Pitching Podcasts: An Author’s Guide to Doing it Right

by | Apr 10, 2019 | Getting More Media Coverage

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If you’re knee-deep in book marketing let me ask, have you ever considered pitching podcasts?

Maybe you’ve gone so far as to toy with the idea of starting one (it really seems to be the trend these days), but have you ever added pitching podcasts to your overall book marketing plan?

If you haven’t considered it, it’s time to get to work.

If you’re a podcast listener, you’ve likely already caught on to how big podcasting is. If you’ve never listened to one, but are aware they exist, maybe it’s time to open up your iTunes or Stitcher app and start browsing the hundreds of options available for all areas of interest, from pure entertainment, to news, to educational shows.

And because the interests are so varied, pitching podcasts has really become a solid addition to any media pitching you’re doing as part of your book marketing plan and overall book promotion.

It’s also a quickly growing market. Check out these recent statistics:

According to a recent article in Convince and Convert in 2018 Americans listening in to podcasts increased by 12 million over 2017. A whooping 64% of Americans have heard of podcasts and 44% have listened to them. People ages 25-54 listen to a minimum of one podcast a month. Still not convinced that podcasting is the right thing to add to your to do list? On average, 48 million Americans listen to podcasts weekly. That’s more than double the amount of people who watch NFL Sunday Football (which has always been considered one of the highest-rated television programs).

So let’s take a look at how you can weave this into your book marketing.

Pitching Podcasts Means Finding the Right Ones 

First and foremost, if you’re going to be pitching yourself and your book to podcasts, you need to be a listener before getting into marketing mode.

Check out a popular podcasting app and start your search by area of interest. You can also search Google for top podcasts in your market.

Follow a few and start subscribing to them!

If you find it easier to search on your computer, you can try PodSearch, which is one of my favs to search the podcast-universe, but be ready to manage and listen on your phone because it’s very likely you’ll become addicted and it’s great to have so much fantastic content at your fingertips.

Once you have a set of five or so, have a listen and start to study their format. See where you might fit in with your topic.

Know the Difference Between Podcasts and Radio

One of the key differences between pitching podcasts and pitching yourself to radio is this: not all podcasts have guests.

This is a really key difference because a lot of authors doing their own book marketing may pitch themselves anyway, thinking the podcast will make an exception and invite them on anyway. Makes sense, right? You’re a great guest! So what if they don’t invite guests on, you’ll be the exception, right? Wrong.

If a podcast doesn’t have guests on, there’s a reason. While you may enjoy listening to the podcast, it doesn’t make sense to email them for guest consideration if they never do interviews. Respect their format and move on, or consider whether offering them a free copy of the book might pique their interest based on the topics and content they cover.

The other difference is often the length of the interview. A particular favorite podcast of mine is Something You Should Know with Mike Carruthers. For years I was a fan of Mike’s short little broadcast radio snippets with the same title. Then he expanded into a podcast format which allowed him to spend more time with each of his topics. This was a solid move on Mike’s part, because the podcast now rates as one of the top podcasts on iTunes consistently. And for good reason. The format is tightly focused on the audience the podcast speaks to. The producer of the show, Joanne McCall, told me it’s pretty simple. Their core audience includes 30-something people who have jobs, they’re parents, and though that age group was their initial focus, the podcast market overall is also aging, meaning that the over 40 and over 50 crowd are also tuning in.

Now this may seem like a big market range, it is and it isn’t.

Because core issues that matter to people in the workforce are: time management, diet and health, parenting, relationships – you get the idea. The show does a lot of author interviews, in fact just about everyone on the show is an author. And the length of the interviews are 20+ minutes each, for a show that’s scheduled for an hour.

So while pitching podcasts might be a great target for your book marketing, you should also consider whether you can speak on your topic for 20 minutes, and if it’s of interest to the audience you’re pitching – because if you used up all your knowledge to date on your book, you may want to hold off until you can expand on that a bit.

Treating Podcast Pitching Like Traditional Media

While podcasting isn’t considered “traditional media” per se, it might as well be.

The numbers I cited above are staggering when you consider how many morning shows and evening news broadcasts are struggling for viewership.

So, when you’re considering adding podcast pitching to your book marketing lineup you should also be treating your podcast pitch like it’s going to a national media target.

Keep it brief and make sure your subject line stands out. It might also be a good idea to mention in the pitch another show they’ve done on this topic. Because this tells the producer you’re paying attention.

When I asked Joanne McCall about this she indicated that the more authors up their game in terms of pitching, the better and more likely they are to be considered.

Joanne offers the following, “I want a link to other audio interviews or camera interviews that the author has done. I need to see and hear the guest to be sure they know how to present their material in an effective and compelling way. Best if it’s other media interviews, but if it’s too early in the campaign, then do some kind of mock interview.”

Pitching Podcasts: The Basics

Not all podcasts have obvious places to pitch to so it takes a bit of effort.

Ideally when you subscribe to the podcast it’ll have a link to the landing page for more information. If there isn’t, try following the podcast host on social media and see if there’s a link in the “about” section, which is often where you’ll find it. In some cases, you may not find an email address but just a mailing address to send the book or pitch.

If you mail a book, please at the very least include a cover letter or some kind of a note. When I asked Joanne about this, she agreed, “I can’t tell you how many publicists (and they should know better) send me a book with absolutely nothing inside. Not even their name and contact info. I guess they think I will remember the conversation from a week or two ago, and that is very unlikely. Unless I totally love it, I’m not going to go search for those emails either.”

Pitching Media Specific Podcasts

There are also media-specific podcasts, those that cover current events and news, like the ones hosted by NPR. Almost every network has their own podcast now, and since these also show up on iTunes and Stitcher, you can use these opportunities to enhance your own media targets.

Keep in mind that the same rules apply for the media podcasts, your pitch must match the target audience and what they’re looking for.

Pitching Podcasts When a Show Doesn’t Have Guests

As I mentioned, there are lots of shows that don’t have guests – and if it’s a show you really love, don’t despair. There may be another way to get onto the show – while not podcast pitching per se, it’s still a way to get a mention!

Let’s say there’s a show you really love and you’ve noticed that the hosts mention products from time to time. Things they love, that kind of thing. Some may be paid product placements, but sometimes they’re not and if you want to take a chance that your book could get a mention, why not send them one? Make sure the cover letter indicates that while you know they don’t invite guests on, per se, they may reference the book in their show. It’s a fun and inexpensive way to weave in a little book marketing, even if you can’t be a guest on the show.

How to Be a Great Podcast Guest

Congratulations! Pitching podcasts netted you an interview! Now it’s time to get ready to be on the show!

If you haven’t already done so, I recommend that you listen to a few of the past shows, just to get caught up. This may also offer a nice opportunity during your interview to mention (relevant) past topics the host has done. Hosts love it when you’re paying attention.

Next is how you’re being interviewed for the podcast. Some shows do Skype interviews (without video) while others will have you call in. I really recommend making sure you have a good computer microphone if you’re doing this online, if you’re calling in don’t call from a Starbucks or somewhere where there’s a lot of background noise. If you have a landline, use that to do your interview.

Finally, one of the podcast producers I spoke with said that just doing the interview doesn’t always guarantee your segment will get aired. Sometimes interviews aren’t good enough to air, or the guest wasn’t a good interview, etc. Don’t wait an opportunity or the hard work you put into pitching that podcast, make sure you bring you’re A-game to the show.

“Media training of some kind is in an author’s best interest,” suggests Joanne McCall, “Knowing your key messages and being able to deliver them is absolutely key. The Something you Should Know podcast has 1.1 million downloads every month, and that number is growing. Our audience is 30-something professional men and women, although that demo is expanding as more and more people are comfortable downloading and listening to podcasts. The point is, with so many people signing up to receive our podcast, we have to make sure the show is great. We have to have guests who are compelling, interesting and likeable. That is on the author to get that training. If I see that you can deliver and it’s a topic we’re interested in, I guarantee we will book you for the show.”

Make sure you’re really ready to put your best foot forward. Have actionable tips, quick things that listeners can take action on immediately. If you’re citing any statistics, make sure you know where they came from. You may not be asked to cite resources, but you could be. And here’s another tip for your podcast pitch: if you cite any studies in your pitch, be sure to cite references as well.

Last but not least, if the interview is only supposed to go 20-30 minutes be sure to block an hour so you have enough time in case the host is late, or the interview goes long.

Podcast pitching, as part of your overall book marketing to do list can be a really great addition to getting the word out about your book. And if you’re new to this whole podcasting “thing” open up your iTunes app and have a listen to some of the most interesting content. Podcasting is immersive in a way that radio and TV often isn’t. The shows have more time to dig into topics, the hosts are super engaged in their content because often pick the guests themselves and are keenly interested in the topics they share with their listeners. You’ll note this when you start listening to podcasts.

When you’re ready (or maybe you are now) get on the podcast train and start adding this broadcast medium to your short list of book marketing targets!

Resources and Free Downloads

Research on Podcast Growth

Find Podcasts for Your Topic or Area of Interest

Download Your Free Monthly Book Marketing Planner

Check Out the Something You Should Know Podcast


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