How Authors Can Use Podcasts to Market & Sell Books
As individuals, not brands, authors are well-poised to capitalize on the growing popularity of podcasts.
According to a Mediakix article, from 2012 to 2015, podcast hosting service Libsyn saw an increase in requests from 1.2 billion to 3.3 billion.
Podcast Insights found there are 42 million weekly podcasts listeners in the U.S. alone.
And an article on Ad Age estimates, on average, UK & Australian subscribers listen to podcasts 5 – 6 hours per week.
Hosting a podcast is a fairly simple and uniquely smart way for authors to promote and sell their books, and with a global surge in the number of podcast listeners, there’s no better time to tune in.
The Podcasts Explosion
While podcasts have been around for near a decade, they didn’t start gaining momentum until mobile functionalities and integrations caught on. They also received a helpful nudge from popular on-demand subscription services like Netflix, giving way to a steady upward trend.
Some have claimed the podcast proliferation is a symptom of “screen exhaustion.” Instead of gluing their eyes to millions of microscopic pixels, subscribers just need to open up their ears and give a listen. Listening is more convenient, safer, and less interruptive.
Thanks to the viral success of early outliers like Serial and improved mobile integration, capped off with low production costs, podcasts have become an established form of content. Thus making podcasts a perfect option for effective author book marketing.
Why Authors Should Use Podcasts
Increased podcast usage is definitely a big factor to consider, but that’s not the only reason an author should start podcasting.
- Podcasts are intimate – An author-hosted podcast puts the reader in direct connection with the creator. Imagine your favorite author sitting in your living room or sitting shotgun discussing an upcoming book or reading an excerpt. Pretty cool.
Much like an author signing, book fans are tickled by that feeling of closeness that comes from what can be a casual, unscripted conversation.
- Podcasting improves your trade craft – Podcasting is a challenge. But after a few sessions, most authors will begin to see residual benefits. Speaking extemporaneously about your books on-air helps improve your in-person delivery—great for public book events. Also, a deeper exploration into your own work might reveal areas needing improvement.
- Podcasts are fairly inexpensive to make – Anyone with a medium- to high-end laptop can produce a podcast. Most costs are one-time expenditures. Hosting prices range anywhere from $5 to $20 a month. And while sound quality is key, a bigger dollar investment doesn’t necessarily translate into great content. Start with the basics and expand as you learn and garner feedback.
- Podcasting is fun – There are so many ways to tackle a podcast and so much you can learn. If it is fun for you, it will be fun for the audience. Make sure to delight and you’ll get subscribers turned buyers turned fans.
There’s also a marked crossover between podcast listeners and social media engagement. According to an article from Edison Research:
- 94% of podcast listeners are active on social media (national average is 81%)
- 52% of podcast listeners follow brands or companies on social media (national average is 31%)
Podcasts users' affinity with social media make them an incredibly valuable, highly sought after-target audience posessing incredible author/brand/book evangelists potential.
Author Podcast Ideas
The stage is yours to talk about whatever you want. If you want to get the most traction from your podcasts so they best help you sell and market your books, author podcast content should be specific and targeted at your core audiences. Here are a few ways to achieve the desired effects:
- Readings – Much like a live reading in a bookstore, but with the ability to polish. Authors can launch podcast readings in the form of on-demand, consecutive episodes.
- Live Q&A – This type of transparency is a great way to connect with readers and promote your books.
- Interviews – Invite colleagues or people who’ve contributed source material to take part. A casual discussion with these folks is a great supplemental to your book.
- Virtual Book Tours – Do the reverse of #3 and seek out guest appearance opportunities on other relevant podcasts.
These are just a few ways authors can use podcasts to promote their books and build a following. The more creative you can be, the more likely you’ll have success.
For many authors, the merits of their books alone might not get the sales they want. Podcasts allow them to create marketing content that lives outside of their book, increasing their exposure and reach.
Podcasting has successfully transitioned from a marketing fad to an established marketing staple. Any authors aspiring to bigger name recognition and more sales should take note.