Category Archives: Marketing Advice

The Power of Podcasts

Glen Tate published the 10 book 299 Days series in audio back in 2014. Since that time he’s amassed a 4.4 rating over 5,910 reviews. One of Glen’s most effective promotion tactics has been by regularly appearing on podcasts related to his specific “prepper” genre. He’s here today to share his process for booking guest spots to discuss his books on popular podcasts.

I am not a full-time author. I’m an attorney in Olympia, Washington who happened to sit down and write a ten-book post-apocalyptic fiction series called 299 Days. I was surprised to learn about several aspects of publishing and marketing these books—one of which was the power of podcasts to sell books to niche markets.

The author, Glen Tate…?

Like many ACX authors, I don’t have a large marketing budget or a team of people getting me guest spots on media outlets. I have to do it on my own and preferably for free.

In order to understand how podcasts can help audiobook sales, you need to understand that my books appeal to a particular audience: people who wonder what life would be like if normal American society was disrupted. Podcasts are perfectly suited to speak to niche audiences with specific interests. There are tens of thousands of podcasts on everything from bird watching to javelin throwing to 1980s heavy metal bands. As an added bonus, podcast fans are listeners, making them the perfect audience for audiobooks.

Once I realized that podcasts could be a great venue for promoting my audiobooks, I set about figuring out how to connect with various hosts and get booked as a guest. Here’s how I did it.

From Author to Guest Star

I thought about the podcasts I listen to in my area of interest, and several dozen came to mind. To determine which podcasts I wanted to be on, I looked at my own phone and saw which ones I’d listened to in the last month. I then searched for them in iTunes, which suggested several similar programs. I wrote down a list on a sheet of paper. New podcasts pop up all the time, so I periodically asked readers on my books’ Facebook page to tell me which podcasts they listened to, and added them to my master list.

At first I thought it would be hard to get onto a podcast. I was wrong. As I learned, podcasters are dying for content. Almost all podcasts have an email address or a “contact us” web form. I simply told them who I was and included a link to my books on Audible. This is important, because no one wants to listen to someone who talks about “someday” publishing a book.

I started small. No podcast was too small for me. I appeared on podcasts with 200 downloads. But after a while, I was regularly on podcasts with 100,000 or more downloads. Keep in mind that these are downloads from people who are already interested in the narrow topic of your book. It is perhaps the most precisely tailored marketing you can do.

Once I got on a few podcasts, I reached out to additional hosts and sent them links to my previous appearances. This was a great way to assure them that I could string a sentence together and was an interesting guest. This brings up an important point: do you need to be a dazzling speaker and have a great “radio voice” to be on a podcast? Nope. If you can hold a conversation, you can be a guest on a podcast. That’s all a podcast interview is: you and the host having a conversation about your book.

It’s also important to note that you don’t need special equipment or a computer programming degree to appear on a podcast. A cell phone (or better yet, a free Skype account) and a good headset with a microphone is all it takes.

The total time required to do a podcast ranged from one to two hours. The interview took between 20 minutes and an hour, and once it was produced, I’d get an email with the link to the episode.

I also wanted to help the podcasters who had just helped me. I let them know that I would publicize my appearance on their show to my readers and listeners. This was as easy as posting a link to the podcast on my Facebook page and emailing it to my email list. Podcasters absolutely loved me promoting their show, and often told me that they gained listeners every time I appeared as a guest. I would then ask them to email their friends with similar podcasts and encourage them to have me on.

It worked. I have appeared on 34 podcasts and recorded 114 episodes.

I found that it was important to keep track of every podcast I appeared on and put a link to each one on my books’ website. Putting each podcast on my website showed that I was an experienced podcast guest, and assured hosts that I’d publicize their shows. Readers of my books can hear me whenever they want, while also discovering new podcasts they might be interested in. And it helped me quickly find an episode link and post it on Facebook or email it to my list. You can find two of my favorite appearances here and here.

I have strong anecdotal evidence that appearing on podcasts increases sales. Direct evidence is hard to come by because I appeared on numerous podcasts each month. However, dozens of readers have mentioned that they heard about the books on a podcast. I’ve asked in Facebook posts how people learned of my books and almost every one says via one of my podcast appearances. In fact, a total stranger recognized my voice when I was talking to someone else in a store.

I’m no marketing wizard; if I can do this, then so can you. I can boil this down to three takeaways. First, gather a great list of podcasts appealing to your niche audience. Second, contact the podcasters and be persistent. Finally, promote your appearances on your website, social media, and email lists.

Oh, and all of this has been a whole lot of fun. I’ve become friends with many podcasters. Now I know these people all over the country, and when I travel on business I often have a friend to visit.

Much like the main character in the series, the Glen Tate is a forty-something resident of the capitol of Washington State, Olympia, and is a very active prepper. He grew up in the remote logging town of Forks, Washington. “Glen” keeps his identity a secret so he won’t lose his job because, in his line of work, being a prepper and questioning the motives of government is not appreciated.

Tweet This!

With hundreds of millions of users, Twitter should be part of any audiobook marketing plan. So today, we’ve got a quick and easy way for you to drive more social shares of Twitter_logo_blueyour ACX productions. You’ll be creating a custom hyperlink that automatically generates a pre-populated tweet when clicked, which you can place wherever you interact with your fans online. This empowers an army of listeners to help you spread the word. Don’t worry, it’s easy—you can do it in just four steps:

1. Begin with this starter link: “http://twitter.com/home/?status=

2. After the equal sign, add the message you’d like your fans to tweet. Make sure to substitute spaces between words with a plus sign ( + ), as spaces are not permitted in hyperlinks.

3. The message can contain all kinds of helpful things besides plain text. You could include a link to a free 30-day Audible trial featuring your title; your and/or your narrator’s Twitter handles; or even a custom hashtag. (When including a hashtag, replace the pound sign “#” with “%23”.)

So a custom “Tweet this!” link would end up looking something like this:

http://twitter.com/home/?status=Check+out+this+awesome+%23audiobook,+written+by+@SA_McKayr+and+narrated+by+Nick%20Ellsworth:+http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Wolfs-Head-Audiobook/B00JG86YTI/ref=a_search_c4_1_2_srTtl?qid=1416506491&sr=1-2

And would pre-populate a tweet that looks like this:Populated Tweet_SMALL

4. Place your custom link from step three in any of your communications that use basic HTML. Like this (replace tweet this with whatever message you want):

<a href=”PASTE YOUR CUSTOM LINK BETWEEN THESE STRAIGHT QUOTES“>Tweet this.</a>

(For more advanced information on placing this link on your website, click here.)

Now go forth and promote. Be sure to show us your efforts by tagging @ACX_com on Twitter!

You Can Help Make June Audiobook Month!

Did you know that June is Audiobook Month? During the month of June, the Audio Publishers Association (APA) raises awareness and enthusiasm for audiobooks. This concentrated effort provides a great opportunity for ACX rights holders and producers to focus on audiobook promotion for the month of June and create buzz around the audiobook format and their titles.

Why Now?

With a set period of time on which to focus your promotional efforts, ACX users have the opportunity to band together and create a groundswell of audiobook-specific promotion that will benefit their titles and generate exposure for the industry as a whole. And with a “high tide raises all boats” mentality, everyone can benefit by putting a little extra effort into marketing their audiobooks. By thinking about your June promotion now, you’ll have a chance to put a plan in place and pull off some cool promotions that will make you a summer audiobook superstar!

Promotional Ideas

Aside from the basic, “do these all year round” ways to promote your audio versions, here are a few additional ways you can contribute to the big, coordinated impact June is Audiobook Month can have on listeners:

Team up with a fellow author/producer – Are you listening to a great audiobook now, or have you in the recent past? Reach out to the author or producer and work out some ways to cross promote. Have them interview you about your listening experience for their website/blog, and interview them for yours. Link to their audiobooks in the post and compel your listeners to download them (and again, have your partner in promotion do the same).

Recall a favorite listening experience – Can’t work out collaboration with a fellow audiobook creative? Take to your own blog and talk about a memorable experience listening to an audiobook. Rights holders can write about the emotions they felt hearing their work in audio, or how listening to someone else’s audiobook inspired or informed the choices they made while producing theirs. Producers can discuss their favorite project they’ve voiced, or talk about how they got into narration in the first place. Find a way to speak compellingly about the emotional connection you made with an audiobook and you’re halfway to convincing your audience to have a similar experience.

Encourage your fans to talk about listening to audiobooks – They can leave comments on your Facebook page or on your blog, and you can promise to publish the best in an update on your website. Why do they listen rather than read? Where do they listen? When do they listen? Their excitement can prove contagious to other potential listeners.

Narrated your own book? Describe the experience – Your fans will love getting a peek behind the scenes, and you’ll be able to provide insight and anecdotes that will help your listeners make an emotional connection with the work.

Take to Twitter – This year, the APA is encouraging use of the #audiomonth hashtag on Twitter. Add this tag to the end of your audiobook related tweets to ensure interested fans will catch on. You can also search Twitter for others using this hashtag and join their conversation, offering your own take on the topic or retweeting your fellow audiobook creative types.

Think about where you create or listen to audiobooks – Give your fans the inside scoop by sharing pictures or video of yourself in your audiobook space. Producers may want to offer a guided tour of their studio, while rights holders can show fans where they listen to auditions, 15 minute checkpoints, and final audio.

Run a contest – ACX provides 25 free download codes when your title becomes available for sale. Use some of these codes on their own or as part of a prize package for your fans. Here are three contest ideas to get you started:

  • Have your fans submit pictures of themselves dressed as one of your characters. Best costume wins a prize pack.
  • Challenge fans to write a “deleted scene” from one of your books, and have your narrator voice the winning entry.
  • Encourage your fans to tweet their favorite quote from your work with a specific hashtag that you choose. Randomly select a number of qualifying tweets and award a free download or prize pack. This tactic has the added bonus of enlisting your fans as members of your promotional team!

These are just some of the many ways you can use the month of June to drive excitement and sales of your audiobooks. Look for ways to join the groundswell, and catch the wave at the start of the month and work to build momentum for the next 30 days. You’ll likely be pleased with the results this summer and beyond!

What other creative ways can you promote June as Audiobook Month? Tell us below!