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Book Podcasts: Behind the Scenes

Cindy Burnett
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Sarah, Novel Pairings

Sarah is one half of Novel Pairings and runs @fictionmatters. 

In today’s world, there are so many platforms for disseminating information – it can be hard to choose. Recently, as we sat at home more regularly, I began to listen to book podcasts while I went on a walk, did the dishes, or just had some extra time, and I found that I really enjoyed them. There are many to choose from; so for this article, I decided to highlight three podcasts that have different focuses.

I thought this would be a fun topic too because I recently decided to host my own book podcast. For over a year, friends have been suggesting that I try the podcast format because I love interviewing authors at the CFAP events and a podcast would allow me to interview many more authors and allow listeners to access the interviews anytime, not just during our standard events.

For a while, I was unsure that I would be able to tackle that type of project or that I had the time. A silver lining of the pandemic is that I have had more time, so I decided to give it a shot. This week, I launched the Thoughts from a Page Podcast - it can be found on iTunes, Spotify, and my podcast website. I will be adding episodes once or twice a week, and I would love for you to listen wherever you listen to your podcasts.

The three podcasts that I chose to focus on for this article are listed below with some fun facts about each one. I have included their websites, which will provide more in-depth information about where to listen to them (they are all three on iTunes and each of them are on a variety of other platforms) and more about them generally. They are listed alphabetically below by podcast title. Make sure to check them all out!

Novel Pairings hosted by Chelsey of @chelseyreads and Sara of @fictionmatters:

ChelseyReads

Chelsey runs @chelseyreads and is one half of Novel Pairings which focuses on the classics and recent pairings for a particular classic novel. 

Tell me about your podcast – theme, creation, how you got started.

Novel Pairings is a podcast dedicated to making the classics readable, relevant and fun. Every other week, we discuss one classic book and share some recommendations for more contemporary reads that feature similar themes. For example, in our episode on Emma by Jane Austen, we suggested Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. As two nerdy bookworms, we appreciate the role of classic lit, but we try not to get too academic about it. We talk about the books we love and the books we loathe, and hope to recommend books that a wide range of listeners will love. 

How long have you been hosting your podcast?

We released our first episode in March 2020, just before the shutdowns, making for an interesting entry into the podcast world.

Do you have a favorite episode?

Chelsey: Roman Fever. It was a really fun conversation about a gossipy and jaw-dropping short story.
Sara: Beloved. We both agree that Beloved is a masterpiece, and we put a lot of research and time into considering how to approach it. If we encouraged even one person to pick it up, I’ll be extremely proud and pleased.

What has surprised you most about hosting the podcast?

How much it’s changed our reading. Now we find ourselves picking up new reads thinking they might be pairings for upcoming episodes. Both of us have always loved noticing connections between books, but now we do that with greater intentionality.

Favorite and least favorite part about hosting a podcast?

Our favorites things are hearing from listeners, having a mini book club each week, and working together on a creative project.

Sarah’s Bookshelves hosted by Sarah 

Sarah’s Bookshelves Live

Sarah runs the podcast Sarah’s Bookshelves Live where she talks to authors and others in the publishing industry. 

Tell me about your podcast – theme, creation, how you got started.

I ran (and still run) the blog, Sarah’s Bookshelves, for years before starting the podcast. After being a guest on a couple other podcasts, I realized I really enjoyed the podcast format. I originally had a co-host and we had decided to try four different types of episodes each month and interviewing a guest was one. My co-host had to back out for family reasons, so I decided to pursue the podcast alone with a guest on every week.

Even though I was interviewing a guest, I still wanted a huge focus to be recommending books because that’s why I listen to the book podcasts I love. I used to have a feature on my blog called “Readers Recommend” where a blog reader got to share one old book they loved, one new book they loved and one book they didn’t like. I adapted that feature for the book recommendations portion of my show. My original idea was to interview other book bloggers, bookstagrammers, and podcasters. That got boring after a while and I started to run out of unique angles, so I shifted my focus to authors and book industry “behind-the-scenes” guests.

How long have you been hosting your podcast?

About 18 months.

Do you have a favorite episode?

My favorites are the quarterly Book Preview episodes with Catherine from Gilmore Guide to Books. My runner-ups are the episodes where I go behind the scenes of parts of the book industry (literary agencies, book marketing, etc.).

What has surprised you most about hosting the podcast?

I’ve actually ended up being an interviewer, and I didn’t foresee that part of the job. I’m not sure why I didn’t foresee that…it seems obvious given I have a guest on every week. But I’m not just talking about the books I love. I’m working to get my guest to share their interesting stories…both book-related and personal. Which has been fun, challenging and also nerve-wracking sometimes!

Favorite/least favorite part about hosting a podcast?

Favorite: once I get into a conversation with someone interesting, I love feeling my way through that. I love coming up with follow-up questions. And, I love when I see people on social media talking about loving a book they learned about from my show.

Least Favorite: editing! It’s tedious and takes forever and I’m pretty strict about it. I finally hired an editor to do my full-length episodes, but I still have to put in some work on the production side for each episode. Also, nerves before interviewing a big guest.

What to Read Next by Laura:

Tell me about your podcast – theme, creation, how you got started.

My podcast is What to Read Next Podcast. It started as a book recommendation show with my friend Clara. At the time, I was reading a book a day and I wanted a platform where I can share my passion for books.

Over the past two years, the podcast has evolved from book reviews and bookish guest recommendations to now author interviews where we chat in-depth about their writing process and books. It’s been fun to chat books with authors and bookish guests and get recommendations on what to read next. 

How long have you been hosting your podcast?

I started the podcast on December 2017 so it’s been two years and change.

Do you have a favorite episode?

A few of my personal favorite shows are my Author Interview with Jenny Holiday, my Author Interview with Abby Jimenez and Book Recommendations: All Things Romance.

What has surprised you most about hosting the podcast?

I have been surprised by the friendships that I have been able to foster thanks to the show. I love meeting new people and connecting over our passion for books. 

Favorite/least favorite part about hosting a podcast?

My favorite thing is meeting new people, recording the shows and the interview process. I love reading a book, coming up with questions and then discussing my questions with the author. 

My least favorite thing is editing the show. I know I can outsource it, but it just feels like something I should do as a way to listen to the show before it airs. 

Is there anything that I did not ask that you would like to tell me?

Listening to bookish podcast is a great way to find book recommendations!

I have enjoyed listening to all three of these podcasts and hope you will too! Each one provides a unique and interesting perspective on books and the publishing industry.

Conversations from a Page is hosting a Curated Book Discussion over Zoom for Just Mercy by Brian Stevenson on Wednesday, Aug. 26 at 11 a.m. CST. We would love to have you join us. (cost-$5 or $30 for an annual pass). Click here for more info. For more book recommendations and bookish thoughts, see @ThoughtsFromaPage on Instagram, the Continuing the Conversation newsletter or Cindy’s Reading Recs

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