Every form of online communication has a certain degree of separation between content creators and content consumers. When blogs were the main digital way for authors to connect with readers, the number one advice most people gave newbies was to start a blog. Some blogs remain popular, but for the most part, these daily or weekly words on a page are too far removed from the readers they target. While fans want to read what their favorite authors have to say, they also crave a deeper connection.
Podcasts remove one degree of separation from the content equation because readers can actually hear your voice. When they detect your cadence, tone, and vocal mannerisms, fans feel like they know you better. The same is true when you abandon guest posting on blogs to instead become a guest on a popular podcast in your niche. You’ll forge a deeper connection with new fans who now feel as though you’re acquainted. Talking about your book on a series of podcasts is a strong strategy for finding new rabid fans for your work.
Why Does This Strategy Work?
Podcasts have been around in some form for over a decade, but it’s only recently that technology caught up to make consumption of audio more feasible. Improved mobile podcast apps and new podcast software for cars lets people take their favorite shows wherever they want to go. With more listeners than ever, some shows have built up a robust audience of loyal fans.
Hosts of these programs put in the time every day or week to create their show, and their audiences trust the products they discuss and the people they chat with. When you appear on one of these podcasts, you borrow a tiny bit of that trust. Add to this the previously mentioned ability to let audience members get to know you better, and you have a golden opportunity to sell more books.
How Does This Strategy Work?
We’re reminded of the liquor commercial where a group of guys are asked what tequila they want. The leader of the pack says, “Any tequila,” and goes on through a series of misadventures by saying, “Any haircut,” “Any tattoo,” and “Any place,” until the gang looks ridiculous as they travel along on a bus of senior citizens. This commercial comes to mind because many authors think that “any podcast,” will do. On the contrary, the podcasts you choose will make a major difference in whether or not you sell books.
It’s pretty easy to tell which shows have an audience and which don’t. If a podcast has fewer than 10 reviews and it has no comments on the posts on its website, then it’s unlikely you’ll get much from appearing on that show. You need to seek out podcasts with an active audience. That audience should consist of your ideal readers, because you won’t sell many copies of your fishing book on a show about poker.
Search through podcasts on iTunes and Stitcher to find at least five strong candidates for your appearance. Listen to at least one episode of each show to make sure the program is a good fit. Take some notes at this time so you can keep the shows separate in your head. More often than not, you’re going to find that over half these shows wouldn’t work. Either they don’t ever have guests or you realize after listening that the subject matter isn’t as strong a fit as you thought. Repeat the five show selection process until you have at least a dozen shows to submit to.
Pitch the shows you want to appear on. We use the word pitch here because you don’t want to send the hosts a lame email saying you’d like to promote your book. You have to go beyond that, because good hosts are always looking to give their listeners value. Maybe you’ll read an excerpt from the book. Perhaps you can give out some goodies or enter the listeners into a contest. Promoting your book isn’t enough to get hosts excited about your appearance. If your pitch wouldn’t convince you to let somebody on a show, then you need to keep working on it.
Once you get a few shows lined up, figure out how to incentivize listeners to connect with you. Non-fiction authors will often offer a cheat sheet or a free video series, while fiction authors will give away a free book or some bonus chapters.
To make this strategy really shine, you’re going to want to have your books in audio. Like attracts like, and in turn, podcast listeners enjoy consuming other audio content. You can use Amazon’s ACX platform to get your books produced in audio, or you can do the whole time-consuming process yourself.
Mass Emails vs. Individual Attention
Many authors won’t consider a strategy like this because the submission process takes extra time. They’d much rather send out a mass email to content creators to speed up the process. The reason we recommend actually listening to the shows is the same reason we recommend getting on podcasts. When you’ve actually heard what the hosts have had to say, you remove one degree of separation. You aren’t just an anonymous emailer. You’re a listener, and that small amount of effort will give your request extra attention.
Nearly all strategies worth doing will require you to do something the other guy won’t be willing to do. If it’s hard and it’s smart, then it’s probably a good investment of your time. Keep pushing and one of your strategies is bound to succeed.