The cancellations started in the middle of March, just after Adelaide Writers’ Week. One by one, the various writers’ festivals advised that due to Covid-19 they would not be proceeding. This was not good news for me personally, as I had recently given up a regular writing gig to focus on my speaking commitments. There were now major gaps in my diary. It was not good news for writers either – or for readers.
I felt especially bad for writers with new releases coming out just as we all went into isolation. The critical time for promoting a new book is in the first few months after its release. That is the period when publishers direct their main efforts towards promoting books. Publicists arrange appearances for the writer at festivals, libraries, bookshops and other literary events. For writers, this opportunity to talk about their work is the culmination of many years’ hard work writing the book, finding a publisher, and then working closely with the editor. How dispiriting to release your book into a publicity vacuum, missing out on the usual buzz that attends a new release.
Tough, too, on readers. Many of them learn about the latest books by attending festivals and other events or from hearing writers speak. Just when readers most needed book recommendations, as they headed into lockdown, their means of learning about the best new ones had disappeared.
So – I had time on my hands and a passion for interviewing writers, writers needed a new platform on which to promote their books, and readers were thirsty for information. A perfect storm. All of a sudden, I realised that I should create a podcast interviewing writers about their new releases, connecting them to readers. The idea had crossed my mind before, but I hadn’t had time to pursue it – plus I was a little daunted by my lack of technical expertise. I found someone to help me with the technical side (the amazing Kel Butler of Listen Up Podcasting). Lo and behold, my podcast, Books, Books, Books, was born.
Each episode would be a one-hour interview with an Australian or international writer about his or her new book – similar in format to a session at a writers’ festival, but a bit longer to allow for more in-depth conversation. Publishers were supportive, and before long I had my first three writers lined up: Julia Baird to discuss Phosphorescence, Malcolm Turnbull on A Bigger Picture, and Lionel Shriver on The Motion of the Body Through Space. I was fortunate enough to receive one of the Copyright Agency’s Covid-19 emergency funding grants. This enables me to pay each Australian interviewee a fee and covers my production costs.
The podcast has now been up and running for a little while, and I am loving every minute of my new role as a podcaster. I have created the dream job for myself – reading great books and then discussing them with their authors. There is nothing I enjoy doing more.
You can listen to Books, Books, Books at https://www.nicoleabadee.com.au/podcast or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.