Radio, TV and Podcasts

Nancy J. Cohen

I haven’t ventured far into the world of podcasts, radio interviews or TV appearances. As an author, I’d rather spend my time writing the next book. Nonetheless, I’ve done a few radio spots via telephone, but I don’t seek them out. Somehow the thought of a microphone or camera aimed my way with hundreds of invisible listeners makes me nervous.

A telephone interview can be fun if done with a dynamic host who knows all the right questions to keep things flowing. The interviews I’ve done to date have gone well in this respect. But I’m wondering how these shows serve the reader and if they’re worth the time spent.

Do you listen to these shows? Have you ever bought a book based on an author interview you’ve heard/seen on the air?

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Do any of you listen to podcasts? Do they influence you to follow an author’s social media sites? Buy his books? Or do you just tune in to learn what you can and then move on? Are podcasts essential to one’s media kit?

For those of you who’ve done these types of appearances, have they led to other valuable contacts? Have listeners responded? Besides the publicity, did you gain an upsurge in sales? Or did you merely enjoy the experience?

One of the speakers on “Radio for Writers” at a Florida Chapter MWA meeting recently stressed that the story isn’t about your book. It’s about you as a person and your journey as an author. Finding that unique angle or local slant is what would interest her as a reporter. See her tips for authors here: http://nancyjcohen.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/radio-for-writers/

So what’s your take on this whole live media business? Is it worth pursuing or is your time as a writer better spent working on the next book?

Speaking of radio interviews, I’ll be appearing at http://www.authorsontheair.com on Friday, October 10 at 6:00 pm EDT. I hope you will tune in!

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A Transmedia Plan

by Clare Langley-Hawthorne

Last weekend I attended the Willamette Writers Conference in Portland, Oregon and there were some great speakers who really helped open my eyes regarding the nature of the media and publishing industry today. 

One such speaker (Luke Ryan) gave a terrific presentation on what he termed  ‘transmedia’ and the need for writers to think beyond their ‘box’ (be it novel writing or screenwriting). He defined the term ‘transmedia’ as (and I paraphrase) ‘a narrative built across multiple platforms that grows exponentially with little repetition of content’. In other words, as writers, we need to be aware of all the different forms of media that could carry pieces of our narrative/story and which engage audiences in their own unique ways. We are in essence world builders and, as such, given the current state of the media and publishing industries, we need to think ‘outside the box’ if we are to grow our brand/story and readership. 

Makes sense, right? It’s also pretty daunting when you think of all the media platforms available. For writers like us some of the key media platforms might include things like:

  • Film
  • TV
  • Graphic Novels
  • E-books
  • E-book ‘shorts’/or serialization (see Jim’s post yesterday)
  • Graphic Novels
  • Apps
  • Social Media
  • Audio books

That’s a vast array of options for a writer but the key message I took away from Luke’s presentation is that we need to consider our work across these forms of media and identify ways in which these other elements might factor into building the ‘world’ we have created in our novels. 

The other key message I took from Luke’s presentation is that this does not mean merely reproducing or repeating content across various forms of media – because readers are hungry for fresh, unique content. An author should therefore look at their work across a continuum of media opportunities. You might have written a thriller but then produce a series of unique e-book shorts that focus on a minor (yet intriguing) character within that book. You might also work with a graphic artist to produce a series of graphic novels that involve stories from the main protagonist’s past. In each of these different mediums you are producing new content which nonetheless feeds into the core story (your thriller).

After listening to Luke’s presentation I was both excited by the myriad of possibilities for my own work and also (I admit) overwhelmed by them. However, I learned that, as writers, we must always be thinking about unique opportunities to bring readers to our stories, to rise above the ‘noise’, and to provide great, unique content that supplements the main stories we write. So I wanted to ask all you TKZers, how do you envisage tackling a ‘transmedia’ platform for your own work? Too overwhelming or are you already ahead of the curve and have a ‘transmedia’ plan of attack?


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Still Better than Google

by Mark Arsenault

Today TKZ is thrilled to welcome author Mark Arsenault, a Shamus nominee and former newsman. Booklist gave his latest release LOOT THE MsortofstandingOON a starred review, describing it as, “a top-notch crime novel.”

We all remember the newspaper, right? That once ubiquitous part of daily life, now on a fast slide toward an exhibit at the Museum of Obsolescence, where it’ll join the butter churn, the buggy whip, and customer service? (For binary-only types who can’t remember the newspaper, it was like a daily printout of the on-line news. Pretty handy!)


Well, the newspaper still whups the laptop as a fireplace starter and a birdcage liner, and here’s one more—the old fashioned newspaper is the best tool I’ve found for researching historical fiction. For time periods dating as far back as 150 years or so, old newspapers preserved on microfilm beat the Internet as a research tool, and that includes the digitized archives some large newspapers offer on-line. And, no, I have not been hanging around at the polyurethane convention.


When I’m researching a time period for a fictional setting, I might scan old newspaper headlines for factoids, but what I’m really looking for is the advertisements. You can learn a lot about life in another era by what people were buying and selling.
I’ve been researching life on the East coast around 1917 to set a novel. It was a fascinating time period, just 36 years after the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, yet people talked on telephones and drove sporty little cars. How can I be sure? Because I found a great advertisement for the Davis Light Six Roadster, a bargain at $1,095, featuring adjustable seats for “the utmost comfort in motor travel.” For an additional $700, the Hudson Super-Six could top 100 miles-per-hour.


A picture in a bike advertisement shows me that bicycles have barely changed in more than 90 years. I can infer from a dentist’s ad that “pain-free” was a still a selling point in 1917, something we take for granted now.


lootthemooncover I would have guessed that men carried only pocket watches in 1917, but there are also ads for wristwatches with glow-in-the dark “Radiolite” dials. On one old page I recognized a character I’ve known all my life: Mr. Peanut, the tuxedoed nut who peddles for Planters. I had no idea Mr. Peanut was WWI vintage.
Old newspaper ads reveal the attitudes of a culture. Americans in 1917 were modern and naïve at the same time: People played phonograph records back then, went to the movies and drove big Cadillacs. They also paid good money for miracle pills and powders that claimed to cure everything.
Gender roles are obvious in this text from a chewing gum ad: “The high salaried secretary of the big business man knows how important it is to keep her high-strung employer well supplied with Adams Pepsin, the original chicle gum. So she keeps it where he can get it at once without having to ask.”
That pitch probably wouldn’t sell much gum today.


Many libraries keep old newspapers on microfilm. You have to use the microfilm viewer machine, which I call The Vominator because it can make me seasick. But that’s a small price for such a rich resource.


Microfilm may seem too primitive when you can literally download photos from Mars to your phone, but just imagine all those newspages as one big, searchable database. You just search through them one page at a time.


This November’s edition of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine will have a short story of mine set in 1973, a very groovy year. The 70s are my favorite time period for fiction. I love the clothes, the slang, the hair, the cars, the crazy politics. With the Watergate coverage, the 1970s may have been the high-water mark for American newspapers.


Does anyone else have a favorite time period for stories? What makes it your favorite?

Mark Arsenault is a Shamus-nominated mystery writer, journalist, runner, hiker, political junkie and eBay fanatic who collects memorabilia from the 1939 New York World’s Fair. His new novel is LOOT THE MOON, the second book in the Billy Povich series that began with GRAVEWRITER, a noir thriller praised for a fusion of suspense, humor and human tenderness. With 20 years of experience as a print reporter, Arsenault is one of those weird cranks who still prefers to read the news on paper.

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