|WRITERS EMPOWERED: Indie publishing podcasts deliver the blueprints for success.|
Prolific indie scribes like Amanda Hocking, Hugh Howey and JA Konrath have given legions of wannabe writers the confidence needed to pursue their dream of being published. Those trailblazers proved that circumventing the Big Five could be done. Throw in Amazon's direct printing subsidiary CreateSpace and the proof is further in the pudding: Never has there been a time where the average Joe can sustain a healthy living as a full-time writer.
In fact, in a recent rant post, Konrath unleashed some venom towards the traditional model of publishing:
"If the Big Five think that e-book sales aren't continuing to eat away at paper sales, or that more and more authors are choosing to self-publish, or that Barnes & Noble will be around forever, or that they can relax because the tech revolution is over, they are whistling past the graveyard, and I don't give a shit.
What I do give a shit about is newbies buying into the continued nonsense that finding a publisher is the only way to succeed. The religion parallel applies here as well. There are a bunch of fat cats happy with the status quo, and they keep recruiting the naive, the hopeful, the uneducated, much like missionaries bringing bibles to the third world, getting the savages to kneel at the altar. Savages who wind up no better off (or even worse off) once they convert.
Legacy publishers NEED authors to feel that they're the only way to succeed. Because without authors, the Ponzi scheme of publishing (the few successful writers supporting the entire infrastructure, including authors who aren't successful) collapses. ...
... Let me make this crystal clear: AUTHORS DO NOT NEED PUBLISHERS.
It is 2014. All the forms of distribution open to legacy publishers are open to indies. We can reach as many ebook retail outlets as the biggest legacy publisher, and we can reach them faster and better. We can control our prices. We can control our titles, cover art, and content. We can also get into bookstores... "
That said, there is hard work involved. The modern writer needs to know much more than plot structure, pacing and dialogue. Creating your digital platform, navigating social media, maintaining a mailing list (complete with auto-responders) and becoming your own PR guru that would make Sydney Falco jealous is what's expected these days. It's a lot of heavy lifting.
So where I am going with all this? Last year, I wrote my first novel - a pulp for the FIGHT CARD series and now I'm working on a follow-up of collected flash fiction pieces. Naturally, in doing all this, I wanted to make sure that I had as much knowledge and exposure possible. The more I searched online, the more information I found. There were oodles of scribes doing exactly what I wanted to be doing and it was empowering. And the kicker? They were all (pretty much) following the same basic principles.
I soon turned to searching for podcasts for more information. And man, there were plentyof independent and self-publishing shows that are doing a spectacular job of creating blueprints for millions of writers. I couldn't get enough.
As someone who's listened to all of them, I figured I'd create a handy directory and my overall thoughts. In no particular order, here's a simple rundown of the self-publishing podcasts and why you should be listening.
(Many have asked me how I listen. It's easy. I bookmark ALL of these shows into the STITCHER radio app. Every time a new podcast posts that I subscribe to, it's waiting for me to be streamed in my queue. I'd be lost without it. Of course, these can aso be listened to via desktop as well as certain YouTube channels.)
Host: Simon Whistler
Overall vibe: Hands down, the most professional-sounding and best produced of the bunch, Whistler's approach is wonderfully conversational (he's also a professional audio book narrator) and the longer length of an hour-plus is definitely an advantage - especially if you want something more than the average 30 minute show. Whistler, who interviews a varied selection of different kinds of authors (he skews toward fiction), is coming up on a year of doing these podcasts and boy, they've become a favorite of mine. (Disclosure: I was a guest on Simon's show soon after I discovered it. To this day, it remains a favorite)
Extras: Simon also has a great writer resource page, detailed show notes and an incredible/extensive how-to video on building an author website (this one is a must for newbies). What's more, Whistler approaches each interview by specialty or subject matter and not rehashing advice from indie publishing and marketing gurus. This is what makes his podcast extremely refreshing.
Hosts: Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant and David W. Wright
Overall vibe: Make no mistakes, these guys are the rock stars and pre-eminent gurus of the indie publishing world. In fact, they've even written (like must gurus on this list) a bestselling tome on publishing success called "Write. Publish. Repeat" (a must read, btw). Over four-hundred positive reviews on Amazon can't be wrong.
Sure, there might be some complaints that their show is a tad too laid back, unorganized and lax, but if you can get through the initial chit-chat, they certainly get into the self-publishing weeds and that's where they bring the heat. Their publishing consistency and savvy have made them the go-to source for thousands of wannabe scribes. It works.
Extras: To show just how ballsy they are after a successful Kickstarter campaign, Platt, Truant and Wright recently got enough funding to let the world watch them conceive, conceptualize, outline, write, edit, polish, perfect, dress, publish and market a book — all in 30 days. Like I said, rock stars.
Tools: The guys provide one of the best resource pages online. Bookmark it because it's a must.
Host: Tom Corson-Knowles
Overall vibe: Corson-Knowles is all business. The guy has built a mini empire on teaching people how to make money online as authors and each week he gives us a guest who is successful in book biz. His owns titles include "Secrets of the Six-Figure Author," "The Kindle Publishing Bible," "Facebook For Business Owners," "How To Make Money With Twitter" and "The Kindle Writing Bible."
One tiny gripe: I imagine I would love the show even more if there wasn't a distracting echo that seems more prominent on the podcast on not the vidcast. A decent mic or headset would probably remedy this.
Extras: In addition to his useful podcast, Corson-Knowles is the founder of EbookPublishingSchool.com and has a great blog on timely publishing trends.
Host: Joanna Penn
Overall vibe: If there is a grand dame of indie publishing, then Joanna Penn is it. This self-made and taught 'authorpreneur' has an incredible amount to offer and her essential podcast should be regularly bookmarked. Need more proof? Penn, who sports a soothing and dignified British accent to boot, is also a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, voted one of The Guardian UK Top 100 Creative Professionals 2013, and voted one of the Top 10 Blogs for Writers for three years running and named one of the Top 10 Blogs for Self-Publishers in 2012. Impressive.
Extras: Her web site is way more than a mere landing page for her platform. Penn, who also practices what she preaches, shares just about every aspect of her writing journey and offers up a slew of material and resources breaking it down to three comprehensive categories -- writing, publishing and marketing.
Hosts: Jim Kukral and Bryan Cohen
Overall vibe: One of the newest shows on the block is quickly becoming my one of my favorites. This dynamic duo has a great rapport and their zippy format is really a refreshing take on these podcasts. Each week, the pair focuses on different trends in the industry as well as the Top Five publishing stories and break them down one-by-one. For example, this was covered in just one episode:
- How Bryan hit the top 25 in the Amazon Kindle store
- How to use a rolling KDP Select Countdown Deal
- What some authors are using to build their email lists
- How to create a book bubble and how it could help you
- The top Kindle ebook reading city in the U.S.
- Why Jim agrees with J.A. Konrath on the Amazon-Hachette matter
- What makes indie authorship a good business model
- How many authors are earning a living through Kindle
Extras: Are there ever. Kukral is a 18-year Internet marketing professional who was named by Dun & Bradstreet as one of “The Most Influential Small Business People on Twitter. Also, he is the founder of AuthorMarketingClub.com, the popular community that provides book marketing tools and training for authors.
Cohen and his website Build Creative Writing Ideas continually helps authors to conquer writer’s block and come up with new projects. He's also the creator of Bookshibition, a company that sets up social media events for authors.
Host: Shawn Manaher
Overall vibe: From building your author platform to selling more books with e-mail marketing, the shows are well-rounded and highly informative.
Extras: Manaher's site, Book Marketing Tools, is extremely professional but may lack some personalization other sites have. Nonetheless, it's set up as a bonafide author marketing portal with links to the podcasts as well as other useful tips to help the indie author.
Host: Chris Bell
Overall vibe: The podcast extension to the Indie Author Help Desk is another great show (albeit with the oddest opening) with a longer format. Why great? Because Bell interviews indie authors and not necessarily like-minded publishing gurus - which, for me, is always a better selling point.
Extras: In addition to free self-publishing tutorials, The Indie Author Help Desk offers author services from editing to marketing to platform creation.
Host: Nick Thacker
Overall vibe: Extremely professional with top-notch sound. Major props to Thacker, who, in a recent podcast, acknowledges the writer's lonely existence and has even broached the topic of writing through depression and the overall blues. We've all been there so it was extremely heartfelt.
Extras: High-quality resources which include a free 20-week online writing course, a page that includes links to what Thacker calls the Power 100 (useful web sites for writers) and tutorials on using Scrivener software. With over 200 articles on self-publishing, Thacker's online writing portal should be bookmarked.
Hosts: Wade Finnegan, Carl Sinclair, Trish McCallan, John Ward, David W Wright and the 'weekly' guest
Overall vibe: What started out as an informal Twitter coffee klatch has morphed into a must-listen (or watch) every week. The show has gone through a few tweaks and changes but now remains a solid show that features the best in the biz on a weekly basis.
Extras: While the podcast's platform doesn't offer much in the form of extras, it DOES offer extremely informative blog articles on almost every aspect of indie-publishing. These are not to be missed.
Let me know ... Have I missed any shows? Which are your favorites and why?
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