Is an author podcast for you? An audio file (or video file) that can be listened to (or viewed) on demand, a podcast is a great way to get your work out there, to build a deeper level of engagement with your audience, and to build your platform. Guest contributor David Allen Wizardgold outlines how to create a podcast simply and inexpensively.
Podcasting for Authors
There are a few reasons why you might want to make a podcast if you are an author or a writer. A good reason is that some readers prefer to consume books in an audible form. I like to do this myself, as it is very handy to be able to listen to a story while I am walking my dog.
You could turn your book into a serialised story podcast and gain a whole load of new readers by having your book in a different format. Your podcast could also be a way for you to connect with your readers in a personal way. You could talk about your writing and your story and use it as another way to make it come alive in the minds of your readers. Your fans will actually hear your voice and perhaps feel more like they know you. They will be more prepared to tell their friends about your latest books when you publish.
You could even ask your listeners in the podcast if they would like to suggest what should happen to a character in the next book. If you are writing non-fiction books, then you might talk about subjects connected to your books and give extra value to your readers in this way. So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of how to do a podcast.
Getting Started with Podcasting
Use an external microphone
Get a decent microphone and use it. If you try to use the internal microphone on your computer, you will have terrible audio and will alienate your audience right from the start. There are inexpensive microphones you can get that will make a huge difference. You don’t have to spend a lot of money.
To get the best out of the microphone, you should learn to use a good mic technique. Mainly this comes from positioning of the sound source–your mouth–near to the microphone, but not speaking directly into it. Being close will give you a richer sound, even with the cheap microphones. You don’t want to speak directly at it, or you will get “Plosives” from the “P” and “B” sounds. You should have the microphone just below your mouth, or to the side, so the blast of air coming out as you speak goes over the top of the microphone.
Where to record your podcast
If you try to do the recording in your office where there are few soft objects, you may get an echoed sound, and that is not a good thing. The good microphone technique will help–but not stop–some of the echo from the sound bouncing around.
Sitting on the sofa with the curtains pulled across could be good. Some people record in the car (while it is not moving) to get a decent recording. Another possibility is to record your podcast in the wardrobe–so long as you have enough room in there. Basically, you’re looking for soft things around you to absorb sound, rather than hard surfaces which will bounce it.
Hardware and software for podcasting
I use Amadeus Pro when I record at home with my Samson USB condenser microphone connected to my Mac. If you want free software, you can use Audacity (PC or Mac) or GarageBand (Mac).
When I am out on location, I use a clip-on lavalier microphone connected to my iPhone, recording into Twisted Wave. On Android, I recommend Audio Evolution Pro recording software. I get a good sound, which I can enhance in Amadeus Pro when I get back to the ranch. It is not completely necessary to enhance, but I can get the sound a little bit richer sounding with some tweaking.
The clip-on microphone by Giant Squid is very good. When I use it on the iPhone, I make sure the AGC (Automatic Gain Control) is turned off, and I adjust the gain (the input volume) so that the meter is not peaking. Better to have it a little low rather than losing some of the sound with the tops of the sound waves being clipped. If you set the input gain too high, you will quickly see how bad it sounds.
Editing your recording
When I sometimes fluff my words, I just say them again into the microphone and I can remove the first try in my editing software. You will be able to see the sound wave, so it is easy to select the offending material ready for deleting. It may also be possible to re-record, if you are recording in the same place with the same ambience. If you used too many ummms and errs, you can also delete those. It is better to avoid those types of speech as you do your podcast, and with practice it is possible.
Publishing your podcast
If you have your own website, you can upload the file and let your readers listen by clicking on the embedded player. WordPress with a plugin makes this very easy. However, take care with this approach, because if you get too popular, you could be hit with a bandwidth charge from the web hosting company. Check your web hosting to see what you are allowed on your plan.
You can use a podcast hosting service like Libsyn or Blubrry to get around this problem. There is a monthly fee and you will not get any nasty surprises.
If your podcasts are short, you can use audioBoom or SoundCloud to publish. I like doing the shorter-than-ten-minute recordings to put on audioBoom for free.
Then you have the distribution of your podcasts to deal with so that people can find them. Look into getting them into iTunes and Stitcher, and your audience will be able to subscribe to your podcast using podcatcher software. My favorite podcatcher software on iOS is Overcast. On Android, I use Pocket Casts.
Some helpful links:
- Amadeus Pro
- Samson USB mics
- Twisted Wave
- Audio Evolution
- Giant Squid mic
- Libsyn Podcast Hosting
- Blubrry Podcast Hosting
- Pocket Casts