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?


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:

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 on Friday, October 10 at 6:00 pm EDT. I hope you will tune in!

Writer’s Block Rx

by Michelle Gagnon

Recently, since NPR seems to be running an interminable series on African leaf cutter ants, I’ve devoted much of my commute to listening to podcasts instead. And thanks to a tip from a friend, I’ve become hooked on one that’s absolutely genius, and perfect for writers and/or fans of the craft (or anyone, really): The Downey Files. Created by the Chris Downey, former writer and producer for the TV shows The King of Queens and Leverage, the description says it all:

“Welcome to ‘The Downey Files,’ a brand new weekly podcast that explores the half baked pitches and movie ideas Chris has scribbled down on beer coasters and cocktails napkins through the years. Each week, Chris sits down with a new guest to hash out these ideas in full and, you guessed it, hilarity ensues.”

My favorite episode is “The Weekend,” where Downey and Kirk J. Rudell hash out the plot of a father/daughter heist film in just under an hour. And you know what? By the end, they‘ve pitched a movie that I’d pay $10 to go see. Listening to them spitball ideas back and forth, it struck me that as novelists, a format like this could prove invaluable. After all, virtually every television show has a room full of talented writers collaborating on each episode; even for films, frequently outside writers are brought in to “punch up” a script.

Yet we novelists sit there all by our lonesome, trying to muddle out plotlines without little or no outside assistance. How many times have I prowled back and forth between my office and the refrigerator, trying to figure out how to rescue “X” from peril in a wholly original way? I’m frequently downright desperate for a fresh pair of eyes, and there are only so many times you can hit up family and friends.

Imagine that the next time you’re hopelessly stuck on a plot point, you were suddenly given the opportunity to throw half a dozen people at the problem, with everyone brainstorming a solution together. I’m convinced that if there was a team available to push me through the inevitable ruts in the road, I could probably shave a month off the time it takes to write each novel. And with all that newfound spare time, perhaps I could help other writers surmount their blocks. And so on.

This might be a pipe dream-I’m just spitballing here myself, after all. But I think there’s something to this idea. Maybe we could form a “Writer’s Block Helpline,” or start a listserv. I’m open to any and all suggestions- and if you get a chance, check out the Downey podcasts. You won’t regret it.

Podcasts, Research and Marketing

by Clare Langley-Hawthorne

Ever since I purchased my iPhone and iPad a year and a bit ago, I have become a podcast junkie. I listen to them in the car, while cooking, even while walking the dog, if the mood so inspires me. I simply cannot imagine my life without listening to podcasts (of course, that might also be because Australian radio totally sucks!) After our recent blog discussions on ‘discoverability’ and the ebook revolution, I started thinking about all value of podcasts in terms of research, marketing and publicity for authors. Although I haven’t (as yet) done my own podcasts, I can definitely see a role for them in the future for many authors.

Already I find podcasts are a great source of research and ‘idea generation’ – granted that is probably because, as a writer of historical fiction, I find the BBC History Magazine, BBC Witness, History of the World in 100 Objects and British Library podcasts so invaluable. I can be driving in my car when suddenly I hear a segment and I think – wow, file that away for a future novel!

I also hear about a good many books that I end up purchasing via podcasts. It might be a review on the New York Times Book Review podcast or on an NPR podcast or it might be through an author interview. Though it is just as hard to get these review/publicity opportunities for authors, I do think the wealth of podcasts out there widens the options for many authors seeking to publicize or discuss their novels.

Which leads me to the plethora of author options when it comes to podcasts. These include doing some yourself (either interviews or book readings) or appearing/speaking on other people’s podcasts. There is even an option of publicizing author book tours this way ( Such as the Tattered Cover bookstore’s authors on tour live podcast or Barnes and Noble’s video podcasts). Apple even has its own “Meet the Author” podcast series and, for mystery writers the ‘Behind the Black Mask‘ podcast series. I am sure this is just the tip of the podcast iceberg…and so, as I delve further into the podcast opportunities that abound, I’d like your feedback…
  • Have you incorporated podcasts into your marketing or promotional efforts, and if so how?
  • Which author/writer podcasts do you listen to?
  • Are there any podcasts that influence your book buying decisions?
  • How do you think authors might be able to use their podcasts to help increase their ‘discoverability’? (Secretly I am hoping my sexy Australian accent will by ticket to my success:)!)
And finally, TKZers, what do you think? Maybe we should expand our repertoire into podcasting?