by Bob Tinsley

Why should you as a visitor to TVWriter™ be interested in making audio fiction? Why should you be interested in making podcasts? Discoverability, that’s why.

The meaning of the word podcast is evolving to include any episodic, audio-only production whether nonfiction or fiction. Agents and major studios have started trawling through podcasts and their creators for new content and talent. 

So here’s the latest news to help you and your podcast get discovered: 

Music from https://filmmusic.io
“The Builder” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)
License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)


From Earbuds To Screen: What Podcasts Did Next.

If you want to know why you should make a podcast, this article tells you in great detail with many examples. It focuses on Gimlet Pictures, an offshoot of Gimlet Media, which, as its latest foray into podcast-to-movie adaptations has announced Man of the People, an adaptation of an episode of the Reply All podcast, to be directed by Richard Linklater and starring Robert Downey, Jr. Chris Giliberti, head of Gimlet Pictures, says about podcast adaptations, “It’s a huge market. I think we’ll see the trend increase for quite some time.”



Why Your Podcast Needs a Trademark.

I’m not convinced, but there’s a lot of good information here. One thing I didn’t know: ™ denotes an unregistered trademark and the ® designates a registered trademark. Both protect your Intellectual Property but the registered trademark is more useful in court.



An Aural History Of The Podcast.

A fascinating look at the beginnings of podcasting back in the Jurassic Period of 2004 leading up to the present. It’s a long read that I began thinking I might skim, but it wasn’t long until I found myself going back and reading the parts I skimmed. Worth a look.



Welcome to Night Vale World Tour 2020.

Welcome to Night Vale announced its new world tour starting in March of 2020. The live shows are a great way to get introduced to one of, if not the most popular fiction podcasts in the world. They will be performing in over 50 cities across the US and Europe. Go, listen, and network. Podcasters are some of the most open, helpful people on the planet. Take advantage of the opportunity.



How To Tell If Your Podcast Is Growing.

Once you get your podcast going, (that’s already in planning stages, right?) you’re going to want to know how it’s doing. Podcasters tend to geek out over download numbers the way authors geek out over sales numbers. Trouble comes when you’re not interpreting those numbers correctly. This article gives some guidance on how to read your download stats.



This Is Dope: The Magnus Archives Has 160 Episodes Of Bone-chilling Horror For You.

This excellent review from Syfy Wire of the British horror audio fiction podcast, The Magnus Archives, points out what can be done if you want to. Jonathan Sims, writer and performer, has written an average of one 20-to-30-minute episode every 8.5 days for the last two-and-a-half years. Worth a listen.


So, until next week, same Pod-time, same Pod-channel, keep listening and keep creating.


by Bob Tinsley

Why should you as a visitor to TVWriter™ be interested in making audio fiction? Why should you be interested in making podcasts? Discoverability, that’s why.

The meaning of the word podcast is evolving to include any episodic, audio-only production whether nonfiction or fiction. Agents and major studios have started trawling through podcasts and their creators for new content and talent. 

So here’s the latest news to help you and your podcast get discovered: 

Music from https://filmmusic.io
“The Builder” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)
License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)


True Crime Lovers Need to Have Chloë Grace Moretz’s New Podcast on Their Radar.

Because it’s not a true crime podcast. Gaslight, a new audio fiction podcast from QCode, the producers of Blackout, starring Rami Malek, and Carrier, featuring Cynthia Erivo, takes the true-crime format into the fictional realm. Miles Joris-Peyrafitte (Dreamland) wrote and directed the podcast which debuted on November 18.



Music and Podcast Network, Spotify, Made the Cover of The Hollywood Reporter.

Spotify has a new 154,000 square-foot campus under construction in Los Angeles containing 17 recording studios, a mixing suite, green rooms, and a live event space. They have over 500 employees dedicated to podcasts, have set up 30 original podcasts this year in addition to the other 500,000 they host, and have over a quarter-billion monthly users across the globe. They say that from July through September this year podcast streaming time increased 39 percent. They’re jumping into the podcast pool with both feet. How about you?



Introducing Anchor Trailers: The Easiest Way To Promote Your Podcast.

Anchor, the free podcast hosting service, a division of Spotify, has introduced a way to auto-magically produce a “video” trailer for your podcast. Simply press a button on the iOS or Android app, and it will guide you through the process. Looks like fun.



Podcast Movement Evolutions.

Podcast Movement will hold the first Evolutions event in Los Angeles on February 12-15, 2020. Evolutions concentrates on innovations in technology and trends in the podcasting arena. There are three tracks: Industry Professional, Professional Podcaster, and New & Hobbyist. Admission starts at $99 for a Creator Pass.



8 Mistakes To Avoid When You Launch.

If you are working on a podcast, and if not, why not, you will have to launch it sooner or later. This quick read gives you an idea of how to plan it and what mistakes to avoid.



Speaking of Launches.

Patreon is one of the most popular platforms for podcasters to make money, though it can be confusing for the first-timer. Now Patreon has produced a guide to best practices in setting up your page. The PDF document also links to other useful resources such as a tier template. Download the guide here.



Podcast Promotion Lessons From A Breakfast Diner.

Many podcasters are obsessed with promotion outputs rather than outcomes. This article explains that doing all the right things on social media and not seeing any increase in downloads doesn’t mean that you are doing things wrong, you just need to change your focus. 



Copperheart is a post-apocalyptic audio fiction podcast with a difference. It’s more of a mystery and less of a paean to preppers. Why did all of the people in the Area 51 Reconstruction Bunker in Groom Lake, Nevada, just vanish? The series began in March and has released a new episode each week since. Created, written, produced and just about every other damn thing including acting by Michael J. Rigg. Worth a listen.


So, until next week, same Pod-time, same Pod-channel, keep listening and keep creating.

Bob Tinsley: Adventures in Audio Drama – 3

Chapter 3
by Bob Tinsley


Is audio drama too hard to listen to?

Define hard. Does that mean that listening to audio drama requires too much attention, too much engagement of the imagination?

I don’t think so. As Fred Greenhalgh from Radio Drama Revival  said in his response to an earlier post, “People DO like audio drama when they get the chance to hear it . . .” I think it requires more attention than music (for most people, musicians and music majors excepted), but certainly no more than is required for audiobooks.

Audiobooks still engage the attention, the imagination. If I’m listening to MacLeod Andrews read Richard Kadrey’s SANDMAN SLIM I can’t say that I don’t see the action in my head. But it doesn’t have the richness, the texture, the immediacy of an audio play. The play doesn’t require more of my attention, just different parts of it. If anything I believe an audiobook requires a greater degree of attention commitment than an audio play does. That may be different for other people, but I don’t think so. I have a pretty simple mind. Just ask my wife.

Is audio drama harder to find than audiobooks and music? Not these days. Anyone with a computer or a smart phone and an internet connection can download a podcatcher (iTunes, Podkicker, DoggCatcher, etc.). Open it and search for audio drama or radio drama or dramatization and you’ll be presented with a list of sites. Pick a couple you like and look at their keywords to use in further searches. You can download all the previous plays they have plus get the new ones downloaded automatically. For free! Audio drama at your fingertips.

And then there’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room, Audible. I searched for “dramatization” this morning and came up with 852 hits. Admittedly some of them are duplicates, but still, 852 hits? A lot of the better known podcasters have their work for sale on Audible: Atlanta Radio Theater Company , Icebox Radio Theater , We’re Alive, and others. You could download all their plays for free if you had the bandwidth and the time, or you could buy them in one easily downloadable package. I bought a collection of horror plays put out by Fangoria that runs 4 hours and 12 minutes for $9.07 (tax included, I guess).

Is the technology available to most people? About half the adults in the United States now carry with them almost constantly the most sophisticated audio player seen to date: a smart phone. As the computer and Netflix have changed the way we consume movies and TV shows, so the smart phone and music player apps have changed the way we consume music. Anything that can play music can play audiobooks. And anything that can play audiobooks can play audio drama.

The obvious conclusion to draw from this is that Joe Onthestreet CAN find audio plays and CAN listen to them where ever he happens to be at whatever time he feels the urge.

The question now becomes: What’s keeping him from doing it?

In two words, perception and ignorance: the perception that audio drama is inferior entertainment and ignorance about where to find it. Changing those views requires some semantic gymnastics and some high-profile exposure.

Stay tuned, boys and girls, there’s more to come!

Bob Tinsley: Adventures in Audio Drama – 2

Chapter 2
by Bob Tinsley


“Audio drama is just radio drama, old, poorly recorded and badly acted.”

This is just a matter of perception. Modern audio drama can be as slick and professional as a television show.

Check out “Seeing Ear Theater”. From 1997 to 2001 they put out some amazing audio dramas written by people like Neil Gaiman, J. Michael Straczynski (creator of Babylon 5), Harlan Ellison and others. The actors were big names as well. You can find all their shows here (http://tinyurl.com/lfkepzn) for free download. Check out “Black Canoes”, or, if you are a Gaiman fan, the two-part “Snow Glass Apples”. That one is guaranteed to make you look at Snow White from a different perspective.

Another wonderful place is ZBS.org. One of their new series is the “Dixon and Sparks Mysteries”. The first episode is free here (http://tinyurl.com/kdaqlew). One of their other series, “Ruby: Galactic Gumshoe”, has been running since the late 1960s. Many of their shows have been recorded in 3D binaural sound. Listening with headphones really immerses you in the story. People walk behind you!

Then there is the Wireless Theatre Company in Britain (www.wirelesstheatrecompany.co.uk), Radio Drama Revival (www.radiodramarevival.com), Darker Projects (www.darkerproject.com) and many others. You can actually find shows produced from my own original scripts, for instance, “Heroes” (http://tinyurl.com/l3nxd66). I published the script for that show on Amazon and Nook. Just search for Robert W. Tinsley, if you’re interested.

All these stories, these audio dramas, transport the listener to a different place. The world created in the listener’s mind is boundless, unconscribed by the limits of budget, space or technology. It is a world of limitless possibility.

Don’t books or TV or movies do that just as well or better? No, in those formats you are constrained within the author’s/director’s world. He describes the characters leaving you with his vision of them. He describes a beach or a forest the way he sees them.

Norman Corwin, a famous radio writer/producer said: “Features and dimensions of a place, of a room, of a landscape, are not, in a good radio script, described in so many words. They are perceived by characters and brought out by speech, sound, by allusion. Obliquely.”

In audio you “see” the character based on his voice, his manner of speaking. He becomes “your” character. You hear the sound of waves, the cry of sea birds; you are on “your” beach. The whole experience is more intimate.

Why is this; why this intimacy? Sound; sound is more imagination-centric than sight. Sound stimulates the imagination. How often has a song taken you back to a particular time in your life? Elicited an emotion? That’s called “anamnesis”, an often involuntary recall of memory caused by the evocative power of sound.

Audio drama is a complex experience requiring more listener participation than video.

As far as wide acceptance of audio drama goes, the question then becomes, “Does audio drama require too much participation for the Average Joe to deal with?”

I’ll look into that next.



by Bob Tinsley

When last we talked we went through getting the cover for your ebook and all the front matter. And you’re still not ready to upload it to Amazon.

First you’ll need to write the ad copy for your book. Amazon calls it the “book description”. That’s the copy that goes in the listing of your book telling everybody what a wonderful, sexy book you’ve written. Go look at some on Amazon to get an idea of what works.

Now comes the hard part. What? You thought the cover was hard? Just you wait.

In what format does your literary treasure reside? If you said Microsoft Word you’re halfway home. If it is in Final Draft, Scrivener, CeltX, Fountain or any of the other myriad of proprietary formats, the first thing you have to do is generate a Word file and make sure that it looks the way you want it to.

At least that’s the way I go about it. If you are a CSS or HTML wizard you might be better off going with those formats. Since I don’t even know what CSS and HTML mean, I stick with Word.

In my experience after having uploaded 10 of my ebooks to Amazon, a Word file will give you an end product that looks the most like what you have been seeing on your computer screen.

Only one caveat: DON’T use tabs. Tabs do not translate well. You need to replace all the tabs with enough spaces to make the format look right. It sucks, but there you are.

Now I have only brushed the surface here. Do this and you’ll get a vanilla ebook. If you want to get fancier (and spend about ten times the amount of time you’ve used up to now) there are more books about formatting for Kindle than you can shake a stick at. Believe me, I’ve tried. I got tired.

Search for “Kindle formatting” on Amazon and you come up with 351 books that will tell you everything you need to know about the subject. I wish you luck. Maybe, one day, I’ll get brave enough to delve into that particular tar pit.

Or you could hire someone to do it for you.

You’ve now got your formatted Word file – or whatever – and your cover illustration in JPEG format (ideally 2500 pixels high with a 1.6 aspect ratio, height to width). It’s time to upload everything and let the gremlins churn out your ebook.

Kindle Direct Publishing is the website.If you have an Amazon account (and who doesn’t?) you can sign in with that. You’ll be taken to a dashboard, and among the things you’ll see there is a yellowish button labeled “Add new title”.

When you click that button you’ll be taken to a page that leads you by the hand through every step to get your cover uploaded, your book uploaded, putting in your description, claiming your rights, deciding whether you want DRM (a big NO, at least for me) and setting your price. Then it will ask if you are ready to publish. Press “yes”, and you’re on your way. It will take, they say, approximately 12 hours for your listing to go live.

It’s all pretty easy these days.

One thing. When you upload your Word file you will be confronted with the Whirling Circle of Death and the message “converting”. Once that is done, you will be asked if you want to preview your book. Say “yes”. This occurs at the bottom of the first of two pages. At this point you will see a mostly accurate resprentation of what your ebook will look like on a Kindle device.

If it doesn’t look the way you want it to, don’t despair – too much. You can fix it. Just save what you’ve done so far, get out of the browser, and spend whatever time you need to tweak your file.

Sign back in to KDP, and you will be taken to your “Bookshelf” page. You will see a line item with the title of your book. Click the selection box on the left, click the “Actions” button just above, and select “Edit book details”. You will be taken back to the page where you uploaded your file and given the chance to replace the file.

Everything will be fine this time, and you’re home free. Break out the bubbly, light a cigar and wait for the sales to come rolling in.

Um, no. This ain’t the Field of Dreams, buddy. Just ’cause you built it don’t mean they’re gonna come.

Now comes the really ugly part: marketing. I’m still figuring that one out.