Every month the OTW hosts guest posts on our OTW News accounts to provide an outside perspective on the OTW or aspects of fandom. These posts express each individual’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy.
Luulapants is a fanfic author and podfic producer who is heavily involved in the Teen Wolf fandom. She also engages with Defenders, Hannibal, DC TV, and others, and is currently piloting a new community for Daredevil podfic creators. Today, Luula talks about learning to create podfic.
How did you first find out about fandom and fanworks?
I was in middle school when my friend and I became obsessed with the X-Men movies. We started going on message boards for X-Men fans, and it didn’t take long for us to find fanfic authors and fan artists. I remember being in awe that there was a whole community of people that shared my excitement. I love dropping this tidbit on people, but my first fandom obsession was Toad from the first X-Men movie. You don’t meet a lot of Toad fans these days. There are dozens of us!!
How did you end up creating podfic? Was it your first type of fanwork?
I started with fanfiction when I was really young — probably 12 or 13. I used to be embarrassed about those early stories, but now I can look back and appreciate the passion that fueled it, even if the actual writing wasn’t all there. I didn’t record podfic until relatively recently, but I’ve listened to it for at least a decade now. I queued up podfic for long drives or to listen to while working around the house. I was in a period of consuming fanworks but not creating when the data corruption on the Audiofic Archive happened, and I remember what a horrible blow it was to the podficcing community. When I started writing again, I did a podfic of one of my first fics, because I had come to have such an appreciation for that format, as a listener.
What do you find the most fun part of the work and what is the most challenging?
Podfic lets you add new layers to already incredible works. Voice acting, collaborations, music and sound effects — you can let your imagination run wild to create an immersive podfic experience. There’s also an amazing sort of familiarity that can happen with podfic readers. Some of the more prolific podficcers, like dodificus and reena_jenkins, I’ve listened to so many of their podfics that when I’m writing a fic, I imagine what it would sound like in their voices to decide if my pacing or dialogue is right. I love the idea of making that connection with listeners.
It’s not always easy to get into podficcing, though. You need a quiet space to record, confidence in your voice, a good microphone, editing software, file hosting space, and some technical know-how. People get hung up on one or two items, and that keeps them out of podficcing altogether. It also takes a long time to make a podfic. I don’t think people realize, but a 10k one-shot can easily take 5 hours to record and edit — more if you’re doing special effects.
The biggest challenge, though, is a lack of engagement from listeners. Of all the podfic I’ve listened to, I think about how many I actually kudosed or commented on, and the numbers aren’t great! People download podfics to listen to while offline or busy, and it’s easy to forget to go back for kudos afterward. Creators like to say that we work for personal satisfaction, not comments, but feedback really does keep us motivated.
I’m hoping that working on podfic in a more communal setting will help us overcome some of those challenges and open the field up for new creators. People can get technical and recording support for areas they’re not as experienced in, and we can give one another the support and feedback that may be missing from listeners.
How did you hear about the OTW and what do you see its role as?
I migrated to AO3 very soon after it was created, in the wake of other fandom spaces imploding around that time. I’ve been in fandom long enough to see purges and server collapses that devastated entire online communities overnight. It’s so important that we have OTW as an advocate for legal protection, but moreso to give us a stable place that isn’t going to disappear or purge content. The podfic community is especially sensitive to this after the Audiofic Archive was corrupted. We lost so many podfics, and many didn’t have backup copies saved anywhere else.
What fandom things have inspired you the most?
I’m constantly blown away by the talent and passion I see in fandom. I have read fic series as long as any published book series, and probably better written. I’ve listened to podfics with better production quality than most commercial audiobooks. I see fandom creators going out of their way to make their works accessible to screen readers, to offer epilepsy-safe versions of graphics, to carefully tag their works so sensitive readers can safely navigate fandom spaces.
And they do it all for free. Just because they love the community. They love creating. It’s incredible.