Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Virtual Coffee House

In the past few months I've been putting together a plan to offer a new way of spreading the works of ESC! Magazine's contributors to a broader audience. Read on to learn how you can participate!

Introducing "Coffee House to Go."

What is Coffee House to Go? CHTG, an ESC!Cast produced and hosted by the publisher of ESC! Magazine, will be a monthly Podcast of poetry and short fiction read by the original authors, interviews with folks active in the small press community, news from the world of independent literature, audioblogs and, since it's an audio broadcast, a featured song or two from unsigned bands. I expect the length of the shows will vary quite a lot depending on the content, but most shows will be about 20 – 40 minutes long.

In addition to exposing your work to all of our listeners through the show, each Podcast will include (through online shownotes at our website or as part of the show itself) the information needed for listeners to order your poetry, book or CD. So, as a contributor to the Podcast, your work will not only be exposed through your performance but potentially through sales of your small press endeavor as well.

"Umm, excuse me but ... Podcast?? ... Podcasting??"

Podcasting derives its name from the combination of "iPod" and "broadcast" – though a common misconception is that you need an iPod to listen to it. You don't. Podcasts are typically released in the widely used MP3 format which is supported by a wide range of listening devices including many car and home audio systems. I guess a great way to describe a Podcast is to say it's the online equivalent of a radio broadcast – stored at our site for you to “subscribe” to and automatically download on your own schedule. Once downloaded, Podcasts are available for you to listen to at your convenience.

By subscribing to Coffee House to Go and other Podcasts using a program like iPodder or iPodderX, you literally become your own program director!

I've listened to Podcasts covering a wide range of topics from Disney to wine vintages to techie geek shows (okay, mostly techie geek shows). As for literature, I've found Podcasts devoted to science fiction and fantasy as well as a very small handful of Podcasts covering poetry. What I have not found, however, is a Podcast devoted to the broad range of general fiction and poetry that ESC! Magazine publishes.

Ramping Up

As part of getting ready for our first Podcast, I've registered both COFFEEHOUSETOGO.COM and ESCCAST.COM. CoffeeHouseToGo.com will take you to where you need to go to subscribe and listen to our show as well as share all the latest information about the show.

At ESCCast.com, blog entries will cover the software you'll need to listen to our broadcasts, how to "subscribe" to our site feeds, as well as the best way to record and submit your work to Coffee House To Go.

Becoming a regular contributor to the ESC!Cast blog is easy! Drop me a line with your ideas, articles or other content you think might benefit the Coffee House to Go listeners along with a writing sample and we'll talk.

How To Make Your Content ESC!Cast Friendly?

If you'd like to participate in the Coffee House to Go ESC!Cast, I would love to hear from you! If you've already got a handle on making recordings using your computer and would like to start submitting your work, please feel free to send me your recordings now.

To make the start up of this effort as seamless as possible, I would prefer you make a digtital recording of your work and e-mail it to me in MP3 format (128kbps or higher quality please) or send it to me on CD. I will consider audio tapes as well, but will try my hardest to avoid them at the outset. While there are exceptions to every rule, when faced with works of equal quality, the decision of whether to include a piece that will take just a little effort to use (MP3) or to include a piece that would require an analog to digital conversion before I can use it (tape), I will go with the electronic one every time.

Recordings should be no longer than 10 – 15 minutes. What this means is in most cases you're not going to be able to send me your entire short story. If you can, great! Otherwise plan to excerpt your favorite section from the story and be sure to let me know where people can get the rest if they're interested. If you'd like to serialize it, be sure to divide it so there is a natural break between the installments and I'll run it over a number of Podcasts.

To most effectively promote your chapbook, book or CD, I recommend you make it available to order through the Internet. In general, people are much more likely to make an impulse purchase if they can do it right away rather than having to put the order together in an envelope, stamp it and mail it off to some unknown address. I know I'm that way ... how about you?

Coming Up!

The first show is in production and will be released very soon, but by getting the information out to you now, you'll have time to send content in for our second show.

So tell me what you think of Coffeehouse To Go and the idea of ESC!Casts in general! Leave a comment below or e-mail me directly if you'd like to discuss any ideas you have.


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