Speculative fiction author Michael Coorlim previously appeared on Episode #37 back in March of 2014 to talk about self publishing to survive. This week Michael’s back to give us an update on his career and his new endeavor in audio drama podcasting.
Back in 2014, Michael Coorlim was busy trying to make a living as a writer by publishing short fiction under multiple pen names. While the approach was very effective in the long run in getting him to a stable income, Michael found he had to narrow his focus in order to keep moving after that.
“It was very, very disruptive in the early years trying to figure out what to do and then realizing that all of the advice you had been given had already expired.”
Fast-forward to 2016, Michael has consolidated most of his pen name fiction under his own name. Maintaining various pen names and brands can be time-consuming, and now he’s focused on developing his brand under variations of his name: Michael Coorlim for science fiction; M. Coorlim for horror/new weird; and Michael D. Coorlim for fantasy.
He is best known for his steampunk series Galvanic Century, which he has six books, and his new cyberpunk series Shadow Decade.
Michael’s newest endeavor is his audio drama podcast Synesthesia Theatre. He is currently wrapping up the first season of the show with an adaptation of Iron Horses Can’t Be Broken, Book 6 of his Galvanic Century steampunk series, which has been nominated for two Parsec Awards for Best Story and Best New Creative Team.
The second season of Synesthesia Theatre will feature the adaptation of Cold Reboot, Book 1 in Michael’s Shadow Decade series, which is already in post-production and will launch soon.
Michael says the audio dramas have basically become an alternative to creating audio books. Each story is performed by actors cast from Chicago’s local film and theater community and professionally produced with music and soundscape. Each season/adaptation runs 8 to 12 episodes long, each episode 20 to 30 minutes in length.
Because Synesthesia Theatre is not just an expensive hobby, but a business venture, Michael and his team have to figure out how to make revenue.
One of the ways they are doing this is through Patreon.
“I think Patreon is best used for things that are otherwise difficult to monetize,” Michael says, like podcasts and web comics. He notes, “One of the things I’ve learned is communicating with your fans on Patreon is one of the most important things you can do to maintain their interest and to get more of them.”
A self-admitted workaholic, Michael relies on the Pomodoro technique to help him stay focused during his work day. He works in 25-minute increments with 5-minute breaks in between, and longer breaks after two hours. He focuses on four different projects each day, giving each project two hours each of his attention, and trying to keep his work day to 8 hours.
Even with all good intentions though, Michael averages about 60 hours a week.
Advice to New Authors:
Learn your process. Experimentation is the only way that you’re going to be able to figure out what works for you. Advice goes stale quickly, especially at the rate the indie publishing industry is evolving. So don’t be afraid to try new things and figure out the answers for yourself through trial and error.
Next Big Thing:
The second season of Synesthesia Theatre based on Cold Reboot, Book 1 in Michael’s Shadow Decade series, is already in post-production.
Michael notes that Synesthesia Theatre is currently open to submissions from other authors who want to see their work performed on the podcast. Authors are invited to send in a treatment. If the project works with what Michael and his team are trying to do, they will produce the script, credit the author, and provide opportunities for the author to cross-promote. (Interested authors can check out submission guidelines here.)
One of things Michael is interested in is artistic expansion. Every story is an asset, he says, and you want to maximize every asset you have available. Producing audio drama podcasts is just one way to do that. Here are some other tips to help you explore your own artistic expansion:
- Make a list of possible spin-off projects from your existing stories, anything and everything from Bobbleheads to docudramas to funny book trailers to knitting patterns. It doesn’t matter if an idea is feasible or even good sense. Just write it all done and see what you end up with. And have fun with it! Happy Meal toys, poster-sized maps of your epic fantasy world, hats with “Team Snow” on them…whatever tickles your fancy.
- If you haven’t already tried audio dramas, give it a try. A good place to start is Michael’s Synethesia Theatre podcast.
- Adapt a scene from a book or story of yours into an audio script just to give it a go. Thinking in terms of what an audience can hearwill change the way you see your story.
Michael is always trying new things. What the next new thing for you?
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