10 things I’m learning from podcasting

Hey, peeps! Hope everybody is having a fab time!

As some of you know, I’ve been crazy busy over at Women and Words and other projects and with the Lesbian Talk Show podcasts over at Podbean. I co-host two. One, with my colleague at Women and Words Jove Belle, is a round-up of things going on at the WaW blog as well as whatever else we tie to that to chat about, and we often throw in news from the lesfic/LGBT+ publishing world about events, calls for submissions, and things like that.

The other (we just launched it!) is Lez Geek Out! which I co-host with fellow spec fic writer Lise MacTague (who I call L-Mac). That one’s Lise and I fangirling about TV shows, movies, comics, and whatever else we can find to fangirl about.

I’m relatively new to this whole podcasting thing, but hey, you won’t learn if you don’t try, right? I’m lucky in some ways, maybe, because I have a background as a radio DJ and I’ve done a lot of public speaking (I still do a lot of that), so I’m comfortable talking on a broadcast and in front of a live audience.

But there’s always something to learn, and here are some of the things that I’ve learned as I’ve ventured into this whole podcast thing. And if you’re a podcaster, please do share your tips below in the comments. If you’re a listener, what works for you and what doesn’t? Let me know! You can also join the Lesbian Talk Show chat group on Facebook, which has all the hosts from the podcasts at the Lesbian Talk Show on it, and we can be pretty irreverent, but we’d love to hear your thoughts, so please do join the group and join in.

1. Better time management. LOL In most cases. Lise and I are pretty good about keeping the Lez Geek Out! podcasts to around 20 minutes. Jove and I can get a little off-track, so we go anywhere from 30-45 minutes, though we’re trying not to. So I clearly have more to learn about time management. But we do end up staying on topic, so there’s that.

I also learned this from being a radio DJ, because when you’re broadcasting, you have a certain amount of time to talk if you’re doing certain things, so I got pretty good about getting to the point quickly and disseminating info in 30-second or 2-minute blocks. Podcasting may not have the immediacy of a live broadcast, but when you prepare for one, you get a sense of how long you have, and what to say and what not to say in order to keep the show moving and to hit that sweet spot time-wise. I’d argue that 30 minutes is probably ideal, but an hour isn’t bad if you and your co-host(s) have a good rapport.

2. Better organization. Again, this is kind of an LOL because sometimes it doesn’t always work out that way, but I tend to prepare materials prior to recording and I and my co-hosts will chat beforehand to determine where we want to go and how we want to address things. I realized that I needed to do this to make sure we stayed on track, and it’s a habit I actually picked up as a radio DJ, though podcasting works a little differently.

If you want to start your own podcast, it’s well worth your while to map out an outline ahead of time so you can stick to your topics and fit it into your time block. After a while, when you get more comfie with the environment, it’ll take you less time to prepare and you’ll have developed a rapport with your co-host. Or at least a stronger rapport, if you already worked in some capacity with that person.

3. How to herd cats. Mostly. I work with two very different co-hosts in the podcasts I do. One is someone I’ve known for a decade and we’ve started and maintained different projects together over the years. We know each other pretty well in some respects, and we know our strengths and weaknesses. She lets me be the bad cop in terms of reining her in to keep us on track, and I’ve learned how to apply that to myself, too, though sometimes we both slip. Heh.

The other person I work with is someone I haven’t known very long at all, but we chatted before deciding to do this podcast and decided that it would work. She’s pretty organized, and we talk about what we’re going to do and what our approach is going to be before each show, and we’re good at staying on topic and within our time frame. It’s a more organized approach than my other podcast, but that’s okay because it’s two different people, and I’m thus…

4. Learning to work better in this environment with others. I like that I do one podcast with someone I’ve been friends and colleagues with for a while and that the other is with someone I just recently met. It forces me to really think about my approaches and how to make adjustments to the approaches of the other person, and that’s a useful skill for any collaborative endeavor. Podcasting with a co-host is, after all, a team sport.

5. Expressing thoughts more clearly. Okay, it’s an ideal, people. 😀 But like my radio days, podcasting requires that you have a plan and that you figure out how to execute that plan within a time limit and how to stay mostly on topic. Some segues can be fun, and you’ll get a sense for figuring out when that’s happening and when you’re flying off the rails. Which is not to suggest I haven’t flown off the rails with my co-hosts, but I think I’ve gotten better about grabbing on as we’re flinging off and helping bring us back on track.

I’ve listened to podcasts that went on for an hour or more and the hosts started with a good topic but then didn’t execute and ended up rambling and not wrapping it up in a neat package. So I try to approach each podcast with this in mind, and I try to make clear statements about the direction and topics. Which hearkens back to organization and sometimes I don’t execute as cleanly as I’d like, but the more I do this, I hope the better I get.

6. Learning how to use new software and hardware platforms. This is a work in progress, friends. There’s lots of different software out there to do podcasting. So far, I’m trying to deal with Audacity, which is a free multi-track audio editing and recording program. Back in my radio days, I worked with a similar program and a bit with ProTools, which is a program for hardcore music production. As a radio DJ, I often recorded ad spots for airing, and I really didn’t need ProTools for that, but at the time, other programs weren’t as readily available.

I’m really appreciative, actually, when I learn cool new things like this, even though it can be really super frustrating at first. I’m fortunate at the moment right now because one of my colleagues uses Open Broadcaster software (opensource) and she gets everything done on her end when I Skype in for the recording and ships it off to the coordinator and founder at the Lesbian Talk Show. In the other case, my co-host and I use Audacity and the coordinator/founder edits them together. So I’m trying to learn more so that I can help out in the editing realm.

7. Building an audience. Developing a podcast audience is much different than developing one as a writer. Different products, after all. So I’m learning to think outside the usual boxes, and Sheena, the coordinator/founder over at the Lesbian Review Talk Show (who also podcasts) has been SO helpful in this regard, in terms of tracking numbers and helping us figure out what works and what doesn’t. She’s also constantly thinking about how to market and where, and constantly tweaking approaches.

8. Developing a thick skin. Granted, I’m a writer, so I’ve had to develop one of those anyway. But podcasting is a different medium, so I’m taking cues from listeners and Sheena about what’s working and what’s not and making adjustments. There will always be people who think I suck, and that I sound terrible and who might even hate-listen to me. I can’t do much about that, but if they have legit critiques about how to make myself sound better or articulate better, hey, I’m all ears! I want to get better at this, so any help you have, thanks!

9. Podcasting legalese. I’ve just begun scratching this surface, and it’s important that podcasters figure this stuff out, especially if you’re going to be bringing guests on (celebrity or otherwise). This means you need to think about publicity rights in terms of you and your guests, and commercial use (if applicable). But, knowledge like this is good to have anyway, especially if you’re a writer, because it gets you thinking about trademark and copyright and the like and encourages you to become more savvy about your contracts. 🙂 If you’re not a writer, it’s just good to be informed about how this stuff works if you’re podcasting.

Handy guide to podcasting legalese.

10. A whole new bucket of fun and community engagement! Podcasting has opened new avenues of creativity for me, and new ways of exploring both writing and fangirling (two passions of mine), and working with people in new ways. So though it is work, and I’m not getting paid for any of it, I love it, and it’s another way I can engage with community and with colleagues. And I am all about that.

So there you go. Stop by the Lesbian Talk Show over on Podbean to see what’s going on. There are a variety of podcasts available there, and one or more will probably strike your fancy. Also check out the LTS chat group Facebook page and come on and jump into the fray.

Get the app for at the App Store or Google Play.

Some podcasts that I listen to:

Spirits — boozy, biweekly podcast about myth, legends, and folklore. The hosts, Amanda and Julia, are knowledgeable and hilarious and will bring guests on.

Tales of the Black Badge — A podcast that deals with all things Wynonna Earp. The show, the fandom, the comic, the actors, the writers, the showrunners…you get the gist. Hosts Bonnie and Kevin are a lot of fun.

The Hunner — this one is pretty new. Only two episodes thus far, but it’s pure Clexa Trash from across the pond and I love me some Clexa Trash. Plus, the hosts are hilarious.

Throwing Shade (podcast and vid) — hosts Erin and Bryan (both comedians) take on politics, celebrity, and whatever else in their snarky, fun way.

Tagg Nation — queer news and views.

And if you’d like to find other LGBT+ podcasts try this list at Player FM.

Let me know what podcasts you’re into and why! Share some luv!

Happy Monday, all!

Tips for Newbies

HI, kids!

Ermahgerd. I’ve been crazy busy over at Women and Words, the other place where I blog and admin and carry on. We’ve started a Women and Words podcast, which is me and my co-admin, author Jove Belle, chatting about the week’s crazy/fun and other things related to writing, editing, publishing of interest to LGBT writers and readers. We hope.

You can find us AT THIS LINK RIGHT HERE (or, the Lesbian Talk Show).

I also just finished up a novella that’s in editing AND I’m getting ready to go through the edits of another project AND my colleague R.G. Emanuelle and I JUST RELEASED our second anthology of food-themed romance and erotica (F/F). It’s called Order Up: A Menu of Lesbian Romance & Erotica. Our first food-themed anthology, All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Romance and Erotica, was a Lambda finalist last year. Hope you check those out. Heh.

And now, onto the business of this blog. I got to thinking about this because I’ve been working with some new writers, and I thought some quick n’ dirty tips might prove useful to those of you who are on the cusp of publication or have JUST published something If so, GO, YOU! And if that’s the case, then you need to…

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How not to be a jerk when you promote

Hi, peeps!

Happy Friday n’ all a’ that. Oh, and don’t forget to turn your clocks forward this weekend, if you’re in a place that does that whole Daylight Savings Time thing. If you’re not, well, stay asleep.

ANYWAY. Let us discuss some promotional tips. Please start with this blog by fab spec fic author Delilah Dawson titled “Please shut up: Why self-promotion as an author doesn’t work.”

And then, after you get pissed at her, read the follow-up, “Wait, Keep Talking: Author Self-Promotion that Actually Works.”

Okay. The point of Dawson’s first post was to get you thinking about how you go about promoting your work. Everybody knows you have to do some kind of promotion. But there are good ways to do it and not-so-good ways. Dawson lays out the not-so-good ways in the first post. And then she lays out the better ways in the second.

I like to think of self-promotion as “not being a jerk” and I already subscribed to Dawson’s approach before I actually read her blogs. So here’s a list of 10 things I recommend, culled from my own experience and Dawson’s advice, with regard to self-promotion as an author.

Shall we?

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Clothes-minded

Well, HI, peeps!

It’s been a crazy busy couple of weeks. I’ve started writing again. That is, I started back to work on some novels I’ve had lying around on my hard drive. I did write a short story that got picked up last month for an anthology that’ll be published in the next few months. So my hiatus was kind of spotty. Heh.

ANYWAY. I’m currently getting some things ready for the upcoming GCLS conference in July in New Orleans. That involves a lot of thought about swag and what to bring and what not to bring in terms of my books.

I’m also getting ready to attend the 27th Lambda Awards. My co-edited volume All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Romance and Erotica, with fellow author and editor R.G. Emanuelle, made the finalists’ list in lesbian erotica. I’ve not ever attended the Lambdas (or “Lammies,” as you might here), so this is a new and cool experience.

With that in mind, I’ve been thinking about clothes.

Why? Well…

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Diving into the writing fray off your PLATFORM

Hi, peeps! Hope everything is groovy with you and yours.

First, we’re doing a big-ass giveaway of the anthology I co-edited with R.G. Emanuelle, All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Romance and Erotica at Women and Words (AYCE scored an honorable mention in the Rainbow Awards! YAY!), so run on down and get in on that. We’ve got 2 print copies and 5 ebooks to give away. HERE IS THE LINK TO DO JUST THAT. You have until Tuesday, 9 PM EST U.S. time to play.

And now, I thought I’d just chit-chat a bit about writing. Because that is ostensibly what I do up in here. Today, let’s talk marketing. In sort of a broad sense.

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From the Hat Down Blog Tour

From the Hat Down Blog Tour Banner

Hi, all! This week I’m doing a blog tour for my latest novel, From the Hat Down, thanks to Book Enthusiast Promotions!

promotionsbutton with TRIM

This is the follow-up to my Rainbow Award runner-up, the novella From the Boots Up. So you’ll see it posted in a variety of places — thanks, peeps! MUCH appreciated! Anyway, here’s more info plus some goodies to check out:

Synopsis

Meg Tallmadge is a veterinarian at a clinic in Laramie, Wyoming. She’s got a great job, great friends, deep ties to the family ranch, and big plans for her vet future. Sure, there are bumps in the road, like her mom’s continued denial about who Meg is and her painful and infuriating attempts to make Meg a “proper” woman. Then there’s Meg’s recent breakup with a girlfriend, which has her wondering why she can’t seem to open up to relationships. But Meg knows that life is messy, and sometimes all you can do is get through and shake it off. What she can’t seem to shake off, however, is her past.HatDown2a-small

It’s been almost ten years to the day since she met the love of her life, and about eight since she let her go. Meg has a hard time admitting that maybe she didn’t really let go, and that maybe some things you never really get over, no matter how hard you try. But her past is half a world away, caught up in her own life, relationship, and journalism career, and Meg isn’t one to chase the ghosts of past relationships. Even if they send you a birthday card and nudge what you thought were the closed-off parts of your heart. After all, second chances are the stuff of fantasies and movies where the good guy always gets a happy ending. You can’t count on something like that.

Or can you?

Excerpt

Click this link to read one!

Playlist

These songs and/or artists played a role in the writing of this novel.

Giveaway

Holy moly! Click to get into the running for a $25 Amazon gift card.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Where to find Andi

Website
Twitter @andimarquette
Facebook author page
Goodreads, From the Boots Up
Goodreads, From the Hat Down

From the Boots Up

Where it all started:
from-the-boots-up-website-use
Get it on Kindle.
More info here.

Thanks, all, for joining me. Happy reading, happy writing!

Another thing authors shouldn’t do

Hi, kids! Here’s Auntie Andi with yet another “Things Writers Shouldn’t Do.” This one falls in the public relations department, though it’s also a good example of what could happen if you don’t adhere to one of the golden rules: “If you can’t say anything nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.”

That’s a good rule for just about anything in life. But let’s see how it applies in the writing world.

As many of you know, I’ve talked quite a bit in the past about what not to do as a writer. For example, I don’t recommend responding to reviews (see why here). And here are some other things I suggest authors not do.

And here’s another suggestion.

Don’t bash your fellow writers. Especially not in a public article.

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PR advice: don’t be a douchecanoe

Hiya, peeps!

I see there is a scary POLAR VORTEX that has descended upon parts of the country. This sounds like some sort of freaky space/time conundrum that involves cold. Regardless, it’s butt-ass cold out there for a lot of you, so take precautionary measures.

I will now provide authors with some hot air advice to warm you up regarding marketing and promo. This list is by no means exhaustive (nor is it meant to be), and I’ve mentioned a few of these points at varying times on my varied blogs. Just a few quickie tips that hopefully will keep you from being branded Sir Royal Asswipe of the Douchecanoe in readers’ and writers’ circles.

source

Continue onward for tips to ward off douchecanoeing.

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“Readers don’t owe authors sh*t”

Came across this post on BookRiot (via HuffPo and Sisters in Crime).

I admit I got a little cranky for about 2.7 seconds and then I decided to chill out and read it, because I think the author of this post, Brenna Clarke, has some valid points.

Here:

I hope that writers make careers of writing. I hope that indie bookshop owners make careers of owning and working in indie bookshops. I hope that these things are lucrative and happiness-making. But being a reader does not obligate me to do anything other than read books. As a reader, I will accept responsibility to do one thing:

1. I won’t ever steal books, digital or otherwise. Not ever.

But I won’t (a) not use the library, (b) not buy used books, (c) not borrow books from friends. If I choose to do any of those things, I don’t (a) owe a tweet, (b) owe a blog review, (c) owe a word of mouth review. I am not betraying bookish culture if I (a) buy from Amazon or Chapters or Barnes and Noble, (b) wait to buy the paperback, (c) don’t buy at all. None of the above things are unethical or amoral or indicative of my deep failings as a reader or blogger or member of the bookish community.

Go on over and see the rest of her argument as to why she doesn’t owe authors sh*t. There are only a few more paragraphs. Here’s the link again. Food for thought, authors?

Happy reading, happy writing!

When indie publishing really freaking works

Hey, peeps!

Caught this article in the Wall Street Journal about author Hugh Howey and his runaway hit, Wool. It’s a postapocalyptic thriller that has sold more than half a million copies and generated over 4,000 reviews on Amazon.


Source: Amazon.com, re-sized here

Read that article at the WSJ. Howey worked his ass off to write Wool (it started as a short story, but caught on), and he approached publishing with an eye to promo and working hard to generate an audience. To that end, he turned down several publishing offers from major houses so he could retain his ebook rights (he’s made over a million bucks off Wool). What all did he do? Well, here:

Mr. Howey comes across as a charming, self-deprecating goofball (he posted a video of himself doing ballet on his lawn on YouTube after he signed his publishing deal), but he’s proven to be a savage negotiator and slick marketer. He sent free copies of “Wool” to book bloggers and reviewers at Goodreads, a social-media site for avid readers. Early raves prompted more people to try the book, and the reviews snowballed. “Wool” now has more than 12,500 ratings and around 2,200 reviews on Goodreads. He hosted an “Ask Me Anything” session on the popular website Reddit, fielding users’ questions for more than 12 hours. He encouraged fan art and fan fiction set in the “Wool” universe; his readers have designed book covers and written their own novella-length takes on the story. He conscripted 30 of his most ardent fans to be “beta” readers who edit early drafts of his books for free.
Source: “Sci-Fi’s Underground Hit: Authors are snubbing publishers and insisting on keeping e-book rights. How one novelist made more than $1 million before his book hit stores, Alexandra Alter, Wall Street Journal (March 7, 2013)

Did you read that paragraph? He used Reddit, Goodreads, and encouraged fan fiction and fan art. And he enlisted 30 of his most ardent fans to serve as beta readers of his drafts. And he turned down giant deals from traditional houses until he got the one he wanted.

I brought this article up to you, dear readers, to demonstrate how much publishing has changed even in the past 3-4 years. Savvy indie authors are writing really good books and generating fan appeal and then, if they’ve got Howey’s chops, they’re incorporating their fan bases into their writing processes and promotion, as active participants. And I think it’s important to note how Howey took charge of his writing life, and held out for the deal that worked best for him.

Not to suggest that what happened to Howey is going to happen to every indie author out there. It won’t. That’s the hard truth of writing. Howey wrote a book with a theme that is super-hot right now. It’s fortunate that he loves science fiction and has been reading it since he was a kid. The WSJ notes that the entertainment industry was looking for another “high-concept dystopian” (and/or postapocalyptic) hit like Suzanne CollinsHunger Games. So Howey wrote a great postapocalyptic story and slowly built a fan base by releasing it in installments and working the social media sites. It took off. Kudos to him for how he approached indie publishing, and for what’s happened to him.

That said, the lesson here for all of us who do indie publishing exclusively or non-exclusively is to treat it like a job. Be professional. Put out professional work that is professionally edited. Give it a professional-looking cover. Interact with your fans (both extant and potential), and be willing to lose lots of sleep to constantly promote your work and build that fan base. It’s a win-win. You get to write stuff you love, readers get to read stuff they love. So give them a good product.

And don’t just take any deal that comes down the pike. Think about not just short-term, but long-term as well. Good luck!

Happy reading, happy writing!