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Launching an indie book can be a daunting endeavor. An author has so many options for marketing activities that it’s practically impossible to do all of them. Author Jenny Blake tried. But all that work took a toll.
“I crashed three weeks before the book came out,” she said.
So for her second book, Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One, she took a different strategy. “My mantra now is ‘Let it be easy, let it be fun.’”
Doing It All Led to Burnout
In the months before the launch of Blake’s first book, a career guide titled Life After College, she took a sabbatical from her job at Google and dove in full force, spreading the word to her target audience.
“I did everything and burned myself out,” she said.
Some of her marketing activities included social media posting, soliciting reviews on Amazon, blog tours, giveaways and contests, and paid advertising. But there’s always another Tweet you could post, another article you could write, another solicitation you could send. There truly is no end to the potential marketing opportunities an author can take advantage of and simply no way to do it all, even if you’re a highly capable professional like Blake.
Podcasting: Blake’s Top Marketing Activity
Five years after her first book launch, Blake takes a different approach to publicity. Now, before she does any marketing activity, she asks herself, “Do I need to do this at all?” If the answer is yes, she’ll do it. I the answer is no, she’ll let the opportunity go.
“There’s a hierarchy of things you have time and energy for,” said Blake.
Before the launch of Pivot, her second book, she took an honest look at her marketing tactics. For each one, she made an assessment about whether they drained her of energy or whether they felt enjoyable. One of the activities that she deemed draining was providing original written content for bloggers. On the other hand, she loved discussing her books verbally.
“My podcast tour was totally joyful,” said Blake.
So for the new book, she doubled down on podcasting. Blake sets up her podcasts like a blog, creating the file, then uploading it to a feed that is broadcast via iTunes and other digital audio platforms such as Stitcher.
Podcast to Share In-Depth Content
Blake likes the fact that the format is intimate, as podcasts allow people to discover topics and hosts that resonate with them and then listen in on an insightful conversation. What’s more, the long-form length of a podcast allows Blake to speak in depth on the topics important to her.
To that end, one of the most attractive aspects of podcasts is that they allow people to consume in-depth information during time that would otherwise be lost. In an hour-long podcast, Blake can take the time discuss complex issues or go in-depth on behind-the-scenes information that her listeners find valuable.
“Listening to an author for an hour is different from skimming an article online,” said Blake.
A Medium That Matches the Audience
Podcasts are a good fit for Blake because they attract the types of people in her target audience. Her readers are busy people with active lifestyles, but they’re also people who want nuanced, thoughtful presentations. Many members of her community have shifted from reading blogs to listening to podcasts.
“With the exponential explosion of information online, its sometimes hard just keeping up with Facebook,” said Blake.
Many members of her audience listen during found time while they’re cleaning, walking or commuting.
Developing a Long-term Following
Podcasts also allow authors to create long-term relationships with their readers. Many of Blake’s followers have been listening for years. Much of the content of Blake’s blog concerns her experiences she has while creating her book, offering insights and real-life experiences.
“A book takes so long to create, [and] my podcast offers small chunks of content in between publications,” said Blake.
Though some authors are wary of sharing too much information in a medium that’s free for fear that people won’t purchase their books, Blake believes in being open and generous with her content.
“There are many intangible ways this kind of generosity comes back around. If they like the resources, they can sign up to keep in touch,” she says. “If your voice is out there, your book gets on their radar.”
Measuring the Power of a Podcast
Unlike some forms of marketing, such as traditional public relations and in-person book tours, it is possible to connect specific podcasts to individual book sales. Blake does this by giving each episode a unique URL. At the end of her program, she offers a special bonus to listeners to click on that URL so that she can track the purchases directly.
Widening the Audience as a Guest Podcaster
In addition to creating her own podcast series, Blake has developed a network of other podcasters in her areas of interest: self-help, career and entrepreneurship. Through this network, she frequently is invited to be interviewed or even be a guest podcaster on her colleagues’ shows.
Blake has appeared on James Altucher’s podcast and Todd Henry’s “Accidental Creative” podcast. Being a guest on a podcast that has thousands of downloads a month gives her broad reach that can help gain exposure, new podcast listeners, and ultimately new readers for her books.
It’s difficult to get invited to speak on a popular podcast simply by cold calling, so for authors who are new to podcasting Blake’s advice is to spend time listening to popular shows in your areas of interest, become active members of those audiences, and grow your personal network.
“For every micro-niche, there is a podcast,” said Blake.
Once a podcaster knows you and your work, he or she may invite you to be interviewed or even be a guest podcaster.
Build Your Podcast Audience Before You Publish
Podcasts allow authors to build an audience well in advance of the launch of their book. While they are writing their books and getting ready for publication, they can use podcasts to gain a loyal following. Once their books are ready for purchase, listeners already know and trust the voice they’ve been hearing.
Not only is podcasting a great way to introduce an audience to your ideas, the power of podcasting as a book marketing method becomes more effective if an author starts the series months, if not years, before the book is available for sale.
For Writers Who Love to Talk
“Double down on your existing strengths,” Blake advises.
If you’re an author whose strength is engaging in thought-provoking conversations, consider podcasting. It could turn marketing from a chore to a joy.
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