Two years into his job as a features writer at a South Florida daily newspaper, J.C. Hutchins left the newsroom to follow his dream: writing a novel. Thirteen hundred pages later, Hutchins finished 7th Son, a thriller about human cloning. Then, reality set in: no one would publish it. But Hutchins has found a way around the first-time writer’s heartbreak — and he is now part of a technological wave that may carry writers into a next age of publishing.
Unlike audiobooks, novel podcasts are truncated into segments and may include ambient sounds, music as well a cast of voices playing different characters. While successful authors pitch their works on their own Web sites, many newer writers are posted on Podiobooks.com. Evo Terra, the co-founder of Podiobooks.com, says 45,000 episodes are downloaded each day. The success of novels is democratically decided: word of mouth leads to more downloads. Voluntary donations to authors (the web site keeps 25%, with the rest going to the writer) are another indicator an author’s popularity. In the future, Terra sees authors of out-of-print books capitalizing on podcasting if they want to resurface with a new publication or revisit past works.
On putting his work out for free, he explains, “If I can’t sell it, I might as well share it.”
Aside from the put-it-out-for-free model, the marketing angle of novel podcasting is what separates it from bricks-and-mortar book-selling. Sigler and Hutchins continue to use the online world to campaign. But how far can this niche truly expand? Most of the copy is generated by tech-saavy, sci-fi loving males, though romantic novels and military fiction are also becoming popular. Mur Lafferty, 35, a novel podcaster who lives in Raleigh, N.C., concedes “there’s a lot of guys,” but she finds a growing number of listeners are women. What ultimately stands out is the work put into the podcast and the effectiveness of an author’s marketing work. “It’s not a matter of ‘record your books, put it on Podiobooks.com and your dreams will come true,'” Terra says. “They have to do their work.”
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