To podcast or not to podcast...?

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angelisa fontaine-wood

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Hi all,

I’ve looked back through to 2018 and didn’t see this question asked so here goes :

I have recently rerouted my plans from self publishing to querying an agent for representation. A friend well-placed in the entertainment industry (but not literary world) highly recommends starting a podcast to this effect. My life, though, does not readily lend itself to a project like this – it would seriously compromise any time, support, and energy I have for actually writing.

So my question is how much attention do agents pay to someone having a podcast – is it really the advantage that this and other friends are telling me ? Is it a make or break condition ? Or if not a dealbreaker precisely to what degree is social media in general a factor in deciding whether or not to represent someone’s work ? Are there any magic numbers that I should be aware of for listeners, readers, etc. I have a blog of 12,000 views, at least.

I know the landscape out there is different than it used to be but I’m still hoping that the MS will speak for itself.

Thank you so much for any insight you might have into this question!

Angelisa
 

mccardey

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I am not an agent, but I will say podcasts would be great for a podcaster, if their book and their podcasts were pretty closely tied in. But if that's not the case (if, for instance you're not a crime-solving superhero whose book is about super heroes and solving crimes) I think most agents I know would prefer you spend your time and energy finishing, editing and polishing this book while you think about the next book.

You can always give launch interviews on somebody else's podcast. That's what I'd do.
 
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lizmonster

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We're long past the era where podcasts by your average person can get traction. Unless you have a known name, a distinctive idea, AND the money to shell out for professional music and production, I suspect your efforts are best spent elsewhere.

ETA: Your friend's advice is basically "be successful in one part of the entertainment industry, and it'll help you be successful in another." It's probably true! It also ignores the time, effort, and chance involved in becoming successful anywhere in the entertainment industry.
 
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Tavia

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And next you’ll need to start a soundcloud to promote the podcast, and a tiktok to promote the soundcloud... like the others said, podcasts aren’t easy visibility, and visibility isn’t the make or break factor for querying (most genres) anyway.
 

mccardey

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ETA: Your friend's advice is basically "be successful in one part of the entertainment industry, and it'll help you be successful in another." It's probably true! It also ignores the time, effort, and chance involved in becoming successful anywhere in the entertainment industry.
If it is true, it's not as true as the Write Your Next Book Quickly, And Make Sure It's Stonkingly Good advice. (Advice, it may be said, that I have studiously avoided taking....)
 

angelisa fontaine-wood

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Thank you all. I'm very very lukewarm about the idea, at best. There is this enless chain of Tavia's "start a soundcloud to promote the podcast, and a tiktok to promote the soundcloud" - yes.

The podcast would be tied in with the book: My stories are bits of the fantastic woven into bizarre and obscure facts, customs, beliefs that really existed in history. Said friend's idea is that I podcast about the history itself as the world in which these stories are rooted as a way to inspire curiosity about those stories.

The creative side, if it were only a creative side and not even broaching the marketing and the technical aspects, is appealing enough until I realized I spent some four whole days sketching out episodes instead of writing; But then I get told that if I don't do a podcast I will languish in obscurity.

I guess languishing in obscurity doesn't look so bad, after all.
 
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mccardey

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Non-writers do always think writers should write non-books to get their book-writing out there.

Myself, I don't understand this. Chefs don't do non-cooking to get their cooking out there, and no-one expects them to. Advertising, yes. Other stuff, no. And one of the best reasons to trade pub well is that they will handle the advertising for you.
 
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Helix

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If you really wanted to do podcasts -- and it sounds as if you don't, but that won't stop me from commenting! -- they might be a way of promoting the book once it's out. But I would discuss that with your agent and publisher waaaaay down the track.
 
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Nether

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Variations on this advice are pretty common -- start a YT channel, get on social media, start blogging, do a podcast, etc -- however, instead of trying to one hard thing (succeed in writing), it can wind up trying to do two hard things where there's a disconnect between them.

If you have something to say, a podcast or a YT channel is a great way to say it. However, starting a project like that then trying to find something to say has always struck me as silly.

I imagine self-pubbers, etc, who found success in these alternate arenas had the existing interest. And many of the ones who are good at it (both the content and promotion of said content) -- and lucky -- can earn a living just through those other means, at least point they have the leisure to write even if the writing doesn't do well (although, if your interest connects to your genre, you can probably pick up a good readership).

When it comes to trade-pubbing, the biggest difference-maker in your success will be how much the publisher invests in promoting your book. And it's generally going to dwarf whatever efforts you can manage on your own, unless you're a non-fiction author writing in an area of expertise.
 

Fuchsia Groan

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This sounds like a cool idea for a podcast! If your book were nonfiction, I could see this advice maybe holding water (because platform is so important in nonfic), but for fantastical stories, the best “platform” you could have is to sell some to SFF or other literary journals. If they’re linked stories, though, you might be able to query them more like a novel.

You can absolutely query fiction with no platform. It’s not something most agents expect, and I would steer clear of those who ask questions about stuff like follower counts. (Do mention the blog, though, if it’s relevant.) Sure, it would be great if you also had a popular podcast. But achieving that is at least as tough as selling a book, I would guess.
 

angelisa fontaine-wood

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ya'll, thanks! I was really hesitating on the time suck of it all and thought, well, she's closer to that world --if not of it-- than I am so maybe it IS something I have to do, even if I was dubious. Let's just hope the MS (yes, it is linked stories) will speak for itself; I look forward to reading up more in this subforum and elsewhere. I hadn't seriously thought about trade pubbing but I think I'll at least give it a shot (who am I kidding, many, many, many shots!)
 

averyames

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Mostly seconding what everyone else has said. I do co-host a writing podcast and it is a solid chunk of time investment, with very small returns. The podcast market is super crowded right now because it's relatively accessible to start one.

I don't think it was any factor in agent consideration when I was querying. I do ours because I love it - podcasting is more of a fun hobby than anything, so if you aren't personally interested in doing one, it's not really worth pursuing. I doubt it would really move the needle on whether or not an agent offers rep without a substantial following, which takes a massive amount of effort in today's podcasting landscape.