Looking to create a new platform to market books, indie fiction house Story Plant is launching Rewrites, a 7-episode audiodrama that follows a fictional TV reality show about novelists. The show will be distributed as a podcast.
The show will debut on April 25. It is written by bestselling novelist Tawni O’Dell and features a cast of 16 actors in a full theatrical production complete with sound effects. The seven-episode series will be distributed as a podcast via Blog Talk Radio, the online talk show and podcast hosting platform.
Rewrites has been produced by Story Plant president and publisher Lou Aronica, along with his partner, Mitchell Maxwell, who is Story Plant’s senior v-p, associate publisher and director of business development. The series is about the writer of a reality TV show which pits six novelists against each other in a literary competition; the series follows the TV writer’s determined efforts to get his show on the air.
Aronica described the podcast as a “seriocomic story of a man who believes society is devolving because people don’t read enough.” The main character, Aronica went on, then “devises a surprising solution–a reality TV show about novelists.”
Calling the podcast “a love letter to book lovers,” Aronica emphasized that the series is intended to draw attention to Story Plant books. While Rewrites is an original work, it will inaugurate a series of at least three more audiodramas currently in production that are based on Story Plant novels.
Founded in 2008 by Aronica, Story Plant publishes commercial fiction by a mix of bestselling authors and newer writers with backlists. The house publishes about 25 titles a year, and has a backlist of roughly 140 titles.
Aronica said the idea for Rewrites grew out of ongoing attempts to “figure out how to launch books and authors in a distinctive way in a crowded book marketplace.”
When the partners hit on the idea of producing audiodramas based on books, they set up the Story Plant Media division. They then began acquiring performance rights to the books on their list. “If you can pull the talent together,” Aronica said, “[audiodramas are] something that can be done fast, and at an attractive cost.”
Although Rewrites author O’Dell originally came to Story Plant to pitch a new book, she also happened to mention a film script project—Rewrites—she was working on. Aronica said he and Maxwell immediately recognized that O’Dell’s script would be ideal as the basis for launching an audiodrama series. O’Dell, he said, was attracted to the advantages of producing the work as a podcast, which allowed Rewrites to be produced without creative compromises.
All the actors in the podcast are members of the Screen Actors Guild and, according to Aronica, the entire project took two and a half months to complete. The Story Plant guys partnered with Blog Talk Radio to host the podcast. Aronica noted that Blog Talk Radio provides detailed analytics (data on the show’s listeners), and worked with Story Plant to secure sponsors for the new show.
Ultimately, Aronica feels audiodramas have significant potential for turning listeners into readers. “There is a sizeable audience for audiodramas and a crossover between fiction readers and podcast listeners,” he said. “It’s a natural. People will listen and want to know more about the author and the book.”