Start Listening to the Publishing Insiders

I’ve been subscribed to Penny Sansevieri’s “Book Marketing Expert” e-zine for some time now, but for some reason I only recently discovered her new “Publishing Insiders” show on BlogTalkRadio. It’s well worth listening to if you’re at all interested in the world of publishing.

A note about the BlogTalkRadio website: when you go to the show’s web page, the latest episode starts playing automatically. I personally find this more than slightly irritating, but if you grab the feed for your podcatcher, you don’t actually have to visit the website again.

Whether you want to know about Booklocker’s suit against Amazon or how to get your book reviewed, you can find out by listening to this show, which also introduces you to some lesser-known publishers who want to hear from first-time authors.

How to Avoid Self-Publishing Mistakes—in One Minute

George Smyth’s One Minute How-To podcast challenges us so-called experts to tell listeners how to do something in one minute. He picked the topic for this one, from a range of possible publishing-related tips. I had to use a written crib sheet to be sure I could cover all the important points in the allotted time.

Naturally, it’s not possible to do all this in one minute.

  1. Read Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print and Sell Your Own Book. Try to get the most recent edition.
  2. Visit the SelfPublishing.com website. Read the FAQ. Listen to the Publishing Basics interviews.
  3. Make sure you know the difference between self-publishing (which means printing the books yourself) and POD (Print on Demand), which has a higher per-book cost.
  4. Get an ISBN if you plan to sell the book from anywhere but your own website or garage.
  5. Hire a professional copy editor and typesetter/book designer.
  6. Use BookSurge if you want to sell your POD book on Amazon.
  7. Don’t self-publish if your aim is to get into the large bookstore chains. It can be done, but it’s very difficult.
  8. Look for a local independent publishers association, and join it. In the Bay Area, for instance, we have the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association and Book Builders West.

If you’ve had experience with self-publishing, feel free to add your own suggestions to this list.

Listen to the podcast here.

How to Pitch Podcasters

In my experience, pitching yourself as a podcast interview subject is very different from pitching your book to a publisher or getting on television, with one exception: you have to do your homework.

Pitching your manuscript to a publisher requires a formal proposal containing certain elements, such as a marketing plan and a competing and complementary books section, in addition to sample chapters. Talk-show hosts like Jay Leno have very specific guidelines for would-be guests, along the lines of “You must use our e-mail submission form and you must send video a particular format.” And, of course, for print media coverage, there’s the traditional press release and its social media variants.

Take a Personal Approach

Because most podcasts are a personal and informal medium, most podcasters are suspicious of marketing-speak and press releases, especially if the pitch looks like something that’s been sent out on a massive scale. Most podcasters have small, vocal audiences, people who think of them as friends and who will let them know in no uncertain terms if they don’t like a show. There’s a strong sense of community among podcasters and listeners, and when it comes to doing interviews, podcasters prefer people who are part of that community to people who aren’t, unless the interviewee is extremely well-known.

Like bloggers (and many podcasters are bloggers), podcasters are as likely to lambast a bad pitch to their listeners as to simply trash it and ignore it. To learn what not to do, take a look at the Bad Pitch Blog.

Picking Podcasts to Pitch

In April 2006, FeedBurner reported that it was publishing 44,000 podcast feeds. That’s good news: it’s a pretty safe bet that whatever you’re writing about, someone is podcasting about it. And no, you won’t have to listen to all 44,000 in order to know which ones to pitch.

Remember the audience profile you had to create when you created your book proposal? You want to find podcasters whose audiences are the same as your ideal reader. These are more likely to be podcasters who talk about the same subjects as your book than “book review” or “literary” podcasts, though you shouldn’t overlook those, either.

To find podcasts on the right subject, check out podcast directories like iTunes and Podcast Alley, which allow listeners to rate and review podcasts. Read the descriptions and the reviews and make a shortlist of the most likely candidates.

And, of course, don’t overlook any podcasts you’re already listening to.

Joining the “In” Group

So what do you do after you’ve gone through and found the highest-rated podcasts on subjects related to your book? First, listen to the podcast. Better yet, subscribe to the podcast and listen to several shows. Read the show notes and the comments. Find out whether interviews are a regular part of the show. (Some shows feature interviews every week, others occasionally, and some not at all.)

Next, start commenting. When you leave a comment on the show’s blog, you can enter the URL for your book instead of your home page for some subtle self-promotion, but the important thing is to respond thoughtfully to something in that episode. Write a paragraph or two that continues the conversation and shows that you know what you’re talking about.

Genuine Connections

While podcasters don’t necessarily expect people they’ve interviewed to listen to every show from then on, they’ll shy off anyone whose interest seems too self-serving. Just because a podcast has a lot of listeners doesn’t mean that you’ll like the show or the podcaster. If you don’t, don’t try to fake it in order to reach a potential market for your book. Make sure the podcast and its host(s) are a good fit for your personality before you try to line up an interview.

It’s That Simple

You’ll probably have to do this more than once before the podcaster asks to interview you, but if what you say is interesting enough to the listeners (who will usually hear it read out in the next episode as well as having the opportunity to read it on the show blog), the podcaster may contact you immediately. If not, keep listening and commenting for a few shows, and strike up an e-mail correspondence with the podcaster.

Once you’re sure that the podcaster and the listeners know who you are and find your comments interesting, volunteer yourself as an interviewee. And as long as there’s enough time before the interview date, send the podcaster a copy of your book. Even if the interview isn’t about the book itself (and it probably won’t be), having the book in hand helps the podcaster to come up with interview questions.

Keep the Discussion Going

Naturally you’ll want to listen to the episode with your interview in it, but don’t stop there. Check the show notes to see what listeners have to say about the show. Is there anything you can pick up on and respond to?

It’s also a good idea to listen to the next episode for more feedback, and to send in any answers you have to questions which might have come up. Some questions might come directly to you, but many listeners feel more comfortable dealing with the podcast host(s).

If enough listeners want to know more, you might get invited back for another interview.

Side Benefits

Some podcasters also review books. Indeed, there are book review podcasts out there, and it doesn’t hurt to search for them. A podcaster who likes your book might also write up a short review on the show blog and include an Amazon affiliate link.

One of the nicest things about podcast interviews, though, is that you can link directly to the episode from your own website without having to worry about how to handle the audio file at your end. (Very often, though, podcasters will give you permission to repost the file on your own site if you wish to do so.)

Best of all, though, you don’t have to go through layers of screening to get access to a podcaster—which is part of why podcasters have such dedicated fans.

Lessons from Novelists, Part II

The introduction to “The Secrets: The Podcast for Writers” bills it as “the podcast for anyone who’s serious about writing,” and despite the focus on fiction in general and sci-fi/fantasy in particular, there’s a wealth of useful information for nonfiction writers and authors as well.

“The Secrets” is the brainchild of Michael A. Stackpole, a science fiction and fantasy author with about 40 published novels to his name, many of them set in the Star Wars® universe. Even though I’m an avid reader of genre fiction, I hadn’t heard of him before I started listening to his podcast, so I started checking his books out of the library to see whether he was as good in practice as his theory sounded. And yes, he is, or as close as anyone is likely to get.

Here are just a few of the useful tips in the ten regular and fourteen special editions of the podcast so far, broken down into tips for writing, tips for editing, and tips for marketing.

Writing/Subject Matter

The ability to use language well spans genres, but many of the techniques discussed under this heading pertain primarily to fiction, such as story arcs and character development. Still, if you write memoirs, biography, or “dramatic nonfiction,” these are skills you need to develop. Others apply to any kind of writing, definitely including business books.

Read Widely

And that means widely. Read outside your area of specialty. Read outside your own areas of interest. Even the tabloids have something to teach you—about human nature, and about crafting effective headlines. These insights are essential for character development if you’re a novelist, but popular magazines also show you what readers are hungry for if you’re writing how-to and self-help books.

Separate Evergreens from Fads

Going back to those tabloids—if you look at them over a period of time, you can easily find out what sells year in and year out, season after season, as opposed to what’s trendy for a few months or a year and passé ever after.

Right now, for instance, podcasting is hot, and everyone and his brother (funny how it’s mostly men) is publishing a book about it. By now the publishers are saturated, and not likely to take another book on the subject unless it’s got a really unusual twist.

Communication, on the other hand, is an essential part of human existence and business. The principles of good communication are important whether you’re sending smoke signals or bit streams.

Never “Phone it in”

Whether you’re writing your own book or a chapter in someone else’s, give it your best. The people who are paying for the book your work appears in deserve your best—and you want to encourage them to seek you out elsewhere.

What to Write Next

While you’re shopping book number 1 to the agents and publishers, or waiting for it to come off the press, what do you work on next? Unless the publisher has signed you up for a series, you might be better off not writing the sequel to the first book. If the first one doesn’t sell, the publisher isn’t likely to buy the second. Instead, work on something different which has a good chance of succeeding. If nothing else, it will get you a reputation for versatility.

Editing

Editing your own work is hard. As a freelance editor, I naturally incline to advising people against even attempting it. On the other hand, I do it all the time for my own articles, so it would be wildly hypocritical not to pass on these very useful tips for editing your own work, especially in an era when publishers provide far less editorial support than they used to.

Don’t Revise While Writing

This is a tough one, at least for me, but if you start revising every sentence while writing it, you’ll get to the end of the day and have nothing done at all. Write first, edit later. If necessary, make a note to yourself about changes you need to make (if, for instance, you realize several chapters into a book that you have to add something to Chapter 1 in order for Chapter 5 to make sense). This is also the key to writing quickly.

Edit in Hard Copy

Retention goes up enormously when reading print on paper rather than on the screen. Print your manuscript so you can catch the little mistakes you wouldn’t see when reading on the screen. Having a hard copy printout is also a prerequisite for the next technique.

Don’t Edit at Your Desk

Dividing your mindset between author and editor is challenging. Help your brain by giving it cues. When you’re at your desk, you’re writing. When you’re away from your desk, you’re editing. Pick up that red (or blue, or purple, or whatever you want so long as it’s easy to distinguish from black) pen and make your corrections sitting in an armchair, on the sofa, or at the dining room table—but safely away from your computer.

Always do a 2nd and 3rd draft

No matter how smoothly it flows when you write it the first time, rewrite it. Once you’ve set it aside for a few days, printed it, and edited it, you’ll have a much easier time rewriting than if you tried to start over again immediately after finishing the last sentence.

Spelling and Grammar Count

This warmed my pedant’s heart, but it’s true. Whatever you write, wherever you write it, you look more professional if you use correct spelling and don’t make glaring grammatical errors. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your word processor’s spelling checker will fix everything, either. Get a human being to do it.

Marketing

One of the most important things to know when preparing to sell a book to a publisher is what already-successful book it resembles. (This is the “competing and complementary books” section of your proposal.) Find several people who are familiar with the genre/field in which your book is written and ask them to read your manuscript and complete the following phrase: “In the tradition of…” Whether your book is in the tradition of Alan Weiss or of Stephen King, that phrase will tell publishers who is most likely to buy your book.

Signings

While straightforward book signings are not necessarily an author’s best marketing tool, there are ways to improve your success. One is to time your signings to tie-ins, such as holidays or local events relating to your book’s subject. Another technique is the “drive-by signing,” where you stop by a bookstore and offer to sign their stock of your works. This encourages the store to put up a special display and add little “signed copy” stickers to your books, and it doesn’t take very long.

Keep a Bookstore Mailing List

Instead of spending a fortune sending postcards to thousands of individual readers, put bookstores on your print mailing list and stick to electronic announcements for your readership at large. Particularly if you’re published by a major house, it’s the bookstores you need to sell to in order for readers to have a chance to discover your new book when strolling down the aisles of Barnes and Noble, Borders, or the local independent bookstore. It’s also bookstores and libraries which have author-events like readings and signings.

Free Sample=Obligation

If you give away part of your book in the form of blog posts, PDF chapters, or as a “podiobook” recording, it will promote your sales, not cut into them. People who get a free gift feel a sense of obligation. Not everyone who reads the sample chapter or listens to an episode or two of the podiobook will buy a brand-new hardcover, but chances are that even if they don’t, they’ll mention it to someone who will, or at least buy the paperback or ask the library to stock it. Most people don’t want to read a full-length book sitting at a computer—and printing it out will cost as much as and be more trouble than ordering it from Amazon or stopping by the local bookshop.

For more information about Michael A. Stackpole’s writing, including his “Secrets” newsletter, visit www.stormwolf.com.

Lessons from Novelists, Part I

In many respects, the worlds of fiction and nonfiction are very different. One of the most notable differences, from the author’s perspective, is that nonfiction books are usually sold on the basis of a proposal and written afterward, whereas a novelist needs a completed manuscript before approaching publishers. (This requirement may be waived for those who have published several successful novels.)

There are some other differences, as well, the biggest being that the quality of the writing, rather than the value of the content, determines a novelist’s success. Novelists don’t necessarily have to establish themselves as experts in a particular field, but they do have to be able to create believable characters, worlds, and dialogue.

But there are some very important things that aspiring—and even established—nonfiction authors can learn from an unexpected, even counter-intuitive source: the podcasts of two science fiction/fantasy authors.

In starting with Tee Morris’  “The Survival Guide to Writing Fantasy,” I’m actually approaching these two podcasts in reverse order relative to when I started listening. Tee’s is the newer podcast, with only four episodes so far—which means it’s fresher in my mind and easier to sum up in a short article.

Put Your Book on Your Business Card
These days it’s easy to get double-sided business cards printed inexpensively, and for authors, it’s definitely worth doing, particularly when you’re talking to bookstore owners, librarians, and others who might order your book in bulk. Put your regular contact information on the front and the book’s cover, ISBN, and any other important information (like the URL, if the book has its own domain). If you have multiple books, you’ll need multiple sets of cards. It’s most often the newest book you’ll be promoting at any given time, so you may not want to order too many cards at once.

What to Expect at Conventions
In the world of sci-fi and fantasy, “Cons” are a big deal. Although I read mostly sci-fi and fantasy myself, I’ve never actually attended a Con. I did once found myself in a hotel bar with a bunch of Klingons—the hotel was hosting a Star Trek convention at the same time as the conference I was there for.

While Cons of this sort may be unique to genre fiction, every industry has its conferences and expos, and professional organizations of all descriptions have annual meetings. The 2005 Portable Media Expo and Podcasting Conference found itself side-by-side with a Port-a-Potty convention. Whatever you write, you have readers (or at least potential readers) at conferences and conventions. If you speak on a panel or lead a workshop at one of those conventions, you’ve got a great opportunity to market yourself and your book.

Some of Tee’s points about Cons:

  • Decide how far you’re willing to travel.
  • Follow up repeatedly on your original approach to the program organizers.
  • Don’t expect the show’s organizers to pay all your expenses unless you’re a Big Name.
  • Do expect to get your admission to the event covered.
  • Conference organizers talk to each other, and if you behave badly, your chances of getting invited to present at other events is very small.
  • Make arrangements for separate events with local bookstores ahead of time (and be sure they have your books in stock in case you haven’t brought enough yourself).

How to Arrange Bookstore Signings
First, a warning: if you’re self-published, the chances a large chain bookstore will be interested in stocking your books are very small. Therefore, the chances that Barnes and Noble and Borders will want you to come give a talk or do a signing are very small, and unless you already know the staff personally, don’t waste your time on them. Instead, find local independent bookstores and local public libraries.

Then call the bookstore and ask for the person who arranges events, then provide that person with the title and ISBN of your book and the name of your distributor. (Even for independent bookstores, you do need an ISBN and a distributor.) Offer to do a signing/reading/seminar. (For non-fiction, seminars and lectures are probably more effective than straight readings.)

How to Approach Reviewers
The fourth podcast in the series focuses on getting—and writing—book reviews, online and off, with the always-important reminder to check the submission guidelines before you send a book, and some tips on what to put in the cover letter and when and how to follow up.

Never Talk Back to Reviewers
Ever. Even if they get the facts wrong. If you get a bad review, live with it. This is not just because all publicity is good publicity, but because any response to the reviewer, public or private, is only going to make you look worse. On top of that, it could alienate the reviewer and the editor of the publication s/he writes for, making your chances of getting your other books reviewed there nil. (This is actually a recap of part of Episode I.)

How to Create a Good Podcast
Tee is actually one of the authors of Podcasting for Dummies, but I’m actually referring to the example he provides. “The Survival Guide to Writing Fantasy” is a great promotional tool for Tee as well as a source of useful information for writers of all kinds. It helps, of course, that he’s a trained actor with a great voice for radio, but that wouldn’t matter much without the effective structure, valuable information, sense of humor, refusal to “dish”, and desire to hear more from his listeners. He’s even slipped a “commercial break” into the middle of the show in a non-disruptive way. The “commercials” are for other sci-fi podcasts, so they’re appropriate to the subject of the podcast and actually likely to be of some interest to listeners.

I’m not sure I’d recommend imitating the Marine Corps/Gomer Pyle intro, which sounds longer every time I hear it, even though it’s actually well under 30 seconds.

Where to Find “The Survival Guide
To read about “The Survival Guide,” visit http://www.teemorris.com/blog/. To subscribe, paste the following address in your podcatcher: http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheSurvivalGuideToWritingFantasy.

In Part II of this article, we’ll look at “The Secrets: The Podcast for Writers,” by Michael A. Stackpole.

© 2005 Sallie Goetsch

Dramatizing Your Nonfiction Book

Many novelists dream of selling the film rights to their books for big money. Certain kinds of nonfiction, like memoirs, true crime, and political exposes, are also popular with Hollywood. In most cases, however, publishers won’t be interested in the film rights for your cookbook, business book, or how-to.

But don’t dismiss the performance possibilities of such a book too soon. It’s possible, for instance, that your how-to book has the makings of a TV series. There are whole cable channels devoted to cooking and many other popular Do-It-Yourself shows. If your book lends itself to such a treatment, tell your publisher up front. For one thing, it can increase your advance. For another, publishing houses probably have more of the resources and connections needed to get such a show off the ground.

Video Options
Just because your book is unsuited to a full-length film or prime-time TV treatment (or the studios just haven’t been interested) doesn’t mean video isn’t an option for you. Anything that you would demonstrate live in a presentation or class based on your book (or the presentations or classes on which you based the book in the first place) can be turned into video, either for sale on its own or as a marketing tool to show potential readers how valuable your book is.

Video for Marketing
You can use almost any video camera to create short video clips to publish on your book’s website or upload to your book blog. The homemade quality can actually act in your favor, because it conveys authenticity: here is a real person using these techniques in his or her real office/kitchen/workshop. If you include other people in your demonstrations, make sure you get their permission—in writing—before you publish the video. (This is even more important when you’re selling the video, but private individuals have the right to say where pictures of them will be shown.) And don’t forget to include a shot of the book, its title, your name, and ordering information in the clips.

Digital video formats can be a tricky thing, what with issues of cross-platform compatibility and the need for browser plug-ins. If you create it in Windows MovieMaker, Mac users won’t be able to watch it, and so on. But with the spread of broadband and the advent of the video iPod, there are more and more options for creating and distributing video online. The VideoEgg Publisher allows you to upload video files or send video directly from your video camera, webcam, or mobile device. It then converts the video into a Macromedia Flash file and provides you with a player link for your website. (Visit www.videoegg.com for a free demonstration.)

Video for Sale
If you want to sell the video version of your book on a CD-ROM or DVD, you’ll want to invest a bit more in things like lighting, sound equipment, professional camera people, and editing. A nearby university or college such as Emeryville’s Ex’pression College for Digital Arts (www.expression.edu) may be able to provide the facilities and people you need on a non-Hollywood budget.

If your book is about computers, full-motion screen recording software like Camtasia (www.camtasiastudio.com) makes it easy to create step-by step demonstrations. This can be much more effective than still screen shots interspersed with text. You can use your book just as it’s written to create a voice-over to accompany the video demo.

Podiobooks
This funny-sounding word was coined to describe audiobooks released as podcasts instead of on CD or cassette. (I suppose if you released your book videos this way, that would create a Vodiobook.) To create a podiobook, you just read sections of your book into a microphone connected to your computer. (I recommend Audacity, a versatile free tool for recording and editing audio files. Get it at http://audacity.sourceforge.net.) Then you upload the file to a host like Podiobooks.com or to your own podcast blog. Recording a chapter a week doesn’t take much time.

If you don’t want to give away your whole book for free, you can still create a podiobook by reading shorter selections from different chapters, just enough to get prospective buyers interested. Or you can read some of the material that got cut during the editing process, or new related material you’ve discovered since the book was published. As with the infamous Google Print (now Google Book Search), it’s up to you how much of your material you release at once. As with the videos, remember to tell listeners how to buy your book.

Creating a free podiobook isn’t likely to damage either print sales or your chances for selling the rights to a professional audio recording, unless you’ve got a terrific home studio and the right kind of performance background, and want to spend hours editing, adding appropriate music, etc. (And if you do all that, by all means sell the CD or full-length download.)

Audiobooks are convenient for commuters and auditory learners, but that doesn’t mean listening entirely replaces reading. For one thing, it’s hard to look things up in the index or track down a particular quote with an audio (or video) recording. And you can’t underline the important parts or look at the tables and illustrations. If your podiobook subscribers like what they hear, they’ll buy the print version for themselves, their friends, and their colleagues.

Just because Hollywood isn’t going to option your business book doesn’t mean it can’t be a star of stage and screen.

© 2005 Sallie Goetsch

Publishing and Podcasting

In the publishing world, POD usually stands for Print on Demand, a technology which lets you print books in small quantities so you don’t have to store thousands of them in your garage and pay large up-front fees for more traditional self-publishing.

But POD has another meaning: Play on Demand. That means watching or listening to media when you want it. When you tape a television show to watch later, you’re creating POD media. Play on Demand is the prinicple behind TiVo. It’s what put the “pod” in “iPod” and “podcasting.”

Podcasting, the latest development in web radio, lets listeners subscribe to shows and automatically download the latest MP3 files to your computer so you can transfer them onto a portable media player and take them with you wherever you go. Podcasts have taken off like gangbusters in the past year. There are now more than 15,000 podcasts in the iTunes directory, with more than a million people listening to them.

What does all this have to do with publishing? More every day. There are podcasts for writers, podcasts by writers, podcast about writing and publishing, and podcasts which interview authors and/or review books. Even publishing houses are jumping on the podcasting bandwagon. So get yourself an MP3 player and some “podcatching” software and start listening to boost your career. Here are some recommendations to get you started.

Podcasts for Writers

These podcasts aim to guide writers in understanding the publishing world or becoming better at their craft, or both. Several follow an interview format, providing listeners with the inside story from publicists, reviewers, agents, editors, writers, and publishing houses. Others are monologues where successful authors share their tips for success. There’s a lot of really useful information in these podcasts about the business of writing, and the hosts and guests are interesting.

Conversations with Experts: How to Build Your Business On and Offline, hosted by Denise Wakeman and Patsi Krakoff of Blog Squad fame, is not strictly a publishing podcast, but has included many experts in the publishing industry. Sign up for the free live teleseminars at http://www.conversationswithexperts.com.

Publishing Basics Radio, sponsored by Selfpublishing.com, “Helping You Navigate the Self-Publishing Minefield” (available as MP3, QuickTime, Windows Media, and RealMedia)

The BookPitch Voice, hosted by BookPitch.com CEO Patricia Kelley

The Publishing Coach from Bill O’Hanlon (only four episodes, but all useful) provides tips on platform, finding a unique slant, and persisting until you get a publisher

The Secrets: the Podcast for Writers is the creation of science fiction author Michael A. Stackpole, but his suggestions on career-building for authors apply to any genre

The Writing Show, with host Paula B, “Where Writing is Always the Story”

Book Review Podcasts

These may be MP3 recordings of public radio book review shows, such as KCRW’s Bookworm or Australian National Radio’s Books and Writing, but some of them are web-only features, such as Bookbuffet.com, Authors Without Limits, Bill Thompson’s Eye on Books, and Pinky’s Paperhaus. These are the podcasts you’ll want to include in your Virtual Author Tour. (More about those in a future article.)

Authors Without Limits

Bill Thompson’s Eye on Books

Bookbuffet.com

Books and Writing

KCRW’s Bookworm

Pinky’s Paperhaus

Podcasts by Writers

Some writers become podcasters in order to build up their readership in advance of publication, or to market their books after publication. Podcasting usually requires about an hour of preparation and an hour of editing for every hour of recording, so it’s not for every author. Used well, however, it’s an effective promotional tool, and less expensive than many options. Podcasting seems to be particularly effective for marketing fiction. Scott Sigler initially billed Earthcore as “the world’s first podcast-only novel.” The book is now available in paperback.

Dr Norman Norton’s “Death of the Author” podcast

Free Podcast Novel

Scott Sigler’s Earthcore

Michael Connelly

Podcasts by Publishers

Major publishers like Holtzbrinck and Simon & Schuster are starting to produce their own podcasts to help them market books. These publisher podcasts provide audio excerpts from new books from the house’s different imprints and occasional interviews with authors and editors. If these two are successful, you can be sure other publishers will follow in their footsteps.

Holtzbrinck (6 podcasts: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Self-Help, Spotlight Title, and Special Events)

Simon & Schuster’s Simon Says podcast

Don’t let confusion about terminology and technology keep you away from this exciting new development in the publishing industry. Free software like iTunes, Odeo, and Juice (formerly iPodder) , which all work on both Mac and PC, will let you subscribe to these podcasts and download the MP3 files. You don’t need an expensive iPod, either: any MP3 player will work, or you can listen right on your computer. Your PDA is another possibility for playing audio files.

Get listening. Get recording. Get yourself out there.

The Author-izer Joins the Ranks of Shameless Self-Promoters

As I mentioned in my FileSlinger™ Favorites Blog a short while ago, one of my favorite podcasts is Heidi Miller’s “Diary of a Shameless Self-Promoter.” Heidi has been asking listeners to send in their “two-second teaser” introductions (that’s the really, really, really short version of your “elevator speech”), so I submitted mine: “I turn [fill in the blank] into authors.” Heidi liked it and put a post up on her Talk it Up blog about it.

I’m absolutely thrilled that she did this, of course. Even better, she included the same information (including her battle with my name— “Goetsch” actually rhymes with “sketch,” but I should have warned her about that) in yesterday’s podcast. I hadn’t even listened to it myself yet when someone who had heard it phoned to ask me about my services.

Heidi endeared herself to me immediately (as if she weren’t already one of my favorite podcasters) not only by approving my “2-second teaser” but by liking the names “Author-izer” and “Collabowriter.” (I’m rather fond of them myself; for one thing, it took me days to come up with them.) She refers to an article by Branding Diva Karen Post on inventing words for your brand. I hadn’t heard of Karen before this, but I’ve just subscribed to her newsletter.

One interesting point Heidi brings up is that people think they know what ghostwriting is all about, so if you’re a ghostwriter, you might be best off not coming right out and saying so in your 2-second teaser. I’m asking readers: do you agree? What do you think ghostwriting is about?

Also, feel free to submit your own 2-second teaser on Heidi’s blog. You, too, could get mentioned on the air and have prospects phone you out of the blue.