A few years ago, I read a fascinating book about the golden era of radio (early 1920’s to early 1950’s) by Leonard Maltin entitled, “The Great American Broadcast.” It chronicled the evolution of radio entertainment – soap operas, comedy series, suspense thrillers – prior to the emergence of television.
The podcast novel or “podiobook,” like early radio, is steadily coming into its own as both an art form and promotional device. While exploring some of the podiobook blogs, I came across 7th Son, J.C. Hutchins’ blog / podiobook center. 7th Son is a trilogy of 3 books – Descent, Deceit, and a third book (not yet named) to debut on July 7, 2007. Seventh Son has become as much a community as a podiobook.
Here are just some of the interesting features you can find on his site:
- An active blog attached to the podcast, featuring interviews with other authors or news about the progress of the story itself
- Access to prior episodes
- Links to prior stories in his trilogy
- Media coverage
- Appearances on other podcasts
- An area called 7th Son Download Center featuring content created by listeners – e.g. screensavers, graphics, videos, essays, banners, avatars, widgets and so on
- Communities on MySpace and other social networking sites where fans can talk about the latest episodes
Hutchins, an accomplished journalist, hasn’t chosen to publish his novels in book form yet. He has, however, hooked up with many established writers who are often guest posters on his blog. In fact, he and Scott Sigler, featured in an earlier post, are collaborating on contests where selected pairs of their novels share dialog which listeners identify to qualify for prizes. This is a great way to cross promote and reinforce each author’s audience. 7th Son clearly shows the power of podiobooks to help authors build a following. But it goes beyond, in that it has turned that audience into a community that both consumes the content and contributes to it at the same time. The producers of the great American radio shows would be envious.