The Pros and Cons of Podcasting

Elvis Elvis

It’s probably clear by now, that I really like my pro and con lists and that I’m a very Type A personality. If you’ve read a lot of the site, you’re probably having nightmares about pro and con lists chasing you down dark alleys.

Originally I had planned to podcast my novels. It’s still something I think would be a lot of fun to do, but after evaluating my current workload (insane), and the additional workload and learning curve to produce a quality podcast (the only kind a Type A like me would want to produce), I’ve decided that at least for now, podcasting isn’t on the agenda. Maybe at some point in the future, because it’s got a lot of good potential.

Okay, pros first:

1. Fun.If it’s your cuppa, doing audio can be a lot of fun. I did an internet talk radio show once for a little while, and I loved it. I’ve had little fantasies about doing a podcast, because the internet show was completely off the cuff, and with a podcast I could prevent saying some of the completely ridiculous things I’ve said. Then again, probably that was the appeal, and a podcast would kill it.

2. Break from writing. Podcasting can give your brain a rest from being in constant writing/editing mode. (Except that now you’ll be in constant recording/post-production mode. But you’ll get to say things like: “I’m in post-production on my podcast right now” and how cool is that?)

3. Podcasting community. There is a whole podcasting subculture and community to draw from and participate in.

4. Build a reader base/sell more books It’s great for marketing, either to build an audience in general, or to promote and help sell the print release. Having the book available in print from the beginning means that each week a certain segment of your listener base, if they like your stuff, will decide they have to have the book now and see how it ends.

The Pros and Cons of Podcasting

Free content helps entice and build fans who may later buy paid content (such as the print release), Even if they don’t buy, they might tell five of their friends, and one or more of them might end up buying.

5. Audio connects with people. When you release fiction in audio you connect with your readers in a more personal way, especially if you yourself are doing at least part of the narration, and that fan connection is important for sales growth, because so much of what drives sales for fiction is word of mouth. You need fans who are really excited about your work and feel connected to it, to drive that.

6. Builds fan community. Releasing fiction in a serial episode format, allows a community to build around your work and allows fans to talk amongst themselves and speculate about what’s next. (This may work better if you don’t release the print version until toward the end of the book.)

On the other hand…

1. Podcasts are a lot of work.I’ve got friends who podcast or have podcasted in the past and it amazes me the level of work and time that goes into producing these things. I’m not opposed to hard work, but ebooks and print books and websites and etc are all hard work too.

At some point, the work load just becomes too much and you have to pick your battles/projects. For many writers it comes down to just not having the time to indie produce fiction twice. With an ebook and print release, those are two different formats (sometimes more than two, if you have several e-formats), but they are essentially the same skill set, and in the same neighborhood. A lot of times it’s not going to take many tweaks to get a file from one ebook format into another.

But the workload for a podcast is like writing a whole new novel, except it’s the same novel. Because now you’re recording it and editing it and distributing and marketing it. (Though your marketing itself won’t be much more work than any marketing you may already be doing for your non-podcasted fiction.)

For me, right now, the question becomes: “Do I want to podcast this novel or do I want to be able to keep up a sane production schedule and have the energy for writing the new stuff?” I may eventually find a way to fit it all together, and I know for many writers it’s a perfect fit. But I just stand in awe of the novel podcasters, because I just don’t know how they do it.

2. Podcasting also requires a different skill set. Do you have a good voice for audio? Do you have a good ear for audio? Can you do dramatic readings? Not every writer is a voice actor. Even if you aren’t you could still theoretically do a podcast, you’d just have to find voice talent. But then you’ll still need to be able to do the editing in post-production, and also be able to manage a team of voice actors and figure out how to compensate them in some way for their time and help.

There are a lot of benefits to doing a podcast if it’s the right fit for you. The cons to this are mainly just about time factors and an honest evaluation of your skills in this area.