► For the brave or reckless who still want to take their chances, what is the bare minimum you need to record a decent podcast – be it for a serialised novel or something else?
Let’s see. I started out with an iMac, a basic microphone and Apple’s own GarageBand as a recording software. I put all of that in my closet, because the hanging clothes provided some level of sound baffling. And then I just started upgrading from there. Three years later, with the money from my book deal, I bought really good recording equipment, which I still have and use to this day, but it is a huge amount of overkill if I’m honest. People can buy something like a Zoom H4 or an H6 – portable recorders that come with really good built-in microphones.
► What price range are we looking at here? A couple hundred bucks?
Yes. I think the Zoom H6 is the best thing I’ve ever used and I think it’s something like 350 bucks. And that’s your whole recording studio. You take the little card from that and put it in your computer, where you can edit for free on something like GarageBand. The barriers for entry are really low. And if you really want to upgrade, like getting an even better mic, you can get them for a reasonable price and plug them right into your portable recorder. You don’t need a big mixing table or rack gear. Not calculating the costs of your computer, we’re talking about 300 to 400 bucks that’ll make you sound as good as anything you hear on Audible. Especially once it is all squashed down to mp3 files.
► And the editing can be done by just about anyone who knows how to handle a computer…
Sure. Professional editors have a skill set that I don’t possess and that most people don’t have. But to just record your voice you hit record, let it run and don’t stop for anything. What I do when I screw up a take is I snap my fingers twice in front of the microphone. That creates two big, visible spikes you use as markers for retakes. The rest is just cutting out what you don’t want, tightening what you keep, then export it. It’s really not complicated. It takes three to four months, ten to 20 episodes of editing until it becomes natural. Computers make it so easy today. PC or Mac, there are equally viable options of doing it on both. And people can do it themselves, which I actually recommend doing with the first book. That way you will know exactly what kind of work goes into it, in case you later decide to hire someone to do it for you – so you can give them very specific instructions on how you want it done.
► Another special aspect of the Scott Sigler approach is that you use what essentially is crowdfunding to print the books that you publish yourself. But you’re not using a crowdfunding platform, you use your own channels. Is there a reason behind not going with Indiegogo or Kickstarter, etc?
There simply is no advantage for us to use Kickstarter for this, because we already got our audience and we have a way of reaching them. All a third-party platform would do for us is take a percentage of money that we would otherwise keep for ourselves. It doesn’t make sense. What we do is presell the book about eight months before publication. We contact our fans through our website, newsletter, etc, and because we offer a limited amount of numbered and signed copies, it creates kind of an event feel. The sooner you order, the lower your number will be, which almost is a badge of honour among fans. It’s a fun thing. And we end up anywhere between 750 to 1,000 orders on day one, out of a total of 2,000 copies we print. So that preorder money comes to us, giving us the capital to physically produce the book. We’ve been doing this before Indiegogo or Kickstarter even existed, I think. At least before they became known. And it works for us because we’ve built the audience for it. That’s what you have to do first. A lot of people try to crowd fund the physical copies of their first novel, before having an audience, which is – I don’t know…
►… setting themselves up for failure and heartache?
Yes. You have to put in the time and work first. Bite the bullet for a few years maybe. Find and built your own audience. Utilise the ebook formula. And, of course, once you’ve done that, you don’t have to do it like we do. You’re free to use Kickstarter. It’s certainly a tool that works. We just don’t need it because we built our own tools.
► So you don’t think using another platform could potentially bring you an influx of new readers? People who might otherwise not discover you?
It depends on the project. We will do one in 2015, the proceeds of which will go to a charity called Cosmo Quest, dedicated to citizen science. And that is something we might get new fans off. For the GFL books, however, I don’t see the appeal of Kickstarter, no.