4 Weeks to Podcast Launch

Introduction: This post (or subsequent posts for that matter) is about my journey into building MyKitaab Podcast into a resource for authors. To cut a long story short, I am launching a podcast. It may sound stupid, crazy and maybe I might get an unsolicited mail or two from a psychiatrist offering their services. But there’s more to it than meets the eye. As I write this post, I am 4 weeks away from launching. Over the next few days, I will add more posts about the different steps that I have taken or will be taking, for launching the MyKitaab podcast. Somewhere along the journey, hope that the lessons I learn and the mistakes I make will help others in some way.

So lets start with the basic question: My (Startup) idea is a Podcast?

Well, kind of… I have larger plans, but the first step towards implementing them is to build a platform and create a brand. MyKitaab will be a three times a week discussion based show on book publishing in India. The target listeners will be professionals who have finished writing a book (congratulations to them!) and are looking to get it published. And unless they know someone at one of the major publishers, they are looking for help. A couple of years ago when I had finished writing my debut novel NRI:Now, Returned to India, I was in that situation.

For those of you in North America or Europe, this may not seem like a big deal. After all, there is self publishing, and means like Kindle, iBooks, Kobo or Tolino; Createspace, Ingram Spark, or Notionpress or Smashwords and Draft2Digital among others… But in India, print books rule. This is true particularly for nonfiction titles. And for those who plan to use their book as a business card, print is the default choice. The problem does not end there. Even if one were to get their book published through a traditional publisher, marketing and distribution challenges are far too many. Add to this the other small complexity in the Indian market- translations. In a country that is blessed with atleast 7 or 8 languages that are spoken by over 50 million speakers, one should and MUST think about translations. Then comes the question of medium (no pun intended here): technology has thrown open multiple options, which in turn can be a boon or a bane:

  • Print: paperback and hardbound
  • e-Book: ePub, Mobi, PDF or other formats
  • Audiobooks either on CDs or through services such as Audible or ACX
  • Narrating the story one chapter at a time through a blog or as an feed on iTunes
  • Video of the book, for example, putting up a video where the author or narator reads out from the book
  • Sky is the limit…. (or so to speak)

The Question Still Remains: Why Another Podcast?

Podcasts are new to India, as we speak, there are about 30, and even though one cannot really say that there are a handful of podcasts, that still puts them in the low double digit category. Quora has a list for these podcasts as on date, and you will notice that majority of them are either themed around Bollywood, Music or talk shows. If we consider that my assumption about the dilemma faced by authors is correct, there might be a need among listeners to learn more about book publishing, hear from authors on how they got started, a few helpful tips from editors, etc. In other words, I see an opportunity to create an audio repository of sorts — a resource for authors to take their manuscript to its logical conclusion.

This could be achieved in the form of text (e.g. blogs, a “How To” kind of a book) or even video (a series of talks on Youtube). But I see a problem in this: for the audience, the means of consuming this content would be eyes for text, and eyes and ears for Video. And in a country where single screen devices perform multiple tasks (a smartphone screen is used for atleast five or six tasks, many of them simultaneously: making phone calls, text messaging on WhatsApp, sharing posts on Facebook, sending/ receiving emails,etc..), looking up deals on their favourite shopping app, Text and Video will only add to the existing use of the screen and in fact compete with the incumbent applications for a share of the smartphone user’s eyeballs. Ears, on the other hand, have far less competition: voice calls and music.

In a way, it is going back to the dot com boom of the 1990’s where everybody spoke about grabbing the customer’s eyeballs. I think we need to grab the customers’ earbuds. That is why I thought that a Podcast would make perfect sense. Of course, I could be wrong, but time will tell. What I am sure of is that because the content is so good — not because it is my podcast, but because the guests have brought in such a high quality of experiences and knowledge. And in case I didn’t mention it earlier, MyKitaab literally means “My Book” the word “Kitaab” means a book in Hindi and many other Indian languages.

The work in progress website for my podcast is www.mykitaab.in. A small overview of the podcast I made using Sway can be found here.