Jilly: The Joy of Podcasts

Are you a fan of podcasts? I’m a recent convert, and I’m wondering what took me so long.

Some of my friends are dedicated podcast followers, though with interests very different to mine. I enjoy chatting with them about their favorites, but I never thought to seek out shows that might align with my own interests, because I couldn’t think of a natural place in my routine to listen to them.

The obvious time would be during a regular journey such as a school run or commute, but I don’t have either of those. My commute is from my bed to the sofa, with a detour to the kitchen for coffee 🙂 . I have my groceries delivered and though I have a car, I rarely drive it more than once or twice per month. I’m not a gym bunny either. If the weather is nice I like to walk around my neighborhood or to the local shops, but I use that time to listen to my playlist and think about my WIP.

I don’t follow a rigorous schedule like Nancy (click here to see how our most super-organized Lady manages her time), but if I don’t have other commitments, my days follow a pattern. I write first, because mornings are when I’m at my most creative and energized. I keep going until I run out of time or diminishing returns start to set in, which usually happens early to mid-afternoon. Then I have something to eat, maybe take a walk, and work on emails or social media or projects related to the publishing side of writing until it’s time for dinner.

That often leaves me with an hour in the evening, maybe two or three, when my hands don’t want to do any more typing and my brain doesn’t want to be given specific tasks but is quite receptive to thinking more generally about writing. I don’t mind watching a screen, but most of all I want somebody to talk to me, for words to roll over me and sink in, for me to digest and think about later.

Sometimes I’m in the mood to stay close to my WIP, to think about the characters, or plan the rest of the series. Other times I might want to think about something contemporary and commercial, to nibble away at the gazillion things I need to know (and don’t) about the business of publishing and marketing fiction.

If I’m in a story frame of mind, I’ll most likely check out one of Ruth Goodman’s experimental history DVDs. It’s fabulously helpful for world building to watch present-day historians and archaeologists living like ordinary people from a past era and offering a running commentary on their findings (click here to find out more). So far I’ve watched Goodman’s Tudor Monastery Farm and Secrets of the Castle series, both great fun and highly recommended. My next treat is Tales from The Green Valley—more farming, but this time as life would have been 400 years ago, during the life of King James I.

Lately, though, I’ve been in more of a business frame of mind. My watchword for this year is PUBLISH! and I want to arm myself with information about the business of publishing—covers, blurbs, copyright, titles, launch strategies, keywords, ads, algorithms and the rest. I don’t need it just yet, which is good because there’s so much to learn. I’ve been choosing a subject or two per evening, and after investing half an hour or an hour each night I’m already feeling better informed and more confident.

I’ve been picking and mixing between three free podcasts offered by successful indie authors:

  • Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing Formula (click here for iTunes preview)

More than seventy podcasts to choose from, including interviews with romance writing superstars Marie Force, Bella Andre and Barbara Freethy, an excellent overview of what makes a great book cover, how to deal with criticism from editors and readers, and the next one on my list: working with your spouse (I have plans for mine) 😉 .

  • Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn (iTunes preview here)

More than 40 interesting and informative interviews on all aspects of writing and publishing. I particularly appreciate that Ms Penn is willing to share her own annual goals and to break down her earnings.

  • Lindsay Buroker’s Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing (iTunes preview here)

Ninety-nine episodes and counting, from three multi-published SF&F authors. The style is informal and chatty, very laid-back and with fun, interesting guests. They offer lots of practical and up-to-date information about how to “establish your author brand, increase the size of your audience, and sell more books!”

I’d strongly recommend any or all of the above to anyone wanting to know more about the business side of writing and selling books. I’m planning to branch out and listen to other author and publishing-related podcasts too, but I’m also wondering whether I should mix up these useful presentations with some more generally interesting and/or thought provoking offerings.

Are there any other podcast enthusiasts out there? I’d love to broaden my choices. Do you have any recommendations?

9 thoughts on “Jilly: The Joy of Podcasts

    • I know! Never enough hours in the day 😉

      Gym or dog-walking wouldn’t work for me (if I had a dog) because at that time of the day I’m trying to keep my fiction blinkers on, but if it fits with your routine I say it would be time well spent. The nice thing is that they’re self-contained packages of information that fit neatly into a half-hour or hour activity.

  1. I love the idea of podcasts, but I don’t seem to remember as much when I listen to something, as compared to when I read something. That especially holds true when I’m also doing something else, like walking or driving. Evidently I have very limited ability to multi-task! It’s a pity, too, because there’s a lot of great information to be had there. How terrific that you’ve found these resources.

    • I’m not great at multi-tasking either, Kay! If I’m walking or driving, I usually play my Alexis playlist, which is just background music for my brain. It doesn’t require active listening.

      I also find reading is more effective, or taking notes while I listen, but mostly I’m listening to these podcasts at the end of the day, as a gentle wind-down. I’m just trying to absorb and internalize the big picture–impressions and ideas that I’ll probably revisit in more detail at a later date.

  2. Cleaning time (if it’s quiet) might be a good time to listen to podcasts, too. I can’t listen when I’m cooking, washing dishes or vacuuming. (-: To be honest, I don’t clean that much anyway.

    I used to listen to some dramas and some craft podcasts on my commute, but now I only want to listen to music.

    I’m really excited about Buroker’s podcasts, though, and I would like to give those a try.

    I’m not sure about the UK, but there are money management podcasts aimed at US taxpayers out there. (-: Not that you’d need them with your background, Jilly! But some writers might benefit from a basic financial tutorial or two (or fifteen).

    • Cleaning time!!! I prefer to avoid that where humanly possible 😉 . Cooking time is a good idea–I might try that.

      I think you’d like Lindsay Buroker’s podcast. The content is useful but the tone is very fun and informal, like listening to a group of smart friends chatting and sharing know-how.

      I wouldn’t mind some more creative or thought-provoking choices. Definitely not money management or tax–got that covered, thanks to my past life. I can imagine a writer with a different skill-set might find that kind of talk incredibly useful, though.

      • Do you suppose the tax chores between the US and the UK are very different? I suppose in the US, there’s a lot of state-by-state stuff. I’m nowhere near making any money from my writing, so I feel like I’m putting the cart very far ahead of the horse by discussing this. But, I’m in an odd position. I *think* anything I make in the US would be foreign-earned income for Japanese tax purposes, and domestic (I don’t know the term) taxable income for US tax purposes. I kind of shudder to think how I’d have to handle it if I sold something to an Australian magazine or something.

        I’m vaguely aware that I might be able to take off the price of pencils and colored markers and index cards (and possibly a percentage of my computer) if I save the receipts, but I don’t know how that works at all. I don’t even know if I should save the receipts for things I purchase for the blog (which I have done, but then wound up not using, so it’s all a moot point).

        (-: It might be a future blog post. But “all situations are different” so maybe not.

        • I’d guess the need to keep good records and save your receipts is universal, but the actual filing requirements are very different. I’d say in the UK we tend to establish general principles and work out the fine details (like how to deal with pencils and markers) as a matter of custom and practice. Kind of a common law/case law mentality. In the US things tend to be more prescriptive, and of course, you have state and federal requirements to think about.

          I believe one of Jeanne’s Ohio RWA chapter-mates, Donna MacMeans, is a CPA who offers workshops on tax for US writers. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen articles in past editions of the RWA magazine, and she has a workshop at RWA National in Orlando called ‘Donna’s Top Ten Tax Tips.’ Maybe not the most thrilling workshop on the list, but invaluable!

        • Thanks for the name! My sister is a CPA, but she doesn’t deal with writers, per se. But I bet she’d do a little digging for me if I actually had some money to work with.

          This really would make a good blog post. I wonder what the tipping point is? At what point does “pizza money” become something that you need to worry about withholding and receipts and everything? (-: I should find out more.

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