The Shadow knows!

A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and a hearty 'Hi-yo, Silver, away!' The Lone Ranger!

We interrupt this program to bring…

Riveting. Wouldn’t you agree? Of course you would, which brings us back to our topic: Podcasting. A series of audio or video digital-media files which are distributed over the Internet by syndicated download through Web feeds to portable media players and personal computers. The radio of the future.

Wouldn’t we all like to have that kind of gripping attention by a beloved audience of readers? Yes. And they on the same hand would love to have us read to them. The thought of being able to relive a fascinating part of one’s childhood is a cherished moment, especially late in one’s life.



  1. Great post, Lisa! Thanks for stopping by!
    I have yet to podcast, but you've definitely got me considering it...

  2. Hi Lisa,
    The topic of new ways to promote seems to be popping up more frequently on this and other writer's blogs. We've had recent discussions on the Kindle and ebooks, print on demand, self publishing, and many more. Podcasting is certainly another we must all be aware of as the publishing world and it's business model continues to morph. As writers, we have to consider every slice of the marketing and promotional pie along with the changing reading habits of our audience. Fortunately, for some of us that can still remember the old radio serials, the changes are coming mercifully slow. But they're definitely coming--with or without us. The rule of adapt or die has never been truer.

    Thanks for being our guest today.

  3. Thanks, Lisa. Great food for thought. I'm all for embracing new technology that expands storytelling to those who are not inclined to partake in the old way. I like nothing better than listening to books when I drive. If I had an Ipod, I'd download books to it. Nothing against music, but I like the spoken word being the soundtrack of my life.

  4. Terrific post, Lisa! I closed my eyes for a moment and was transported back to a humble Brooklyn brownstone where my Dad was tuned in to THE SHADOW, who, indeed, did know!

    Thanks for the epiphany!

    I agree with Joe. Podcasting is here to stay and it would be wise to avail ourselves of this far reaching tool.

    Thanks again!!!

  5. Lisa,

    You're right...everyone at that MWA dinner zeroed in on Jonathan's description of his podcasting endeavor, which had another aspect to it: Giving away your book for nothing!

    I've seen a lot of talk online over the last year about this concept, and there are many who swear that giving your stuff away for free is a money maker!

    The concept, of course, is ironic, but the way Jonathan described what he does, it made sense. When he has a new book coming out, he podcasts, chapter by chapter, his previous book--which presumably has already had a good run on the shelves. The hope, of course, is to introduce new readers to his work who will be drawn in to seeking out the current release.

    Seems like a great idea!

  6. I am glad to hear published authors discussing this topic. As a writer who has yet to get sold via traditional media I came across this idea of podcasting two years ago and thought I'd give it a go. After the frustration of searching fruitlessly for an agent it couldn't hurt as much as having the work just sit in a drawer in my desk.

    So I spent a couple of months recording in a makeshift studio in my walk-in closet, editing the audio files on my laptop and uploading to podiobooks.com and waited to see what came. The first kind of blurted onto the scene with little fan fare in the spring of 2007.

    The majority of podcast novels tend to be Sci-Fi / Fantasy stuff,so I wasn't sure how well mine would do. My novels are Clancy/Forsythe style military thrillers.

    Well, low and behold, in time over 10,000 listeners tuned in and now on my fourth podcast (3 novels and a short story collection) that number of listeners has followed on.

    Yeah, I'm not getting rich yet. The podcasts are free, but hey it's an audience. Which means that when the full version comes out in print someday, there's already a queue of folks ready to buy. And via a paypal link on my website I do get enough donations to pay for the web hosting and take my wife out to dinner a few times a year.

    With three more books waiting to find their way from outline to manuscript, and probably a few more after that, I figure eventually this whole endevour will pay off.

    A couple of my cohorts at podiobooks recently had just such dividends, with very comfortable deals for books they had previously podcast.

    I'll soon be there too. If you'd like to get an idea of how it works you can stop by my website (www.basilsands.com) or www.podiobooks.com ...until then Tighten your seatbelt and make sure your tray table is in the upright and locked position...'cause its gonna be a wild ride"

  7. I'm a luddite Baby Boomer, so I'm not sure what the difference is between "podcasting," "Streaming," and "Internet radio." I've appeared on quite a few radio programs that are streamed over the Internet, and I thought those were great. Being able to listen to radio shows at the computer is a great way to keep up with regional radio.

  8. Hi Lisa,
    Great post. It is so important for writers (and readers) to remain current. Technology is a tool to be used for our benefit, and our enjoyment!

  9. Kathryn your question is a good one. Here's what I hope is an understandable answer.

    Internet radio = live radio via the computer, therefore accesible anywhere there is an internet connection, usually not recordable/rewindable/replayable, etc.

    Streaming = Data being streamed into a live player via the web. Usually you can rewind and replay on demand, but not recordable. You have to be connected to the "stream" to listen, can't listen offline.

    Podcasting = usually in the form of an MP3 that can be listened to via stream, or downloaded and replayed on a separate mp3 player (iPod etc). One can also subscribe to it and have a computer automatically download new episodes to iTunes or a similar program which then transfers them to an mp3 player.

    Most podcast books are done as serialized episodes released over a period of time. Mine for instance typically run about 20 episodes of 30 minutes each coming out weekly.

    Once it is done being released though, a listener has the option to download all of the episodes at once and listen to them end to end.

    For those who don't have an mp3 player, the files can also be copied to cd-audio via windows media player and played over a car's cd's player.

    I recommend everyone (especially writers) check it out, at least if they enjoy audiobooks. My heart and mind are telling me this is probably the next generational leap in entertainment.

  10. Hi Lisa! Thanks for stopping by and it was nice meeting you at Bouchercon. I have proposed doing podcasts of the first chapter of both my books - I just have to get my act together and the equipment -which I believe is much more affordable these days. With all the publicity and writing stuff I face I just have to get it on the 'to do list!' You've inspired me to do just that!

  11. Thanks for the info, Basil!That helps clarify it for me. All of these new ways of reaching readers and listeners is, indeed, probably the future of book writing. Hard copy books will simply be one format of deliverable among many that are available. I think it's extremely promising.

  12. Hi Lisa,
    I've only listened to 2-3 podcasts so I haven't yet taken the Kool-Aid on podcasting as a way to promote. Ken mentioned that JS's strategy was to essentially "give away" the previous book to promote the next and I firmly believe in giving people a taste before expecting them to purchase (whatever the delivery method.) I've worked with a few local libraries,and a gardening catalog company to offer downloads of the first chapter of my debut novel. The catalog co. was supposed to offer the entire book, one chapter a week, but they got cold feet, fearing it would hurt sales.
    The 2-3 podcasts I listened to? Interviews B&N held with Michael Connelly, etc.

  13. Hi Lisa,
    I am afraid I am part of the old guard. I will always prefer the written word to the spoken unless I am at a play or some other function. I like my imagination to take over and run, you know? I am not an author so from that point of view it sounds like it makes sense. I do know quite a few people who listen to audio books and podcasts and they seem to enjoy them. I suppose it would help getting more people interested, so how bad could it be. Good luck and take care....jay

  14. James brings up an interesting point. Most bibliophiles are just that, bibliophiles...not audiobibliophiles. In other words most folks who love reading, don't really enjoy listening to a story as much, if at all.

    This is one of the great marketing tools of podcasting, and even giving away whole books for free in audio format. Many will enjoy listening to the audio, but most will prefer to buy to the paper copy and read at their own pace and with their own imagination drawing the pictures and making the voices come alive.

    Something to think about if you are afraid podcasting a novel will hurt its sale.

    sorry if I'm posting to much on this one, but podcasting is near and dear to my heart...just let me know if I need to hush up

  15. We love your comments, Basil! I also learned a lot today. Keep coming back!

  16. Hi, Lisa,

    I'm coming to this discussion late, but I wanted to say that podcasting is a great way to connect with readers on different levels.

    I've been doing audio and video podcasts since 2005--I talk about subjects I find interesting and also interview other authors and go to events, then put up the podcast on my blog, website, etc.

    The reader gets to know you on a personal level. I also write a monthly blog on podcasting with tips as well as podcasts.

    I'd be happy to answer any questions on podcasting.


  17. Hi Jina, thanks for stopping by! I have no experience in podcasting, so I'm particularly interested in how to get started in general with it--I'll browse around your web site for pointers. I also have to say I'm intrigued by the titles of your books, especially "Spies, Lies, and Naked Thighs"! (grin).

  18. Hi, Kathryn,

    Glad you like my Spies book title--it's from Harlequin Spice (erotic fiction).

    Here's the link to my Confessions of a Podcast Goddess blog--


    Scroll down to the beg. back in April 2007. I have lots of info about how to podcast!