Tuesday 31 May 2022

Writers’ Questions: How Do I Promote My Book On Podcasts?

Hi again, everyone! In my Writers’ Questions series, I’ve been spilling the beans about different aspects of the writing and publishing process. Today it’s time for another marketing focused post (in the past I’ve written about social media presence and the best writing hashtags), as I tackle the topic of guest appearing on podcasts.

Following the publication of my debut novel, Bronte’s Mistress, I appeared on 10-20 podcasts, including being a guest on The History of Literature, Bonnets at Dawn, New Books in Historical Fiction, The Manuscript Academy, The Avid Reader Show, DIYMFA, It’s Just Historical, Bookreporter, History Through Fiction, Story Behind the Story, and more. But how did I secure these fun marketing opportunities? In this post, I share my approach.

I said yes to everything. In the vast majority of cases I proactively sought out the podcasts I appeared on, but one podcast came to me via my publishing house, and occasionally doing another piece of promotion with someone, e.g. a virtual event, led to a follow up invitation to guest star on a podcast episode too. No matter how big or small the gig, in those vital months after my book’s release, I always said yes. 

I targeted small podcasts as well as large. Maybe there’s a dream podcast relevant to your genre you’d love to guest star on. And that’s great. But we’ve all got to start somewhere, and that’s true for podcasters, as well as authors. I messaged the hosts of podcasts that were nascent, as well as established, so we could build our brands together.

I listened before emailing. I never cold emailed/messaged a host without having listened to at least one episode of their podcast. That way I could a) say with confidence that my book and voice would fit their show, and b) give genuine compliments about their content.

I was a copycat. Maybe comp titles were part of your query letter or submission package? Well, there’s a role for here too. Google the authors of books similar to yours to see what podcasts they appeared on and follow in their footsteps. You can even be honest about this when contacting hosts: “I listened to your conversation with author X. My book Y is similar to X’s book Z in this way, that way, and this other way, so I wondered if you’d be interested in having me on your podcast.”

I targeted different audiences. I approached podcasts with a focus on the Brontes, the Victorian period, literary history, historical fiction, writing craft, and publishing. And, importantly, I tailored my pitch based on the focus of the podcast I was targeting. I had different key messages when talking to readers vs. writers too, which helped keep my conversation varied enough across podcasts.

I passed the baton. I always asked podcast hosts, after recording, if I could pass on their info to other writers. I also shared the opportunities I came across liberally. Karma can be instant in the publishing business, and it always pays to spread goodwill.

I took rejection well. While I had a pretty good hit rate when it came to cold pitching podcasters (way higher than with traditional media outlets!), we all receive rejections. Whenever I received a no (e.g. because a podcast was booked for the year or was choosing to focus on BIPOC authors in 2020), I was gracious and thanked podcasters for their time and response. It pays to be nice and this sets me up for more success in the future.

What aspect of the publishing/writing business would you like me to cover next in my Writers’ Questions series? Let me know—here, on Facebook, on Instagram, or by tweeting @SVictorianist.