4 Best Podcasts for Writers
by Dharma Kelleher
Podcasts are a great source for valuable information and an easy way to make your day that much more productive. You can listen to podcasts while making breakfast in the morning, working out, or even in the car, if you have it integrated with your entertainment system.
I listen to a number of podcasts, including NPR’s like Science Friday, Ask Me Another, and RadioLab. But for helping me as a writer, there are five free podcasts that I find very helpful, and I think you will, too.
Every episode of Writing Excuses starts with, “This is Writing Excuses. Fifteen minutes long because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart.” The truth is the hosts are very smart, with a lot of knowledge and experience. The panel of hosts includes novelists Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Dan Wells, as well as cartoonist Howard Tayler.
Writing Excuses focuses on the craft of writing, including world building, character development, and story arcs. Most of the hosts specialize in speculative fiction, but their lessons are equally applicable to other genres. If you only have time for one podcast on writing, this is the one to listen to.
The Novel Marketing Podcast essentially picks up where Writing Excuses leaves off. That is to say, once you have a published book, you need to be able to market it. Hosts Thomas Umstattd Jr. and James L. Rubart discuss how to use social media, book covers, marketing approaches, business cards, etc. to sell your book. Some of the advice is a bit Marketing 101, but there are also helpful new insights specific to marketing novels.
The hosts appear to be evangelical Christians, which is evident from numerous religious references in the episodes. Christian listeners will most likely appreciate that. As a non-Christian, I find it a bit off-putting at times, but because the content itself is so useful, I can look past it. If you’re stuck thinking of ways to market your novel or nonfiction book, I’d recommend giving it a listen, including all the previous episodes.
I’ve been a fan of this podcast for many years. The hosts include Justin Macumber, Terry Mixon, Paul E. Cooley, Scott Roche, and until recently, the late P.G. Holyfield. I love the relaxed, fun atmosphere they create, as well as the amazing lineup of celebrity author interviews. To date, they have produced more than 360 episodes and are going strong.
The hosts talk a lot about their individual writing processes, how they approach different issues, how they brainstorm, etc. New writers will learn a lot from these guys. The episodes tend to run longer (about an hour) than the podcasts mentioned above, but if you have the time, give it a listen.
If you write suspense, thrillers, mysteries, or any other flavor of crime fiction, you’ll find this podcast right up your dark alley. Affiliated with Suspense Magazine, the Suspense Radio podcast features interviews with authors, publishers, and agents, along with professionals in law enforcement, forensics, and related fields.
While there is a lot to be learned from this podcast, it is a bit quirky. The sound quality isn’t that great, and they have a tendency to stick a bunch of ads and music in the episodes. I’ve been known to tap the 15-second skip button a few times to get to the good stuff. Also, some episodes run into the 1- to 2-hour range.
Still, if you write crime fiction, you never know when you might hear that nugget of information that improves your writing or your marketing.
How to Listen to Podcasts
I generally listen to podcasts on either my smartphone or my iPod. You can also subscribe to them in iTunes on your laptop or tablet. There are plenty of free podcast apps (called podcatchers). I use PodCruncher on my iPhone. So if you need help with your writing career, give these a podcasts a listen.
Dharma Kelleher writes gritty, engaging fiction about gay, trans* and queer-identified characters. She works as a professional web developer for ZenPunk Web Works. Her hobbies include riding motorcycles, making snarky comments on Facebook, and shocking people with her latest haircut. Learn more about her and her writing at dharmakelleher.com.