Tag Archives: podcast

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.

ACX Storytellers: Scott Sigler

New York Times best-selling author Scott Sigler is an ACX bounty superstar, racking up over $10,000 in bounty payments this year alone. Releasing his self-recorded works as free podcasts, his “serialized audiobooks” built a dedicated audience that pushed his indie print novel Ancestor to #1 on Amazon’s Horror and Sci-Fi charts. His print success led to a recently signed three-book deal with Del Rey, and Scott successfully negotiated with the publisher to retain his audio rights. Read on to see why those rights are so important to him, and how he made ACX’s $50 Bounty Program such a large part of his revenue stream.

Sigler_Bio

ACX Author Scott Sigler

NO STRANGER TO AUDIO

I worked for fifteen years to land a publishing deal, to no avail. By 2005, I had a nice, neat file folder labeled “motivation” that contained 124 rejection letters. That year was also when I learned about this newfangled thing called “podcasting.”

As an author, a lifelong reader, and a big fan of audiobooks, I saw the writing on the wall: podcasting would let people serialize audiobooks and deliver them to listeners. I still had my first novel, Earthcore. Since I hadn’t signed a publishing contract, I owned all the rights, which meant that I could record it and release it for free. Anyone who wanted to try out my stories could do so without spending money on an unknown author, giving me a competitive advantage to help gain new fans.

I built a large audience of people listening to my serialized audiobooks. When it came time to sell a story in print — the indie trade paperback of Ancestor, published March, 2007 — that audience rewarded me beyond my wildest expectations. Ancestor was the #1 print novel on Amazon’s Horror chart, #1 in SciFi, #2 in Fiction and the #7 best-selling book overall.

That success got New York publishing interested. They wanted to partner up and see if we could make something big happen. My novel Infected went into auction, Crown Publishing won, and we set out to make great books together.

ACX – THE ACCIDENTAL DISCOVERY

I absolutely loved working with Crown Publishing (a division of Random House). I wouldn’t trade that experience for all the footballs in Texas. But it was one small difference of opinion with Random House Audio, over my audiobook marketing strategy, that led to my fantastic relationship with ACX.Nocturnal Cover

By my fourth book with Crown, Nocturnal, Random House Audio simply chose to not put out the audiobook. Since they owned the audio rights, I couldn’t record it and release it on my own. Therefore, no podcast.

So we asked them: if you’re not going to release an audiobook, can we have the rights back? Happily, they said “no problem,” and promptly worked with us to release the rights back to me, the author.

That left me with the audiobook rights to a pair of in-demand novels. What to do, what to do…

HOW ACX BECAME A TRUSTED PARTNER

We had released one book with ACX, my horror short story collection Blood is Red. We next hired the golden-voiced Phil Gigante to record both Nocturnal and Pandemic, and released those audiobooks via ACX. We thought we might sell a couple of hundred copies, and that ACX’s high royalty rates would do us well.

We didn’t sell hundreds. We sold thousands.

And it’s not just the audiobook sales themselves: the $50 bounty we receive when a new Audible Listener selects one of our books as their first purchase is a significant line item in our revenue stream. We actively market the availability of our books on Audible, and ACX in turn rewards us when we bring them new customers. Everyone wins.

It’s Empty Sethard to measure our podcast audience, but our stats show we have around 20,000 listens per episode within the first month of that episode’s release. Therefore, we have an existing audience that already listens to audiobooks on a regular basis. Our podcasts are free, but also serialized and ad-supported. We regularly tell our listeners that if they want the whole book in one big chunk, free of ads, they can swing over to Audible and buy it — free or paid, the choice is all theirs.

Offer the customer a choice, and you’ll be surprised how many will take the “paid” option. In 2014 alone, we’ve earned over $10,000 in bounty revenue. That’s on top of the royalties we’ve earned for the books themselves.

Since I am a happy and active Audible customer, I really get into pushing Audible to my podcast listeners. It’s a great service at a great price and I know the vast majority of my fans who try it will love it. We regularly pitch Audible as a “pre-roll ad” where the pitch comes before our episode’s intro music, and we often pimp it with messaging in our blog posts and posts on Facebook, G+, Tumblr and Twitter. We only pitch about once a month on each of those locations, however, so that we’re not beating our readers/listeners over the head.

AND THE FUTURE ROLLS OUT BEFORE US…

I recently finished my five-book deal with Crown, and my agent landed me a three-book deal with Del Rey (also a division of Random House) for my Generations trilogy.

Part of the negotiation with Del Rey was that we keep the audiobook rights. Del Rey agreed, and we’re excited to be in business with thUntitled-9at legendary Sci-Fi imprint. The success of Nocturnal and Pandemic on ACX taught us that we’re more successful when we control our own audiobooks. Del Rey manages the print and eBook products, we’ll sell our own audiobooks through ACX.

We can’t wait. We’re looking forward to a lifetime of royalties and bounties for our products, a long-term revenue stream that will contribute to our company’s bottom line. More importantly, that revenue will help us keep making new products for the readers who have given us everything we have.


New York Times best-selling author Scott Sigler is the author of fifteen novels, six novellas and dozens of short stories. His hardcover horror-thrillers are available from Crown Publishing and Del Rey. He also co-founded Empty Set Entertainment, which publishes his YA Galactic Football League series (The Rookie, The Starter, The All-Pro, The MVP and The Champion due out in September 2014).