January 10th, 2007

Mask

Voices Of Tomorrow

Voices of Tomorrow is now a year old. I celebrated this year anniversary with a weeklong blitz of episodes. I put up six stories and an interview with Richard Kalwaic, who does the intro and outro to the podcast episodes and who has read a bunch of stories. Whenever I get e-mail about the readings, people are always telling me how much they like his voice. I admit, it has a very authoritative/darth vader/movie voiceover quality. After I put out an episode every day, what did I hear from my audience?

Nothing. Which is normal.

The weird thing about doing the podcast is the way I get feedback. When I put up a post here, or one of my stories goes live on 365 Tomorrows, I always get comments and critique. When a podcast episode goes live, it’s radio silence, and I know I have a lot more listeners to the podcast then say, readers of this journal. The podcast has an average of (as of today) 1,200 downloads an episode, with a total download of 81,562 downloads for all the episodes, yet seldom do I hear anything.

I suppose it’s pretty normal for an audience to be quiet, but I feel like I’m inside a thousand person auditorium and once every two months, someone in the dark coughs, surprising me. When I say I don’t hear anything from the void, other than the increasing stats, I mean that I don’t hear anything from the audience, or the people who wrote the stories I recorded, edited and broadcast. As little as I hear from my audience, I hear less from the people who wrote the stories, with the exclusion of the writer that I live with, but come on, I live with him. I actually suspect that of the thousand or so subscribers that I have, not one of them is the three other writers I record and broadcast. Now I don’t know that for sure, because I haven’t heard anything from them.

Which is fine, they aren’t obligated to listen to my podcast. Maybe they hate it and are being polite, not wanting to hurt my feelings. That is very nice of them. If they hate it, I don’t really want to know, because I work hard on trying to produce a good product.

Maybe I’m being paranoid. My partner tells me that I always jump to the conclusion that everyone hates what I’m doing, what I’ve done, and who I am if I don’t hear from them in a while. This is true. It takes me a very short time to formulate the belief that people really hate me. At the end of every semester, I always believe, with total conviction, that all my professors hate me and wish that I would die. I believed this last semester; I believed it totally, completely, fully.

“Kitsi hates me.” I’d say to Jared. “I pissed her off in class today.”

“I’m sure you didn’t.” Jared would just look at me like I was going mad. Which, of course, I was.

“You don’t know what you are talking about.” I’d reply, walking off in a huff.

Then I got my grades back, two A’s.

“I guess they didn’t hate me.” I’d say.

“DUH!” says Jared, who got to watch my paranoia take shape.

As of last month, all five of the writers of the first year of 365 Tomorrows have recorded at least one story for the site, so I suppose that’s a vote of support more than a pat on the back could ever be. They are busy people, I think that, yes, every one of them is in school and working right now, so that doesn’t leave a lot of free time to write silly e-mails or listen to fiction podcasts.

Last year a reader asked me if she could give a donation. The podcast costs about sixty bucks a year to keep going, so I said sure, every bit helps and I set up a pay pal button. I offered a deal where I would put up an episode for every donation. So far, I’ve gotten about five donations, ranging from five to 25 dollars. Usually, people give a donation and don’t say anything; I just get an e-mail from pay pal with cash for Voices of Tomorrow. Money talks though, so I know people appreciate the work I’m doing.

Other podcasters tell me this silence is normal. A podcast gets about one comment for every thousand listeners. By this measurement, they argue, I actually have a more active audience than one would expect, considering my numbers.

Maybe it’s not the feedback thing that’s really bothering me. Maybe it’s not the silence. Maybe I just want to produce my own work. I’m a little jealous of Jared’s podcast, because he’s writing and producing his own material. Everything he works on belongs to him, where as only a portion of what I work on is my own work, and the rest belongs to other people.

I realize my own podcast would probably have lower numbers, but it would be all my own, and that’s something.