In Which I Pimp a Podcast

"Writing" © 2010 Jonathan Reyes

"Writing" © 2010 Jonathan Reyes

I listen to a number of podcasts1 on a regular basis. One of my absolute favorite podcasts—one that, when I see it download, I immediately listen to it if I’m able—is Writing Excuses. It is hosted by Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells. Their tagline says it best: “This is Writing Excuses: fifteen minutes long because you’re in a hurry and we’re not that smart.” (But they really are that smart, so it’s, like, irony.)

They occasionally have guests on the show to talk about various topics. The guests in the most recent episode (Season 5, Episode 28: E-Publishing) were Tracy Hickman and David Farland (a.k.a. Dave Wolverton).

All of that link soup is merely a lead-in to tell you the source of the quote I’m about to use from the podcast. It was one that stood out for me the first time I listened, so I restarted the podcast, listened to it again, and this time transcribed what Tracy Hickman said.

Dan (I think) asked Hickman what advice he would give for self-publishers to be successful. His answer was as follows.

Forget about the idea of mass audience. Get rid of the idea of mass audience and deal with individuals. You need to contact people individually, and that’s why things like virtual tours—virtual blog tours—are so important. You need to get in touch with the readership. You need to find the audience. And you find that through the gateway of people’s blogs and personal connection with them. I think that the old time of the old school book tour where you go and fly to some book store in San Francisco and sit there with ten people is done. I think people don’t do that anymore. And book stores—brick and mortar stores—are having enough trouble as it is. What is the case, though, is that you have to concentrate on reaching your audience one on one, and that means going on virtual book tours. That means having a website that is open to people communicating with you, and engaging your audience in a conversation. If you engage your audience—not in a sales conversation, but in an intimate, personal conversation—then they will read your words, and your words will come to life. Your words do not live or breathe until someone reads them and puts life to them and so you need to have the intimate, personal connection with them. So it’s not about mass audience. If there’s one piece of advice I’d give to anybody: it’s about you making a connection with every individual who is going to read your book—at some level—online. [Emphasis added]

And that’s a very good point. I can write and write and write and (I hope) get better and better . . . but until and unless someone gets2 to read my words, I might as well be shouting into a hurricane for all the good it’ll do me.

The “personal connection” thing I think I have. After all, I have this handy-dandy website right here just waiting for people to read it. I have samples of my work up for people to read, and I’m relatively easy to contact (or will be when I get the email for this site working like I want it). So there you go.

I just thought it was important to put those words in bold up there somewhere that I could find them to remind me why I write: because I think I have a story to tell that other people might find interesting.

Oh, and if you’re not already, do listen to the Writing Excuses podcast. If I had to recommend just one podcast for aspiring writers like myself, it would be that one. I’ve learned a lot from Brandon, Dan, and Howard.

  1. Where that number is 81, plus five new evaluations ongoing for “new” ones (to me). Of those 81, I’m “catching up” on 10 of those (i.e., I am downloading new episodes, but listening to them from episode 1, and I’m not up to current, yet). A good many are monthly or on indefinite hiatus at the moment. Of the full 86 (counting the five in evaluation), a whopping 26 deal with writing, reading, books, fiction, language, grammar, and the like. And that doesn’t even count a few that could have gone either way, so it’s probably closer to 30.
  2. “Gets” sounds like it’s a privilege, and some might consider that arrogant. I don’t mean it that way, though. Anyone who reads my blogs or any of my work does so because they chose to do so. I meant it as a stern reminder to myself that no one can choose to do so unless I choose to make them available.

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3 Responses to “In Which I Pimp a Podcast”
  1. Marcia says:

    Regarding that quote: I think Hickman is both right and wrong. Right in that yes, it’s about the individual connections, and that writers need to allow the readers to get painfully close to the story/characters.

    But wrong about the online nature of it. The idea of intensive online marketing to increase one’s audience is seductive, but ultimately it’s one fo the best ways to procrastinate. There are only so many hours in a day, and spending that time creating free web site content and engaging with one’s potential audience means there is less time to write words for which a writer might eventually get paid.

  2. StoryChuck says:

    I love Writing Excuses and eagerly listen to it first if it’s in my queue!

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