There’s no better promotion an author can do than podcasts. Here’s the good news: authors make great guests. They not only have inherent credibility but also tend to have crystallized a number of their ideas.
Here’s the less great news: most of the pitches that podcast hosts receive are generic, publicist-written drivel that gets rejected.
That’s why you’re much better off pitching yourself than having a publicist pitch you.
THE FIRST STEP
Effective podcast pitching starts with one factor: being an actual fan of the show.
Pitching yourself to a show you don’t actually listen to is the equivalent of inviting yourself to come to someone’s house for dinner without even bothering to find out about the person. Podcasting is an incredibly intimate medium, and the fact that a host is bringing you onto their show—no matter how big or small—is a big deal.
Think about it like this: if you go on Today, the viewers are fans of the show, not the host. They may like the host, but most Today fans will continue watching the show even if the host is replaced. But a podcast listener is a fan of the host, which means the host is essentially inviting you into their living room and presenting you to their friends.
In order to locate appropriate shows, determine which ones cover your topic and are also realistic. While those podcasts with massive followings and hosts with household names probably aren’t the right ones with which to start, you can still download and listen to those shows. When you’re done, scroll down to the bottom of the show’s iTunes page and see what’s listed in the “You Might Also Like” section. Listen to those and if you like them, add them to your wish list.
Once you have a list of shows that you like, find contact information for the host or producer through sites like Muckrack or Hunter.io.
SO HOW SHOULD YOU PITCH YOURSELF?
It’s important to remember that a podcast exists first and foremost to serve its audience, and not as a venue for you to promote your book. If you listen to enough episodes, you’ll soon be able to tell what its audience wants. Once you are familiar, you can pitch yourself to discuss a topic that’s relevant, but hasn’t yet been covered.
If you want to stand out, write a review for the show on iTunes and attach the screengrab to your pitch. Compliments can go a long way here–provided they’re genuine, of course. If you read the host’s book, or have appreciated any of their other work, now’s the time to say so.
Given how many pitches podcasters receive, it’s not a bad idea to follow up on your initial pitch. In fact, assume that your first email wasn’t even seen and consider reaching out via LinkedIn, Instagram, or another medium.
Still, if you receive a rejection or don’t hear anything after a second attempt, think: QTIP (Quit Taking It Personally). Find another show and move on.
IF YOU’RE BOOKED, BE A GREAT GUEST
In talking about what makes a great guest, let’s talk about what doesn’t.
Guests who talk about how nervous they are don’t tend to be great. It’s okay to be nervous—in fact, it’s natural your first few times out of the gate—but do your best to work through it so your host doesn’t have to take on the task of calming you down.
Guests who are long-winded and don’t let the host get a word in also aren’t great. I once interviewed a guest who talked and talked to the point that I had to stop recording and explain that the show needed to be more conversational.
Unless you’re a celebrity and there to provide pure entertainment, it’s important to remember that you’re on the show to provide value for the listeners. What does your book teach, and what nuggets of truth can you provide those listening? You can also prepare a special PDF for that show’s audience, then provide a link to where they can download it (also a great way to add to your email list!).
IT’S NOT OVER ONCE YOU’VE RECORDED
What makes a one-time guest into a repeat guest, or even just an appreciated guest, is what happens once the show airs.
No matter how big or small your audience, always share your appearance on social media, in your newsletter, and wherever else you can. As you’re spreading the word about your podcast appearance, don’t forget to send the host and/or producer a note of thanks.
Though it would be most convenient for your podcast episode to be released during your new book’s launch week, such happy timing isn’t likely. Podcast producers must prioritize their show’s schedule, so make sure you aren’t complaining about a release date that happens to be before or after the date for which you hoped.
WHY ARE PODCASTS SO IMPORTANT?
An appearance on one of the bigger shows (Joe Rogan, Marc Maron, Lewis Howes, for example) can be career-changing, but even smaller podcasts can make a huge difference for you, your brand, and your book sales. You’re in a potential reader’s ears when they’re working out, or driving, or on the subway, or wherever else they might be listening to their podcast. So even if a podcast has 10 listeners, that’s 10 people who are getting to know you and your book.
These days, podcast appearances have the power to do as much, if not more, for you and your book than TV, print, or the web. So if you’ve been telling yourself that there’s no way to promote your book in the media because you don’t have an “in” with a TV producer or journalist, it’s time to start downloading and pitching.
NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of eight books, founder of Legacy Launch Pad Publishing, TEDx speaker, TV book critic