I’m a podcast junkie. I’ve been listening to “This American Life” since 2000, when I was living in Brooklyn and working for a startup in Chelsea, and one of my colleagues (shout-out to Kathleen, wherever you are) raved about it. These days, I fill up on “The Daily” and “Up First” for news, “Mom & Dad Are Fighting” for parenting, and of course TAL for some of the best-written and most-engaging stories around.
But, I’m also dedicated to self-improvement. So when I set out to write a novel, over two years ago, I sought out writing podcasts that would help me understand not only the craft of writing, but also the publishing industry.
Here are the podcasts that I’ve found most entertaining, or educational, or often both. (Caveat: I’ve found these helpful as a writer of literary/book-club fiction, and as someone who hopes to publish my books “traditionally.” There are many other fantastic podcasts for writers of different genres, or for folks who go the indie- or self-publishing route.)
1. The Shit No One Tells You About Writing by author Bianca Marais, with guests CeCe Lyra and Carly Watters, two literary agents at P.S. Literary.
The first season of this podcast features author interviews that are focused on the emerging author. Marais is funny and has such a wonderful way with guests. In the second season, she adds a “Books with Hooks” segment in which Lyra and Watters critique query letters and aspiring authors’ first five pages. The segment is informative and offers authentic examples of how agents think through the queries they receive.
2. The Manuscript Academy with agent Jessica Sinsheimer and author Julie Kingsley.
This podcast has been going strong since 2016, and includes coversations with authors, agents, or publishing professionals. Certain episodes focus on providing an inside look into getting published, such as their #TenQueries podcasts, in which an agent chooses ten queries from their inbox and walks us through why they would or wouldn’t request additional pages from that author. The Manuscript Academy also runs Manuscript Wishlist and promotes the #MSWL hashtag, which helps agents communicate what kind of books they’re hoping to find/represent. Jessica and Julie are personable and down-to-earth, and I love their enthusiasm for helping aspiring authors find the resources they need to improve their chances of getting published.
3. Write-minded Podcast with Brooke Warner, publisher at SheWrites Press, and Grant Faulkner, CEO of #NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month.
I really love the diversity of guests they host, writers of all different backgrounds, writing many different genres. Brooke and Grant dissect the important lessons they’ve gleaned from each guest, highlighting moments of inspiration or revelation. These two also come across as some of the nicest people on the planet, and it’s hard not to feel affection for them.
4. Track Changes, a podcast miniseries from the First Draft podcast with author Sarah Enni.
This miniseries follows a young adult book on its publishing journey from manuscript to published novel, with interviews at all steps of the process: agents, editors, publicists, etc. With so much insider info, this series plays out like a Netflix show and is every bit as binge-worthy. Plus, you’ll come out the other side knowing much more about the world of publishing. Note: if you’re a YA writer or reader, you should check out the First Draft podcast.
5. Between the Covers, and in particular, the “Tin House Live” episodes, with host David Naimon
If you write or read literary fiction or poetry, find yourself adding the National Book and Pen/Faulkner award winners to your “Want to Read” list, you’re bound to find episodes in this series that help you learn from the greats. I loved the Dorothy Allison episode on writing dialogue and the Revision Panel, in which authors share their revision processes (not a subject that’s covered often). These episodes are longer than many podcasts, so they’re a good fit for a road trip or a long run (if you’re like me and listen to podcasts while running).
6. Wake Up and Write, a two-minute writing podcast with Zibby Owens
This podcast, the newest entry into my feed, features writing advice culled from the many famous authors who Zibby has interviewed for her reading podcast, “Mom’s Don’t Have Time to Read Books.” For writers looking for a daily, quick-hit of advice or inspiration, this podcast could be a great way to inspire your creative juices to flow, or give you the boost you need to put your words on paper.
In a future post, I’ll write about my favorite reading- and book-focused podcasts.
What writing-focused podcasts have you found and enjoyed? Leave a comment to let me know!