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Podcasts and authors: Should you be a host or guest?

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I was surprised by a recent email from someone who provides book marketing advice to authors.

“Do you want to sell more books?” the marketer asked in a message sent to subscribers. “Then create a daily or weekly podcast.”

They make their case for this approach to podcasts and authors by citing statistics about the increasing popularity of podcasts. The numbers are compelling.

But for the majority of you, creating a daily or weekly podcast doesn’t make sense.

Here’s alternative advice: Become a podcast guest.

Let me explain why.

Hosting a podcast is a lot of work

There are two big deterrents to hosting a daily, weekly, or even monthly podcast: time and technology.

Let’s start with time.

One of the biggest complaints I hear about book marketing in general from authors is, “It’s hard to find the time to do it.”

via GIPHY

Many authors have full-time jobs that make it difficult for them to find time to write their books, even. Eking out time for book marketing is equally challenging.

Others struggle to write a weekly blog post, send a monthly email newsletter, or maintain an effective social media presence. “I just don’t have enough time for it,” they say.

Even the authors I coach who are writing in retirement tell me they don’t want to spend all of their time writing and marketing. They need and want time away from a computer screen.

Which leads to the next obstacle for podcasts and authors.

Podcasting requires tech skills.

Any author who needed help setting up their book on Amazon will understand this immediately.

If you haven’t yet embraced email marketing because you’re intimidated by the technology involved, you get it.

Hosting a podcast requires you to be comfortable working with technology. You need to use the right equipment (recording via telephone or your webcam microphone won’t cut it) and edit audio files. You’ll also have to:

  • Upload your recordings to multiple podcast platforms so you get the reach you need to make it worth your effort.
  • Create and maintain a website that hosts the recordings and show notes.
  • Promote your podcast so people know it exists (as with books, this isn’t an “if you build it, they will come” situation).

Which loops us right back to the time issue. If you don’t have enough time to write and market your books, how will you find time to host a daily or weekly podcast?

Become a podcast guest instead

It’s a whole lot easier to be a guest on somebody else’s show than to host your own. That’s why it makes sense for you to take advantage of the growing interest in podcasts by becoming a guest, not a host.

 

via GIPHY

The numbers support that strategy. A recent survey of 2,000 monthly podcast listeners by podcast platform Acast revealed that:

  • 52 percent say they increased the amount of time they spent listening to podcasts in the previous six months
  • 45 percent started listening to podcasts in the past year
  • 70 percent enjoy listening to guest interviews
  • 65 percent are focused on the show’s content when listening

It only makes sense if your ideal readers are podcast listeners, though. So who’s listening to them? PodcastHosting.org reports that in the U.S.:

  • 51 percent of podcast listeners are male, while 49 percent are female
  • 48 percent are ages 12-34
  • 32 percent are ages 35-54
  • 20 percent are ages 55 and older
  • 63 percent are white
  • 41 percent have household income greater than $75,000
  • 25 percent have a four-year college degree

In addition, there are podcasts for nearly all topics and interests, so you’re likely to find shows that can help you connect with your audience.

How to become a podcast guest

Now that you see why becoming a guest rather than a host makes sense, you might be curious about how to do just that.

It’s a whole lot easier to be a guest on somebody else’s show than to host your own. That's why it makes sense for you to take advantage of the growing interest in podcasts by becoming a guest, not a host.Click to tweet

Here are resources that can help:

Once you see what your hosts do to schedule and promote your podcast appearances, you’ll have a better sense of the effort required to host your own show.

And . . . you might decide that it’s exactly what you want to do.

Thinking about hosting a podcast?

If you decide that hosting a podcast is a solid book marketing strategy, consider taking a course on how to start a podcast before fully committing to the concept.

Just as you became educated about how to write a book, get it published, and market it, you’ll want to learn how to create and sustain a successful podcast.

I often turn to Udemy for this type of training. A quick search reveals plenty of options. (User ratings and course curriculums can help you make a solid choice.)

Finally, as with all marketing tactics, whether you hope to be a host or a guest, first determine whether the people you want to influence listen to podcasts (the stats above are a good starting point). If they don’t, podcasts don’t belong in your book marketing plan.

Do you host a podcast? Have you been a podcast guest? Please tell us about your experience in a comment.

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9 Comments

  1. Thanks for this Sandra, very pertinent! In answer to your prompt, my experience is with having been a guest now on dozens of podcasts. I started off timidly, hiring a publicist who was into my books but not actually connected to my genre or my readers. he plugged me in to two or three podcasts as a guest, but they were not on my topic, and the listeners were not my readers. However, I practiced interview skills and it showed me the huge potential there is for authors to appear as guests.
    I since found a website called Matchmaker.com. Here you can, for free, create a profile and connect with podcast hosts in your subject area, and who you know for certain are booking guests. For me Matchmaker made all the difference: I now regularly get booked on podcasts that are on topic, and I have met some wonderful people this way. No impact on book sales yet but I’m confident that will come eventually, once my brand as subject matter authority reaches a tipping point!

    1. Thanks so much for the Matchmaker tip, Alan! That’s a real gem!

      I’m glad you got some early practice in situations that wouldn’t “hurt” you with your audience before you got on the air with more appropriate shows. That’s the thinking behind my recommendation to authors to start their publicity locally. Local media and audiences are more forgiving when you’re less polished than others, and starting locally lets you figure out what messages and stories resonate with reporters and producers before you start shooting for more widespread exposure.

      You’re smart to see this as part of your platform-building rather than as a book sales tool, too. I’m so impressed with all you’re doing! And I’m glad you’re enjoying it.

      Sandy

  2. I would not think of hosting a podcast. I love to listen to them and have done so now since the pandemic started — my fave is @All About Agatha. It analyzes Agatha Christie novels. I would guess each hour of a show requires 10 hours of prep work. I appreciate all of the podcasters and will leave comments in thanks.

    1. Kayleen, that’s proof that you can find a podcast for so many niche interests! You’re kind to show your appreciation to podcasters. I’m sure they appreciate that.

      Sandy

  3. I agree that hosting a podcast is time-intensive. But I love doing my Living the Writing Life podcast:https://livingthewritinglife.podbean.com/.
    I started it when the pandemic hit as a way to help other authors talk about their books and I have been so fortunate with all the great guests that have been on the show.
    However, while I’ll continue doing it (just two episodes a month) I also need to start playing guest instead of host since I have some new books coming out. It’s like the old adage about the shoemaker’s kids going shoeless, except in this case, it’s the author who is so busy promoting other writers that she forgets to promote herself!
    Thanks for all the great advice!

    1. I’m glad it works for you, Nancy. I hope the new book is a big success! Your experience as a host will help you craft the perfect pitch to other podcasters.

      Sandy

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