Schooling Myself: Podcasts as Independent Study

I have been getting progressively more serious about independent publishing as a career. I was a journalist a lifetime ago, then a teacher (still am) who wrote on the side (some comics, screenplays, short stories), and now that is flipping. I am becoming a writer who teaches.

And I am intent on establishing myself as that writer. I have published an award-winning novel, two short story collections, and a children’s book. I just finished rewrites on a YA novel, am collaborating on an action-adventure novel, and finishing rewrites on the sequel to the award-winner. 

The product line is forming.

The sales numbers are not there, but marketing is not yet my concern. The product line is forming.

Meanwhile, the hard truth is that writing isn’t enough. In this new age of ebooks and Create Space and online sales outlets, independent authors need to publish as a business, not as just a passionate artist. But, with two sons in college, I am not in a position to go back to school to learn the publishing business.

So I had to bring the school to me.

I am currently completely immersed in what I’ve begun thinking of as a  “graduate level independent study” in the form of podcasts and “textbooks”. I have found a wealth of writers and independent publishing podcasts that delve into the challenges and decisions authors must face as publishers. And I am learning this complex field like a grad student, an intern, and an acolyte all rolled into one.

Here are two of my favorite podcasts:

Joanna Penn’s “The Creative Penn” podcast is an informative, friendly, professional-sounding show that feels like an intimate grad class. The always friendly and engaging Ms. Penn either provides detailed information or interviews another independent publisher or connected service provider for a chipper session of facts and informed opinion. 

The Self-Publishing Podcast, on the other hand, shouldn’t work at all. it is like your rowdy friends took over the college radio station and decided to dis each other on air instead of playing records. If this was a class, the teachers would deserve detention.

But it works. 

Somehow, each week, the show’s trio of hosts, Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant, and David Wright meander into serious discussions about their collective publishing journey, arguing among themselves about projects and procedures, ignoring or sometimes interviewing guests from the Indy pub world, but always, somehow, bringing out at least one essential truth per episode. 

Even the hard sell Kickstarter episodes (101-106, more or less), as tough as they were to get through, offered some enduring lessons about the always evolving Indy publishing industry. Fascinating.

And what grad course would complete without homework? In this case, I find myself assigning my own, in the form of books the podcasts have featured and their guests (and hosts) have written. These have extended my study, broadened my knowledge, and offer additional rewards each time I crack one open.

I am working my way through the collection above, listening to Joanna when I need some sanity, and am more than two-thirds of the way through the Self-Publishing Podcast’s almost 150 erratic but educational episodes.

My knowledge base continues to grow. 

Am I an expert yet? No way. But I am learning every time I hit play or pick up a book. 

If you are serious about your publishing dreams, I suggest you do the same.

</ Ryan is author of City of Woe, available on Kindle and in print. For more info, click here.<

About chrisryanwrites

I do my best to tell fast-paced stories with humor and heart. My fiction work is available on Here, I’ll write about the sources for those stories from what I read, watch, listen to, and observe to my experiences as a former award-winning journalist, high school teacher, actor, and producer.
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