McClelland & Stewart’s first talking novel on podcast

The Toronto-based publishing company is releasing a new novel by Terry Fallis, The High Road, as a weekly promotional podcast before the print launch in September.

Giving away content for free online can only benefit publishing houses if the freebie can be used as a promotional tool, explains Lisa Charters, SVP director digital of Toronto-based McClelland & Stewart, which this week debuted a book in podcast format.

From now until October, free audio episodes (chapters) from The High Road – about smear campaigns and backroom dealings in Canadian politics, by Toronto author Terry Fallis – will be posted each week, well before the print and e-book editions go on sale on Sept. 7.

‘We think that it’s [targeting] two different audiences – the podcast audience that likes to listen, and when they’re excited about stuff they tell people who are more of an audience of the printed version of books,’ Charters tells MiC. ‘I’ve been listening to podcasts for about five to six years and I think they are under-utilized as a promotional vehicle,’ she adds.

The format also opens up the door for sponsorship opportunities, she admits.

‘There might be an advertising opportunity for us to earn some revenue while giving it away for free, so we might put advertising or sponsorship on the front or end of the podcast,’ Charters says.

But while this is the first time McClelland & Stewart is releasing a book on podcast, it is a format that has proven successful with the author’s fan base. Fallis’s previous book, The Best Laid Plans, which is also about the Canadian politics scene, was promoted by the author himself in the same way. The last book began as a podcast before it was self-published; it was picked up and re-released by McClelland & Stewart after it won the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour. The previous podcast generated 3,500 fans – a figure that Charters believe will grow this year.

‘I think that the podcast format is actually more for the people who listened to the first book on podcast. We wanted to reward them because they clearly did shell out and bought the print version,’ Charters says.