Why Podcasting May Be the Next Best Publicity and Marketing Tool for Authors

If you want to be successful with your book or you want your clients to be successful with their books, then curiosity for discovering new avenues for promotion and publicity is critical. While some become burdened with overwhelm at the mere thought of this, you must be persistent and willing to learn new things, especially if you’re in business for yourself. However, this same advice applies to anyone working inside a company as well. You need to keep your eye on trends in the marketplace and actively participate in those likely to stick while simply forgetting about those flash-in-the-pan trends. (Remember Blab?)

Curiosity and exploration started early for me.

During my radio career there came a time when I decided to launch my book publicity firm, McCall Media Group. I vividly remember a bunch of my radio friends commenting that I was “going to the dark side.” Meaning publicity and PR.

I laughed.

Then 9 years ago or so, I remember telling my friends in the publishing industry that I was going to explore social media and learn all about that new medium and how authors can benefit from it. They too, commented that I was “going to the dark side.”

Again, I laughed and thought, “What is this fascination with the dark side?” In my view, we must pay attention to the marketplace and not fall victim to thinking it’s safer not to change. That is the kiss of death, and so learning must continue.

More recently, I mentioned to a number of business associates that I am relaunching my podcast. Back in the “old days” of 2009 – 2010, I created my own radio show/podcast on the Blog Talk Radio Platform. This was in the fairly early days of Internet Radio when pretty much all of it was bad, and while it was fun to do the show, I didn’t know how to tie it back to my business. I was, quite truthfully, doing it just for fun. I love interviewing people, particularly authors, and both my radio and publishing friends thought, “There she goes, delving into the dark side again.”

Well, I guess the dark side and I are just made for each other, because I can’t stay away. If there is something on the horizon that I think it going to benefit clients, authors, and those professionals in my ecosystem (agents, editors, publicity directors, etc.), then you can bet I’m going to check it out — and report back.

Which brings us to the present.

I recently hopped a plane bound for Anaheim, California, after picking up a friend at 4:30 a.m. <yawn> to attend Podcast Movement 17, and boy, do I have a lot to share with you. I’ll be sending thoughts and tips over the next couple of months, but here is a taste of it today:

Podcasting is the new trend:

If you’re currently listening to podcasts you are in the minority but soon enough, you will be considered an early adopter. Podcasting is going to be big. Only 16% of the population is downloading and listening now (many of them under 30), but this number is going to grow substantially in every demographic.

Podcasting is a fabulous opportunity for authors: 

Without question, podcasting allows you to speak directly to your audience and those who love your topic. Many are listening to podcasts while they walk, exercise at the gym, wait in line for an appointment, and some are predicting with wireless speakers, couples and families will gather around Alexa in the evenings listening to podcast stories. (When I heard this, I had flashes of the 1920’s when people would gather around that new invention called radio  listening to the Grand Old Opry and whatever other shows were big then. I don’t know that I agree with this, but that is what some of the speakers predict will happen.) Whether you decide to be a guest on other podcasts, or you decide to develop and launch your own, podcasting can be a huge asset for authors building a following and reaching people.

Who is podcasting?

There are indie podcasters, and the big major media brands are getting into the action too.

NPR, Disney, major network radio and television, all are seeing the benefits of podcasting. In fact, an entire track of the conference was devoted to radio broadcasters and management on how they can create podcasts, and drive people to listen to them. They are fortunate to have a foundation and an audience already to market to, but they haven’t really figured out how to do it well yet. But my prediction is that they will.

Key differences between radio and podcasting:

Radio is for a broader audience, podcasting is very niche.

Podcasters have a more personal, intimate conversation with their listeners.

This was a common thought at Podcast Movement 17 but I don’t entirely agree. I’ve known many radio hosts who have a very intimate relationship with their listeners, excluding most morning drive radio show hosts, of course, who are hyped up on way too much coffee, and have to constantly beat the clock to make all the deadlines a morning show has. Beyond that, I think what they mean is there is an intimacy between podcaster and his or her audience for two reasons: One is the very niche topics. You can listen to a show on the lifespan of turtles, and the listeners are all going to be people who like turtles (and likely will buy a book on turtles). It is not a broad-based audience targeting a huge group just based on simple demographics, such as women, ages 25 – 54. The other reason for the intimacy comment is because many listen with ear buds, not on car speakers, it feels more like the host is closer to them, speaking directly into their ears. Listening to the car radio speakers is a very different experience.

People want to choose what they listen to and when they listen to it:

Think of podcasting as a DVR for radio. They are audio files on demand. Podcast audiences can choose when to listen to your show. They don’t have to be there live, every Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time to be able to catch your show. And if they miss it for some reason, too bad. There’s always next week. No. You might be live at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays, but the recorded audio files will live on. It’s the long tail you hear about, so your audience can listen whenever they have time in their schedule to do so. In fact, some may discover you years after you started your podcast, and they can listen to any show they want to, assuming you’ve kept the files loaded online, of course. You can gain new audience members at any time!

Radio listeners know how to listen to the radio; Not everyone knows how to find and download podcasts…yet:

Pretty much everyone knows how to turn on a radio. It’s simple, but a lot of people don’t know how to download podcasts yet, so there is some education needed. For iPhone uses, you will see the purple podcast logo on your screen. Open the app and search, so that’s pretty easy. (It isn’t the best podcast player however, so you might want to explore other possibilities. For one thing, you have to download the podcasts without the streaming feature. That’s a mark against it, IMHO.) Android uses have to take another step and actually download a podcast player to their phone to be able to listen to podcasts. Tip: I use Pocket Cast, which works wonderfully well. You can stream from it too, without having to download every podcast you listen to. I love that feature.

Podcasters share digitally:

When you’re online it’s easy to share. Not all radio shows get uploaded into podcasts, although some do. Many radio executives are stumped as to how to entice listeners to listen to their podcasts (one of the sessions was specifically on this topic.) Those who are digitally proficient tend to share what they love on social media and to their networks. Your listeners can actually help you to build your audience and create an awareness of you as an author and your books.  When people love what you do, they want to buy from you, and we love selling those books. Plus, there are so many opportunities for publicity.

Bottom Line:

Podcasting is here to stay; It’s only going to get bigger.

Podcast Movement 17 was well worth the time, effort and money to attend. As I mentioned before, it’s good to keep an eye on trends in the marketplace. Assess what’s right for you, and ignore the rest. I’ll have more tips in future posts.

Meanwhile, enjoy the long holiday weekend. It’s unofficially the end of summer this weekend and fall is just around the corner. (Although, with temperatures of 105 degrees this week where I live, it certainly doesn’t feel like it.)

Too you success!