Yesterday Simon & Schuster UK launched a new podcast, The Words, a topical series of interviews, insights, discussions and ideas, plus exclusive essays from authors, on the world of books, culture and society. Here we interview Dawn Burnett, Marketing Director, to find out a little bit more.
1) This podcast is a great idea, as audio publishing hits a peak. Who is this podcast aimed at?
The Simon & Schuster UK list is very broad and spans across a whole range of genres from literary and commercial women’s fiction, to crime and science fiction as well as non-fiction subjects covering history, popular culture, music, MBS and health, sport and biography.
Because of this we’ve developed a format for our podcast that is themed rather than book title focused, topical and really engaging to appeal to a wide range of potential listeners. It offers a great platform to bring together diverse authors to discuss subjects, issues and ideas as well as their books. Keeping the podcast accessible in theme with a light-hearted guided conversational style and featuring exclusive writing and audio recordings, we hope to appeal to people who enjoy the podcast medium, who listen to topical radio shows and who want to hear about arts and culture without being ‘sold to’.
2) How does the podcast tie in with the rest of the Simon & Schuster publishing programme for 2018?
We have some fantastic books coming out this year and we have podcast contributors such as Laura Bates, Sarah Vaughan, Anne Helen Petersen, Chris Carter, Andrew Wilson, Benjamin Zephaniah, Bob Roth, Porna Bell and Philippa Gregory to literally name just a few. But we are also really keen to feature authors from our eclectic backlist. Because of our themed format we can welcome guests with new books to promote as well as champion writers that may have been published some time ago. The great thing about books and podcasts is that they are always new to somebody who hasn’t read or listened to them. And the subjects may frequently find themselves topical too. For example our first episode, The Words on Sexism, is so timely, yet sadly the subject matter isn’t going to be dated any time soon… Other episodes we have planned are on crime, mental health, the spoken word, leadership, rebellion and creativity. It’s all really exciting and challenging to produce. But I hope listeners will find that diversity interesting.
3) The podcast can be found on iTunes, SoundCloud, Mixcloud, Acast, Podcast Republic, Podbean.com and Audioboom.com. Which platforms do you expect most of your listeners to use? How might this change over the next few years?
When looking for a podcast or a dedicated podcast App, there are two main driving factors. Firstly do you use an Android or iOS device and secondly which Apps enable audio streaming as opposed to audio downloads, to save on storage space. Apps also differentiate themselves with their playback and library features.
iTunes and Spotify are the most popular platforms for iPhones and iPad users. Many of the free podcast Apps on the App Store actually link to the iTunes podcast library in the first place. For Android devices, some of the most popular Apps on GooglePlay, based on their reviews, are Podcast Addict, Podcast Republic and BeyondPod.
Podcasts are increasingly popular as they enable listeners to become their own programme controllers. Spotify, available on both iOS and Android platforms, also offers podcast feeds, by invitation only. We are hoping to feature on their App soon.
As far as future trends are concerned, it is rather hard to predict, however as more listeners are enjoying podcasts for free and with the millions of podcast feeds available out there, discoverability, ease of use and quality of content will make a real difference in the long run. I think our listeners will use a mix due to phone or tablet choice. However people also can listen via our website at www.thewordspodcast.com. It is fully SEO optimised and features lots of information about the authors and their books. Plus it has discreet buy buttons should the content inspire a purchase.
4) What marketing techniques have you used to spread the word about The Words?
This morning we sent out branded re-usable coffee cups with press releases to a trade and press mailing list. Who doesn’t enjoy a cup of coffee and podcast on the bus to work? We’ll also be sending them out to retailers, buyers and booksellers over the coming months. We have set up social media handles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and will be putting above-the-line spend against each and every episode targeting book lover but also people who follow trends or subjects, subject to each episode theme. Having the wonderful Rosie Goldsmith, an award-winning broadcaster and huge champion of books and publishing, as our podcast host is a key component in spreading the word about The Words. But ultimately great author engagement and a willingness to take part and share episodes with their fans is the best way to keep word-of-mouth going.
5) Finally, why should we listen to The Words instead of other literary programmes?
I would say listen to other literary programmes as well as The Words. I really believe we offer something a bit different. Theme based, well-researched, engaged guests, quality production values courtesy of our partnership with West End Media and exclusive content that is created specifically for each episode really does make for great listening.
Follow The Words on twitter @thewordspodcast