Source: Jason Roeswell on Unsplash
Not too long ago we used to talk about Internet Time. The technology and how we used the Web changed so fast in the early years, it was a challenge to keep up. Now that the Internet is embedded into our daily living and routines, I don't hear the term used anymore.
I've replaced that phrase with Indie Publishing Time, because the industry is speeding forward like a Mad Max car chase. That's an over-the-top way of saying it's more than time I updated my best podcast rankings for busy writers and authors who don't want to spend hours online searching for and trying out podcasts to get to the good stuff to listen to and learn from.
Note that I've omitted some podcasts that use more than two hosts because of the way they talk over each other or cackle at each other's jokes. I've also omitted podcasts with poor audio, or when the hosts' voices, mannerisms, lack of interviewing skills, or repeated cliché phrases every show (There you go! Awesome! Cool!) grate on me.
Fortunately, there are now more than enough good podcasts available that I can be picky. These include several new and outstanding podcasters that have recently arrived on the scene, and a couple I've been late in discovering. Consequently, my previous Top 5 is now a Top 10. You can easily search all of these shows on Apple's iTunes under Podcasts.
So here goes.
#10 Bookworm starts with a splendid upbeat song called "Where Would We Be Without Books," and ends with an equally splendid "I Am a Bookworm," two original compositions by the Sparks. The catchy songs are somewhat at odds with the show's rather serious tone set by host, Michael Silverblatt, who interviews literary authors.
While the subject matter is somewhat esoteric as far as I'm concerned, given my focus on genre reading, the show is not stuffy. And Silverblatt, who reminds me of Howard Cosell, does a good job analyzing his guest's work and providing insights. It's worth a listen to stretch your horizon of interest and to learn what's going on in the literary world of novels.
Having said that, it would be nice if the host would occasionally condescend and talk with a more popular writer. There are many talented authors out there worth interviewing, Michael, even though they do sell a ton of books. I'd be happy to proffer some names.
#9 Writer's Bone. I've only listened to a few podcasts by Boston writers Daniel Ford and Sean Tuohy, and I may have been lucky in listening when only one or two of them were interviewing guest authors. Having read their podcast origin story, I see they like to invite their friends on, which to my fading hearing, usually means adding noise rather than enjoyment, so I'll have to see how this goes.
What put this podcast in the top ten was the recent interview with guest Barry Eisler, author of the anti-hero John Rain thriller series. The show was outstanding though more because the author was so articulate and informative rather than prompting from the host.
I read the first novel in Eisler's series, Rain Fall, and didn't care for it. But having heard him speak here, I will try one of his later novels. Fans of Eisler are welcome to recommend a title.
Of particular interest in the interview was Eisler's explanation on why he turned down a $500,000 book contract and instead chose to go indie! He has also bought back the rights to publish his novels and has retitled his John Rain series. The first novel now has the name A Clean Kill in Tokyo. I'm happy he didn't choose Killing Time in Tokyo.
#8 The Story Studio is the new name for what was The Self-Publishing Podcast--my number one podcast choice last year. But something happened to Johnny, Sean and Dave in 2017. Their podcast became less interesting, informative and entertaining. This is something they sensed themselves, which is why they've chosen a new podcast name that will enable them to widen their topic focus, so they say.
But three shows in under the rebranding and it is the same old, same old. So their #8 ranking is based more on potential and on what they have produced before. This is another podcast I will have to wait and see how it goes, given there are so many good shows to listen to now.
#7 The Creative Writer's Toolbelt is produced by author and creative writer tutor Andrew J Chamberlain, who hails from Kent in the UK. He has an outstanding podcast voice and won me over on first listening. He does best when delivering monologues on the craft of writing, which are thoughtful and informative.
However, he peppers his interviews with unnecessary "Yeses" and other terms of agreement while the occasional (fortunately) guest he has on is speaking, which drives my fingers close to the Stop button.
If you should ever read this, Andrew, listen to the podcasts of master interviewer Tim Ferriss, or his equally accomplished counterpart Terry Gross of Fresh Air fame on NPR. Both remain silent while the other person speaks, and they interrupt only to add or clarify something important. Please do the same. Interrupting long-winded speakers is fine and necessary; constant and unnecessary agreement with them is a distraction for listeners. You are producing the podcast for your audience, right? Not the guest.
#6 The Sell More Book Show from Jim Kukral and Bryan Cohen breaks the me-too podcast mold by rarely having a guest on to interview. Rather, they collect writing and publishing tips that have made the news in the week prior to the podcast, as well as present the top five recent happenings in the writing/publishing industry that's made the news. And they throw in their own views on these topics for good measure.
Kukral is an Internet marketer and the creator of the Author Marketing Club that helps authors sell books. He has a good podcast voice that is pleasant on the ear, as you might expect from a consummate marketer. Alas, that is not the case with author Cohen. But hey, they produce an informative show every week that I listen to, despite the cheesy recorded intro and gratuitous countdowns noises they use mid-way through the show.
#5 The Creative Penn has fallen a little in my rankings, but only because the new kids on the block are just so good. For those who don't know, the host Joanna Penn is an incredible authorpreneur: the writer of fiction, non-fiction, a public speaker, and creator of writing courses, as well as this long-running podcast.
She prepares well for the interviews—unlike some podcasters—because her questions are thought out and smart. She's also cut back on her cooing when agreeing with the host (the equivalent of Chamberlain's Yeses in #7). But her long intros include a segments where she reads tweets from her listeners about where they are when they listen to her, and a segment on her Patreon support. This makes the show overly long for my liking—I did say I was picky, and this criticism is probably something of a guy thing—but no doubt her legion of fans enjoy that side of it. I much prefer the approach of the podcaster that follows this.
Note that Penn's www.thecreativepenn.com website is a goldmine of writing resources that all newbie indies should check out.
#4 The Book Marketing Show is from a newcomer to podcasts Dave Chesson. But Chesson is no newcomer to indie publishing. His Kindlepreneur website is outstanding and a great resources for writer-publishers at any stage of development. He has a pleasant podcast voice now that he no longer squeaks, as he did sometimes when he spoke fast in the fist few shows.
As the title of the podcast suggests, he addresses different aspects of marketing. His presentation style is not to waste listeners' time with talking about off-topic subjects; he just gets right to the point. Consequently, his podcasts typically run about 20 minutes but are packed with useful information and advice.
#3 Self-publishing Journeys from Paul Teague is unique in that he has this writer- pal-you-chat-with-at-the-pub approach to speaking. His podcasts alternate between monologues on what he has been doing the previous week regards to writing and marketing his works (Paul's Podcast Diary) and then an interview with an author. What I particular like about the latter, is that he goes out of the way NOT to invite all the successful authors who are interviewed regularly on other podcasts. Despite the chatty manner, he knows how to ask questions and his Diary stuff is loaded with practical information.
#2 The Self Publishing Formula. This retains its number two ranking because former BBC radio reporter James Blatch does such a good job interviewing guests, while authorpreneur Mark Dawson adds a pinch or two of his experience at the beginning and end of each show. Curiously, the two don't seem to have that good a chemistry when speaking together, and their efforts to raise a laugh often falls flat. Still, the information from the show and Blatch's presentation is something other podcasters would do well to study.
#1 Smart Author by Mark Coker is easily the best podcast I listen to and the one I look forward to the most. While Coker has only recorded a dozen of so podcasts at the time of writing this blog, he has been prominent in the indie writing and publishing business for over a decade. In 2008 he launched Smashwords, the world's largest distributor of indie books, which boasts 120,000 authors.
From the first show, Coker spoke with the authority of experience. He uses the knowledge gained over the past ten years to produce some outstanding podcasts packed with good advice and solid information for publishing success. The high quality of his delivery (not content) dropped a little when he chose to read the 2018 edition of the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide over six shows. Not surprisingly, the reading never matched the smooth delivery of his normal monologues.
In a recent podcast, he said he wasn't sure how much longer he would continue with the show. I hope he is still doing it the next time I do an update!
And if you’d like to stay in touch, have a question to ask, or would care to hear about what I’m reading, writing and doing in Japan, subscribe to my monthly JohnBoydJapanWriter Newsletter. In return, I will send you a dark and mysterious short story titled The Ritual that can be read in 20 minutes but will take much longer to forget.
I'm the author of two suspense crime thrillers set in Japan: The Girl Who Danced Her Tears Away, and Killing Time in Tokyo, . More details here.