What makes a good Call Me Ishmael voicemail?

I’m often asked how I choose which calls to transcribe and feature on the site. I have no prescriptive answer, no magic formula, no step-by-step guide. I do have a list of tips, though. Think of them as a compass, not a map.

I love calls that …

  • … take listeners on a journey. Similar to a great book, a compelling call often has a narrative arc that is full of character, conflict, surprise, transformation and resolution.
  • … tell a personal story. Voicemails with a specific tale are far more intriguing than plot summaries, character analysis or book reviews. Feel free to mention these elements as you see fit, but great calls focus on unique experiences with a book.
  • … share an undeniable moment of wonder, epiphany, confession or truth.
  • … come from the heart. It’s okay to collect your thoughts beforehand, but try not to sound like you’re reading from a script. Authenticity trumps perfection. If it comes out wrong, you can always call back.
  • … employ humor, emotion and opinions.
  • … leave viewers wanting to read the book for themselves.

You know how to tell your tale far better than anyone else does. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and let your story out.

Call me,