How to Succeed After the Writers’ Workshop — Exhibit A: Seth Harwood

August 5th, 2008 · 8 Comments
by Kirk Biglione

After graduating from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Seth Harwood pursued a career path familiar to many Booksquare readers.

Seth honed his skills writing short stories and submitting them to literary journals. Despite modest success, he was unable to find an agent or interest a publisher in his work. Instead, he was caught up in an endless cycle of writing, revising, and submitting.

It turns out that graduating from a prestigious writers’ workshop isn’t always enough to launch a career.

It was only after Seth turned to the Internet that he started to find the success he was looking for.

Working with a group of like-minded authors at, Seth learned the basics of podcasting and began to serialize his first crime novel, Jack Wakes Up.

Seth’s podcast has become something of a magnet for fans. His large and growing audience eagerly awaits each new installment. Those same fans have become partners in crime, helping Seth develop his web presence and promote his book.

It was only after Seth had built a community of readers that he found an agent and publisher. By then he’d pretty much taken control of his own career.

Seth tells us the whole story in today’s podcast.


Click the icon above to listen to the interview, or read the transcript after the break.

Links from today’s podcast:

Interview transcript:

Kirk Biglione: Tell us a little bit about your book first, and then explain; I am guessing you were a writer before you were a podcaster.

Seth Harwood: Yeah.

KB: So give us the background on your book, and explain how you decided to turn that into a podcast.

SH: Okay. I went to graduate school in creative writing. I was writing short stories for a long time. I went to one of the better graduate schools there is in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and I was really working on writing short stories and sending them out all over the place to try to get them published. I had some success with that; I got about a dozen or so stories published in little journals, which seemed like the thing to do.

Even with having done that, I was unable to get an agent, and I published finally a story online, with an online journal, that sort of seemed like the wrong thing to do to me for a while, but when I did that, I got feedback from that, and people are emailing me about it, and people could read it on the web in a way that they never could in these literary journals that no one could find, or I would only get two copies, and it was really hard for people to track these down.

With this, I was able to email my friends, and they could go right on the web and read the story. So I started to realize about two years ago that having a web presence was really something that could work well for me as a writer.

The thing that I was really trying to put out at that point was ‘Jack Wakes Up’, which is my first crime novel, which I wrote in the fall of 2005. I got to San Francisco and started writing this novel.

I have been trying to write a novel for a long time, sort of in a literary tradition, and finally just realized like, I want to write something fun and just give this a shot. So I wrote my first crime novel, which was ‘Jack Wakes Up’. By the spring of 2006, spring, summer, I had showed it to some agents, and sort of didn’t get what I wanted from them in terms of feedback, or didn’t get any feedback from them, I got blown off by them at a certain point, and decided that I really wanted to bring this out myself on the web, and it just seemed like with a novel, bringing it out in audio content made so much more sense than bringing it out in text.

Some people have had success with emailing sections of novels or bringing them out as a blog, but it just felt to me like to bring out a huge novel as text on the web wasn’t going to work as well as doing audio. When I found out that you could do podcast and that they would be distributed for free, that there was an audience for this — I have been a longtime listener to books on CD or books on tape in the car when I commute, and so this seemed like it really fit well for me.

So I started doing that. I got involved with Scott Sigler and some other guys at, which at that point, and still is really sort of a very science fiction and fantasy heavy podcast community of writers. So there is science fiction, but also thriller, action, horror stuff, but there is really a science fiction bend to this, which I think sort of comes from the writers involved in it, and the people who are sort of tech-savvy, and some of the early adopters to some of the technology.

So I brought out ‘Jack Wakes Up’, which was the first podcast only crime novel ever, and I had some great success with that. I immediately started to find an audience who were emailing me. It was the first time that I had people emailing me that I didn’t know or wasn’t related to that were saying, we really like your stuff, we are interested in more from you.

I did 20 episodes of ‘Jack Wakes Up’, put out the whole novel in podcast form; basically learning how to do it as I went along, and sort of getting better at the technical stuff as I went through it. By the time I was done with it, I had probably over 1,000 listeners a week, people checking me out, people emailing me, and things took off from there.

Now I have done two series of story collections through podcast, and I just finished podcasting the third Jack Palms novel.

By building my audience through podcasting like that, I was able to interest a small publisher in bringing out ‘Jack Wakes Up’. We brought out ‘Jack Wakes Up’ this spring. Because of my podcast audience, we were able to storm Amazon, and we hit Number One in mystery crime on the day that it came out, and Number 45 overall on Amazon.

That led to me getting an agent, and then subsequently the agent actually bought back — we bought back ‘Jack Wakes Up’ from the small publisher and sold the rights of it again to Three Rivers Press, which is a division of Random House, and they are bringing it out again next summer in a much wider distribution.

KB: So that’s pretty much every author’s dream right there, is to get your book released with a major publisher, and you did this all on your own. You weren’t working with a publicist or anything like that.

SH: Not at all. In fact, what I was doing was working with other authors who were podcasting and were sort of — if I was at the head of the curve, they were a little bit — couple of months ahead of me on the curve, and just sort of telling me what they were doing and watching what they were doing.

KB: Well, that’s another interesting point, you mentioned Scott Sigler and there are quite a few of them; J.C. Hutchins and some other authors. This is not a fluke what you did, this is — I hesitate to call it a trend, it’s more of a movement of literary podcasters who were then going on and getting serious book deals as a result. This is like a legitimate career path at this point.

SH: Yeah, I mean — well, it’s legitimate but it’s — there is probably less than five of us who have gone on to do it, and land major publishing deals.

KB: But how long has this sort of approach been in progress; a couple of years probably at the most?

SH: Well, Scott was doing the same thing with a small publisher last year, for his second book ‘Ancestor’, and he hit Amazon on April 1st of 2007. He got to Number Seven overall on Amazon, at the same time as a lot of — he had already had an agent and editors already had his book in their hands, his next book, so once he did that, then he also landed a really big deal.

So yeah Scott, J.C., and I, Matt Wallace a little bit, and a couple of others, have been able to land great deals out of this.

KB: Between the time you podcast the book and the time you publish the book, are you open to changes, or is that something where — as you are reading, are you thinking, well gee, maybe I could have done this differently, and then going back and revising before the book gets published, or is it set in stone and done?

SH: No, definitely it’s not set in stone. With ‘Jack Wakes Up’ — ‘Jack Wakes Up’ was really as close as I could get it to done at the time when I podcasted it. So going through that, I didn’t have a lot of huge changes, but I had line edits that I found while I was reading it and stuff like that.

One of the cool things about podcasting is that you get emails from people who are experts in weird little things out there that you are not an expert in. So I have gotten advice on seals or sea lions in the San Francisco area. I have gotten advice on different parts of motorcycle, and whether a Ducati has saddlebags or compartments. Different car information, different gun information. Yeah, that’s great, and I can put that right in, and it’s sort of a cheap way to get research or copy editing.

KB: It’s the Wikipedia approach to research.

SH: Exactly, yeah. With some of the other books, I podcast them at a point where they are as ready as I can get them at that point, but I also sort of have a deadline of when I want to start podcast to get out there, because I want to bring it to the listeners at a certain time.

So I have also discovered things in podcasting in books two and books three that are maybe a little more along the lines of major revisions that I want to do, and yeah, absolutely, those aren’t in the pipeline right now to be published. I want to get them published, but no one is saying, this is the hard proof right here. So yeah, revising books two and books three is another thing that I plan on doing in the coming months.

KB: So would you say that your podcasting has changed your approach to writing in any way?

SH: Tremendously. Well, essentially what podcasting did for me that really changed my approach to writing is the audience has been really gratifying. Having an audience really has helped me to write, because I was kind of stymied before I was podcasting, in that, I wrote this book and I was starting another book, and I sort of felt like, if I didn’t get them accepted by agents, I needed to just keep revising them and revising them, so it felt really hard to keep creating new stuff, knowing that I had this sort of never ending revision process laying ahead of me.

So to start podcasting them, made me feel like there are people that wanted more of my stuff, so I was able to start writing again, and it also sort of gave me this outlet to realize, even if an agent isn’t taking this, on some level it can be done in a certain way when I podcast it. So there is a different sort of expectation from me, I am saying, okay, this piece is ready to podcast, I might still make changes to it later when it goes into publication, but I think this book is really good right now, and I am ready to put it out.

KB: How does someone get started; someone really is a novelist and they are thinking, this might be a good approach for them, what are they in for?

SH: I think the reason why podcasting has worked for some of us is that, there’s more good writers out there than the agents can read manuscripts in their sludge piles, or that the people in the publishing industry can really recognize. So what some of us have done is basically taken into our own hands at a point where we are so frustrated with the responses that we are getting, and we know we have a product that’s really ready to go out, to just sort of put it in front of an audience, say, look, this is free, if you like it, great, if you don’t, not a big deal. At that point when we were ready to make that risk, we felt really solid about what we were putting out.

So the first thing primarily for writers who want to give this a shot is to make sure that they have really worked through a novel manuscript. Spent a lot of time on revision of it. They have shown it to some people, they have gotten good feedback, and they feel really strongly that they are ready to go on to the next step.

So once that manuscript is really ready, and you have put in all the time with that, the podcasting stuff isn’t too hard. I mean, I think ultimately people are more scared of it than they need to be. Once you sort of wade into it, the people at Podiobooks, myself, and some other writers are really here and willing to help people out.

Scott was really helpful to me, helping me through IMs and chats and sort of showing me how to not kill myself over the first sort of month of this, and I how could avoid wasting a lot of time doing the wrong things, with bad equipment.

Ultimately it came down to me buying a USB microphone, called The Snowball, which I still use. I think going with a Mac computer was helpful for me, but I know podcasting writers like Mike Bennett, who has done great stuff and uses the PC, and he has got no problems with it. Maybe Mac makes it a little bit easier.

There is a great community at Podiobooks, and even sort of an upcoming Podcasting Writers Community there, who are listening to each other’s early demos, and helping people troubleshoot the sort of technical aspects of how to record and make good sound.

At a minimum, if you just make podcast and put them up on Podiobooks, you have exposure to an audience, you can create a blog on a number of websites out there on the Internet for free, and just start posting your podcast episodes into your blog.

I think it is a time commitment, in that, recording the sound takes time, and making sure that you have good sound, and finding a good program there that you are comfortable with. I use GarageBand which comes with the Mac.

KB: So basically it comes down to having a good story that’s well written and recording it.

SH: Yeah, basically that’s what it comes down to, and posting it on the Internet in a way that people can see it. One of the things that I did — basically the way that I built my audience was by connecting with other podcasters and saying, here’s a one minute promo that I made for my book, will you play it on your show? Then when their listeners were exposed to what I was doing, and some of them started to come over, I was able to attract more listeners from there.

KB: You were on a wide range of podcasts weren’t you, not just other literary podcast, so you really are extending beyond what you would think of as an audience that would normally be interested necessarily and listening to that sort of thing.

SH: Yeah. I mean well, when the book was coming out in print, I went on a ton of different podcasts, and by that point I had been around in podcasting for long enough and basically gone to some of these conferences like Dragon*Con and PME, where I met some of these people. But initially, just to attract my audience to get people to listen to ‘Jack Wakes Up’, it really came down to just getting my promo on a few of good podcasters, books, Scoot, J.C., and a few others, and getting it on Podiobooks, and people started listening there.

KB: So this I guess leads into this whole question about what publicists like to refer to as platform; authors building their platform before they actually release their book. I guess now it seems like more and more having a viable platform, being some notability before a publisher will even look at your work. It’s just amazing how — essentially that’s what you have done, you have built your platform with a podcast, as well as this other social networking.

SH: Yeah, I think the podcast has been huge for it, because if people know me on the Internet, that’s one thing, but if people have listened to my work or read the free PDF that I put out, that’s what I really want them to get to know. I want them to know my name, Seth Harwood, and to know my work as ‘Jack Palms Crime’ and some great crime fiction.

When I started all of this, I wasn’t familiar — I don’t use the word platform, but to begin all of this, I started just trying to build an audience. My original goal was to build an audience so that I could say in an agent letter, I have got 1,000 people listening to this, people who want to buy the book, and I thought that would attract agents.

Ultimately it didn’t, but in doing this I was able to build that audience and have people who want to buy the book. Ultimately publishers right now, their PR money for new books that they release is limited, they don’t do a hell lot of advertising. Some of what they do doesn’t really play very well on the Internet or with younger audiences, and so this is a way to get free advertising, or create your own free promotions and attract buyers, attract an audience. Publishers, when they see that you can do that, and when they see that you are doing that successfully, that takes a big load off of them in terms of what they need to do to sell the book that they are going to buy from you, and I think they appreciate that a lot.

KB: So now you have got this book deal, and I would imagine you are not expecting too much out of the publisher in terms of marketing, or are you looking to them for a different type of marketing, a more traditional book marketing?

SH: Well, I think yeah, I mean they will do probably more stuff with print advertising and with more traditional websites, like the New York Times Online or something like that, but I think at this point, the cool thing about it is that, my editor and I will be able to work on it together, and that he and I can talk about what I will be able to do on the podcasting and Internet, and then what they will be able to do on their end.

I have the same editor at Crown that Scott Sigler has worked with, and so I have seen what they did for Scott’s book that just came out. They did some things that I think were really good.

Also, I think Scott did some great things on his own that really helped the book release. I think in a similar situation, they know that we are going to work together, in that, there is a part of this that I want to do, and some of it that I think I can probably do that they can’t.

KB: I am looking at your website here and I am seeing, you have got this Promote section, where you have got an ISO you can download to burn your own CD. Is that a CD of the full book or there are just excerpts?

SH: That is a CD of the entire — so basically on my website, you can download the entire PDF of the whole book. I have had that on there for — I had it — it’s not so visible anymore, but I had it on there for about six to eight weeks, and it was downloaded over 40,000 times.

You can download the entire podcast of the first book on a CD. There is an ISO disk image that you can burn to a CD, and some of my listeners have done that and burnt those CDs and handed them out to friends.

A guy that I know, that has emailed me, recently did that, and handed out a bunch of CDs of the book at a conference that he was going to.

There is a way on here that you can email in and request a free CD, and I have a listener out there who has been nice enough to basically, whenever everyone makes a request for one of these, he burns it and mails it out for me.

Basically, in the way that this has snowballed or gotten bigger and better, a large part of that has come from listener involvement, and them helping me out, them helping me create the website.

The website now is created by two listeners. The one before that was created by this guy in Japan. This one was worked on by the guy in Japan and another guy in Germany.

If you go to the website and look under Promote also, and you see signs in San Francisco.

KB: Yeah, I was going to ask you about that. The signs in San Francisco, now did you pay for those placement or — I am seeing bus stops and billboards and —

SH: Yeah, this was billboards and transit stations on the BART in San Francisco. Basically what happened with this is one of my listeners works for CBS Outdoor here in the Bay Area. It’s funny, like you have these listeners out there, and it turns out this guy has been listening to me since the beginning, and lives less than a mile from my house, it’s funny.

So one of the things that we did was have these pub crawls in San Francisco, and this guy came to one of the pub crawls and said, when your book comes out, I do the outdoor ad campaigns for CBS Outdoor, we have BART signs, we have billboards, we have everything, I want to make your book pop, I want to give this a real shot in the outdoor advertising media.

Basically, he was able to negotiate a price with me that I paid for it, but it was basically an offer that was so good, I couldn’t pass it up for the kind of publicity that it would get. So yeah, we had 30 of these 4×5 foot signs in eight of the major stations in the city. I think it was just fantastic.

The art for these signs and the actual sign creation was also created by one of my listeners who did the cover for the book as well.

KB: Wow, that’s amazing!

SH: It’s been great.

KB: That speaks to the value of community and having a relationship with your readers and your listeners.

SH: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I was just talking to a friend of mine who writes — I mean it’s not for all writers, I was just talking to a friend of mine who — the idea of answering reader emails as a regular part of everyday for her, was something that she would hate. But for me, getting emails from people out there who are listening to my stuff and writing into say that they like it, I love that, and that’s like a great part of my day is responding to them and sort of having that one on one connection, and being available for them to actually ask questions of and connect with. I think that really pays off down the road.

KB: Now, is this something that’s going to scale for you in terms of, if that volume increase dramatically when you have major distribution?

SH: I have already seen it changing a bit, in that, it takes more — if I put as much time into it — if I just open it up wide and spend a lot of time on it, I can spend a lot of time just emailing with them.

Part of the reason to have the social network side as part of is so that, if there are questions that are asked frequently, the answers can be there on the site. Some of the listeners can talk to each other about some of this stuff, so that it’s not all me, and just a one-way street back and forth, where we are just talking — or a two-way street, but with just me interacting with one listener at a time. Now, I have the ability to talk to more than one of them at a time and get involved in the discussion, which I think helps that time.

Can I go back to one of them?

KB: Sure, absolutely.

SH: It’s interesting now about the new sort of economics of this. On one hand, if you look at all the stuff I have gotten for free for my listeners, in terms of art and web design and advertising space and stuff like that, its worth thousands of dollars, and still the question that I get frequently from everyone who first learns about what I am doing, and particularly from publishers and agents for a long time has always been, if you are giving away your stuff for free, how are you ever going to make money on it, or sell it? Here’s your website and you are doing this, how are you going to make money from it?

For me the answer to that has always been, the money will come as I build an audience. Wanting to get that book deal and having that as my goal, if I can build that audience and have them excited about what I am giving them for free, that’s going to pay off down the road. Already, with this contract, it is paying off, and with the web development and stuff that I have gotten from them, it’s paying off.

Ultimately, I am putting my time to make these recordings, but the traditional book buying model is based on a model where each product that you are giving someone, each book that you are giving someone, costs money and cost money to produce. But in the modern world, with PDFs and MP3s, I could create a PDF and if ten people download it on the Internet, or 40,000 people download it on the Internet, there is no change in how much that costs me to bring that out.

Similarly, with an MP3, once its out there on the web, people can copy that file infinitely, and there is no marginal cost per version of that. So where the production costs are free, it’s not so bad to have the cost of the product be free.

KB: Yeah. Actually there is a value associated with the people you are reaching, so arguably, while your marginal cost doesn’t increase with digital distribution, the value of the number of people who know about you and are familiar with your work, increases.

I am glad you brought that up, the free issue is a big issue, and I think that too many people would be happy to work in obscurity as long as they don’t give their work away for free.

SH: Yeah. I mean, I think the exposure is important, but also, there is good people out there, and they will be happy for getting something free from you. They will appreciate the fact that you have given something — if they have an hour long commute and they listen to your book for a couple of weeks and they really like it, they appreciate that, and they are eager at some point to give something back to you. When they see that you have a book coming out and they can buy it, and help to give back to you in that sense, a lot of them are enthusiastic to do that.

Also, maybe they have a friend who doesn’t listen to podcast, but they think would like the book, and so they buy the books. They are happy too.

We had an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, and part of it was, the writer asked Scott how he gets the people to buy his book if he has already given it to them for free. His answer was simple, he just said, I ask them.

You are not going to get 100% of the people who listen, to go out and buy the book, but the success rates that advertising has, if you do an ad and 3% of the people respond and go out and buy that thing, it’s a really good return for advertising. But if we are able to get 15% or 20% of our listeners to go out and do something, it’s really a phenomenal return.

KB: Well, plus you are reaching people that would never have even considered buying your book to begin with, who will now consider it. Then the other part of that is, the flip side of that is, not everyone who downloads is going to be a potential customer anyway; a lot of people just download out for curiosity. So there is no loss there. Whereas in the old model of — even with promo copies that you send out; either CDs or books, there is a cost associated with that promotional distribution. So there’s really no risk.

SH: Right. In some ways it’s also sort of like a bookstore. If you walk into a bookstore, you can pick a book up off the shelf and start browsing it for free and read as much of it as you like, right there in the bookstore. Here you know, I am sending out the PDF to you, if you want to read the whole thing right there on your computer or print it out, that’s fine with me. Chances are you are going to do something with that book. Once you have printed it out and finished reading it, you are going to give it to someone else, you are going to tell someone that you liked it. Sort of similar to sort of what people do in bookstores all the time.

KB: We have been talking about all these great things that work for you. I am looking at your site here, and you are doing everything. You have got all these different profiles highlighted, you have got Facebook, you are doing Ning you mentioned, Pounce, you are in Twitter. What doesn’t work; is there something of all of these great tools that you have tried that really you have just kind of sat back and said, it didn’t work for me, that wasn’t worth my effort?

SH: Well, I think they work to varying degrees. I found the Ning was really helpful for me. I had basically a social site on Ning that was really helpful. Then what I wanted to do was just roll it into my site, so that it was all the same.

I think the piece of advice to really take away is to try everything. I might not go on Facebook all the time and update my profile that says what I am doing now, or I might go on a couple of times a week and answer the questions in my inbox or deal with my new friend request, and I might do the same thing with MySpace. On some level they are all working a bit.

I think the thing that comes out of it naturally, that sort of has to develop on its own, is that there is all these things out there; some of them are more user-friendly than others, some of them have more people on them than others, in terms of the way its going to fit me as a user, some of them work better for me than others.

There are writers I know out there who are on Twitter constantly and have a huge network of people on Twitter that they are constantly in conversation with. For me, when I am working on my writing, I don’t like to have external things sort of chiming at me or distracting me, I am not a big fan of distractions like that, so I won’t have Twitter on. But sometimes I will go on Twitter and put some stuff in, and Twitter has been really useful if I have a question that I need people to answer, or I need something in terms of like tech stuff, I will just go on Twitter and say, who knows how to do this? In a couple of minutes someone will answer, and I can get into a discussion with them, and they help me out pretty generally.

KB: Yeah. I think that’s an important point to make, is that, not every one of these tools is going to be right for every author, but I think it’s good to expose yourselves to as many of them as you can, so you can figure out which ones do work for you.

SH: Right. Also, your time is limited, and you are right, you do have to budget your time and think about what you want to — how much time you have and what you want to put that into. So sometimes I will take a look at one of these new networks, and its just not something that I have time for at that moment, so I don’t put a lot of time into it. Then other one seem really user-intuitive and so I will do more with that, or other ones I will have a user or a listener that says, you really should get involved with this, let me help you set it up.

There are just times where you want to play around with something and times that you don’t.

KB: Now, do you have any thoughts on any of these book social networks, there is several of them; Library Thing and Shelfari, and Good Reads. Have you spent any time on those?

SH: Limited. I have gotten on them, I have done a little bit about sort of what I read and what I am interested in there. One of the ones that you didn’t mention that I was on, that I have put a little more energy into is It’s an author networking site that I think has been helpful. I like that one because I am able to post podcasts on that. It’s hard for me to say whether I have gotten much response or success from dealing with that, but basically, if I have the time to play around with one of these, and I hear about it, I will give it a shot and get listed on there, and then just kind of see what happens.

I mean, the reality is, with most of these things, it doesn’t cost any money. You can set it up in a short amount of time, and then, whenever you are interested in going to check on it, you can go over there, and if not, it can just kind of exist on its own.

KB: Yeah, if it fails, you don’t fail too badly, and there is nothing lost, and if it succeeds, the upside could be tremendous.

SH: Right, exactly. I mean, it’s all about where people are looking on the web, and what people are doing there. I do think without a doubt that one of the great places where things are going on and authors are really being recognized by readers and communicating with one another really well is, which basically sort of serves as the library for all of us that are making podcasts.

It sort of is the library place where they are storing our files, they are putting these books there in a way that people can go look at them whenever, and subscribe to them for free. There is a lot of stuff on there. It’s gotten to the point where there is a lot of different kinds of books on there, and there is a lot of interaction going on.

KB: Do they charge you for storage or is that totally free?

SH: No, it’s all free, and there is a way that listeners can donate when they like a book. So they make a little money back on that, and the authors get I think 75% of what’s donated.

KB: So not only is that a great way for exposure, because anyone who is interested in audio books is going to be going there to check out what’s available for free, but as you were saying in the beginning, it sounds like you have got a community of authors there who are helping each other through this whole podcast thing.

SH: Right, absolutely. I think that Podiobooks is really the place to start — I have to say, this is the place to start for people out there who are interested in starting to do podcasts. There is a Ning community on here, at, which is the Podiobooks community. There is a group of authors on here who have done Podiobooks and who are answering questions and helping with that.

There is a section where people who are new to it can get involved in something called the Mentorship Program, where listeners and other writers will listen to early episodes and help you troubleshoot your tech stuff and your hardware, software questions. There are people out there who know a lot more about this tech stuff than I do, and they are on here answering questions for each other, and sort of helping each other to get started up, which is what I was doing with some of the other writers when I started.

So yeah, I think Podiobooks is a really great place to start, because there is a lot of people here who know how to do podcasting, and we have a lot of people involved in helping each other here. Yeah, I think this is sort of the premier place for this.

KB: So what’s next for you?

SH: Still I don’t think that there is enough exposure to crime fiction in the podcast world. I think the podcast world is great in that there is a good audience out there, its a great way for authors to do — if you can podcast a story and put it out there in the right place, you can essentially do a reading from home for free and have thousands of people, or at least 500 people listen to it. When do you get a bookstore reading that you are going to go into and have 500 people there? For a lot of writers, that’s just not possible.

So what I am starting this summer is a website called; there will also links to it on my website,, and what I am going to be doing is starting basically a series of crime short stories in podcast form by a lot of the crime writers in the industry that I have been able to meet. Who I think are writing great stuff and doing wonderful things, but haven’t gotten involved in the podcasting world yet, and so I want to sort of help them start to get exposed to that and start to expose their work to the podcast audience; I want to expose these writers work to them. So that’s the next thing for me, that I am bringing out this summer, is

Then I am working on another project that I would like to podcast hopefully in the fall or late fall. Another book; I have done three Jack Palms Crime books, and now I have another book that involves a character from ‘Jack Wakes Up’, and sort of his earlier story.

The next thing after that will be working on more Jack Palms, another Jack Palms novel so that I am podcasting that at the time the ‘Jack Wakes Up’ comes out next summer from Three Rivers Press.

KB: Well, thanks Seth, I really appreciate the time you have given us. This has been tremendous, tremendous insight into, not only podcasting, but social media.

SH: No problem. I am glad that we did this, thanks.

File Under: Podcasts

8 responses so far ↓

  • Joe Cottonwood // Aug 5, 2008 at 10:04 am

    Nice chat. Seth and Scott truly have set the model that we other podnovelists follow. One small point: don’t assume that all podiobooks authors have the goal of being “discovered” by a major publisher. Some of the “books” are more like scripts for radio plays – great to listen to, not intended for print (though my own are indeed destined for publication). I would guess that some of the podcasters have the goal of theater or movies or radio, not publication.

  • Kirk Biglione // Aug 5, 2008 at 10:42 am

    Thanks Joe.

    This interview is mainly intended for authors who haven’t yet been exposed to the concept of serializing a novel via a podcast. Hopefully, authors reading this will consider podcasting as a *possible* venue for their work.

    But you make a good point about the motivations of other podcasters. Not everyone is looking for a book deal. It also raises some interesting questions about the impact new media is having on storytelling in general.

  • Heather S. Ingemar // Aug 6, 2008 at 11:00 am

    This is really freakin cool.

  • Crazy talk about writing : // Aug 7, 2008 at 9:49 am

    […] major publisher is playing with a new model. And now along comes a writer named Seth Harwood whose path to publishing is much more 21st-century (You can hear a podcast or read a transcription of the interview at this link, it’s all on […]

  • Seth // Aug 7, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Thanks to you guys who commented on this story and listened to it. If anyone wants more info on how I’ve done what I’ve done or how to podcast, you can find me at
    I’m happy to talk about it.

  • Shawn // Aug 8, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    This was a fascinating article. Thank you for the information, Seth.

  • Kirk Biglione » Blog Archive » Social Media for Authors and Publishers // Nov 12, 2008 at 10:48 am

    […] How to Succeed After the Writers Workshop: Crime novelist Seth Harwood talked with me about how he found his audience (and ultimately a publisher) through podcasting. Seth also uses a range of social media tools to engage his audience. […]

  • Seth Harwood on Podcasting and Social Media | Booksquare // Apr 21, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    […] is now counting down the days to his major label debut for his first novel Jack Wakes Up (see transcript of interview here). Note the use of the phrase “major label debut”. Jack Wakes Up was picked up by a […]