Do you know what 90% of bestselling authors are doing to grow their platforms and sell more books?
I researched the top 50 USA Today bestselling authors by searching iTunes and Podchaser for guest interviews by these authors, and I discovered that 90% of the top 50 USA Today authors are guesting on podcasts.
The list includes children’s authors, nonfiction authors, and fiction authors. Everybody was guesting on podcasts. The only exceptions were a handful of authors who wrote classic books and have since died. They are no longer with us to guest on podcasts.
Why is podcasting the preferred technique of bestselling authors?
Because podcast listeners read books, a podcast audience is a target-rich environment for authors. Edison Research reported that podcast listeners are 50% more likely to have a college education. They make more money, and they are more socially connected. These are influential, wealthy, educated people who won’t complain if your book is $4.99 instead of $3.99. As an author, these are the people you want to reach.
There is a massive amount of competition for customers who view ads on Amazon and Facebook. Large companies spend lots of money to make sure their ads are seen by Amazon customers and Facebook users.
It’s technically possible for authors to make money running ads in those same places, but the competition for the customer’s attention is intense. A few readers might decide to buy a book because they saw a Facebook ad. But there are many more readers who choose to buy a book after they hear about it on a podcast.
Podcast guesting is a powerful marketing technique, and it is much less expensive than spending hundreds of dollars on ads every month.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to guest on podcasts.
Is podcasting a fad?
Podcasting is not a short-term fad. Since it started in 2004 (give or take a few years since there is a bit of debate as to when podcasting officially started), it’s grown slowly and steadily for the past 15 years. Podcasting has gained 1%- 3% market share year after year.
In that same period, entire social networks have had their beginning, their crescendo, and their collapse.
For the past ten years, fiction and nonfiction authors have used podcasts to hit The New York Times bestseller list.
One way to use a podcast to promote your writing is to host your own podcast. Hosting is a great way to go deep with a small, passionate audience, but it’s not the best way to spread the word about your book.
If you have a thousand true fans who listen to your podcast, you will be a very happy podcaster. But after those thousand people buy your book, how do you sell books to new readers?
The best way to spread the word about your book is to be a guest on other people’s podcasts.
Why should I guest on other podcasts?
Guesting on other people’s podcasts has several advantages.
- Each podcast has a new-to-you audience. Some listeners may hear you on two different shows. But the more times a listener hears about your book, the more likely they are to think, “Wow! Everyone is talking about this book. I need to check it out.”
- Guesting on podcasts is a high-credibility way to reach new people. Podcast hosts spend months or years building trust and rapport with their audiences. As their guest, they grant you their credibility. In a sense, they’re letting you borrow it. Remember guesting is an honor you should take seriously. Treat the opportunity with respect.
- Guesting helps you reach influencers you can’t reach any other way. Think about the CEO who might select your book as the gift they give to their 100 employees for Christmas.
While this CEO might have an assistant to check her email and answer her phone, if she hears your interview on a podcast, then your voice is in her head for 30 minutes on her way to work. It’s a more direct connection.
In some cases, it’s the only way to reach influential people, celebrity pastors, or celebrities in general because those influencers have gatekeepers to protect them from pitches. But they do listen to podcasts. Podcasts guesting is your opportunity to reach those influential people.
- You can reach readers that you couldn’t reach any other way. Many readers don’t use social media. If they do, they don’t spend much time there. Some readers who use Facebook for groups don’t encounter as many ads as they would if they were scrolling through the main newsfeed.
Certain people will be more likely to respond to a podcast than an ad. If you don’t have a podcasting strategy, you’re missing out on those potential readers. No amount of ad spend will convert readers who never see your ads.
I have been watching this trend for years, and it’s one reason we launched the Podcast Host Directory. Our Podcast Host Directory is a searchable database of over 100,000 podcasts that makes it easy to get in touch with podcasters.
Patrons of the Novel Marketing Podcast. have access to the directory. It’s a powerful tool with contact information for each podcast host. And while it’s powerful and easy to use, you must know how to use it and what to do with the information it provides.
That’s why our brand-new course, How to Get Booked as a Podcast Guest, is the perfect companion to the Podcast Host Directory.
How to Get Booked as a Podcast Guest: Course Summary
There are three sections to the course.
- The Big Picture of Podcasting,
We’ve also added bonus sections that will make your podcast pitching so much easier.
Section 1: The Big Podcast Picture
Why do podcast hosts want guests?
Many podcasts use the interview format. If they have no guests, they have no show. Finding articulate, relevant guests is hard work. This is one reason author Mary DeMuth stopped podcasting. She had many listeners, but she could not find enough guests who were the right fit for her audience.
Podcast hosts are desperate for guests. If you know how to reach out to them, you save them time and effort, and that will put you on their shortlist of guests to invite.
Preparing a solo show is a lot more work than an interview show, so podcasters want you to clearly pitch yourself and your message so they’ll know you’ll be a guest their audience will love.
Why do podcast hosts turn down guests?
If they’re so desperate for a good interview, why do they turn down so many pitches? The number one reason hosts reject a pitch is because the topic does not fit the audience.
If you want to be a guest, your pitch must explain why you and your topic are an excellent fit for their specific audience.
The temptation for many authors is to write one pitch, copy and paste it, and then send the same pitch to all the podcast hosts.
That does not work.
The only way to know if you and your message fit the audience is to listen to the podcast, learn about the audience, and discover which topics interest them.
For each show, you want to pitch, do your research to make sure you understand the show. Explain to the host why and how you or your book can entertain, educate, or equip their listeners. Be willing to tweak your topic for each show based on the interests of their audience.
How to Become a More Attractive Guest
These are the things I look for when I’m booking guests for a show. If you implement the suggestions in this list, you’ll be the kind of guest a host will seek out and invite.
Tip 1: Good Audio Equipment
Most hosts want the audio—theirs and yours—to have high-quality sound. You can’t just talk into your computer’s microphone or your web cam’s microphone. It was acceptable in 2012, but not anymore. You’ll need a good microphone and a good set of headphones. If you don’t know what equipment to buy, I’ve compiled a Podcast Gear Guide with recommendations for beginners and veterans with various budgets.
I’ve purchased, tested, or experienced all the equipment I recommend (or don’t recommend). Any standalone microphone (not a headset) is better than your earbuds or webcam mic. The Samsung Q2U microphone is good for starters, but if you want the exact model numbers of all the gear I recommended, get my free Podcast Gear Guide.
Tip 2: Use Good Microphone Technique
You’ll get much better sound from the microphone if you simply get closer to it. When I interview men, I say, “Let your beard whiskers scratch the edge of the microphone, and then you’ll get your best sound.” It’s almost impossible to get too close.
You’ll also want to talk past the microphone rather than straight into the microphone. Speaking directly into the microphone will result in a lot of popping and “mouth noise.” Point the microphone at the corner of your mouth so it picks up your voice, but your breath does not go into the microphone.
Tip 3: Create a Press Kit
Have a press kit with your brief bio, pertinent links, book description, your headshot, and other digital assets. Your press kit will simplify the host’s work when they put the episode together and upload it to their various distribution channels, such as their website or social media platforms. To learn what to include and how to create a press kit, listen to the Novel Marketing episode on How to Create an Online Author Press Kit.
Section 2: Pitching Podcasts
Where to find Podcasts to Pitch
In this module, I teach you a step-by-step process to curate a list of podcasts to pitch. You’ll start by listing all the topics you could potentially discuss. The good news is that list is probably longer than you think.
But you’ll curate a more targeted list if you think creatively about what your readers are listening to and interested in.
For example, if you write Amish Fiction, a good portion of your readers are homeschooling moms. You can add to your list of podcasts to pitch by searching for podcasts that speak to homeschooling moms. In this instance, you could tweak your pitch to say you’ll cover “How to Teach Your Children Literature” or “How to Teach Your Children How to Write.”
How to Track Your Pitches
In the next modules, you’ll learn two different methods for tracking your podcast pitches. Employing a system for tracking pitches and responses is what separates the amateur from the professional.
If you pitch 12 podcasts and six of them respond, you’ll need to follow up with the six who didn’t. If you’re not careful, you could start drowning in emails, and the details will slip through the cracks. If you use a tracking system, that won’t happen.
The first method we cover involves a spreadsheet. I provided a downloadable Excel template, but you can use Google Sheets if you prefer. Either way, you’ll simply fill in the blanks with your information.
If spreadsheets stress you out, don’t worry.
I also show you how to track your pitches with Trello. Trello is an online organizational tool for managing projects. My course includes a video tutorial that shows you exactly how to use it. Trello’s interface is lovely and useful with color-coded tasks and graphics.
Both the spreadsheet and Trello methods work. The most important thing is to choose the one you are most likely to use. Tracking your pitches will help you confidently follow up and schedule your interviews.
How to Contact Podcast Hosts
There are several ways to contact podcast hosts, but the easiest and most efficient method is to use the Podcast Host Directory. The directory provides the email address for each show. You can contact hosts by visiting their website (if they have one) and using their contact form. We’ll talk about the most professional ways to contact hosts through Twitter, LinkedIn, and other platforms.
How to Pitch Podcasts
This session is worth the price of admission all by itself. It’s the most popular session because it’s the most powerful. For many authors, it’s also the scariest part.
What do you write in the email?
How do you present yourself in such a way that they’ll want to book you as a guest?
In this module, you’ll learn what to write and how to say it.
I’ve provided video instruction as well as a fill-in-the-blank template that makes crafting a pitch email super easy. You will customize your pitch it, and then you’ll you will send the email.
Before sending your pitch, you must listen to the podcast. If you do, you’ll have better pitches than 95% of the pitches I receive as a podcast host.
Listen to the podcast, and tailor your pitch to their audience.
This module includes every tip I’ve learned over the last ten years of podcasting and hosting a radio program. Remember, hosts want guests. You just need to ask them the right way.
How to Craft Irresistible Episode Titles
Part of asking in the right way is to craft great episode titles. A good episode title gives the host another reason to say yes. The better your title, the more podcast hosts will want you on their shows.
When you craft great title suggestions, the host won’t feel obligated to choose one, but it will give them an excellent summary of what you can deliver to their audience. It also provides a starting point for them to create an episode title based on your suggestions.
I’ll teach you my method for crafting great titles, but the most important thing to know is that a good title does not describe what’s in the episode.
A good title incites curiosity about what’s inside the episode.
That minor difference seems small, but curiosity is a powerful motivator. Whether you’re speaking to the audience or the host, if you make people curious, you will motivate them to act. In this final module on pitching, you’ll learn how to make people interested in what you plan to say.
Section 3: Performing
This section is a media training module. In my radio and political work, I’ve been through formal media training. I share the best tips and practices for interacting with media. You’ll learn how to prepare for a podcast interview.
Preflight Printable Checklist
Being prepared will help you feel confident and sound comfortable. You’ll be ready when the host hits “record.”
How to Nail Podcast Interviews
One mistake to avoid is to resist the urge to say “uh-huh” while the host is talking. When we have in-person conversations, we often say “uh-huh” and “yes” as cues to the other person that we’re engaged and tracking.
But in a podcast interview, people often listen with headphones. When your “uh-huh” breaks into the host’s audio, it’s very disruptive to the listener. It can be edited out, but not all podcasts have the capability to edit tracks separately.
We’ll discuss techniques that will help you nail that interview. If you give a great interview, the host is likely to invite you back. You’ll also earn a reputation as a great podcast guest, and one host may pass your name to another host they know.
Professional Microphone Technique
In these videos, I’ll demonstrate how to talk into a microphone correctly. One fun behind-the-scenes note is that my wife was the model for demonstrating these various microphone techniques.
We’ll show you where to hold the microphone and how to talk into the microphone. Talk past the microphone. Point the microphone toward the corner of your mouth so that your breath travels past the microphone rather than into the microphone.
You also want to talk at full voice. If you watch a radio show host in action, you’ll notice they talk at full voice even though no one else is in the room with them.
In a small quiet room, it’s natural to want to talk softly, but soft talking is only suitable for putting people to sleep.
Post Interview Protocol
I’ve built a protocol designed to increase the likelihood that you’ll get invited back or referred on to another podcast.
Over time, you’ll have a collection of podcasts where you’ve been a guest. They know and like you and want to have you back.
When it’s time to launch your new book, you only need to email them and ask for another interview. You’ve already been a guest, and they remember how they loved your last interview.
If you follow this post-interview protocol, you’re much more likely to be invited back.
Two Bonus Sessions
Beyond the Podcast Big Picture, Pitching, and Performing, you’ll receive two Bonus Sessions.
- How to Create a Press Kit
- Tools to Make Your Life Easier (Spoiler one of them is Calendly))
You could hire a PR firm to do all of this for $3,000 to $10,000.
Traditional publishers sometimes pay a PR firm to work with their bestselling authors. But even if your publisher pays for a PR firm, you may end up doing a lot of the work yourself as you help them find the right podcasts and create the best possible pitch.
If you’re indie published, spending thousands on a PR firm might be out of your budget.
So while guesting on podcasts is very popular with bestselling authors, a lot of indie authors and midlist authors don’t see this as a strategy because they don’t have a publisher spending $10,000 on PR firm, and they don’t know how to do it themselves.
Getting booked on podcasts is a powerful strategy for spreading the word about your book and growing your own platform, but you don’t have to spend $3,000 to get it done.
In How to Get Booked as a Podcast Guest, you will receive excellent tools and training for pitching and performing on podcasts. When you’ve finished the course, you’ll know how to be your own PR firm for a fraction of what it would cost to hire one.
Want more good news? Novel Marketing Patrons receive a 50% discount on the course.
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