On the rare occasions that I don’t have my nose buried in a book, you’ll likely find me listening to one of my favourite bookish podcasts. A brilliant medium for book lovers, there are podcasts a-plenty for people with a penchant for literature. And if you’ve ever fancied launching your own, I’ve spoken to some of the very best podcasters in the business, to find out their top tips for getting started.
From Alice from The Stories that Changed my Life‘s technical advice, to Nicole from Shelf Life‘s tips on editing, to Michelle from Better Words‘ guidance on listening widely, to Alice-Azania from The Sunday Salon‘s encouragement when it comes to going off-piste, read on for a comprehensive guide to starting your very own podcast for book lovers.
Never be afraid to make a start
The idea for Shelf Life came to me in the middle of the night last August. It seemed, at the time, a ludicrous idea so I just shrugged it off. Then I chatted with some friends and they encouraged me to give it a go. I’m so glad that I listened, too!
Editing is fun but it’s also hard work
There is a great programme called Audacity that’s free to use. This is what I use to edit each podcast episode. If you record over Skype, there’s a great add-on called Call Recorder which records the audio. You can then just import that file into Audacity to edit the episode. It’s certainly fun to edit and see the final product, but on average, it can take a full day to edit one episode. Be prepared to carve out time to edit your podcast episode.
Define your aim
It’s key to consider what your aim is with creating a podcast. If you’re planning to interview guests and release one podcast a week, this will need a lot of organisation, so do think about your content carefully.
Don’t get too bogged down with the technical stuff
There are literally thousands of blog posts and YouTube clips about how to get started in terms of equipment and editing. Take a little time to listen to and think about the book podcasts you listen to regularly and why you like them in particular. Is it the style? The content? How can you adopt their best practices and apply them to your own podcast? There’s never been a better time to be creating audio content – so if you’ve got an amazing idea, go for it!
Read, read and read some more
I read a book a week, and thanks to networking and connections in publishing, I’ve had the incredible privilege of interviewing some amazing writers. There are so many wonderful authors, from all walks of life, with beautiful stories to share with the world. Expand your reading list and read as many books as you can.
Listen to a variety of podcasts
One of the biggest pieces of advice for aspiring writers is to read widely, and podcasters should follow the same rule of thumb. It would be a hard feat to make a podcast without being heavily invested in the medium. Like with books, listening to dozens of podcasts will help you figure out what works, what doesn’t and what you want to try in your own work.
Decide on a format or niche and honour it
Just like running a successful blog, podcasting works well when you define your niche and create content for your ideal listener. Before you start your podcast, consider what style of podcast you’d like: a chatty conversation or something scripted. Better Words is very chatty, and its niche focusses on empowering interviews with creative people. It can be scary to ‘limit’ your range through a defined niche (even though only you have to know about it), but it will create a much deeper relationship with your audience. Similarly, if you start your podcast and then decide to take a new direction that’s perfectly fine! Just communicate with your audience.
Enjoy the endless options
Podcasting is such a wonderful medium which is really just becoming mainstream. The exciting thing is that you can pretty much give anything a go. There is always room for a new take, for your unique perspective on a topic. Enjoy the endless possibilities and the chance to let your creativity run wild.
Find a niche
Absolutely everyone has a podcast these days, right? Whether you like poetry, prose, or political philosophy, there’s a podcast for you. So, before you take the plunge and launch your podcast, think very carefully about your USP. What are you going to create that’s different to everything else out there? Would you want to listen to it? Is it really exciting/groundbreaking/fun/Interesting? There are a lot of podcasts featuring author interviewees, so what will make yours stand out?
Variety is key
Try to shake up the style, genre, and subject matter. The topics featured on The Sunday Salon change from episode to episode; one week it’s a book about vaginas, then it’s poetry, then its literary fiction, chick lit, memoir….etc
Ask what you’re interested in
Don’t think “Hmmm, now what SHOULD I ask this person?”. Ask the questions you’re burning to hear the answers to. And ask authors whose books you want to read. It’ll be a million times more interesting for everyone if you’re highly engaged.
Don’t go in with an agenda, or with a list of questions you doggedly plan on sticking to. Have that list – but go in prepared to go off-piste, and follow-up when someone says something interesting.
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