When I was whinging to one of my friends at the woes of being unpublished one night in the pub, he suggested I tried podcasting my book. He’d been listening to the podcasts of an American Sci Fi author Scott Sigler who podcasted his book, gained a cult following and got his book published and ended up on the New York Times Bestsellers list. Fab idea, I thought, I could be the chick lit equivalent.
I went through all my possible book ideas, and thought of one that I didn’t mean sacrificing as I knew after I podcasted it and gave it away for free I wouldn’t be able to then sell it as a book if I ever did get published. I then wrote a sample, canvassed friends and family and then recorded and podcasted my very first chapter.
It was really nerve wracking putting my voice on the big scary internet where anyone could hear it. I kept thinking what if my friends or work colleagues found it and laughed at me? But I realised I needed to grow some thick writing skin, as if I got published I’d have the same worries with a published book.
I aimed to write and podcast 20 chapters, with a chapter coming out every two weeks. I’ve pretty much stuck to my timetable, and I’ve so far got 16 chapters on my site. With each chapter being 3,500 words or 15 minutes long I’ve now got 56k words and 4 hours of podcasts.
And what have I learnt so far? That you shouldn’t write a podcast novel called an American Wedding with only one English accented character when you can’t do an American accent. Although I’m sure that adds a certain comedy (cringe) value to my podcast.
On a serious note, I’ve learnt a new way to edit. Reading your work out loud is a tried and tested editing tool for many writers I’m sure, and when I’m initially recording I adapt my words to make it sound better. But listening back to my recording has been just as useful an editing tool; when you hear it back you can hear when things don’t work or need to be rephrased. Plus when it sounds good or flows nicely you get buzz from hearing what you’ve done.
It’s taught me how to stick to deadlines and get into a writing discipline. I publish my podcast every two weeks. I’ve now got it down to a fine art of starting on a Monday night, writing the chapter, editing the writing, recording, editing the audio, and publishing by either Thursday night or Friday morning. Which then gives me the two weekends and the non podcast week to write my work in progress novel .
I’ve also learnt that publishing your novel in any form before you finish it, presents many challenges like keeping track of your characters and plot lines, (the wedding started out with 8 bridesmaids and now has 5-oops) and not being able to change what you’ve written previously. If you write yourself into a dead end, you can’t go back and delete, instead you just have to write yourself out of it.
And has it worked? Well I’m not the Siegler of chicklit, and it hasn’t helped my get published so far. But I have had over 1,000 listens on my site, and around 400 feed subscribers from iTunes. And although it terrifies me to think of who’s listening to me and my cringey accents, I’m pleased that people are hearing my work. One of the reasons I want to write after all is to share my work. As for the other motivations for writing, I’ll share those with you next week.