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Fiction Podcast Production & Marketing Tips from ‘Limetown’ and ‘The Bright Sessions’ —

This year, for the first time, the Austin Film Festival had an awards category honoring writers of fiction podcasts, aka audio dramas. (In this post, I’ll be using “fiction podcast” and “audio drama” interchangeably, though I recognize there can be differences.)

I was fortunate to be named a competition finalist, for the pilot episode of my second fiction podcast series. (My first series, Munchen, Minnesota, is a horror-comedy about a town discovering it has an underground population of bloodthirsty gnomes. Check it out!)

The best part of all, though, is that AFF has always been a writers’ festival. Along with showing films and handing out awards, it offers a weekend-long Writers’ Conference, chock full of panels and discussions about the craft of writing.

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Fun times at the Austin Film Fest!

This year’s conference schedule included a slate of sessions about fiction podcasting. Many of my audio drama heroes were present, nerding out about their craft: Skip Bronkie and Zack Akers of Limetown; Lauren Shippen of The Bright Sessions; Mac Rogers of Steal the Stars; KC Wayland of We’re Alive. Business-side folk from Authentic (a podcast advertising company), Audible, and Tor Labs also offered words of wisdom.

Not only did I get to hear from, and meet, all of those folks, but I hung out with dozens of other podcasters, including fellow finalists Philip Thorne and Oystein Brager of The Amelia Project; Jenny Elder Moke; and Kat Sandler of How to Build a Fire (the winner!). Within the space of a weekend, I’d developed a real, live, flesh-and-blood network of fiction podcast colleagues. Hooray!

I came away hugely inspired, and I’d heartily recommend the conference to any and all fiction podcasters, even if you don’t enter the contest.

Below are some specifics about how two successful shows — Limetown and The Bright Sessions — were developed and found their audiences. They’re excellent case studies, because they sit at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of their approach to production and marketing, and show the very diverse ways that a fiction podcast can be successful. The producers of Limetown took a very Hollywood approach, complete with contracts and SAG accreditation. The producer of The Bright Sessions started out in her bedroom, working with unpaid friends. And she still records there, scads of downloads later!

These tips are mostly about podcast production and marketing. If you want to learn more about how to write a fiction podcast, check out KC Wayland’s brand new e-book Bombs Always Beep. His A#1 tip? Don’t confuse listeners. That’s the kiss of death for a fiction podcast.

Now, on to those notes.

(Both Skip Bronkie and Lauren Shippen were nice enough to review these notes for me and provide corrections and additions, so they’re as accurate as possible.)

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