The Books Podcast is a series of interviews with authors. It's presented by Tim Haigh and produced by Johnny Mindlin. Johnny was Senior Producer at London's premier commercial talk radio station, LBC (now a national station) and Tim was a presenter and Book Show host. Tim is also a books reviewer and an avid reader. We tend to concentrate on books that are interesting, rather than necessarily popular, so we have interviews with Salman Rushdie, Gore Vidal, Anne McCaffrey, Iain (& M) Banks, and other great authors but also lots of non-fiction, like Steve Richards, Alwyn W Turner, Nicholas Wapshot, concentrating largely on politics and economics and ... well ... anything that takes our fancy. Our listeners tend to be people who are interested in books, culture, politics, economics, religion and who enjoy intelligent interviews.
We started the Books Podcast before podcasting was popular, about 10 years ago. We could not get radio out of our blood (Johnny was in radio for 10 years) and this seemed like the next best thing. It gave us the chance to meet authors and publishers and remain part of that world. Being in some form of formal broadcasting is really important to both of us. We started really simply and gung-ho - Johnny wrote an XML page for RSS and loaded it on his server and Tim contacted David Lord Owen, whom we had been in touch with before and asked for an interview on his then new book, In Sickness And In Power ... and he said "Yes". It really was that easy.
We used to release episodes as the books and interview turned up - no plan. Now we're starting to structure a schedule of every 2 months (we have learned that this is important). It's not funded at all - we do it for the love and because no-one will pay us to (if anyone can help, we'd be grovellingly grateful!). Each episode takes some time for emails and phone calls but, basically, we record the interview live, which takes about an hour and Johnny edits and publishes it, which is another 2 hours. So it's quick. We are wofull about publicising it - we post on Facebook and have a subscription system (free) ... and that's it. So we each spend about 3 man-hours per episode. We would LOVE to do this full-time but with our lack of understanding how marketing should happen, that's not a goer.
We have no sponsorship, we don't know how to get it. What we get from podcasting is status ... not much but some. We can say to people, we are Podcasters on books. We get to meet some fascinating people and they take us seriously. That's it.
Tim gets the lists of upcoming books from publishers and scans them for anything that looks interesting. He then contacts the publisher and asks for an interview with the author. If the publisher and author say "Yes", Tim contacts Johnny to discuss the technicalities. Tim then READS THE BOOK! The WHOLE book ... and makes notes (You would be depressed at how many book interviewers have not read the book!). We have done the interviews at homes, publishers' offices, pubs and cafes, using a Zoom H4N and Bheringer microphones ... and also over Skype. Never over the phone, we think the sound is too poor quality.
As mentioned before, we are terrible at marketing. We put things up on Facebook and our site has about 7,500 subscribers who get notifications and that has grown through our interviewees publicising it and word of mouth. Occasionally, if it's a high-profile author, we'll find their fan-pages and post a link on there.
We are really old-school: If you want to make a podcast, be sure you know why: if it's to tell people what you think, seriously ask yourself, "Who cares?". We don't mean to be nasty but do you have enough to say that people will want to listen? Remember that listeners get the most from podcasts they learn from - whether that is specific information or a better take on life - remember that it's THEM you're talking to, not your friend / co-host in the room - think of it like a party where you and your friend have been joined chatting by someone you want to impress. Keep it short - 2 hours of chat is not as good as 30 minutes of focussed conversation.
Check the sound - does it sound like a radio show? No? Improve the sound. Make sure it's loud enough and not too much room reverberation! To get started, I recommend the Blubbry platform and PowerPress Plugin - it's designed by and for podcasters and is one of the very best.