Liv Albert, host of the popular podcast Let’s Talk About Myths, Baby, joins us on the podcast this week to discuss her new book Greek Mythology: The Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes Handbook. Liv talks to us about her podcast and how it came into fruition, she tells us what her research and production process is like, and she tells how her podcast led to a book deal and what it was like writing her first book.
- Liv tells us about her life-long interest in Greek mythology and how this passion has translated into a successful podcasting career
- She explains the concept of Let’s Talk About Myths, Baby, why she thinks Greek mythology is so enduring, and why she believes examining these myths through a modern feminist lens is so important… even if some people online disagree with her
- Liv tells us about the process behind her podcast, from researching to scripting to recording the episode, and how she manages to do all on her own
- She discuss the differences between writing the scripts for the podcast and writing chapters for the book and the challenges that came with writing a book on commission
- Liv explains how her previous career working in publishing helped her negotiate her publishing contract, and she tells us what authors should look out for when signing contracts of their own
- She talks to us about the similarities between being an independent podcaster and an indie author, and she gives some advice for people just starting out as an indie author
Let’s Talk About Myths, Baby on Spotify and Apple
Greek Mythology: The Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes Handbook
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Liv Albert has a degree in Classical Civilizations and English Literature from Concordia University in Montreal. Liv is the creator, host, and producer of the popular Greek and Roman mythology podcast, Let’s Talk About Myths, Baby! where she brings her modern perspective and her education in Classical Civilizations together to explore Greek myths from a casual, humorous perspective. Her podcast is highly rated, ranked in the top 10–50 Apple Podcasts in the US, Canada, and UK, and has found its way onto Spotify curated lists like “Learn Something New,” and “Podcasts That Will Make You Smarter.”
Transcription provided by SpeechPad
Joni: Welcome to the “Kobo Writing Life Podcast” where we bring you insights and inspiration for growing your self-publishing business. We’re your hosts. I’m Joni.
Tara: I’m Tara.
Joni: This week on the podcast we hosted Liv Albert, who is the host of her own podcast, “Let’s Talk About Myths, Baby!,” which is all about Greek mythology, looking at Greek mythology through a modern lens. She is also a former Kobo employee. Tara, you used to work with Liv, right?
Tara: I did. Her desk used to be right across from mine. So she worked at Kobo back in the day and then has moved on to different publishing aspects, but started this podcast about Greek mythology and it just took off. So we were lucky enough to get to chat to her because she’s releasing her first book, which is out right now and you can get it on eBook and audiobook on Kobo. Liv does the audiobook herself obviously being the, you know, narrator pro. But, yeah, it is called “Greek Mythology: The Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes Handbook.” And basically, if you’re like me and you don’t really know anything about Greek mythology, this is like a really good resource to just dip in and out and just be like, “Oh, who was Zeus?” Like, it tells you everything about it. I feel like, Joni, you’re probably already too advanced.
Joni: I thought Liv was deeply, deeply cool. I’m very excited about this interview. It was really fun. She’s doing just the coolest thing. Like she’s made something that she loves into her career, and she’s super intelligent. And, yeah, she was great. So without further ado, here’s the interview.
Tara: Liv, welcome to the “Kobo Writing Life Podcast.” Really great to have you on as a former Kobo-ite who sat at the desk across from me for I was gonna say many years but many months at least anyway.
Liv: Many months.
Tara: Yeah, excited to have you here to chat about your first book and everything. Yeah. For anyone that’s not familiar with you, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Liv: I would love to. And thank you so much for having me. It’s lovely to talk to everyone and especially old Kobo people. So I first worked at Kobo in publishing and did some years at Penguin Random House and then gave it all up and moved away and randomly started a podcast on a whim, which is now I am worth talking to. So I’m the host of the podcast, “Let’s Talk About Myths, Baby!,” a name which I never actually like saying out loud when other people are present, but I’ve stuck myself with it. It’s a Greek and Roman mythology podcast where I retell stories from Greek mythology in an incredibly casual and swear-filled way. And then that led me to writing a book. So I now have an upcoming book of Greek mythology called “Greek Mythology: The Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes Handbook,” which is available on March 23rd.
Tara: Very exciting. I think we’re timing this. So your book is currently out now because we’re in the future. So you can get it on Kobo. You can get the eBook and the audiobook or buy a print edition for the beautiful illustrations.
Liv: Or both or all three.
Tara: Oh, yes, of course. I’m surprised that you didn’t sing your “Let’s Talk About Myths, Baby!.”
Liv: Nope. I have enough trouble saying it out loud when other people are present. So I certainly don’t sing it. But I do sing it every time on the podcast I will say that.
Joni: I like the name. It’s great.
Liv: Thank you. I’ve been told a lot that it’s what got people hooked on the podcast. So it certainly worked well. But it’s definitely like a random passing thought that I had and I was like, “I guess I’ll call it that.” And then I didn’t totally expect that, you know, three and a half years later I would have this fairly large platform where I have to sing a very dorky podcast name every week.
Joni: So what drew you to Greek mythology? How did you get started?
Liv: I’ve always been really into it. So ever since like, I was a kid, I think I had a good teacher in elementary school who covered it and that kind of got me in. And then I did my undergrad in…I did a double major in classical civilizations and English Lit with the intention of explicitly using my English Lit degree to work in publishing and then doing classics just for fun, and then sort of did that for a little while and then switched. So it’s definitely always been my thing. I just find it incredibly fascinating, the stories. The stories are fascinating but they’re also just ridiculous. And that’s something that I wanted to do with my podcast is emphasize just how ridiculous some of the stories are because it’s so old and ancient that people tend to focus on sort of the brilliance of the ancient Greeks and all the things they did. And then the complete madness of some of the stories gets left behind in a lot of those interpretations. So I sort of took it upon myself to give the absolute most just bananas versions of the myths.
Tara: I think people tend to take the myths very seriously like it’s almost gospel, you know, so I do like the take that you’re just trying to bring this silliness back to it.
Liv: And it’s there. I’ll never understand how people do like overlook the silliness because some of the things they do, I mean, between transforming into animals and, you know, just…there’s a lot going on in Greek mythology.
Tara: So what do you think it is about myths that remains so interesting to people even now? Like, why? What is it about these stories?
Liv: The stories are pretty eternal. You know, there’s a lot of stories of romance that really translate through the ages. That said, there’s a lot of stories of assault, most of the time, it’s assault, and kidnapping, and lots of good stuff like that. But, I mean, they are just eternal. And the nice thing about certainly the ancient Greek pantheon of gods is that they were very human. And I think that’s what makes them so accessible and so timeless is, you know, as much as they were gods, they also made decisions and mistakes and everything as if they were human. The Greeks definitely made them in their image to a very literal degree. So I think that just keeps the stories really fresh. And that said, though, I mean, they have carried on in a way that I personally wasn’t expecting. I started this podcast because I just love it. And then it turned out that I had sort of inadvertently fallen into this perfect resurgence of Greek mythology, where it is just huge right now in so many different forms of pop culture and in so many different places. So I just also had really good timing for people just finding it all on their own.
Joni: What do you think that modern day writers can learn from Greek mythology, if anything?
Liv: The drama certainly translates to modern writing. I mean, there’s so many really, really brilliant adaptations of Greek myths that are coming out in fiction right now. And so I think that it’s clear that the stories are so timeless that, you know, they’re just as complex and fascinating today as any fiction can be. So, I mean, looking at those stories and learning from even just the storytelling aspect to the building of tension and drama and so many different things, it’s very much the same as the way we write and take in stories now.
Tara: I think that’s a really good point, all about the kind of, I guess, like you said, about the humanizing the gods and characters so much throughout the stories. One of the things that I loved so much about, like your podcast is that you give your modern eye to the myths, like you said, like highlighting, like the problematic issues and adding historical context for people…I think it’s just like giving a basis of like, “This is why this is happening for this reason.” And you’re saying your episodes in March you’re going to be dedicated to like the women in Greek mythology that are like misrepresentations? Why do you think it’s so important to have this sort of modern retelling? And as you said that there’s a little bit of resurgence right now, are a lot of the resurgence kind of looking at it with this critical modern eye?
Liv: I think so. Yeah. I mean, certainly a lot of the fiction is because it tends to be all written by women. So a lot of it is coming out as feminist interpretations, which I am deeply here for. And, yes, so all of March is going to be stories of women that were sort of misrepresented over time and misconstrued to their detriment. But I definitely focused on it through a modern eye and specifically through a feminist lens. Because, I mean, like we are in now, the ancient Greek world was very much a patriarchy, but one that was incredibly troubling, women weren’t recognized as citizens of the polis, they were a property of their fathers until they were property of their husbands. And that translated into the mythology.
So most of the stories of so called Gods falling in love with women, be they mortal or other deities, tends to be portrayed as falling in love or the woman being carried off is a phrase that’s used a lot. Of course, this means kidnapping. It means she was taken by force. And yet the interpretations tend to sugarcoat that or just completely gloss over it like it wasn’t a big deal. And because contextually the woman was property, so they didn’t see it as a big deal. But I don’t think there’s any reason to tell these stories now without pointing out that that’s awful and horrifying. So that’s certainly what I do. I come at it from that lens of they understood this to be the way things were but we don’t have to and let me tell you why it’s awful and messed up and just so deep problematic.
So I think I think that’s really important. And I think it’s proven by the number of people that get angry at me for it rather, which is not that many thankfully but the people that do get angry are darkly misogynistic in their anger. And I think that that just proves the point of not ignoring those things. Like people tend to come at me with like, “Well, you know, you can’t put our modern morals onto the ancient cultures.” And I just think, “Why? Why not? I want to and I’m going to.” Because I don’t see how you can tell these stories without looking at that because in doing so, you’re basically just relegating women to the same position they were in back then which we don’t need to still be doing because it’s problematic enough as it is today without also ignoring the fact that it was not great that women were property.
Tara: How much of that do you think is also, in fact, part of like, the people that are doing the interpretations being mostly men like historically as well? Has that shifted?
Liv: Yeah. I think it’s hugely that. Yeah. I mean, it’s definitely that because you didn’t even have to think about it critically. It was just like, “Oh, God fell in love with her and carried her off. Oh, did she think about it? I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter.” So that’s definitely a huge part of it and what I want to take away from or just like, provide a counter to. So certainly, that’s something that I’m really excited about my book for because I obviously have read a lot of books of Greek mythology. I own a ton of them. And I don’t think I’ve come across any that point out the level of problematization that goes into these stories. Sometimes there’ll be a little bit of like reflection on that maybe that wasn’t great, but it’s pretty minimal. And the main one would be like Edith Hamilton, who was a woman, she wrote her book a very long time ago so it still doesn’t have that like kind of modern feminism at all. But she was a little bit more honest, at least. But yeah, I mean, it’s definitely to do with the men and certainly the people who come at me on the internet for what I’m saying are men as well.
Joni: Do you have a favorite goddess or God or story?
Liv: There’s so many. I tend to fall back on Medusa because it’s very complex and also because it makes misogynists angry. Because her story is really it’s a major example of misrepresentation in the way it’s been understood through time. So if you actually go back into the sources, she’s not super monstrous. It’s pretty questionable about how much of a monster she actually was. She had snakes for hair, sure, but that tends to be the extent of her overall monstrosity. And yet we have this idea of her being this horrifying figure who absolutely needed to be killed to save humanity or save whoever. But if you actually go back to the ancient sources, that’s not really true at all. And often, she’s actually the victim of a god and forced to live that way because of the actions of a god. So I think she’s just a fascinating figure both in the original stories from ancient Greece, but then also in the way that she has been received over time and the way that she’s sort of been degraded and overlooked or transformed into this thing that she wasn’t originally.
Joni: How much research do you have to do for each episode? And this is kind of a two-part question. I’m also curious because it’s really easy to get bogged down in Greek mythology. But how do you choose like how to distill it down and make it really accessible for relatively short form podcast?
Liv: My episodes have gotten longer and longer over time as I have found that less and less possible, mostly just out of my own need to tell the stories in their entirety. So definitely a lot of research goes in. It depends kind of what type of story I’m telling. And because certain ones don’t require that much research because there’s maybe one source like say the stories from the “Odyssey,” you’re just reading the “Odyssey.” But when it comes to most of the other myths, we’re talking a number of sources that were each either, you know, told orally and then at some point written down over the course of hundreds, sometimes a thousand years. So the story’s changed a lot between sources. And I like to reference different sources and make sure that I’m telling the complete story or the different variations of it in certain ways. Often, I’ll pick one to keep the narrative flowing. But ultimately, I want to make it clear how many different versions there are and because it was covered over so many hundreds of years, it can change a lot. So, yeah, I mean, definitely a lot of research, sometimes less than others, but it’s definitely it’s a lot. It’s a lot of work.
Joni: How did you get started with the podcast?
Liv: When I left publishing in Toronto, I had what can only be described as a quarter life crisis in doing it. I quit my job because it was going nowhere and paid nothing. And Toronto was so expensive. And so many things were going on. And so I just left Toronto and I thought Vancouver was the solution for me. And then my job there was so much worse than anything I could have ever imagined. And I was very bored and very lonely and only listened to podcasts. And then was like, “I could do this.” I specifically listened to My Favorite Murder, in which case, the beginning they basically say, “We just did this because we felt like it.” And I was like, “Hey, if they did it because I felt like I could do it because I feel like it.” And so I used it as a way for me to have something to do to pass the time to feel who was lonely and less resentful of my job. And then I quickly obviously left Vancouver, thank god, and found a better job that wasn’t so soul sucking and just kept the podcast going. And I don’t want to say before long because it was years, but now it is my whole job. So it clearly worked out pretty well. But it definitely happened because I was bored and lonely and liked podcast myself.
Joni: Okay, so it’s only been three and a half years that you’ve built up like a really great audience? I’m curious, because when you started it, obviously, you wouldn’t have known what it was gonna end up as. Did you release one episode at a time? Did you kind of prepare and bank a few episodes? I’m just curious.
Liv: Yeah, I did a lot of Googling before I started it of sort of the best way of doing things. I did it all very much by just Googling and figuring out what the internet told me to do. So some things I did well at first and some things not so well. So I know I released two episodes on the first run because they said that was good. And then it was going once a week. And then I was doing it kind of twice a week. And then before long, it was once week again. And then it was once every two weeks because of how much work it was. And then slowly realizing because the thing is obviously if you release it once a week, at least you’re more likely to gain followers and listeners and everything. And then that grows and grows.
And so it sort of fluctuated and how steady it was. I definitely never banked episodes, which was my biggest flaw and the thing that I still wish I had done. And I’m still I’m not full time and I still don’t bank episodes because I just don’t…I’m so bad at it. It’s a mess. I’m literally after we’re done this call, I’m going to record the episode or I’m going to edit I should say. I did record it yesterday. I’m going to edit the episode that has to come out tomorrow morning. Like that’s where I’m at even now. But, yeah, I just kind of figured it all out. But when the pandemic hit, I started doing it twice a week, which was the sort of big catalyst to push downloads even more, because that’s kind of the most ideal. It’s so much work. But, you know, it makes a big difference.
Joni: And you do everything yourself, the editing, all of it?
Liv: Yeah, I think and this is just a brag, but one that I’m very proud of, I’m pretty sure I’m one of the biggest if not the biggest Canadian independent podcast. It is just one person.
Joni: That’s amazing.
Tara: Congratulations. That’s so good.
Liv: Thank you. Yeah, it’s a lot of work for me but I can’t imagine giving much of it up. I’ve had one person who helped me with some bit of researched recently, which has been nice. But even still, I haven’t had a chance to use her research yet. So it’s all kind of relative. But, no, it’s somehow still all me for all of it.
Joni: That’s really cool. And it’s very, like indie publishing, I think.
Liv: Yeah. Yep.
Joni: Do you ever worry about running out of content? You have so many episodes, but I guess it’s infinite myths, right?
Liv: There’s definitely gonna be a point. But I’m nowhere near it yet fortunately both because there are so many stories I haven’t told, including like a whole host of Greek plays, right? They were really prolific playwrights. And we don’t have thousands of plays that they did write back then. But we have enough now that I can really draw upon those. I have but not even touch the surface of how many there are. And also at the very beginning, I told the stories very peripherally with minimal research. I sometimes use Wikipedia in the first few episodes, which I’m very ashamed of. So there’s definitely a lot that I could redo in much better detail now that I’ve sort of found my stride and figured out the best way of doing it and have so many more sources at my fingertips. And so between redoing some really old ones and the sheer volume that I haven’t yet done, there’s going to be a long time to go fortunately.
Tara: Yeah, and I noticed that you had done on your Patreon that you’ve done an Irish, you did Cuchulainn. Would you veer into different niches? Because I have a whole bunch of Irish myths that I can tell you about.
Liv: I might veer a little bit into Egyptian because I also care about those. The Cuchulainn one came across because I am very good friends with the women in the podcast “Ancient History Fangirl.” We met in the pandemic and through podcasting and turned into like having video chats once a week to keep all sane in lock downs. And they cover histories far beyond the ancient Mediterranean. And they knew the story of Cuchulainn and we do Patreons together where we just drink too much and then tell myths to each other, which is what Cuchulainn was and it is messy that one. So they told me the myth of Cuchulainn and I just sort of like listened in a bit of awe. But I just find personally I don’t have the passion for ones beyond Greek and Roman for it to be the same podcast. It would just be me researching but it wouldn’t have the same level just because I don’t have the same feelings for it. The Cuchulainn one certainly, you know, was giving Greek a run for its money in the craziness that was going on in there. But, yeah, it’s just not the same for me, unfortunately, because it would mean so much more content.
Tara: Yeah, that’s fair enough. Yeah. There’s definitely a lot of like turning into animals and witches and all this like good stuff in Irish folklore as well.
Joni: I know one, I hav Irish friends.
Liv: Yeah, there you go.
Tara: There we go. I’ll be nipping at your heels, Liv.
Liv: I mean, you’ve actually got you being Irish, that makes a big difference. I am in no way Greek so so…
Tara: Well, there actually is this great podcast called the “Irish History Podcast.” He covers a lot of this. And, yeah, it’s really, really great. And it’s been going for a few years where he goes through all of them. I think I missed my window of opportunity.
Liv: you should just guessed on it.
Tara: I should do. I should call him up. So to shift gears a little bit into writing, as this is kind of for our independent authors here, so it sounds like you do a lot of research for each episode. And like do you write them out? Because it kind of sometimes sounds like you’re reading it, sometimes sounds like you’re kind of just riffing?
Liv: Yeah, it’s all scripted. Yeah.
Joni: Yeah. Because doing it on your own is a ton of pressure if you’re not scripting it.
Liv: Yeah, I couldn’t imagine, honestly. My scripts are often down to likes, to my use of the word like and just to emphasize it because also if I didn’t write them then I would say it a lot more like that. No, they’re definitely all scripted. So the way I do it, which is probably not the most practical way but it is the quickest is I literally have like a book on one side and my laptop on my lap. And I’m just reading and then typing as I go. So I just did like reading and typing and coming up with it on the fly. So it is still very much thought up on the fly. But it’s written down so that I can read it afterwards and not actually, like, have the pressure of recording it while I’m in that way. But I also notoriously do all that and then never read it again before I’m recording. So, I mean, it’s all still very messy but it works, which is great. So, yeah, it’s a lot of reading while typing and then just saving a document and hoping it’s worthwhile when I open it in front of a microphone later.
Tara: So I was gonna ask like what’s the main difference between like the writing process for an episode versus a book. And I have to assume that there was a lot of differences between the two.
Liv: Not as much as I think I would have expected. The biggest thing was that, for this book, it was commissioned. So Simon and Schuster or Adams Media with Simon and Schuster rather came to me to write it. And so they had very strict wants and needs for it. So what I actually found myself doing was the hardest thing was whittling it down to the word count they wanted or at time stretching it out to the word count they wanted because, of course, they were coming at it from a structural publishing point of view and I was coming at it from a, “Okay, but sometimes there just isn’t enough information about this God because this is an oral culture from like over 2000 years ago.” So this is kind of where we’re at. Meanwhile, it’s like, “Okay, but this guy has, you know, pages and pages and pages of content and I need to whittle it down to 700 words.” So it that part was the thing that was most different. Because otherwise, you know, I have my sources, I have my style, I have…It was definitely a lot less conversational in the way I had to write it. But the biggest issue was definitely fitting it within the sort of template that I had.
Tara: What did you learn about writing the book? Because do you keep your voice I guess? It has your own tone to it. It’s not necessarily like you’re writing a structural like academic history of something. So was that easier or was that sort of harder because it’s your own tone of voice?
Liv: It was a little of both, definitely, because it was my tone but it wasn’t the tone of the podcast. Ideally, one day I write a really epically long book of Greek mythology fully in the tone of the podcast. But in this case it needed to be conversational and it needed to be accessible and pop culture related in a way that I don’t always do on the podcast. So it was a lot of kind of finding a voice within those things and still making it me and still making it really accessible and fun and not dry and stuffy. And then also trying to make sure it sounded all the same throughout. That was one of the weirdest things because I had to write a couple of chapters as a proposal. And then when I actually got down to writing the book, like I personally can still see the big difference in those chapters that I wrote for the proposal versus the rest of the book. Even trying to like make it all fit later, I can still really note how different they seem just because they were written early and then a couple months later, I wrote the rest of it.
Tara: I’m going to try and spot them.
Joni: On a similar kind of note, so with your podcast, you’re a completely independent creator and you make all the decisions about everything. And then this book was commissioned and you were kind of at the whims of your publishing house. How did you find that? Was it difficult to relinquish that?
Liv: Yeah, it was weird. It was definitely weird because, of course, a commissioned book is a very specific thing. So that part was very odd. And also trying to make sure that while I want this book to be, I mean, wonderful and it is and I wanted it to be my voice and it is. But I also didn’t want to take away from my future ability to write a book of mythology that is fully me and fully from the podcast. And, like, I wanted this to be enough based in the podcast that we can all capitalize off of that but then also separate enough that I don’t take away from any future abilities to write a real book based on the podcast.
Tara: You have like many years of working in the publishing industry and worked within the contracts for Penguin Random House for some time. Did this help you in any of the negotiations? Like did you feel like you have a little bit of insider knowledge?
Liv: Damn, right, yeah. It absolutely did. No, that part was very fun. And then also seeing different contracts because I still have a lot of the Penguin Random House Canada boilerplate contract memorized. So that was very interesting to see how another house handled a contract and the way they did it and I definitely was able to negotiate a nicer package because I knew what I was asking for. And I knew the ins and outs of that world and even find little mistakes because I’m a huge dork for contracts. So it was kind of fun to be that author who’s like not just that we’re gonna sign the contract but also be like, “Are you sure you want to phrase it this way because of this, this, and this about weird book publishing contract intricacies?”
Tara: I like that you’re able to challenge them. You’re like, “I can’t get out of this you know. I’m just telling you.”
Liv: I have warned them too. I was like, “Just so you know, before you read what I’m about to say is I used to work for Penguin Random House.” I think it’s a good warning to be made of. I’m not looking at this from like completely fresh, never seen a book publishing contract that is before.
Joni: That’s an awesome position to be in, though.
Liv: It was fun.
Joni: Is there anything that you’d advise that authors look out for when they’re signing publishing contracts?
Liv: Oh, that’s so interesting. It’s hard without seeing anything or knowing what’s available, but definitely asking for more. Because they’re always going to start with their lowest. They’re going to start with their lowest off for, they’re going to start with their lowest royalties. So doing some research on industry standards and what could be possible because certainly a lot of authors don’t know or they’re too focused on being excited to have a book deal, which is a very exciting thing and you don’t want to mess that up. So you got to kind of work your way the best way of asking for more and asking for your worth without ruffling enough feathers that you lose anything. But always and in any contract they’re going to start low. That’s the way it works. So there’s no harm in asking for something a little different.
I personally was very happy with how it went on my end, where I asked for a lot because I know when you ask for a lot you get like half of it and then you’re happy. And I got like most of it. So I was like, “Oh, I almost could have asked for more probably because I was coming at it from the way we did it at PRH and maybe they do it differently there.” So it’s interesting because I only have that experience of working for Penguin but everyone does do it a little bit differently but certainly asking for more because there’s absolutely no harm. And the worst they’re gonna say is no.
Tara: I think that’s a great point. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Like simply as that.
Liv: Exactly. Especially as women because we don’t ask for things often. And it’s why they have this whole reasoning of women not getting paid as much and they always say it’s because women don’t ask and of course that’s not an acceptable reason. But regardless, push past it and just ask for your worth all the time.
Tara: Yeah. And you do this all yourself. So do you have an agent or anything for the publishing side or was it just that they approached you directly?
Liv: No, because they approached me it wasn’t really necessary. It would have just taken a cut out of the contract or the deal. I certainly want one for future books. But at this point, it was unnecessary, fortunately. So for the book, no, it was definitely just me. For the podcast, I had like an ad company is the only thing I work with outside of myself. Like they sell all the ads and give me money and then the rest is me.
Tara: Nice. So there’s quite the similarity between an independent author kind of running their own business because this podcast is your business now and you’re like running it as a business. So do you have any advice for people that are starting out, especially when it’s like a business around a creative endeavor? Like you don’t really want to…I mean, that’s great because you love what you do. But you also don’t want to add salt the waters with kind of putting a value on what you’re doing, either. So what would your advice be for that?
Liv: Oh, yeah, that’s very hard. I mean, a lot of it is just research, I would say, and figuring out the best way of doing anything. I don’t think that I really have all the answers on any of it. The fact that it is my full business now and actually pays the bills is entirely because one particular ad company approached me when they were launching in Canada. And if it weren’t for them, I would still be making like fine money but not pays all the bills money. So it’s really tough. And so I think doing research and finding the ways of making it sustainable and worth your effort and your time, but also just powering through.
Like, I mean, if I hadn’t had the listenership that I do and how lovely the listeners are for these years, I probably would have given up at some point because I’m just not the type of person who can push through on something, even if they love it when there’s absolutely no reception to it, or no growth or anything, like I have to see change. I have to see growth and I have to see something tangible from it. So I think, pushing through it and keep working at it until you see that growth is what’s worth it because I definitely just kept trying and trying. I never got complacent on, “Well, okay, I’ll just keep the listenership like this without pushing and pushing to see how much I could grow it.” And then of course now it’s grown enough that I don’t have to do that quite as much anymore because…Yeah. So it’s just about sort of keeping things moving. I don’t know if that’s good advice. I don’t know how to give advice.
Tara: You’re doing very well.
Joni: I think it’s great advice. I think it’s great that you’ve done this. I think it’s awesome. And I suspect I know the answer to this but was your business affected in any way by COVID or has it pretty much just continued as normal?
Liv: At the beginning, it was. At the beginning I saw a huge drop in my numbers. And then the ad company that I was with at the time saw a huge drop. I had ads canceled. I had notifications that nothing was going to be incoming and I personally panicked quite a lot. And at the very beginning too I had it affect my ability to be creative in certain ways. But then, and this is where it’s sort of awkward to be in my position in this really messy time we’re living through, then it rebounded and everything got like a thousand times better and it only grew significantly during the pandemic. And I sort of found everything that I needed to make it a full time living all during this mess. So it’s been a very bizarre time because it definitely only got better.
Joni: But I think it’s the same for publishing. And I think you’re not exploiting people to do better, you’re bringing people something that they really needed a really hard time. So I think it’s a really awesome thing that creative industries are being rewarded because they’re often not, and also that you’re able to do something that’s keeping people distracted.
Liv: Yeah, that’s very true. That’s kind of reassuring with it all.
Tara: I like that you’re reading the classics as part of your podcast as well and as part of Myths Baby, and that you’re currently going through the “Odyssey.” And I was curious if you had ever thought about publishing these as an audiobook.
Liv: Definitely, because they’re public domain, which is why I’m able to read them, which is great. That’s basically what I’m doing for the…the fact that I do two episodes per week, I started during the pandemic because I was bored, and was like, “Hey, I could just read the ‘Iliad’ to you guys. Like that’s something for all of us to do.” And it turned out to be perfect because now my ad company is like, “You have to have two episodes per week for us to keep this going.” And I’m like, “Okay, great.” Thankfully, there’s enough public domain. The public domain is a bit lacking, unfortunately, in terms of translations because obviously the contents in the public domain, but you have to find a translation that’s in the public domain. But I’ve definitely thought about it. I would go back and redo certain parts for sure. Because at the beginning it was kind of similar to the beginning of this podcast where I was just kind of like figuring it out as I go. The “Odyssey” ones I’m very happy with because they’ve been really fun and I love the “Odyssey.” So I’ve kind of found my reading aloud voice, but it’s still something I’ve considered in the audio book world.
Tara: Well, there’s this very friendly platform that lets you upload audiobooks. It’s called Kobo Writing Life. You could do it all on your own. I mean, we would obviously help but just, you know, keep us in mind.
Liv: Good to know. Good to know. The one thing I’ve learned in recording my own audiobook for my regularly published book is that audiobooks are meant to be recorded at a very low quality. So I almost wonder if mine are too high of a quality because I don’t know if it’s a Kobo thing or just an Audible thing. But, you know, down with Audible. But definitely, I found that I had to like lower my recording quality for the audio book versus the podcast, which has been interesting.
Joni: I wonder if it’s just the file is being bigger. Do you know, Tara?
Tara: I don’t. I know that we encourage people to bring the higher quality because we do it all in-house. We do some magic on the backend so the customer is not downloading like this giant file. But, yeah, that’s kind of curious.
Liv: No, I’ll look at the Kobo requirements because maybe they’re not quite like that. But, yeah, they’ve had me go from like recording at 32 bit to 16 bit and some other things that I didn’t totally understand.
Joni: Interesting. Did you find it quite a smooth transition to recording an audio book given what you already do?
Liv: Definitely smoother than I expected and smoother than my producer expected. We got it done two days earlier than they thought because this is just what I do all the time.
Tara: That’s unheard of in audiobook production, I think.
Liv: Because we had to do it at night because there’s really incredible construction on outside of this apartment that I’m desperately aching to be out of permanently. They’re building a condo directly outside my windows. Not like a street over but like within six feet of my apartment building they’re putting up a high rise condo. So I’m excited to be gone. But it meant we didn’t start until like 6:00 p.m. every night and my poor producer was in central time so she’s like two hours later than me and it was quite interesting. But, yeah, she’s scheduled like five nights of three to four hours each. And we did it in three of less than three hours each. It was very nice. Yeah.
Tara: That’s awesome.
Liv: Felt good.
Joni: I’m very excited to listen to it. Yeah, it’s gonna be a great addition. And, yeah, you can definitely get it on Kobo. And we flagged with the team because want to give a former Kobo people some love. And then speaking of our favorite question to ask people that come on the podcast is what have you been loving lately? So it could be a book, TV, movie, or anything that’s taken your fancy podcast.
Liv: Oh, that’s a good question. Right now I feel like everything is up in arms in my life. What’s the last thing? I recently read Natalie Haynes’s book, “A Thousand Ships,” which has just come out in North America. And also I had to read it because I had her on my podcast. So that includes a little plug for me as well. But it was incredibly good. So it’s one of those recent adaptations of Greek myths that I’ve talked about because there are so many coming out right now. And it’s essentially a retelling of the story of the “Iliad” but through the eyes of all the women involved and the “Odyssey” too I should say. And it’s really, really good and made me very happy to read.
Joni: That’s a great recommendation. Actually that one has been on my list for a while along with over a thousand billion other books.
Liv: I know that feeling.
Tara: What’s your favorite adaptation?
Liv: That’s definitely up there I would say. And I really like Natalie Haynes’s other book called “The Children of Jocasta,” which is retelling of a story like the Oedipus myth. That’s really good too. And then “The Song of Achilles” is like iconically so good. But there are just so many lately. It’s crazy how many are coming out. And it’s been great for the podcast because it means the authors want publicity.
Joni: Nice. I’d be sure to keep an eye on the people that you have coming.
Liv: It’s really racking up.
Joni: Where can listeners find you online?
Liv: I am wherever you can find podcasts. You can listen to “Let’s Talk About Myths, Baby!” I almost sung it and then I didn’t.
Tara: Do it.
Liv: Every time I open the podcast it is, “Let’s talk about myths, baby,” which I can’t sing. So I don’t know how I’ve gotten myself into this but that’s what it is. So you can find it anywhere, you know, Apple, Spotify, what have you. And then I am otherwise Myths Baby on all of the various social media or mythsbaby.com is my website.
Joni: Awesome. Thank you. We will post the links in our podcast show notes. And by the time this comes out, your book will be available to buy.
Liv: Wonderful. And a reminder because I always forget, it’s called “Greek Mythology: The Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes Handbook.”
Joni: Awesome. Thank you.
Liv: Thank you.
Tara: Thank you for listening to the “Kobo Writing Life Podcast.” If you’re interested in Liv’s book, we’ll share the detail in the show notes but you can get the eBooks and audiobooks on Kobo. And this is also a rare occasion, we’d recommend hit up your local indie bookstore to try and see this book in person because the illustrations are really beautiful. If you’d like to listen to her podcast, it’s called “Let’s Talk About Myths, Baby!” and you can find it wherever you’d like to listen to podcasts. It was just featured on as far as top 15 List of podcasts you should listen to in 2021. So can’t recommend it enough.
Joni: This episode was produced by Tara Cremin and Joni Di Placido with assistance from Rachel Wharton. Editing is done by Kelly Robotham, music is provided Tear Jerker and big thanks to Liv Albert for being our guest today. If you’re ready to start your writing journey, sign up for free at kobo.com/writinglife. Until next time, happy writing.