People make a big deal about how oversaturated the podcast market is, but those people are just very LIMITED in their thinking. There are a million podcasts and podcast topics that haven’t even been THOUGHT of yet, let alone made. You could be the next Serial or Pod Save America, it just requires thinking of an idea that no one else has thought of but that everyone is extremely interested in. Not that hard, when you really think about it. If it was so hard no one would do it, you know what I mean? Here are a couple little brain ideas to get your juices flowing. These potential literary podcasts are all copyrighted, production pending, etc., so you can’t have THESE, but you can see how easy it is to come up with something totally original.
Literary Adaptation Podcast but All of the Authors of the Adaptations Very Publicly Disapprove of the Adaptation of their Work
Listeners love drama!!!! Why else has the podcast format captured true crime fans to a (scary?) extreme degree! You know what’s dramatic in literature? An author who signs on for an adaptation of their work and then hates. Every. Minute. Of. The. Product. Juicy!!! Bonus points if you can get both the author and the filmmaker to have a dialogue on your podcast. Conflict!!! Listeners would be SO into that.
You Talk About Dead Authors
Yes, okay! So right off the bat that sounds similar to Marlon James and Jake Morrissey’s podcast, BUT!!! To give your podcast a fun twist, you will take it a step further. Your cohost is also dead and so are your guests!!! Yes! Every episode is a seance of sorts where you call to life a deceased author to talk to a couple of other deceased authors. It’s like that game where you pick your dream dinner party guests, except that you actually MAKE the conversations happen. May require a seance professional, but you can find anything on the internet these days. Unless you ARE one!!!!!
Books Written in the Second Person Where You Try to Figure Out Who the “You” Was Originally Intended To Be
You could do an entire season on Self-Help, right??? Who was Lorrie Moore’s “YOU” in each second person perspective story? This podcast will be part literary analysis and part investigative journalism. You will need to do some digging into Lorrie Moore’s (or whoever’s) deep past and you will also have to make a couple of pretty extreme assumptions about the author’s personal life and its connection to their writing, but it would be REALLY interesting. People LOVE speculation and investigations (hello did you watch Mare of Easttown?? I thought so!).
Books Based on TV Shows and Movies
Hello! The reverse adaptations don’t get nearly enough air time. Sure, we talk about best book to movie, book to TV adaptations, but what about screen to book adaptations?? I’m talking your classics: Marriage Vacation (from Younger), The Shape of Water, The Omen, etc, etc. So many amazing books to cover! You could mount at least one INCREDIBLE 10-episode season.
Book Club on a Bike
Podcast listening went way down during the pandemic because people weren’t commuting anymore. But you know what people started doing more than ever? Biking! That’s because they were scared to use public transportation. So now, people are “into” “biking” and SOMEONE in the literary/podcast universe should capitalize. Here’s what you do. You record your podcast while biking (important for authenticity) and create some sort of honor system code that people HAVE to listen to each episode while they’re biking. Sounds like it would limit your audience, but actually it’s reverse psychology and it will get everyone to bike instead of drive and then you will have also solved the climate crisis. Probably! I don’t know!
You start a book club podcast, but, get this: instead of discussing the plot, characters, symbolism, merit, themes, cultural relevance, etc., you and your co-hosts get together and point out all of the copyediting errors that made it into the finished book. EVERYONE loves the satisfaction of finding an error that everyone else missed. It makes us feel really smart!!! Make sure you’re all reading the same (ideally first) edition. Your audience will love getting to read along with you and hone their copyediting skills, to boot! Maybe the big publishers will even place ads with you because it’s kind of like you’re providing them a free service. Maybe publishers will stop copyediting their first editions entirely! You could change book publishing forever!
This wouldn’t be a good list if It didn’t include some kind of genre-specific idea. That said, I will admit that a lot of the genres are already being covered by people who definitely know what they’re talking about so it might be a hard one to break into. The key will be finding a really niche genre, but one that definitely still has a robust enough audience that you can generate ad revenue. I have the perfect thing: the genre of “books you can buy in the airport”!!! Most airports have the same ones so you will have an INTERNATIONAL audience, and think of the sponsorship opportunities! A podcast with a built-in avid travel audience?? It’s only a matter of time before Southwest and JetBlue come knocking.
These are all very good podcast ideas and I absolutely think they should all be made. Even if you don’t think any of these have legs, I am sure you have a unique, marketable idea inside of you!! Or you could listen to one of these existing literary podcasts. That’s fun, too.