Let me tell you a little story. I grew up in the midwest. I grew up in a medium-sized industry town in the middle of Illinois. It was a place where the majority of people worked blue collar at the plant or were businesspeople or whatnot. The writing scene–the creativity scene–practically didn’t exist. Granted, we had a great liberal arts college with all sorts of brilliant professors, but those doors were closed to me growing up.
Despite coming from a long line of engineers and farmers and accountants, I found my niche in writing. I needed a way to communicate my creativity, so I wrote my thoughts down. In seventh grade, I wrote a story that involved all my friends. Five friends doing awesome things. Kinda like Animorphs (if anyone remembers them). In 8th, I won the city competition for two-page story. In high school, the relationship with my first girlfriend suffered due to my love of writing.
I also played every sport you could imagine, was heavily involved in Boy Scouts, and acted in plays: all of which attributed to my well-roundedness. Being extroverted also helped me connect with just about everyone. I’m an unconventional writer in many ways.
Enter podcasting. Enter video blogging. Enter audiobooking. It shouldn’t surprise anyone when I looked at the possibility of reading my own stuff–or creating a storytelling podcast–and said, “Hell yeah. I can do that.”
I want every step of my journey shared. Every fumble, misstep, and painful lesson. If someday, someone looks at this blog and says, “Yes! I had no idea how to do that!” Or “Crap! I wondered if that’d work!” I’d have done my job well.
This foray into the spoken word, while it hasn’t been a quick learn (which I didn’t expect), has been enlightening, and with my iMac, relatively easy to actually get product to publication. Also, on that note, apologies for the “V-Blog: Audiobookish” post. As Orchid said: “Nobody wants you to read at them.” Quite true. But I found it as something of possible value to others, so I posted it.
But there are differences between Podcasting, Video Blogging, and Audiobooking. Several differences. Allow me to extrapolate.
Quick note: this blog post is geared toward those of us who currently pursue self-publishing. Indie publishers or big publishers will absolutely want to know what you plan to do, if you pursue any of these three methods of communication/advertisement. Be certain you aren’t negating contracts or stepping on toes before you begin this journey. (Also, most big publishers will get someone to read your book for you, as an audiobook)
Podcasts are fun. They are the next evolutionary step of “radio shows,” where individuals (or companies) create podcasts based on certain topics, ideas, whatnot. The most successful podcasts involve multiple people talking, whether they’re interviews or storytelling, with a heavy dose of good electronics and experience. Let me repeat: they are seen as radio shows. This being said, you can say anything you want on them. You can read your blog, you can read your book. You can even post an audiobook AS a podcast.
As a creative writer, this is a powerful tool for multiple reasons.
- It is a great way to get your work to a unique set of “readers:” the commuters. This expands accessibility.
- You have the opportunity to shine in a way you couldn’t otherwise shine: great storytellers aren’t necessarily great advertisers for their books.
- Connectivity to other writers via invitations to guest talk, interviewing new writers on recently published books, etc.
- Teasers for your upcoming novel release: post three chapters as podcasts on your site, and you give the “commuter” something to taste before you publish.
- Sound bites are amazing for tweets, blog posts, and Facebook shares.
- Who knows: this might be a better medium for you to work. You won’t know until you try it!
- This is a great opportunity to connect socially. We writers sometimes have a difficult time connecting due to the nature of our work. Wouldn’t it be great to find a community of podcasters mutually interested in hearing what you have to say?
It’s fun. It’s enjoyable. It is a hobby that can easily take up a lot of money and time to develop. The 5 by 5 podcasting group has a great “getting started” series of podcasts (how meta. I know) you can listen to in order to understand the process better. He goes into the technicalities of equipment, gear, environment support that will work wonders in improving your podcasting. Also, as I’ve done, if you want in on this whole scene, start listening to podcasts. A lot of them. Just like writers read to understand books, a podcaster must listen to understand podcasting. You’ll learn a lot if you approach it with a critical ear.
Great podcasts (I’ve found) for my line of work is Invisibilia, NPR Radiolab, TED Radio, and Stylus. I listen to these daily. If you’re into a more storytelling podcast, The Moth and Risk! (or Welcome to Night Vale) are very enjoyable (and often emotional) stations, although I don’t find any value in Night Vale.
Video blogging is SIMILAR to podcasting, but it isn’t necessarily the same. A v-blog CAN be a podcast, and a podcast COULD be a v-blog, but not always. For example, YouTube is rife with political talking heads discussing the news channels discussing the government (or, if you’re especially lucky, just talking circles around talking points). If you randomly take one video series,
The Young Turks Russell Brand’s “The Trews,” you’ll see him talking into a camera about current events (usually on his bed. Not awkward), with a great amount of enthusiasm and solid editing and all that. Take my Audiobookish blog post. Technically that is a v-blog. If I did it every Sunday, and did it with a specific topic area, it’d be a series.
So what is so great about this version of communication?
- It visually puts you in front of the Observer. Some people have a good face for it, some people have a good voice for it, and those who have both certainly benefit from this. Lots of lady v-bloggers out there become highly successful because they’re so much fun to watch (My Drunk Kitchen, anyone?).
- If you’re talking about a specific product or style–say, extreme vegan tacos, or one-handed arctic survival–visually showing the Observer the how-to is much easier to do than from a podcast. Plus you can set it up to be visually pleasing, which is all some people need to click.
- YouTube has its own scene of dedicated Observers. Its own platform, if you will. And some don’t listen to podcasts at all.
- It’s a method that’s easier to do, from an amateur standpoint: a simple monitor camera (or camcorder. GoPro, anyone?) is all you need to set up a v-blog. If you’re a casual blogger, this kind of thing every once in a while is a great way to spruce your page up.
- If you’re a gamer, Twitch.tv. That is all.
As a warning: this method can easily become much more expensive than podcasting. On top of a good mic, you need a good camera. If you don’t have a camera, that’s just one more piece of equipment you’d have to buy (or borrow) to make this viable.
Great v-blogs I’ve seen include the two previously mentioned along with all sorts of how-to videos on YouTube. If you’re a particularly gifted (or dedicated) creative writer, I’ve seen some sexy “book trailers” on a blog here and there that would give your product (book) a visual appeal.
Last but not least is the audiobook field. This is different than podcasting and v-blogging insomuch as it is considered its own “product,” a finished thing that the owner can stick a UPC on and sell like a book, or with the book, or whatever. Podcasts CAN be an audiobook. V-blogs CAN have an audiobook read (like my Audiobookish post. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’ve got some spiffy animation/filming skills) during the blog. But they’re separate because I see them as product.
Audiobooks are severely limiting in content. While most authors also read their books into a mic, to distribute to readers, they don’t actually expand on the original content. Vice versa, if you wanted to discuss your book, the audiobook area isn’t where you’d go. You’d possibly do it via podcast, and incl ude it with the other “tracks.”
Audiobooks are great for the same reasons podcasts work: they reach an audience that would otherwise be unable (or unwilling) to read your work.
Audiobooks can also become expensive: if you don’t have any theater-types or clever readers, you might be stuck doing all the parts. And while I love doing the guy parts, ladies simply don’t sound right with my gruff falsetto.
Don’t be afraid to try any of these areas out. Find a way to record your audio and delve into the different ways to improve the quality, get it on the internet, improve content, etc. Test-record yourself on your tablet or computer camera. Read your words back to yourself: it not only gives you the opportunity to hear yourself talk, but it’ll also point out the difficult sentences, as well (and maybe even inspire you). It won’t hurt you to test the waters.
Most creative writers who podcast also v-blog and publish audiobooks. You can do it all, if you have the time and dedication.
Finally, let me know what you come up with. I’d love to follow fellow bloggers who are interested in similar things.