Veronica Belmont


► Talking about partners, there is something for which I have found conflicting information: In what capacity are you part of the BoingBoing network?
We are not paid to be part of the BoingBoing network. We are part of the family, which means we are able to post our shows onto BoingBoing’s site. But we do not get any kind of advertising money or payment for that privilege.

► So what does that do for you? I’m sure there are a lot of podcasters out there who have some sort of mythical idea about the benefits of being part of such a network.
It grew our listenership a little bit. That was pretty much it. (laughs) For a while, we had advertising money, but as we mentioned before, we no longer have that. I don’t know that I have a better answer for you there, because I don’t even have a way to quantify how it changed the listenership. It was probably somewhere in the hundreds. The thing is that I am a huge fan of BoingBoing, so for me it is really exciting to see our show on the site, regardless of any effects it may or may not have.

► That is decidedly a very much non-corporate kind of thinking and supports what you said earlier, that this is mostly a hobby for you. Would you say that you did away with all the corporate thinking you had to apply when podcasting for CNET?
Yes, I think it is fair to say that now we’re thinking more of the audience, instead of the bottom line. After all, we don’t have a bottom line that we have to meet. We don’t have profits to consider. We don’t have advertisers to satisfy. At the end of the day, all we have to think about is keeping our listeners happy. The Patreon is a new motivating factor now, meaning we try to keep our patrons happy. But that is pretty much the same as keeping the general listeners happy. Of course it would be nice to get a bump in listenership every once in a while, but numbers simply isn’t why we’re doing it.

► Even if it’s not a driving force for you, how close are you to the numbers? Do you know them but just don’t care what they are, or do you not even look at the numbers on a regular basis?
You know, I never thought about it at all until we joined BoingBoing. Then we switched over to Soundcloud for our hosting, and now it’s just there, every time I look at it. (laughs) Suddenly I see the numbers whenever I go to the website. I’d be lying if I said that this doesn’t have an effect. Now I find myself thinking, ‘Oh, we have a few hundred fewer listeners than last week, I wonder what we did differently’ or ‘We had a jump in listeners – did someone embed the Soundcloud file somewhere that we don’t know about?’ It does make you ask all those little questions, but for me it is more out of curiosity than anything.

Veronica Belmont with Sword & Laser co-host Tom Merritt
Veronica Belmont with Sword & Laser co-host Tom Merritt (photo courtesy of Veronica Belmont)

► Do these considerations happen only in your mind or do Tom and you talk about these things?
We do talk about it. And Tom is much better at this kind of stuff than I am. If I go into a mini panic over having lost 500 listeners, he’ll be like, ‘Oh, it’s August, people are on vacation. We saw the same trend on DTNS this week’ or ‘We posted it in the morning, not in the evening as usual, and that makes things different’. He really knows his stuff.

► With your Patreon having been up for a while now, what changes are we going to see in the near future?
The biggest change is probably that we’re going to see a lot more interviews. We had a little bit of a dip in the interviews we were conducting, simply because we were so busy and allowed ourselves to get distracted a little bit. Now that we are backed by our patrons, I’m able to dedicate more time to the process. We’ve got a great number of interviews coming up in the next couple of weeks and through the spring. Also, Tom and I are planning on working on the next iteration of the Sword & Laser anthology – so probably around springtime we’re going to talk a lot more about that and prepare listeners to send in their short stories for it. Other than that, there are a lot of conferences coming up. We’re definitely going back to DragonCon this year. And we’re looking into other events that we can fly out to, as well as other partnerships that we can do with media companies, such as Open Road Media, with whom we have partnered with in the past. There are definitely a lot of opportunities out there, and we have been very fortunate with the authors we have worked with, with the relationships with publishers and editors. At this point, it’s really just up to our imagination with what we can up with next.

► Any development that you personally would love to see? Marrying the concepts of sci-fi and fantasy here: The new media fairy grants you one wish in connection with Sword & Laser – what would it be?
I’d like to get Neil Gaiman on the show. That has been our number one get for a very long time. I’ve had pretty much any author I ever wanted to get on Sword & Laser, but he remains my White Whale at this point. If we can get him on the show, I could probably die happy. So, yeah, Sword & Laser of the future will have had Neil Gaiman on a very successful interview podcast.

► Since we talked about jobs that have no titles and since you are the host of a podcast about science fiction and fantasy, let me end on this question: If future Veronica could have a tech-related job that doesn’t exist yet, what would it be?
Oh, that’s a tough one. How about some sort of holodeck programme tester?

► Okay, good one. But why just a tester and not a programmer?
Are you kidding me? Being a programmer would be a lot more difficult and being a tester would be a lot more fun. (laughs) :x:

This interview first appeared in issue no.2 of XCENTS.

featured image courtesy of Veronica Belmont

Interview by Ewan McGee.

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