Nov 17th, 2020
We Make Books is hosted by Rekka Jay and Kaelyn Considine; Rekka is a published author and Kaelyn is an editor and together they are going to take you through what goes into getting a book out of your head, on to paper, in to the hands of a publisher, and finally on to book store shelves.
We Make Books is a podcast for writers and publishers, by writers and publishers and we want to hear from our listeners! Send us your questions, comments, and concerns!
We hope you enjoy We Make Books!
Hilary Bisenieks and his writing:
Mentioned in this episode:
(Our usual transcriptionist is taking a well-deserved break. Any drop in quality of today's transcript is totally our fault.)
Welcome back to another episode of We Make Books, the show about writing publishing and everything in between I'm Kaelyn Considine. I'm the acquisitions editor for Parvus Press.
And I'm Ri—(sputter) Who am I? I am Rekka. I write science fiction and fantasy as RJ Theodore.
So, um, today in a, in what we kind of joked was a slight departure, but then it turned out it really isn't that much of a departure from writing and publishing, we're talking about podcasting and, uh, you know, is this something that you need to do or have, or partake in at all?
I, I do plan to, um, you know, someday have an episode about actually, how do you do this if it's a thing you want to do? Um, because much like Kaelyn's conception of this podcast was based on someone going, what, how would you know what to do? Um, you know, that's, that's something that I—now I'm feeling like we already did this. Did we do that topic already? Or if I just planned it so thoroughly in my mind, I remember doing it.
We haven't done one about podcasts.
Okay. So I was just, yes. Okay. I've just done that thing.
It's okay. I dream podcast too. And then think we did episodes about stuff,
If only we could record those.
You don't, you don't want to see those.
So, yeah, so I thought, like, "Okay. Someday, we're going to have to do an episode on, like, I want to start a podcast. How do I do that?" But first, maybe we take you aside and we have a conversation about—
—Where do podcasts come from and is that something that you're ready for?
Um, and we didn't do this alone. We had a guest this week, sorry, we buried the lede there a little bit. We're we're joined this week by Hilary Bisenieks.
Hilary is the host of Tales from the Trunk. And, um, the podcast features monthly interviews with science fiction, fantasy and horror authors and readings from their trunked work. And I thought it would be great to have him on, to be another voice of reason in this conversation of like, "I'm a writer. There are lots of writers with podcasts. Is that a thing a writer is supposed to do? Is that a thing I need to do? I already have an idea? Is it a good idea? Should I do this? Um, I already bought a microphone. Should I do this?" You know, that's kinda how it goes.
If you listen to this episode and you're still like, "Yeah, this is a good idea. This is something I want to do." Then you've made it past the first step because we do not make this sound like a pleasant process.
We don't, do we? I mean, it is fun. We have a lot of fun. You hear stuff all the time, but it's a lot of work too. And, um, when we do that production process episode that I apparently believe I already did, um, you know, we'll get into the actual process, the time we spend, you know, the hours or the costs involved and stuff like that. Um, but for now, you know, before you even dip your toe in, have a listen to, uh, Kaelyn and my conversation with Hilary about like, where do podcasts ideas come from and should you follow through on them?
Enjoy everyone. We'll see you on the other side of the music.
Hilary Bisenieks (02:55):
I have never caused nonsense in my life.
It's sometimes it's nonsense sometimes it's, um, it's like varying degrees of chaos. The chaos is a little more deliberate than nonsense is something that just happens.
Hilary Bisenieks (03:26):
Yep. Sounds right.
So this episode is about making a podcast and we've just experienced one of the reasons not to.
Do you need one? Well, that depends. Do you like high blood pressure at a reasonable level?
So as we said in the intro, we are joined by Hilary. Um, we gave your podcast intro, um, already, but do you want to say a little bit about yourself? Um, you didn't, you know, have me mention that you were a writer as well, so—
Hilary Bisenieks (03:58):
Oh yeah. Minor stuff like that.
Not important, certainly not for a podcast about writing.
Hilary Bisenieks (04:05):
Yeah. Uh, I am a writer who has trunked a lot of stories, which I felt made me qualified to, uh, make a podcast about trunking stories. And, uh, you can find my work in Lamplight Magazine and in the anthology Skies of Wonder, Skies of Danger.
Awesome. So at what point did you decide that writing wasn't enough work that you wanted to add to it?
Hilary Bisenieks (04:41):
2005, when I decided that I wanted to be a writer, but I decided... I started my show, uh, in the spring of 2019, after having some conversations with other writing friends about how I thought that I had a really good idea for a podcast, and I really wanted somebody to do it.
Oh, I know nothing about that.
This sounds very familiar.
Hilary Bisenieks (05:09):
And then I realized that nobody else was going to do it. Then I was told that my initial idea for a podcast was going to be extremely difficult for somebody with as little name recognition as I had.
I'm having such flashbacks right now.
Hilary Bisenieks (05:23):
And then I changed the concept slightly, uh, at the suggestion of Sarah Gailey, who, if you ever get the chance to get an idea from Sarah Gailey, do it, do it, do it. Then I launched my podcast two months later.
So Hilary, do you want to talk about your podcast a little bit? What you conceived of it as the idea from Sarah Gailey and what it became?
Hilary Bisenieks (05:51):
Absolutely. So my initial idea was I really wanted to have a podcast that was, uh, kind of along the same lines as Mortified, where I would have writers come on and read excerpts from their juvenalia. Yeah. I thought it would just be a great time because I have a lot of terrible juvenalia in my trunk and I thought it would be super fun to have a show where you just get like Hugo winners to come on and read like just, you know, their childhood picture books and stuff like that. And Sarah Gailey rightly told me, "you, a person who, while—" I am, you know, talented and kind and whatever else— "have almost zero name recognition, not really going to be able to do that show.
Yeah. It's going to be hard to, to get those people on. Yes.
Hilary Bisenieks (06:54):
Uh, and so they suggested, I initially pitched it as like, "Oh, you know, nobody else is going to do the show. I should try to do this show" and pitched it to, uh, Sarah Gailey and some other friends. And they said to me, "I wouldn't be comfortable doing that, but you know what would be absolutely amazing is if you had one where people came on and read stories that they had trunked," and I was like, "Ohhhh."
And Hilary real quick, just for people who may be listening and don't know the phrase "trunked."
Hilary Bisenieks (07:32):
Oh yeah, yeah. Uh, so trunk is put your story in a trunk, decide that you can't sell it for whatever reason. Uh, there are, I think as many reasons to trunk a story as there are stories.
Yeah. Yeah. So like, if you, if you hear somebody say like, "I'm going to trunk this," it means "I'm not shopping this anymore. I'm not trying to, you know, I'm not going to query this even, you know, I have an agent and my agent is like, guys really, sorry, this is not—"
Hilary Bisenieks (08:00):
Yeah. My, my most recent episode of the show, uh, at the time that this goes up is, uh, talking with Jennifer Mace. And, uh, she brought onto the show, an excerpt from what was going to be her debut YA and then, uh, as we talked about on the show, she just couldn't sell it. It just wasn't fitting with the markets. And so she and her agent made the decision to stop trying to shop it around and move on to the next thing.
Uh, as, as an editor, I I'm radiating appreciation now for the ability to take a step back and say, "I've written this thing, I've spent all this time on it. This iteration of it is not going to sell. I like it's a, it was, I hopefully had a lot of fun writing it, but it's just not for public consumption."
Hilary Bisenieks (08:55):
Yeah. Yeah. And so, uh, you know, the, the idea pretty much spiraled from Sarah saying "if you had a show where people read their trunked stuff, I would totally be on that." And,
Things just went from there.
Hilary Bisenieks (09:12):
Uh, yeah, I, in, within a day I had a name within, I think two days after that I had a mock up sketch for my logo. Uh, thankfully I went to a college with a bunch of amazing creative people and like knew an illustrator already whose work I thought would work well for the concept I was going with.
I am, I'm having such flashbacks like right now, it's like, this is like this, this is almost exactly what happened to me with this. So, uh, you know, people who've listened to this show before probably heard me tell this story, but, um, the way this got started was I was, I was out with friends, somebody brought a new boyfriend and was doing the good new boyfriend thing where he's trying to like talk. I mentioned, you know, I, I have this publishing company with a, with a couple of friends and he was like, well, you know, "if you've write a book, like, what do you do then?" And I'm walking through all these steps and he's like, "well, how do you find that? Like, how do you know this?" Like, and I was like, "I just know it, like, you know, and there's things even I don't, I don't know."
And, you know, I had had a couple of glasses of wine or whatever, so I get home and I'm just Googling all of this stuff about like bookmaking process, you know, and there's like partial information. I was like, "wow, there is really no centralized kind of walkthrough of like the broad steps of what happens, you know, when you write a book and how it gets published." So I spoke— I woke up the next morning and I had written down a whole bunch of bullet points and scratched some things out. And what had, I reorganized them into something coherent. And I went to our publisher, Collin Coyle at Parvus Press and said, "I think we should do this limited run podcast series. We'll go through all of this. We can change, you know, we'll do 15 to 30 minutes an episode, depending on, you know, how big the topic is. Um, you can do it with, you know, guests on and stuff."
I had no intention of being on this. I don't like the sound of my own voice. I especially don't like it recorded. I think it does not sound like me at all. And Colin was like, "yeah, let's be honest. We don't really have time for that. And, um, but it's a really good idea, but maybe you should do this instead." So then Colin mentioned this to Rekka.
About that time I'd already had about, uh, you know, I think just slightly under a year of podcasting, um, with the different podcast and my podcast co-host lost all his free time and I was kind of trying to float it along and I was getting ready to give up, honestly, and I had a conversation with Colin, um, and he's like, "so you need a new cohost." I'm like, "yeah, I really do." And he's like, "so, uh, Kaelyn, who you met at the Nebulas. And he's like, she's got this concept for a podcast."
I said, "so Colin says, you want to do a podcast with me." And she's like, "no, God, no!"
I said, "I don't want to do a podcast. Somebody else was supposed to do the podcast. I just had the idea and I could edit it." Yeah. Sometimes it's—.
Hilary Bisenieks (12:26):
Podcasts just happen.
Yeah. So, but I will say that like one of the reasons Rekka and I decided to go through this—and we spent a lot of time looking for reasons that we shouldn't—was, is anybody making podcasts out there about publishing and the writing aspect of publishing? And we couldn't find anything and I was shocked. Um, there was like one thing that was like, uh, a graduate project from somebody doing like their master's degree.
It was all of like six episodes. And that was like three years ago.
It was very, very dry. I couldn't believe that there wasn't something out there that just talks about like, "Hey, here's an episode on, you know, what query letters are. Here's what it means if your book is distributed," you know, um, these very basic things that are hard to find concentrated information online about.
Hilary Bisenieks (13:28):
Yeah. Like, that's kind of the same angle that I came out with my podcast. One, once I jelled on the idea of trunked stories specifically, um, was like, there are so many podcasts about, you know, writing things and how to write good. Um, you know, we've got Writing Excuses, we've got, you know, Ditch Diggers with all these things, but there's no podcasts about, okay, "I wrote the thing and I couldn't sell it. And what do I do next? And like, how do I move on?"
So this podcast got started because I couldn't find anything else that was doing this. I went out of my way, Rekka and I both did, scouring the internet, trying to find anything, even a website, that was kind of like funneling all this information into one place. It sounds like you kind of came upon, you know, a unique idea as well. And so back to, you know, the central theme of this, Do You Need a Podcast? I think one of the ways to answer that is, is somebody else doing it? Are they doing it better than you're probably going to do it? Is that, you know, do you have the time for this? Is this something that the world really needs, is to hear this podcast? And I know this sounds like, I don't know if condescending's the right word, but you know, like sounds like weird advice coming from somebody who didn't even want to start a podcast and then did. But, um, you know, I think there's... This is something intrinsic to writers. No, no offense guys, but you guys like to talk, so to speak, in terms of, you know, getting words out into the world, um, a podcast is a way to get more words out into the world.
But there are an awful lot of writers who are terrified of the idea of actually speaking aloud to other people.
That's a good point. That's a very good point.
Hilary Bisenieks (15:27):
I thought that I hated the sound of my own voice before I started my podcast. And I won't say I love the sound of my own voice. That would be a very like cishet white guy thing to do. And I'm not about that, but like I've learned to get past the sound of my own voice because I was going to be hearing it, you know, on average 20 minutes an episode.
If you're going to edit your own stuff. You're going to be hearing your voice. And if that's going to really bother you, if you are going to feel like nails on chalkboard, every time you have to edit (cringey noises), just saying.
Hilary Bisenieks (16:03):
If it, if that's an incredibly uncomfortable and it's like, what's your pain point? You know, at what point are you going to say "this was a terrible idea." And the other, you know, thing to just do is just record a couple of episodes because we tend, when we release a podcast to have a couple of episodes banked up and released, like, you know, the, the new Dis— was it Disney+ or a Netflix that, um, put up a couple episodes of something recently?
Oh Amazon did with The Boys, they put, they put the first.
That's what I'm thinking of.
The first three out and then staggered the rest of them.
Yeah. So that's, that's how we started.
Hilary Bisenieks (16:37):
Um, and if you do three or four episodes, you're going to really know what it's like to edit in a crunch. You might know at the end of them, whether it's the thing you really want to do.
Hilary Bisenieks (16:48):
Yeah. I had a situation when I started the show that I recorded my first three episodes, uh, before I released anything, but I recorded them, just the schedules ended up working out, that I recorded them in reverse release order so that, thankfully, my most polished episode where I like had the best idea of what I was doing was the one that came out first. And then there was, I won't say like a dip in quality, I think there, like I still stand by all those episodes, but there's a dip in self-assurance that happens as you listen across the first three episodes where by the time I was recording with, uh, Sarah Gailey, I was like, "Oh yeah, I know exactly how to podcast for this format at this point." And when you get to the episode I did with RK Duncan, who like, you know, I say right up front, like, "this is the first time I'm doing this. This is going to be a hot mess."
Hilary Bisenieks (17:52):
And like, luckily, like in that case, I've known... Like me and Robin have been friends for 25 years. So it wasn't like a huge deal that it was a hot mess because we could just like, you know, jive off of each other, but it really helped to have that idea of like, "Oh, this is actually how you do a podcast" by the time I started recording more episodes and banking episodes out. And certainly by the time I started recording with people who I didn't have an established relationship with.
So to that point, do you, um, do you feel like you have a format, like a, uh, you know, a template that you go into every episode with, where you basically know how you're going to intro, you know how you're going to start the conversation, you know roughly how you're going to segue into the story and then how you're going to lead out again?
Hilary Bisenieks (18:53):
Absolutely. Uh, I, and that's something that I, you know, had to pick up over these first three episodes. I had sort of an idea when I started, before I recorded the first episode where I was like, "this is what I think the flow is going to be." And it turned out that that worked pretty well. And so since then, like when I do episode prep with people before they start recording, it's just, "okay, here's the format if you hadn't, haven't had a chance to listen to the show," you know, obviously I'd love for everybody to go listen to Tales from the Trunk, available wherever fine podcasts are sold. But I recognize that there's only so many podcasts hours in a day.
Yeah. You're lucky Hilary, you, you gave yourself a theme for your podcast that is really wide open. You could talk about anything because you have a guest and your guest has a story. So first you get to just have a conversation with your guest and then your guest reads you a story and that, and those two things don't have to relate. You don't have to organize things. Do you, um, do you plan your, your conversations out ahead of time? I mean, it is kind of an interview format, but do you just kind of start with one question and see where it goes?
Hilary Bisenieks (20:02):
Basically start with one question and see where it goes. There are times where I have specific questions that I want to ask. And, um, when I have those, I will, when I, when I invite a guest on, I send them a recording ReadMe to tell them how my recording workflow works and what their part is in that. And I send them a questionnaire that gets basic information, you know, how would you like to be credited? What name should I address you by during the show? What are your pronouns? Uh, are there any topics that I should absolutely avoid? What's the name of your story? Um, and then just like a bunch of, "I might ask these." Uh, the only question I always ask— only two questions I always ask. One is, you know, "why did you trunk this thing?" And two is, I always try to trick my guests into giving me some words of wisdom by the end of the show.
Excellent. We know what to do now.
Hilary Bisenieks (21:13):
Normally I, I asked them, I frame it as, uh, "the TARDIS has showed up in my podcasting studio and come take a step inside this time machine with me, let's go back and talk to [young writer guest] about what you wish you would've known."
Yeah. Yeah. So if you're at home right now, you've been stuck inside for months and you're thinking, you know what? I think it's time to start a podcast. The other question is, do you have time for this? This is, you know, this is a lot of time, but then also beyond that, are you good at talking about things? Um, if you're going to be doing this by yourself, can you talk in an engaging way for, you know, 30 minutes to an hour? If you're doing this with someone else, are you friendly enough that you can talk to them for thir—? And if you're interviewing somebody, are you good at interviewing people? Um, which I think we, you know, say like, Oh, whatever, I'm just going to ask them questions. That's not, you know, that's not how this works. And—
Hilary Bisenieks (22:15):
That's not an interview.
Yeah. And, well also Hilary, I'm sure you've, you've come across this plenty of times is that, you know, some people aren't great at being interviewed and it's the, the job to kind of make them comfortable and get them to, you know, open up and talk.
Hilary Bisenieks (22:28):
Yeah. I went to college for creative writing. And so I took a lot of creative writing classes, both in fiction and in nonfiction, basically all of the, like long-form journalism classes that were offered at my school.
Hilary Bisenieks (22:44):
From a professor who was not a full-time professor, her first job is being a journalist. And so she was able to like really talk us through it. And like one of our first assignments was an interview where the whole thing was just doing "Q, whatever," "A, whatever." That doesn't make it engaging interview piece. And so learning about the narrative structure of interviews, I think really helped me there. And just generally, like, I'm, I'm an introverted person, but I can turn on the extrovert, you know. But one of my goals for the show was just to be like a very quiet kind, queer place to be, and like bri— myself, bringing that energy makes it, I think, easier for my guests to come on and like open up about things. And I'm never like, you know, pushing, like, "tell me about your childhood," but just like, you know, "tell me about this story. Like, let's dig in a little bit like that."
When you are listening to the author, reading their work, your like acoustic feedback is so just like gentle and kind and wonderful. It's like, you'll just hear— um, Kaelyn, I don't know if you've listened to an episode yet, but you'll hear Hilary just go, "Ooh," as someone's reading. And to get that kind of feedback is really nice. And I'm sure that adds to that like friendly, Like I'm not just here on a stage reading this thing out with a spotlight on my face. I can't see anybody. Like, I'm actually sharing this with somebody.
But that's a really good point again with, you know, should you start a podcast or, you know, is this a good idea to? You have to understand this is an audio medium. Um, if you are, and it's funny listening to Tales from the Trunk, I dare say that Hilary, and stop me if I'm about to put my foot in my mouth here, there's a little bit of acting, if you will?
Hilary Bisenieks (24:47):
Maybe some over exaggeration, you know, things that you maybe wouldn't vocalize because you need to vocalize, because this is an audio medium. They can't see the expressions you're making on your face. So whatever you're thinking, you've got to get out of your mouth somehow without interrupting.
Hilary Bisenieks (25:03):
Yes. And I am nodding along as you're saying this, but.
In our audio medium.
Hilary Bisenieks (25:08):
And that's only for the benefit of you two.
I'm just going to add to the list of things to consider when you are trying to decide if you are going to start a podcast. Um, and sadly we know if you are already asking yourself this question, you're probably going to try it anyway.
Hilary Bisenieks (25:23):
But, um, well, the one thing to consider is what do you hope to gain from doing this podcast? Because, um, if you are a writer and you are hoping to reach a wider audience of readers, you're going to create a much different podcast than you would if you were someone trying to help other writers, you know, improve their craft, or get a foot in the door with publishing or whatever you're doing, those are two very different targets. And if you write, if you, um, if you create a podcast for writers, then that's great, It's going to help some, you know, you'll probably network and make friends or something like that. You can mention it, you know, you'll go to conventions and conferences and you'll meet people and hit it off and invite them on and you'll have guests to interview, but you're not going to increase book sales.
Hilary Bisenieks (26:18):
Even if you were, um, making a podcast to specifically about your writing and your books, you're probably not going to increase book sales, right? So, keep that in mind.
Yeah, because if you're podcasting about your writing and your books, presumably you're a bestseller of some kind, and there is an audience that is very interested in hearing your process. So that's more of a "first sell lots of books then podcast about it," not the other way around.
And chances are, if you're selling lots of books, you are also expected by your publisher to write a lot more of them. So now you're on deadlines and you don't actually have time to edit your own episodes. And like, maybe, maybe consider how this works a little bit. Now, there are people out there who write, um, and like podcast about it in a blog format where it's, um— Like Mur Lafferty's I should be writing for example, which is a very long running podcast is very popular and is literally Mur, usually in a car, um, saying like, "well, I was frustrated today and you know, like it wasn't flowing" or, um, "I really wanted to work on this thing, but I have a deadline for this other thing. And I can't tell you about it because it's under contract." So like, you know, there's the, um, the thing that you get out of like that podcast, for example, or that I get out of it is just this, like, I'm not alone in doing it. And, um, and the purpose of like another podcast might be like more performance, an audio drama. You know, somebody actually writes a story and performs it over a series of episodes. And then they have seasons and each season is either a new story or seasons like TV shows. And, um, if you can find an audience for that, then that actually might help your writing. But, um, keep in mind what you want to be the end result of this. If you just want to chat with a friend and you're like, "we say really smart things, we should record this" then like that's also an option, but what what's it, if its intent is just to be a little like self-gratifying, then that's also fine. As long as you know that when you start off.
Hilary Bisenieks (28:25):
I will say it's a lot of work to just be self gratified. I could not do this if that was my only goal. I love, don't get me wrong, I absolutely love making my show. And I love, like I've, it's opened doors for me in terms of like meeting new people and getting to the, on other podcasts like here and I was on an episode, um, uh, I think a Patreon-exclusive episode currently, of Rank and Vile, but, uh, like it's so much work to do upon. I'm not doing it just to like stroke my ego.
I would go so far as to say that it is in some ways, very similar to writing a book. Um, it's something that everybody thinks, "Oh, whatever, that's easy. I can just do that. I have lots of ideas. I have lots of stuff I need to say." And then when it comes down to actually doing it, you know, like, they're like, if you go back and listen to some of the early episodes bracket and I did, they're not bad, but they're not, the conversation is not as smooth as it gets in later episodes because, you know, we do this together, obviously. Now, if this were just me on my own, I, like, I, it would just be like me getting some words out and then crying a little bit and then, and starting again. Um, but I think everybody, there's certain things that everyone's like, well, "that's easy. I can do that."
Um, writing a book and starting a podcast are definitely the, uh, at the top of that list. Neither of them are easy things to do. Neither of them are straightforward processes and there are a lot more steps in there than you ever think there are going to be.
And let's be real doing one doesn't necessarily benefit the process of doing the other.
And by the way, doing one doesn't mean that you're going to be good at doing the other. Um, you know, just because you write a book and maybe let's say you've even had that book published, that doesn't mean that you're going to be good at doing a podcast about writing that doesn't even mean that you should do a podcast about writing.
I feel called out.
Hilary Bisenieks (30:37):
I don't have a book out. I'm fine.
It's a lot of work and it is not as easy as it seems just to, not even in terms of the work itself, but in terms of like coming up with meaningful things to talk about on a consistent basis, um, you know, even like with us, like we do a different topic every week and what happens is we tend to, you know, go in spurts where we come up with a whole bunch of ideas at once. And then we were like, okay, "'we've got to sit down and come up with the next group of ideas and plan and plan this out. Um, you know, Hilary I'm sure for you, it's, you know, it's a week to week, well month to month, of trying to find people to come on to talk to?
Hilary Bisenieks (31:22):
I will say it was last year. And I think partly through the networking that I've done and partly through just like gaining some recognition, uh, it's become a lot less of that. Uh, at, at the start of this year, I think I had, uh, like half of my guests already booked before I started recording my season two. And at this point I have a quarter of my guests for season three booked already.
Oh okay yeah, so you're in really good shape.
Hilary Bisenieks (32:01):
A lot of that is that it's harder, when you're working with a, with a rotating cast, to pin people down that like initially... Uh, exclusive sneak preview my January, I guess it's going to be Fran Wilde. And initially Fran was going to be on in June, but then deadlines and pandemic and everything just stacked up and we couldn't make it happen.
Hilary Bisenieks (32:29):
So, you know, I was, I, uh, very quickly turned around and got Merc Wolfmoor on the for June. And I was able to like take that up, but only because I had planned ahead far enough to say, like, you know, I'm, I'm recording this weekend for the November episode and that's about as close as I ever liked.
Hmm that's yeah, that's, that's fairly close. Cause you know, it's November and everything.
Hilary Bisenieks (33:03):
I will have Westman two weeks after recording to get the episode together. To peek behind the curtain. I'm typically finishing the episode up with less than a week ago before release, but that's just editing. That's just, I have to sit down and pound out two to three hours of editing, as opposed to, I have to pin somebody down for an hour and a half reporting session, make sure that our schedules can line up, which especially like I live in California. A lot of my guests do not live in California. If you don't live in the same time zone as me. It's going to get more and more hairy. And so like figuring out that sort of stuff makes it a lot harder and makes it, uh, you know, it's a real commitment and especially, you know, you guys do it on a weekly basis. I do my episodes on a monthly basis. Like that consistency is something that I think is really key.
Yeah. Rekka and I did, last year, we did Submissions September.
Oh God, yes.
...and both of us had like...
Hilary Bisenieks (34:18):
It was like, what did we end up with, like nine episodes?
Nine. Nine episodes in September.
Yeah. We ended up with nine episodes.
That was too many episodes. By the way.
Hilary Bisenieks (34:28):
That's a lot of episodes.
In 30 days. It was, it was a lot, um, some of them were a little shorter than was typical, but, you know, we decided like it, and again, this is just, this is another thing if you're going to start a podcast. It is a many-headed Hydra and—
Just be aware of alliteration when you come up with these things that like, we're going to do Submissions September and Artwork August, you know, what that means is you're going to have to come up with multiple episodes on the same topic and have them ready to go in the same month. And if you need guests, you need to be able to schedule them to fall so that you can publish their episodes where it feels appropriate to slip that episode in. And sometimes it just doesn't go your way.
And then on top of this is the work that goes into actual it to the episode before you actually record it. Um, you know, depending on the topic, like I may end up doing several hours of research and, um, even just sitting down, gathering my thoughts before we, before we start talking about things. Um, it's, you know, if I'm, if I'm going to state anything in any sort of a definitive way, I'm to make sure that what I'm stating is correct. So again, you know, depending on if you're thinking of doing this and what you're thinking, the, the topics or the, uh, you know, the theme of this might be, you need to factor into, you know, you don't always just get to sit down and start talking into a microphone and it's, it's going to win a Grammy.
Hilary Bisenieks (35:55):
Well I don't know about you, I get to sit down and talk into a microphone for an hour and a half. It just works out.
But think of all the work that goes into even, you know, yours beforehand, like yes, it's interviews, but all the time that you have to work on scheduling that, uh, getting in touch with people. Also, I assume that you've researched your guests before they come on. Now, granted, it sounds like you know a lot, a lot of them, but like at the same time, you know, if somebody you don't really know is introduced to, to you, you're going to spend time, you know, doing some research on them, checking up on all their stuff. You also have to make sure that they're going to be someone that you want to have on your podcast and aren't just going to go off on tangents, you know, discussing the conspiracies of chemtrails that are gonna turn us all into lizards.
Hilary Bisenieks (36:40):
Thankfully, that hasn't happened yet.
You mean disappointingly that hasn't happened yet.
Hilary Bisenieks (36:47):
I'm leaving the option open that it could. But yeah, you're absolutely right. And like, you know, I, I downplay some of that, but like, you know, before I even started the show, I was making just a list of everybody I could think of who would be cool to have on the show and building out, I built out a spreadsheet that is like my pride and joy that has color changing checkboxes to let me track where in flight, every single episode is and has tabs to track—because I double booked one month then suddenly I was like, "Oh, I actually have to like, have something where I write down who's on which month and can check that box to say, okay, have a guest for this month so I don't double book." So one of the things I'll say for podcasting for the format that I do, it has been an immense joy to me, but kind of tying back to what we've talked about previously of figuring out why you're going to do this podcast.
Hilary Bisenieks (37:58):
Like, you know, I didn't start this podcast because I wanted to win a Hugo award for best fancast—I would love to win a Hugo award for best fancast, iIf you are Hugos Georg who lives in the mountain and whittles 50,000 Hugos a day, please get in touch with me, I'd love one of those. But like I do this podcast to connect with people like me first and foremost, and the response that I've gotten from the podcast over time, you know, like if you're just in it for watching numbers go up on a graph, like good luck with that. But it's not, it's a long game.
Hilary Bisenieks (38:45):
Uh, especially if you don't have name recognition, but if you're in it for like the moments of personal connection, when somebody finds your podcast and tweets at you and says, "I just stumbled on this podcast. And it's the most amazing thing for me," or, you know, you hear that one of your friends who had started listening to your podcast is talking about, like, "I think this is the best podcast for a working writer and you should absolutely be checking it out if you want to be a writer." Like those are, those are the things that have really made it worthwhile in the long term.
Yeah. The incredibly gratifying moments of this. Well, then I'm gonna finish this off with, with a question let's, let's get in that TARDIS and go back to to little—
I don't have my piano wire ready. I didn't know we were doing this.
So, you know, previous, younger, wiser, less, less jaded Hilary, you know, what would you have told yourself?
Hilary Bisenieks (39:56):
Oh gosh. Um, so from a process level, I would've said get a macro pad or a dedicated keyboard to make your editing flow easier. Uh, I edited the first like five episodes—I think I edited the whole first season—with like just constantly going back and forth between keyboard and mouse and having to remember a million different shortcuts. But because I was only putting out an episode a month, I didn't, they weren't sticking in muscle memory as quickly as some other things, but I have a macro tab now that just has like a knob that zooms in and out, and a dedicated save button, and dedicated buttons for all of the things I do regularly for the show. And just physically, that makes it a lot easier for me. The other thing I would have said is just like, be open, be open to what this is going to bring, because it's not ,like whatever you're expecting, it's not going to be that it's going to be it's whole own thing.
Hilary Bisenieks (41:15):
Like I, I set out to make a single season and that was, at partway through the season, I was like, "Oh, I think I can do this again. I think I can produce 12 more episodes." Here I am now, having produced almost because I started doubling up for the pandemic. But boy, I wasn't expecting to make the friends that I've made through doing this podcast that, um, you know, I wasn't expecting to actually meet like strangers to me during the podcast where like I have friends who said to me, "Hey, I think this person would be an amazing guest for you. Would you like me to link you up with them?" So just like being open that open to that and being open to it being as much about the process as about the product, but like I finish recording a podcast episode or I finish editing a podcast episode—I didn't think I would enjoy editing—but I finished recording or editing just like grinning ear to ear because, you know, for the last hour, hour and a half, I was just shooting the shit with a friend.
And you've made a thing out of it now.
Hilary Bisenieks (42:43):
Yeah. It's my schtick now, which is great. I didn't know that was going to be the thing. I was just like, "I want to have people come on and read their trunked stuff cause I think that that will be cool." And it's turned into this whole thing of like, it's a conversation where I get to like invite you into my recording studio and just like share this very, almost intimate conversation just between two friends for an hour.
That's part of the draw of it, I think is this, you hear other people's podcasts and they're having such a nice time just having a conversation. The one that comes to mind other than obviously the trunk cast is, um, David Tennant Does a Podcast With, which are, you know, the same sort of thing. David Tennant has a conversation with someone who is, might be an actor, might be a writer, you know, some kind of performer. And they kind of just talk about all sorts of stuff. And, um, it has that same intimate, you know, like they're having a phone call and we just happen to be able to hear it kind of thing. It's very cool. And I love that. I'm starting to like look for that now. And it's probably the loneliness of, you know, this isolated—
My favorite ones are the ones where I can tell that the people on it are actually friends and like each other and look forward to getting together to record these. Um, you know, I, I like that dynamic and I, like Rekka said, you know, I feel like I'm just getting to listen to some friends talk about something that is interesting to me.
Hilary Bisenieks (44:22):
Yeah. Yeah. I will say that one of my inspirations of like, yeah, I could do this was listening to Be The Serpent, it's just three friends goofin' for an hour. And like I started the show before the pandemic, but there was definitely an element for me of like, "Oh, they have like, that is like genuine friends doing a friendship," you know, in a performative way.
They have an outline, but they are definitely, yeah.
Hilary Bisenieks (44:56):
Yeah they have an outline, but like, it was still like, you know, "I want to have what they're having."
Yeah. And I think there's a lot of people that, you know, kind of get started in, in this because it's like, I'm getting to see all of these great things that I really like and want to be a part of in some way. So which, you know, hey, if you've got, you know, if you've got a good friend that you enjoy doing this with and want to, uh, you know, start, that's, that's like I said, those are my favorite podcasts to listen to.
But if you're forcing it, people will be able to hear that too. It'll be more work for you. It'll be, you know, laborious, to listen to.
It won't be enjoyable. Yeah. Final, final thoughts, everyone. Should she start a podcast?
Okay. I'm going to turn this around on you before we do final thoughts, Kaelyn, for the TARDIS, what would you tell yourself?
Because this is about all of us now, you know, like this is, this is a conversation about, we all ended up podcasting. How did that happen? And, um, you can be honest if you have regrets.
No, no, I certainly, I certainly don't have regrets. What I would tell myself is first, start having guests on earlier. Um, I think we got so excited with all of the stuff we wanted to talk about that we sort of neglected, you know, what I think has become some of our better, you know, well, not better, but best episodes with, uh, you know, when we have.
"Not better, but best" I like that.
Well no, like the, the fun ones where like, you know, we have a really nice conversation is, you know, where we've had, where we've had guests on. Um, I would also say, you know, there, there's a couple little things in like past episodes and of course you can look back on this and go, "Oh, that was wrong. That was wrong." Where, um, my, my regrets are primarily centered around myself and times that I thought I maybe wasn't conveying information as succinctly. In general, I would make someone else do this now, as was the original plan. No, I'm joking. I really enjoy this. I have a lot of fun getting talked to Rekka, uh, you know, and, um, especially when I used to get to go visit her, you know, before, uh, when people still used to travel places. Yeah. I think, I think most of my, my look-backs kind of stem from," I should have said this in this episode, or I should have explained this more clearly." Um, part of me would say, you know, go back and have more of a like succinct timeline of like start to finish here as was my original plan. But I think in some ways it's better to jump around a little bit, you know? So it's not like, "Hey, we did this initial run of this, and now we're like scrounging for, you know, other things to talk about." Like, I like that we kind of, you know, spread this out and it's not like a exact chronology of how, uh—
Yeah, like, sorry we already talked about agents. We can't go back. Now. This isn't an audio book where there was a chapter on agents and then middle of chapter 12, you're talking about agents again.
Yeah, yeah. Um, so Rekka, what, uh, what's in your TARDIS?
Well I have the privilege of, um, having already done two podcasts before this one.
Yeah. And to interrupt Rekka real quickly here. My list would be a lot longer if Rekka hadn't been involved in this because.
I got to learn a lot of mistakes for you.
Yeah. Rekka just shepherded me through this whole thing. And I was like, "maybe this" she's like, "yeah, I did that. And it made me start pulling my hair out. Let's not do that."
Hilary Bisenieks (48:17):
Yeah. Um, so in my first podcast, um, one, we recorded weekly and we recorded on Monday and it was up on Wednesday. Um, the only part of that, that I regret is just how constant the need to be like tuned into it was. Um, we did have an audio producer for that podcast, so somebody was editing it for us. Um, but then I learned that I needed to, uh, double check everything.
Hilary Bisenieks (48:47):
So somebody was editing and then I would be like, "ah, yeah, no, that's, um, that needs to be edited. Could you please take this out" where we are clearly saying this is going to get edited out? Like, you know, um,
Hilary Bisenieks (49:00):
Not in a jokey way.
Not in a jokey way. Um, so as I have learned many times in my life, if you want something done, right, do it yourself. Or if you want something done to your own standards, do it yourself. Which is not to say I haven't made mistakes or missed things that could have been edited out, but like, you know, nothing obvious, hopefully.
Um, and then, uh, so I would go, well, I did, with this one, we went biweekly and, um, we plan things out in advance. We had, um, generally a list of ideas and Kaelyn would come up basically for a weekend. So we'd get, you know, a batch of them ready, and then we'd edit them kind of one at a time to stay ahead of, uh, putting them out there. Uh, another thing that I regret not doing in my first podcast was, uh, providing transcripts for accessibility reasons and also search engine optimization. Once again, accessibility improves everyone's life. So, um, you get those keyword hits if you have every word that you said in your podcast available for a text reader to scan, um, in addition to the benefit it provides to humanity. So I'm very glad that we've been doing transcripts for this podcast.
And, um, I definitely definitely like that. And then a microphone set up for multiple people in one room. Yeah. We did a lot of experimenting with various microphones and, um, having to rerecord episodes a couple of times and stuff like that. But yeah, I mean, there's always something to learn with the technology and it's never going to behave even when you think you've got it down. And, um, um, if you can podcast with a co-host that you can like go to have smoked barbecue, like do it, that's how I recommend doing it. It's definitely like my first podcast co-host was from Texas, but I never got barbecue as a result of being on that podcast. This podcast has gotten me much more pork belly and brisket.
And jars of bacon.
And bacon in jars. Yes. But, you know, like, did I think that podcasting was going to increase my readership? Um, I think I did think that originally. Um, but I, you know, obviously I've learned that, cause that was my point earlier is, you know, know what you think you're going to get out of it and know who you're talking to. So that would be something that I would have gone back and told baby Rekka, for sure.
So, all right. Then final thoughts here around the table. Should you start a podcast?
Hilary Bisenieks (51:29):
I was going to say maybe too.
I think that makes it a hundred percent accurate response.
Yeah, Yeah, absolutely.
I mean, only you know.
Yeah. I would say maybe if you go into it with the expectation of, I'm not expecting too much of this and if it doesn't go anywhere, then it's a fun hobby.
Yeah. And then, so the next episode will be, "do you need three podcasts?" The co-host I mentioned that, um, was my co-host on Hybrid Author Podcast, uh, had five podcasts at the time and was recording a podcast episode every night, sometimes two a day, uh, to stay on top of that. So like when he, when he ran out of time to do one, he, it was, you know, he'd obviously run out of time to do all of them. So that was a very sudden collapse of his podcasting world and social life. Cause then, you know, you're not talking to your friends all the time. Oh. And I would say, go find a friend to do it with. It makes it a lot more fun.
I was going to say, I mean, when I podcast, I get to talk to my friends a lot. So, you know, that's, that's definitely a benefit for us.
And make new ones.
Yes. So speaking of new friends, Hilary, where can people find you online?
Hilary Bisenieks (52:34):
Uh, folks can find me on Twitter @hbbisenieks that's H B B I S E N I E K S, where I am.
We'll have that in the shownotes.
Hilary Bisenieks (52:45):
Perfect, where you will find me shitposting about a lot of different things. Um, sometimes it's technology, sometimes it's writing, lately for completely mysterious reasons, it's been Philadelphia, uh, and you can find my podcast Tales from the Trunk, wherever you buy fine podcasts. Uh, it should be available on all the major podcasting platforms. Uh, so, you know, do me a solid leave me a review, all that good stuff. Uh, you can also find my links to all my writing at hilarybisenieks.com
Great. Thanks so much. Well, thank you for coming on. We, you know, this was really great. Um, you know, it's, it's, uh, slightly off topic for writing and publishing podcast, but I think we just determined not really.
Hilary Bisenieks (53:42):
Mm-hmm. Completely on topic.
Yes. So, well, thank you. We really enjoyed talking to you and, uh, you know, definitely check out Tales from the Trunk. It's, um, if nothing else you get to hear a nice story.
Hilary Bisenieks (53:51):
Absolutely. Thank you so, so much again this was super fun.
Thank you, this was fun.
Thanks for coming on.
Thanks everyone for joining us for another episode of We Make Books. If you have any questions that you want answered in future episodes, or just have questions in general, remember, you can find us on Twitter at @WMBcast, same for Instagram, or WMBcast.com. If you find value in the content that we provide, we would really appreciate your support at patreon.com/WMBcast. If you can't provide financial support, we totally understand. And what you could really do to help us is spread the word about this podcast. You can do that by sharing a particular episode with a friend who can find it useful, or if you leave a rating and review at iTunes, it will feed that algorithm and help other people find our podcast, too. Of course, you can always retweet our episodes on Twitter. Thank you so much for listening and we will talk to you soon.