I just read about two novelists in San Francisco who produced serial podcasts of their novels one chapter at a time. Along the way, they acquired thousands of raving fans of their work and attracted agents and publishers eager to sign them. Prior to that success, one author was turned down by hundreds of conventional publishers.
Author Scott Sigler likens his fans to “junkies” because “they keep coming back for more. ” Sigler’s junkies helped one of his books climb to number 7 on Amazon.com. Interestingly enough, fans were willing to pay $24.95 for a published book that they had already listened to on podcasts.
Fans have also contacted Sigler with corrections and technical assistance for his writing. He says the feedback has improved his work, and refers to the process as “Wiki publishing with 30,000 authors.”
What can other writers learn from this story?
* If you want to attract conventional publishers, you need to be a known writer. If you can show that you can grow a fan base online, they will take notice. Conventional publishers know their current business model is becoming obsolete and are open to creative ways to promote.
* Podcasting your work might be a novelty at first and get attention from a few. But to really grow an audience, the work has to be really good and you have to be willing to interact with your audience. It’s a lot of work, but way less work and less expensive than a conventional book tour. And the reward could be a worldwide audience.
Could this strategy work with nonfiction?
* It could, if the topic lends itself to serialization. Podcasts for a nonfiction work could also include additional research on the topic, background stories of the work, or interviews with other experts in the field.