It's tough to publish your first novel. First, you've got write a book that instantly hooks the reader, keeps them turning pages with relatable characters, and includes plot twists that are inevitable, yet surprising.
Then, once you've got a manuscript, you've got to make high-stakes decision. Should you self-publish or go traditional?
Finally, how do you get the book in the hands of more readers who will love it?
Here's a comprehensive list of 33 writing podcasts with recommended episodes that cover everything from what to do if your main character is boring, to picking the perfect book title to finding your first 10,000 readers to beating imposter syndrome.
Since 2015, writer Tim Grahl has been working on his first novel with the help and guidance of veteran editor and creator of the Story Grid, Shawn Coyne. It’s a rare glimpse into the process of writing a page-turning book with the help of a top-notch editor with over 25 years of experience.
Episodes you shouldn’t miss: If you're new to the Story Grid way of thinking, start with The Five Commandments of Storytelling. It covers the basic elements that every story must have to grab and hold a reader’s attention. If you're wrestling with whether you should self-publish or go traditional, you'll also want to listen to Publishing 101: Trade vs Indie Publishing and Backstory.
Joanna Penn writes thrillers and nonfiction books to help authors build their careers. She interviews authors, editors, and all kind of experts in publishing, book marketing, and running an author business. Many of her interviews cover topics that are geared to authors who have already published one book (or twelve), but there’s still some good advice here for first-time novelists too.
Episode you shouldn’t miss: Top 5 Mistakes Of Indie Authors With Ricardo Fayet From Reedsy. How to avoid common mistakes self-published authors make in writing, publishing, and marketing their books.
I Should Be Writing is a podcast for aspiring fiction writers, hosted by the award-winning science fiction and fantasy writer, Mur Lafferty. This show is surprisingly honest about the emotional journeys that Mur and her guests face and also includes useful advice on the craft of writing.
Episode you shouldn’t miss: Episode 362: Glossary of Writing Terms and Helen Lowe Interview. Mur defines several terms used in publishing and then interviews fantasy author Helen Lowe.
Mark Dawson is a bestselling thriller author with over 20 books under his belt. He is the creator of the popular Ads for Authors online course. He co-hosts the Self Publishing Formula podcast with James Blatch whose debut novel will be released in 2018. In this show, they run experiments, talk to experts, and interview new and experienced authors.
Episodes you shouldn’t miss: Episode 67: The Cost of Self-Publishing. Working on the budget for publishing your book? Hear Mark's recommendations on what services to invest in and how much to spend. Or maybe you're struggling with confidence? Check out James's interview with Katie Cross in Episode 95: How to Defeat Imposter Syndrome.
A panel of experienced writers come together to talk about a specific writing topic and share their advice and tips for aspiring authors in under twenty minutes. Each season they choose a theme and most of the episodes are for that season focus on one particular aspect of that theme.
Episodes you shouldn’t miss: Anything from season 10. The theme for the season was a writing master class and that’s where the Writing Excuses gurus recommend new listeners start. For example, try Episode 10.5 What do you mean my main character is boring?, Episode 10.27 Why can’t I just jump to the ending?, or Episode 10.39 Q & A on plot twists.
Fantasy author and writing mentor K.M. Weiland gives practical advice on a specific writing topic in weekly episodes of twenty minutes or less. She has several ongoing series including How to Structure Your Novel, Most Common Writing Mistakes, and the Do's and Don'ts of Storytelling According to Marvel.
Episodes you shouldn’t miss: One from her ongoing series on Most Common Writing Mistakes. For example, A sure-fire sign you’re over-explaining on how to walk the line to give just the right amount of detail to your reader or Tips for How to Choose the Right Sentences.
In October 2016, author and screenwriter Mark Stay teamed up with coach and musician Mark Desvaux for an experiment. Could they write, market, and self-publish a bestselling book in just one year? The eBook version of their humorous fantasy novel Back to Reality was released in October 2017 and became a #1 bestseller on Amazon on launch day. The podcast recounts the steps along the way.
Episode you shouldn’t miss: Episode 37: Go For Launch | Susan Kaye Quinn Multi-genre fiction and nonfiction author Susan Kaye Quinn shares the book launch strategy that she recommends to debut authors.
Andrew J. Chamberlain is a writer, ghost writer, and creative writing tutor who has published fiction and biography. In this show, he shares practical writing advice with loads of examples along with occasional interviews with industry experts.
Episode you shouldn’t miss: Episode 2: Dialogue covering how to use dialogue to differentiate your characters, show conflict, and advance your plot. Includes a walkthrough of an example scene where two detectives investigate a murder.
Want your writing craft advice from someone who's learned from the school of life? Taylor Stevens was raised in a nomadic cult that didn’t believe in education beyond sixth grade. Now, she's a New York Times bestselling author of the Vanessa Michael Munroe thrillers. Along with co-host Stephen Campbell, Taylor shares no-nonsense advice on writing craft and a writer’s life.
Episodes you shouldn’t miss: Episode 122: Cutting Back on the Description to Bring Your Story to Life. It’s the first in a three-part series where Taylor edits a noir crime story sent in by a podcast listener. The first episode explains the difference between description and story, Episode 123: Line Editing to Shape a Compelling Narrative, covers word choice to fit the genre, and title of of third part speaks for itself. Episode 124: The Importance of Keeping Your Characters in Motion.
Julie Kingsley and Jessica Sinsheimer cofounded the Manuscript Academy. In this show, they share advice and chat with other agents, editors, and writers.
Episode you shouldn’t miss: #TenQueries with agent John Cusick. Listen to a literary agent who specializes in kid’s books (picture books through young adult) share his thoughts as he opens ten new queries.
Want to get feedback on your storytelling for free? Each episode Story Grid Certified Editor, Leslie Watts is joined by a fellow editor to give feedback on pages that writers submit for review. Hear what kinds of advice editors give to writers just like you. You can submit your pages here.
Episode you shouldn’t miss: An episode giving feedback for a submission in your genre. Here’s a table with recommendations for a few popular genres.
Valerie Khoo, Founder and National Director of the Australian Writers’ Center, co-hosts So You Want to Be a Writer with Allison Tait, freelance journalist and author of bestselling middle grade fiction. They offer advice and interviews on writing craft and the business of writing, blogging, and publishing.
Episode you shouldn’t miss: Episode 212: How to pick the perfect book title, promote your book and build a mailing list. A minisode on how to pick a good book title as well as how to think about your mailing list.
Host Lorna Faith writes historical romance and nonfiction. She helps writers find their unique voice, improve their craft, and take the practical steps to publish their first book.
Episode you shouldn’t miss: Episode 041 Writing Tips for Understanding Show, Don’t Tell with Janice Hardy. Janice Hardy is the author of Understanding Show, Don't Tell (And Really Getting It). She shares an exercise anyone can do to understand the difference between showing and telling, explains why sometimes you need to tell, and gives examples of warning words that tip you off to told prose.
14. Ask ALLi
On the third Tuesday of the month the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) releases a Beginner’s Salon conversation with hosts, travel writer Jay Artale and science fiction and fantasy author Michael LaRonn. Each of the Beginner’s Salon episodes covers a topic for those new to self-publishing.
Episode you shouldn’t miss: Episode 68: Beginner’s self-publishing salon on topic of cover design which covers what to consider when designing covers, where to find a designer, and the nuts and bolts of how to work with a freelance designer.
A panel of four romance and urban fantasy authors from New Zealand—Trudi Jaye, Cheryl Phipps, Shar Barratt, and Wendy Vella—cover the basics of self-publishing and interview guests once a week.
Episode you shouldn’t miss: Episode 106: Pros and Cons of Kindle Unlimited Should you make your book exclusive to Amazon through the Kindle Unlimited program or should you “go wide” and offer your book for sale through all retailers? The SPA girls explain how each type of distribution works and offer the pros and cons of each.
16. Print Run
Two Minneapolis-based literary agents, Laura Zats and Erik Hane, discuss the ins and outs of traditional publishing and the writing world.
Episode you shouldn’t miss: Episode 42: Anatomy of a Bestseller is an inside look at all the pieces that need to come together behind the scenes for a debut novel to become a breakout success.
The Canadian retailer of eBooks and audiobooks runs a podcast featuring self-publishing advice and interviews with bestselling authors.
Episode you shouldn’t miss: Episode 099: BookBub Christine Munroe of Kobo Writing Life interviews Carlyn Robertson from BookBub about how they select eBooks for their daily deal emails and how authors can improve their chances of getting one of those coveted BookBub daily deal slots.
Blogger and nonfiction author Kirsten Oliphant hosts this weekly show covering how authors and bloggers can build an audience of fans "...without being smarmy".
Episode you shouldn’t miss: Episode 119: How to Increase Your Sales Rank on Amazon. Kirsten is joined by Kevin Tumlinson of Draft2Digital. They give feedback on the Amazon sales pages of four books submitted by members of the Create If Writing community. Even though the four books they give feedback on are nonfiction, most of their feedback applies to fiction titles too.
Novel Marketing Podcast is the only book marketing podcast focused exclusively on marketing fiction. The show is co-hosted by Thomas Umstaddt Jr., CEO of a company which helps authors, including many Christian authors, build their online platform. He is joined by co-host James L. Rubart, a novelist who writes award-winning Christian fiction. They cover the basics of book promotion for authors who can’t stand marketing.
Episode you shouldn’t miss: Episode 112: Where to Build Your Platform As an Unpublished Novelist. What should you do to build an audience of readers before your first book is released? (Plus, what can you skip.)
Veteran marketer Chris Syme co-hosts this show with her daughter Becca Syme, bestselling author of small-town romance and culinary cozy mysteries. The give practical tips on how to sell more books and interview industry experts.
Episode you shouldn't miss: Episode 65 – How a Good Marketing Plan Will Sell More Books With Sandra Beckwith covering how to put together a marketing plan for your book, what to consider when determining your budget, and what steps you can take if you have $0 to invest in promoting your book.
Dave Chesson is an experienced online marketer and nonfiction author. He shows authors how to master the digital marketing skills they need to sell more books. A lot of his content is geared toward nonfiction authors, but some episodes give advice for fiction authors too.
Episode you shouldn’t miss: Episode 8: How to Get Book Reviews (Two terms you should know for this episode. KU = Kindle Unlimited, AMS = Amazon marketing services) Advice and two case studies on how to get reviews for your book on Amazon.
Tim Grahl is an expert on launching bestselling books. (At least, when he's not struggling to write his first novel on The Story Grid Podcast.) He’s helped top fiction and nonfiction authors onto the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. Book Launch Show doesn’t come out on a regular basis, but it has one episode that every author should listen to before they spend money on a social media manager.
Episode you shouldn’t miss: Episode 5: Social Media and Book Launches. Tim busts three myths about how social media works to promote books and shares two truths about how to make it work for you.
Host Paul Teague writes sci-fi and dystopian novels. On Self Publishing Journeys, he interviews self-published authors about everything involved in writing, publishing, and promoting their books.
Episode you shouldn’t miss: Episode 097: Ron Vitale, Book Launch Strategy Ron shares the details of what he spent on his book launch, what worked and what didn't. (Term you should know for this episode. ARC = advanced reader copy. In other words, free copies that you give away in exchange for reviews. )
24. DIY MFA Radio
Gabriela Pereira is a writing teacher and author of middle grade and teen fiction. On this show, she talks process, craft, and the writer’s life with bestselling authors, writing teachers, and industry experts.
Episode you shouldn’t miss: Episode 177: Narration and Voice with Ayobami Adebayo - Author Ayobami Adebayo shares how she tested out different points of view on her debut novel and how she experiments with short stories to test out tense and time periods, and find empathy for her unlikeable characters.
The Begin Self-Publishing Podcast is hosted by sci-fi and fantasy author Tim Lewis. The show covers the basics of self-publishing and book promotion for authors who are just starting their career.
Episode you shouldn’t miss: Ebook Discovery Services with John Doppler. John Doppler, shares the results of his research on the effectiveness of book promotion services such as BookBub and the Fussy Librarian.
Rachel Herron has written romance, women's fiction, thriller, and a memoir. She also teaches writing in California. On How Do You Write?, she interviews other authors about the process of writing.
One episode you shouldn’t miss: Episode 065: Michelle Spiva on How to Grab Your Reader Instantly Your job as the writer is to give your reader an emotional experience. When you know what experience you're aiming for, you can plan for it up front and create fiction that hooks readers instantly. Listen to the episode for the steps to make it happen.
27. Lit Up!
Angela Breidenbach is a bestselling author of sweet and contemporary romance. She's also the president of the Christian Author’s Network. On this show, she reviews books and interviews industry experts to help creatives build their career.
Self Publishing School helps writers learn how to write and publish their first book. Hosted by Chandler Bolt, bestselling nonfiction author and founder of Self Publishing School. Most episodes cover the experience of nonfiction authors, but some offer advice for fiction writers as well.
Episode you shouldn’t miss: Episode 028: Getting Your First 10,000 Readers with Nick Stephenson Thriller and nonfiction author Nick Stephenson shares the steps to take to get your first 10k readers whether you write fiction or nonfiction.
Glenn Leibowitz leads communications and digital marketing in China for the McKinsey consulting firm. He's also a top business writer who's been named a LinkedIn Top Voice three years running. On this show, he interviews a wide range of writers and creatives including authors, bloggers, journalists, content marketers, and podcasters. The show covers writing craft, productivity, building an audience, and self-publishing.
Episode you shouldn’t miss: Libbie Hawker Shows You How to Outline a Page-Turning Novel Libbie Hawker writes historical fiction and is the author of Take off Your Pants: Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing. In this interview, she shares how finding your theme can help you outline your book.
Host Dave Robison gives the best guest intros EVER. This show has a unique format and a fun, campy tone. Well-known names in genre fiction, including many well-known sci-fi and fantasy authors, come on the show for two episodes. In the first, the Insights episode, the author shares their personal experience. In the second, the Brainstorm episode, the well-known author returns to workshop a story with a new writer. If you’d like to get your story workshopped, you can sign up to be a guest here.
Episodes you shouldn’t miss: Episode 115: Brainstorm (Guest Host: Beth Cato). Accomplished speculative fiction author Beth Cato and host Dave Robison workshop new writer Owen Sessions's sci-fi thriller. To hear Dave Robison's amazing intro of Beth, check out INSIGHTS: Beth Cato.
In this weekly podcast, full-time indie authors Johnny B. Truant, David Wright, and Sean Platt share their experience in self-publishing and interview guests. The majority of the episodes for this show are aimed at authors further along than their first book. Here's one episode that can help you become a better writer, no matter where you're at in your author career.
Episode you shouldn’t miss: Episode 265: Knowing Your Story Core with Lisa Bloom. Find the core of what makes you you, so you can do the same for your characters.
Ann Kroeker is a writing coach who helps writers complete their projects, organize their time, and improve as writers. In her podcast, she shares resources and tips in a few, brief minutes.
Episode you shouldn’t miss: Episode 130: The Simple Way to Clarify Your Content. Fun fact: I used the tip shared in this episode to write the intro to this blog post.
33. 88 Cups of Tea
Yin Chang is an author and actor who you played the lead in the Disney Movie Prom and had a recurring role on the TV show Gossip Girl. She interviews authors, screenwriters, filmmakers, and literary agents, including many creatives whose work is aimed at a teen audience.
Episode you shouldn’t miss: Writing Page-Turners & Crafting Memorable Characters Kiersten White shares how she created the characters in her And I Darken series which has been called Game of Thrones for YA readers.
Your turn: Did I miss any shows or episodes you've found helpful?