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Tim Lewis & Begin Self-Publishing Podcast

Begin Self Publishing

Bio: Tim Lewis is the host of the Begin Self-Publishing Podcast which has been running for 113 episodes over 2 years. He is the author of three fantasy books and three science fiction books and is currently writing a book about using Social Media to get ahead.

I enjoy the connections and I enjoy the fact that I’m helping people with the show, because it gives you an excuse to interview people about topics you’re interested in and what you think your listeners might be interested in. As I say, the great issue is that if I had a general Tim Lewis show, I could be much more wide in who I was interviewing. I would probably talk to people about politics and other things that would be totally inapplicable.  I’ve stretched it a little bit occasionally with the show. In general, I do try and stick to entrepreneurial or self-publishing topics. Podcasting can be almost like a therapy where you’re using it as a way to talk about things that you’re interested in with people, or almost like a research thing that, if you’re interested in particular topic….People usually say “yes” to appearing on a podcast. Occasionally you get the odd “no”. But, I’d say 90% of people I’ve asked, have agreed to appear on the show. So, it’s a fantastic way of getting those connections with people and finding out from experts about particular issues and what you should do about it?

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ALEXANDER LAURIN: All right Tim begin Self-publishing podcast, I've been listening to it, it's very good. What inspired this podcast?

TIM LEWIS: Well, part of it is the fact that I listen to lots of podcasts and I also thought: “Well, how hard can it be to launch a podcast?” and I think people who get into the podcasting medium think: “how hard is it and all the rest of it?” But, going further back in terms of what inspired me to start writing books and to move away from the corporate world, that came out of the fact I was widowed in 2011, and that changed my viewpoint on life. So, it's made me much more open to do new things and accept the fact the world has changed and try and take risks and do things. I suppose that's ultimately where my urge for podcasting came from because I was open to it. So, I suppose, that's the longer term view.

ALEXANDER LAURIN: Now you said: “how hard can it be?” So, how hard was it?

TIM LEWIS: It's been a lot harder than I have expected. I have to say though, that podcasting can be as hard as you want it to be and we were talking in the pre-chat about the fact that you don't like editing. I don't like editing. I actually pay somebody in the Philippines to do my editing for most shows and I still do a little bit. And I started off with the idea that I would remove all the “uhms” and “Ahs” of the clicks, dead bits of conversation from the show and that is the quality set that I'm more or less kept up to. Sometimes “uhm” and “Ah” creeps in here and there. But you can quite easily have a podcast where it’s just raw sound. Especially if you doing a live show, then it's not going to make that much sense to do too much editing on it. But even so, I’m sure, you would know, even if you don't do very much editing all, it's still a vast amount of work in podcasting. It’s not just sitting there. I mean, a chat with somebody, the show preparation, get all the bookings in, ask people for pictures, and images or whatever promotional things that you want to do. So, actually podcasting is a lot of work. It’s also very rewarding as well.

ALEXANDER LAURIN: Oh absolutely, it's well worth the time but it's critical to have some pretty decent time management skills. Otherwise, it will get overwhelming and then it won't be so rewarding. It will be more like an area of pain and stress.

TIM LEWIS: Yeah, episode 100, I switched from doing one every week to one every two weeks. As also, where I started paying for editing as well. And the reason was, all I was doing was the podcast. Now, I have normally got other business and the podcast doesn't really directly make any money whatsoever at the moment. I’m making money indirectly off it, but not huge sums and I wanted to do more other projects like writing this book on social media that I've been thinking of writing for a while and also just exploring and doing more in the business side. So, for me, I’m moved to doing once every two weeks, or as I would say fortnightly in the U.K. rather than weekly, and outsourcing the editing to actually give me the time to also help ensure that the quality of the podcast stayed high. Because I've done the odd Shetler show where it was just me talking for five minutes because I knew I had to do a show. But, I had to book a guest, was a bit of bit of a rush. Well, a lot of those shows have actually been very popular, I personally, was feeling: “I don't want to do these rushed shows anymore. I want it to be nicely scheduled out and have enough time to do things properly.

ALEXANDER LAURIN: That's very good that you recognize that. I wonder if a lot of us don't recognize that. I guess once you came to that conclusion, it wasn't quite so difficult to let it go to every two weeks rather than every week.

TIM LEWIS: It's one of those decisions you make and then you think: “this was a good idea” after you make it. I don’t regret doing it at all. The only slightly regret I have is; I've now got a queue of people that I want to interview for the podcast. I can interview people now, but I’m already booked out to the end of the year and you must get impatient and I am trying to avoid the temptation to either start a new podcast or do a live show or something in the odd weeks because this is the thing about podcasting, you do one and you think: “Well, Robert do a general show.” Or, “Robert, do a show on this.” You have to reign yourself in.

ALEXANDER LAURIN: Yes, I think of most of us have ideas on a second podcast, for sure. When you created/begin the Self-publishing podcast, is this a part of a content marketing strategy?

TIM LEWIS: Well, the original idea was that I was going to create a course for Self-Publishing. I still may do this at some point, but for whatever reasons, I haven't. So yes it was designed to be a funnel into a training course. There is a pre-course, I've got available where people can sign up with their e-mail address but ultimately, I haven't gone down that route. In terms of why picking Self-publishing, a lot of it was to do with the fact that there are so many very low quality Self-publishing courses, products and companies out there who basically take advantage of people. They don't offer good value and they're not really helping people and they're propagating this idea from about 2008/9 where it was like the Kindle gold rush. It's like you could put any old book on the Amazon store, and it would sell millions of copy and make loads of cash. Well, now, that approach doesn't work. I think there is an element in terms of podcasting as well. I think there was a bit of a podcast gold rush period when it was like, ‘anybody could launch a podcast and you make loads of money and be really successful’ and I think there is an element to it as podcasting as well. So I was already trying to do a show where it was saying “this is how to do Self-publishing and these are the services you can use on the rest of it.” It’s since really moved into a general interview show where I interview people largely about marketing because that interests me. But also just about general business topics that are usual for self-publishers. So that's the route I've gone down. I interview people and I talk about a range of subjects, very skewed towards marketing, mainly because that is one of the biggest issues Self publishers have is marketing their books. In a similar way to podcasters actually. There are parallels there between the two spheres of influence, so to speak.

ALEXANDER LAURIN: I really like the show. The episodes I believe, they're all under half an hour and so it's easily consumable. There was one particular episode that I listen to, I listened to your last one and another one about security and I picked up all sorts of great things on WordPress security and I thought: “well, this is a little different.” There are different range of guest that you have. Do you anticipate getting more guests outside the box?

TIM LEWIS: I like to pick guests who haven't been on other shows. In terms of who I select to be guest on my show, a lot of the time, I will go for big names if I think they are going to say something that's useful and I happen to have a relationship with them in some way. But a lot of the time, I'm looking for people who are experts on the subject. My series is really subject-based. I get a lot pictures from people who say: “I've Self published a book.” And I'm like: “Well, yeah.” Like thousands of other people. It's like the guy you talked Chris Barnim, he’s somebody I know in the U.K. I’ve talked to him, he's a friend of mine. I know he's very clued up on website security and I thought that that was something interesting to me, so it’d be interesting to my audience. So, I have a selection of some moderately famous guests and also people who fairly unknown at times but I think if they’ve got something to say, I’ll have them on my show.

ALEXANDER LAURIN: Well, that was very good. I got a lot of value out of it and thank Chris for me because now I have two-step authentication for my WordPress. Nobody's getting in there anymore. Do you have a favorite moment in your podcast?

TIM LEWIS: Quite a few good moments. I interviewed a guy called Mark Schaefer who's a marketing professor and he's the author of “the Tao of Twitter” or “Dao Twitter”, however you want to pronounce it and he was talking about getting his rights back to that book. But it was a little part in the middle of that interview where I think he gave the most passionate defense of Self-publishing that I've ever heard and that a little bit and then he went on to [inaudible] [10:21]. But it was that three or four-minute segment I thought was just fantastic in the show. There’s also a recent show where I interviewed Claire Jozo about Imposter Syndrome and she was talking about how she’d almost deleted her manuscript 3 a.m. the morning, the night before it was due to be published. So yeah, that was another great episode as well.

ALEXANDER LAURIN: Do you hear a lot about that with other writers, this is Imposter syndrome?

TIM LEWIS: Yeah. Well, the imposter syndrome is kind of endemic in life in general in some ways. The trouble is that when we look at other people, we judge them in a much fairer standard than ourselves usually and we often are our worst critics, and our worst enemies. And we think: “well why am I here? Why am I having success?” And you have to get over it to some extent and that was a very good episode. The irony is that she was writing a book about, amongst other things: mind-set and imposter syndrome and she almost fell afoul of it herself. So that was quite amusing actually in some ways.

ALEXANDER LAURIN: Alright, that was the clip on the Imposter syndrome. What was her name again?

TIM LEWIS: Clair “Hoser”, Or Joser, but it’s pronounced “Hoser”.

ALEXANDER LAURIN: Okay, that was awesome and I’m listening to that and she's talking about, as you mentioned, deleting the manuscript at 3 a.m. and when I heard it from her, it's like, my jaw dropped. All that work, thank God she got it back. I get to see a lot of parallels with podcasters. “I'm not good enough. I'm not going to do a podcast. Who am I to do a podcast?” You said it was general, but do you think podcasters might feel the same way?

TIM LEWIS: Oh yeah. I mean. It took me about a year to actually do a podcast. Between when I was thinking of doing a podcast and when I actually did a podcast, it was about a year in the end for when I actually started.

ALEXANDER LAURIN: Was there an element of being an impostor with that?

TIM LEWIS: I think that was part of it. Even my books, I don't promote them as much as I should do because I feel a little bit of an impostor at times, as they say not marketing your books. In the end, I did Cliff Ravenscraft’s podcasting A-Z course, trying to spokes me to start at podcast and that was an expensive way to do it. But I did work in terms of getting the podcast out there and started.

ALEXANDER LAURIN: It's a great way to go. It is a little expensive, but it gets you going, you're on the path, you've got everything there and apparently with his programme, everything is all set up for you. Is that right? You just “do this, do this, do this, and you’re good to go”?

TIM LEWIS: Well, you can actually buy packages off him where they send you all of the stuff and I didn't do that, I bought my own kit instead. Mainly because I was in the U.K. And I don’t think it’s particularly cheap to ship those packages internationally. For me, it wasn't so much a technical aspect. Though, if you use audio hardware, you invariably end up we have a big bin or mismatch cables connect to them. I've never known any kind of electrical equipment where you can have so many different connections on the end of things like: “this is a T.R.S. cable, this is T.S. cable and this is an X.R. cable”. It's like, you can easily end up holding the wrong cables for things if you go down the more audio equipment route. So, if you are going to do higher-end podcasting, which has mixers and digital recorders, I can say that actually, if you did buy package that would make a lot of sense because it does mean that you don't have to involve yourself with working out what on earth you're supposed to be doing. Though, of course, you can just do a podcast with just a U.S.B., mike and a computer or even just a computer or even just a digital recorder, if you want to.

ALEXANDER LAURIN: You've been on this journey and I went on your website “” and you have a blog post called Tim's journey and you mentioned it at the start of this podcast that you're widowed in 2011. So your life has changed quite a bit, since the very early 2000s. Have you found that your life has changed even more since you've been podcasting?

TIM LEWIS: To some extent, yes, I am the first person in society, that I don't get huge download figures. I get more than the average download figures but they're not huge. But, what I would say has been fantastic about podcasting, is the connections are made with guests and people I've interviewed on the show and also with some listeners. One issue you can have with podcasting is often, even though your connection with your listeners is probably much more than somebody who is on a blog, people don't generally comment on podcasts. Sometimes they might send you an email but even then, they might not know what your email is necessarily on how to contact you and it can feel like when you're doing a podcast that nobody's really listening, but they are. And often, you'll meet people at will come to you with things and they'll say: “Oh, I really like that episode.” And I say: “Oh, I really didn’t know you listen to the podcast.” I'm gonna go to social media marketing world again next year and I've probably interviewed about 40 to 50 people who are going to be at that conference. So I've automatically got a connection with all of these people and it’s that ability to make connections with people that I think is what is fantastic about certainly interview-based podcasts. So, I think it has changed my life in terms of increasing my network, so to speak, my online network.

ALEXANDER LAURIN: I know that since your life changed so much in 2011, the impression that I got was that you are living a life that you want to live, trying to do the things that you love, like writing. Do you get a lot of enjoyment out of the podcast? Is it a pleasure thing for you also?

TIM LEWIS: Yes, if it wasn't, I wouldn't do it. I enjoy the connections and I enjoy the fact that I'm helping people with the show, because it gives you an excuse to interview people about topics you're interested in and what you think your listeners might be interested. As I say, the great issue is that if I had a general Tim Lewis show, I could be much more wide in who I was interviewing. I’ve probably talked to people about politics and other things that would be totally inapplicable. I’ve stretched it a little bit occasionally with the show. In general, I do try and stick to entrepreneurial or self-publishing topics. Podcasting can be almost like a therapy where you're using it as a way to talk about things that you're interested in with people or almost like a research thing that, if you're interested in particular topic, you can vie on a guest to talk about that and way more than, I think, any other medium. People usually say “yes” to appearing on podcasting. Occasionally you get the odd “no”. But, I'd say 90% of people I've asked, have agreed to appear on the show. So, it's a fantastic way of getting those connections with people and finding out from experts about particular issues, what you should do about it?

ALEXANDER LAURIN: Tim, what do you struggle with, with the podcast?

TIM LEWIS: What do I struggle with? The time commitments of it, I struggle like with most podcasters get in new listeners, communicating, finding out what the listeners actually want is always a struggle. One thing I've said and I've heard other people say is: “well, that podcasting is not a medium to get a following.” Podcasting is actually a way to deepen your connection with an audience. I started looking into a publishing podcast, we have no existing blog and not much of a pre-existing audience probably when you mean social media and it's been a hard slog building up the download figures. I think a lot of people who have got existing blog or existing business audience, can very, very successfully start podcast because they've already got those people and then they're going to deepen their connection with them considerably by having a podcast. But I think anybody who gets into podcast thinking that they’re going to get hundreds of thousands of downloads in the first couple of months, if they haven't already got an audience, then they won’t. It’s as simple as that. If you somehow managed to contrive to get enough downloads in the first couple weeks, again a big turn out, then you might get more exposure, but generally speaking, podcasting is not a way to grow an audience. It’s a way to make a connection with the audience as much deeper.