An Interview with Author/Illustrator/Podcaster Katie Davis

by Greg on November 18, 2010

I’m really happy to be able to bring you an interview with Katie Davis today. She’s an author and illustrator (and speaker and more), and she’s also started a podcast called Brain Burps About Books.

Podcasting is something I haven’t given much attention hereabouts, but it’s a really great medium and, as I think you’ll see from Katie, it can be a lot of fun, too.

You’re a successful author, illustrator, and speaker and now you’ve added podcaster to the list, too. What inspired you to start talking (literally) about books?

I do a monthly children’s book recommendation segment on Good Morning, CT which is great – I love that they’re supporting kidlit in that way. But it is TV, and it’s hard to fit extreme book passion into a 3 minute limit! I thought, “Hey! No one’s going to shut me up on my own show!”

But that isn’t the only reason:

  1. I have tons ‘o fun talking to friends in the business *about* the business, giving a fly-on-the-wall experience to my listeners.
  2. Lots of people ask me for advice, whether I’m doing a speaking gig, or just getting emails from pre-published writers and this seemed like a more economical way to help more people at a time.
  3. It’s a way to get me out of my little mole hole and socialize with other moles.
  4. It’s a new way to expand my expertise and reach as a business person and I thought I could extend my platform (though I hate that word!)

Is the technology aspect of podcasting a challenge?

Yes. It was for me, at least. I started my show on BlogTalkRadio and that was incredibly confusing, but I finally got it. But then I became frustrated with the sound quality. No one is going to listen to you regularly if you sound like you’re talking over two tin cans tied together.

So I “went to school.” I read books, learned all I could, and it was hard and confusing for awhile, and I even hired a consultant to teach me a few things. (I highly recommend him – he’s at podcastanswerman.com. I’d also suggest listening to his podcasts. He has eight!)

Then I decided to take this venture seriously and invest in some equipment. I still have trouble with it, knobs I set get turned and things don’t sound right and all that, but my listeners are very kind and forgiving!

What are your favorite parts of having a podcast? Anything about it drive you bonkers?

I love doing it. I love talking books, or the book business with colleagues. I love that there are a bazillion subjects I could cover and still have more to talk about. I love promoting other people and helping my listeners with their careers.

That said, (this is the bonkers part) I really wish more people would take advantage of my hotline! I pay for a service that provides an mp3 recording of a voice mail and people can call and ask anything of me or my guests or even potential guests!

The response on the hotline has been much lighter than I expected. I mean, here I am, having former Harcourt editor and novelist Deborah Halverson on this week and been putting the word out to call in questions but have only gotten a handful. I wish I knew why.

It would definitely add to the show, too, and help others. (In case you’re reading this and are thinking, “Well, if she’d just say the stinkin’ number, I’d call!” then here you go: 888-522-1929).

I also like it when the reciprocity thing happens. Every time I have a guest who then tweets/blogs/facebooks the episode throughout that week, their episode is downloaded significantly more times than others. Both Elizabeth O. Dulemba and Dianne de las Casas did that and their episodes were 2-3 times as popular as others.

Your podcast audience is growing. That’s satisfying by itself, but do you think the podcast or the size of your audience can also help your career in any way?

Absolutely. You’re interviewing me, aren’t you?!

Some of the career boosts I’ve gotten, I have generated myself, like submitting proposals and then being accepted to speak at the NY Reading Association next spring, presenting “Get Kids Excited About Books Through Podcasting – How To Turn a Reluctant Reader into a Star Book Reporter!” and I’m going to be doing a series of daily podcasts covering the entire weekend of the NESCBWI conference next spring (*Not*, mind you, recording the presentations, but interviewing the presenters and attendees, giving listeners another fly-on-the-wall experience, I hope.)

Then, of course, there is the loveliness of meeting people whom I might otherwise miss out on. I really love hearing from my listeners from all over the world.

I’m so curious about who they are – I sit in my stuffy attic room, surrounded by those “egg crate” foam bed cushions (for the audio quality), talking into a mic all alone, yet people all over the world are hearing my voice talking about what I love.

How gratifying a thought that maybe I’m helping them! Even if it never helped my career, that would be very cool. I’m not altruistic – I do want it to help my career, but if I can help others while boosting myself, why not?

It also does create another outlet for my “platform”, which simply extends the other stuff I do. Because everyone who hears me doesn’t read my monthly newsletter or see me on TV or meet me when I speak in person.

I love that you’re selling an iPhone app for folks to hear your podcast. It’s 1.99… and for that, you get each podcast: so you continue to get value long after the initial buy which also appeals to me. Was it hard to make the app? Clearly you’re not doing it to get rich, but do you think selling it can help support the time you spend on the podcast?

Podcasts are quite large files so it’s important to store them on a server other than one’s web site. I signed up with Libsyn.com, and they are FABulous. I chose their service that includes the app and I did have to do the art and everything, but none of the techie stuff.

Because people have to pay for the app (not my choice) I try to provide them with the podcast sooner than folks who are listening free from iTunes or my blog and soon you’ll be able to print out PDFs from the app. That way, when someone like Elizabeth O. Dulemba’s does an exclusive coloring page for the show, only the people who own the app will have access to it, which will be great for teachers and librarians.

Anything you’ve learned since you started that you wish you’d known when you started?

It’s all a process and I feel like I still have only just started! I’m learning more every day.

I want to thank Katie for taking the time to answer my questions since she’s among the busiest people I know. And somehow even with all she’s doing, she’s updating her website to bring all her stuff under one cyber roof. I want her time and energy, I must say.

Oh, and look for an extra cool project from Katie in April of 2011 – the picture book Little Chicken’s Big Day (from S&S/McElderry). Why’s it extra cool? Katie illustrated it… and it’s her husband’s first picture book. Sweeeeet!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie Davis November 18, 2010 at 10:18 am

Thank you, Greg, for such a great opportunity to share this fun venture with your readers. You, as I have said many a time, ROCK.

Reply

Lee Wind November 18, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Fun and informative interview! Thanks Greg and Katie,
Namaste,
Lee

Reply

Katie Davis November 18, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Hey, Lee, thanks! Let’s get you on the podcast…email me and let’s plan something!

Reply

Alexis November 18, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Katie is tireless — and resourceful! I don’t know how she does it all! Thanks for this interview. Interesting stuff here!

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Elizabeth O Dulemba November 19, 2010 at 5:47 am

Katie is a dynamo and I love that she’s found such a perfect fit for her talents. Brain Burps for Books is a fantastic show – I LOVE listening! 🙂

Reply

Pragmatic Mom November 23, 2010 at 6:41 am

It was great to learn that Katie is available by podcast. Thanks so much for the post and interview. She is delightful!

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