The challenge for marketing yourself as a beginning author is that the power of audience is an upward spiral. Once you get initial traction, you can leverage that traction to bring in more readers, and then leverage those readers to bring in more, until you reach the level of success you hope for.
Add to that how more readers means more money to spend on paid advertising, and you see how hard it can be for beginning authors to get that initial start. Sure, you can spend a lot of money on marketing, but not everybody can…and not everyone who can knows how.
Podcasts are a free resource you can use to build market awareness for your book. They share your expertise, passion, enthusiasm, personality, and voice with the general public. Better, coming on as a guest for podcasts leverages their already established audiences, giving you that initial push toward the leverage you need.
But how do you get on podcasts in the first place? We’re glad you asked…
A pain point is a marketing concept that addresses why people buy something: to ease some kind of pain. That pain might be inconvenience, a serious problem, or just scratching a certain kind of consumer itch — but it’s real, and it matters to the customer. Once you identify that pain point, making a sale is just a matter of showing them how you ease the pain.
Your reader has the pain point of not having the perfect book to read. You solve this by showing them you wrote their perfect book.
Podcasters have the pain point of not getting high-quality guests on their show. They keep experiencing:
- Spam requests from people who don’t understand their program
- Guests who don’t know what they’re talking about
- Potential guests who don’t communicate well, or in a timely way
- Guests who know their subject matter, but not the podcast’s audience
If you can show you won’t cause any of these four problems, you have a strong leg up. Coupled with an excellent pitch email (which you should be able to write, being a writer), it can give you an excellent chance of being invited as a guest again and again.
Now that you know why and the basics of how not to mess this up, here’s what you need to do and know to get yourself on podcasts.
Step One: Identify Your Schtick
Podcasters prefer specific topics that look good in a title to general conversations. If you write nonfiction, don’t pitch your book. Pitch a specific question your book answers. If you write fiction, pitch based on specific audiences it grabs, certain concepts and themes it embraces, or other narrow details that make for a good conversation. Once you’ve identified it, that’s your schtick. It’s the topic you’ll be talking about on all the podcasts you pitch for this round.
Step Two: Search For Podcasts
Having identified your schtick, go on the hunt for podcasts that service that schtick. Since you write on a topic, whatever that topic is, hopefully you’re already knowledgeable enough to have a few places to start in mind. Beyond that, consider the following five sources:
- Google is your friend. Do a search for “(your schtick) podcasts” and take it from there. Don’t forget to read roundup articles discussing multiple podcasts in detail.
- Use the search and recommend feature for whatever podcast delivery system you have on your phone: Podcasts app, Stitcher, Spotify, Audible, or anything else.
- Post on social media, especially fan groups, what their favorite podcasts on your topic are.
- Podcast networks, which combine marketing and communication efforts for multiple podcasts, often organized around a specific topic.
Start pitching once you have a list of 15-20, and make a point of adding more targets to the list each week.
Step Three: Make Your Contact List
Having identified your target podcasts, you need to know three things:
- What is the first name of the host (or hosts)?
- What is the best medium to contact them: email, social media, or via a form on their website?
- How do they prefer to receive guest pitches?
Keep that information in a spreadsheet, so you can access it easily when you come back to it. Get as much detail as possible, and never give up until you know the exact best way to make contact.
Step Four: Draft Your Pitch Email
Make a one size fits all template for your pitch email that explains who you are and what you want to talk about. Spend most of your time on the topic you’ll discuss, with just one paragraph about your personal qualifications.
Think of this as a query letter to guest on the show. It’s the same sort of thing, and follows the same rules. See our article here about how to write a great query letter.
Step Five: Send With Unique Details
For each target, copy and paste your query letter into an email, then customize it with details about why you’re a great match for that show in particular. Include details you know because you listened to the podcast once or twice before approaching them.
This last information should set you up as the perfect matchmaker between the topic and the podcast you’re approaching. Get as specific as possible, so the reader cannot wait to bring you on the show.
Step Six: Follow Up
Very few people host a podcast as their full-time job. If they don’t respond to you, it’s more likely they got swamped than they didn’t want you on the show. Keep track of when you initially made contact, and then reach out two weeks later with a quick reminder email. Do it again a month after that. And a month after that.
Once you’ve gone three months without a response, give up for this iteration…but when you have a new idea or something exciting going on, start the process all over again.
If they do get back with a “thanks, but no thanks,” respond with appreciation for their time and ask if they’re open to hearing from you about other topics.
Step Seven: Track Responses
For those who do respond with an invitation to come on their show, keep close track of when you communicate, and especially when you set the date for you to record your appearance. Write it in your spreadsheet, and on your calendar. Set a reminder on your phone. Note every communication between you and the host, so you know exactly where to be, when to be there, and what you’ll do when the time comes.
Stay Organized and Stay Focused
The journey to podcast guesting is a marathon, not a sprint. Find a way to track your progress so you don’t drop threads, and so you can subdivide this long-term project into manageable daily efforts. In that way, it’s not unlike writing your book. You didn’t write the whole thing in a day. You wrote it chapter by chapter. Apply the same mindset to getting on podcasts and you’ll do just fine.
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