I’m becoming increasingly aware of how much time I don’t have, as we near launch date. Not in the sense of there being too many things to do, but very much in the sense of giving people enough time to check out the show and consider saying nice things about it.
But before we get into that, let’s talk a little about proudction.
Four episodes in the can
As I’ve mentioned previously, the podcast is already written and the vocal performance is already laid down. The remaining work is in finding music and sound effects to underscore it all.
Given that it’s essentially a serialised audiobook with some added sugar, a fully immersive soundscape wasn’t called for, but it’s nice to be able to accent a few points, and to break things up with a bit of music.
Not counting the recording time and the hours put into writing, each episode takes maybe half a day to put together. That’s largely because Imogen our voice actor is a pro, and delivered us files ready to slot in, so there’s no need to edit for content.
What I spend a lot of my time doing is finding music. Each episode opens with the same theme tune – it’s actually two pieces of music that have a similar feel and sound good together – then there’s incidental music throughout, to underscore certain scenes. Then there’s a big punchy number at the end that’s different per episode, and matches the energy of the closing scene. My two favourites are from episodes 1 and 2.
The first episode took around a day to put together, as that set the template for other episodes. I think I may have mentioned in week 1, but there’s some funky stuff being done with EQ to create moments where time seems to pause, giving space for the narrator to explain a particular concept. All of that needed time to work out, and I had to learn a new thing in Logic Pro X (automating multiple tracks at once). It was fun to get to play.
As you might imagine, some scenes are harder to design than others, as some have lots of raucous action that needs sound effects – some timed with the music – while others need very little.
I’m using the Envato Elements sound libraries, and some of the atmos we need is proving challenging. The story takes place in a world without motorised vehicles, so any time you need outdoor scenes, you just have to make do with birds.
There was one particularly challenging scene – one of my favourites in the book but one fo the hardest to produce for audio – involves an outdoor scene with no birds at all. What does that even sound like!?
Anyway, we’re at the point where we have four episodes in the can, which puts us about four or five weeks in advance of episode 4. That’s a good spot to be in, but I’d like us to buy a bit more time, just in case life gets in the way somewhere further down the line. Plus, the back quarter is going to be wild.
It’s #influencer time
So, with time ticking away, and with advice from Matthew Stevens of Q’d Up, this week I got to work on researching and writing to people who’d be in a position to listen to the podcast and potentially recommend it. I sent 15 messages to potentially influential people within the UK, and got back two responses: one that said the timing wasn’t right (with good reason) and the other saying they’d check it out next week. I don’t think that means the others haven’t read it or have rejected it, but I’m not holding out tonnes of hope.
My template was similar to the one I shared last week: thank the person for their time, explain why I thought the podcast would be a good fit, and point them to the press kit along with a brief explanation of who the show is for. Each message was researched to a degree, which is partly why there are so few (you might be surprised at how long it takes to send a dozen messages when you don’t know who you’re sending them to, or why they might consider reading one).
My next job – some of which I did yesterday – was to break America. As you’ll imagine, the influencer scene – even in this particular area which is too big to be a niche, but isn’t #everyone – is massive and difficult to navigate. I quickly had to turn to a niche within the niche, which was a wise move for the US market, but would’ve been too small for the UK. I sent a bunch of messages out yesterday through email and contact forms, and have yet to hear back. Again, who knows?
This is not like emailing podcast newsletters, as the pitch is very different. And some of these influencers have huge, monetisable audiences, so it’s a big ask for them to consider a rag-tag indie podcast. But you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
I’ve got one more idea up my sleeve for people to contact, apart from all my friends and family which is still firmly on the table, so I’ll be doing that over the next week.
Next week: stats
As next week will be the last week before the podcast launches, I’m going to share the stats from the podcast host, so together we can track how the needle moves from week to week.
However, if ever it does, I consider this project a success, because it got made, and it could just so easily not have. I thought the story was worth telling, and I was willing to risk my weekends and evenings to do my damnedest for Ashley and Imogen’s work to pay off.
I am looking forward to you being able to hear it, though. It’s so good.