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

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

The BookPitch Voice, hosted by 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, 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

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.