Review of The Shit No One Tells You About Writing PodcastFeb 07, 2022
Post written by Katie Wall.
If you have dreams of traditionally publishing fiction–especially book club fiction, women’s lit, or literary fiction–you need to listen to The Shit No One Tells You About Writing (TSNOTYAW). Stat.
Author, podcaster, and creative writing instructor Bianca Marais hosts this irreverently named podcast. But don’t let the name fool you: she’s serious about good writing. And so are her co-hosts, literary agents Carly Watters and CeCe Lyra, from P.S. Literary Agency.
What’s so great about this podcast? Their description on Spotify states, “Expect good advice, honest insights, and a few laughs along the way.” This is not false advertising–every time I listen to one of the episodes I get all three of those things.
Unlike many podcasts, there are two main types of episodes that TSNOTYAW puts out. First, there’s the weekly (as of this writing it’s dropped on Thursdays) regular structure, and then bonus episodes. The regular structure includes their Books with Hooks segment and then an interview with an author, agent, editor, etc. The bonus episodes are usually two interviews and no Books with Hooks segment. While there are TONS of podcasts that have interviews, I find that Bianca is an excellent interviewer and really draws out interesting information and experiences from her guests. These interviews aren’t just pleasant to listen to, but they are incredibly informative.
So what is the Books with Hooks segment? Well, aspiring authors submit their query letter, synopsis, and sample pages to be reviewed by Carly and CeCe (the two literary agent co-hosts). They read the query letter, then discuss what works and what doesn’t about it, including commentary on trends in publishing, questions the letter brings up for them, and explaining the why behind their comments. For more recent episodes the submitting writers read their own query letter and provide a summary of what happens in the first pages; previously, Carly and CeCe read the materials for the listener.
One of the things I love most about this segment is that you can really tell how much Bianca, CeCe, and Carly all care about good story and about helping authors. They don’t hold back on giving feedback because they truly want to help the submission’s writer as well as help all of the other listeners learn how to write a better query package and how to have the best chance when querying.
This type of feedback is invaluable for submitting writers and listeners alike!
Not interested in traditional publishing? You’ll still glean helpful tidbits to employ in your own writing. For example, I was listening to one of the recent episodes this morning and they were discussing dual POV structure. While they talked about how to best portray that in a query letter, they also discussed how using multiple points of view can help or hurt a novel as a whole.
The only downside of this podcast for me personally is the length of the regular episodes, which is usually around an hour. (The bonus episodes are 20-60 minutes.) If I didn’t have two small children this wouldn’t be a problem, though, so I don’t count this against the podcast at all. I just need to be more okay with listening to episodes in chunks instead of thinking that I need to sit down and listen through a whole episode all at once!
While I said at the beginning of the post that TSNOTYAW is particularly important for writers who are working on women’s lit, book club fiction, and literary fiction, that’s because those are the types of work discussed most often on the podcast. However, I have it on good authority that they would LOVE more submission from the sci-fi and fantasy genres, so please submit your work no matter what genre you’re writing in! If you’re interested in submitting your query letter, synopsis, and sample pages, you can do so here.
Usually when I review a writing podcast I share some specific episodes I particularly recommend, but I would say that each episode of TSNOTYAW will hold different value for each writer depending on what a writer needs. But I will do a shameless plug for the episodes Andrew and I were interviewed for! You can find those episodes here.
You really can’t go wrong by listening to TSNOTYAW. No matter where you’re at in the writing stages or what genre you’re writing, you’ll be given some helpful nuggets in every episode.
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