Watching the vast changes in book marketing in the last few years, we’ve seen mainstream media retrench due to budget constraints and shifting audience attention. From my vantage point as a media relations expert specializing in targeted radio media tours for authors, I now see Internet radio as an increasingly influential medium for reaching buyers. Coupled with broadcast radio, which still allots some time to authors in selected pockets not dominated by politics, it has zoomed forward as a way to drive books and digital offerings.
When some people seem skeptical about that, I report on the blended broadcast/Internet radio media tour I did for my own most recent book, Practical Conscious Creation: Daily Techniques to Manifest Your Desires, drawing on my experience as a publicist for 35 years. I tracked sales via BookScan, using my Amazon.com Author Central gateway. It was great fun to see the direct correlation between radio shows and book sales, and to validate that Internet radio does have the power to sell.
Publishers and authors can turn to Internet radio for promotion when:
● They have a new book to launch or wish to revitalize older books or new editions.
● A title has been underexposed in the mainstream marketplace and needs to attract attention from a more targeted audience.
● They are seeking to build a following for an author or brand rather than for just one book.
Here’s why I believe it is such a great tool for selling books:
● Authors generally get up to an hour to deliver and share their messages. That’s plenty of time to offer valuable information, engage the audience, and sell.
● Authors encounter a tightly targeted audience already predisposed to want what they are marketing.
● The host may well have read the book and will even help sell it, consistently urging the audience to buy and offering reasons. That is rare in broadcast radio.
● Authors can introduce and sell everything in their funnels. They can drive people to teleseminars, coaching programs, and other offerings.
● Authors can drive opt-in with free enticements or other offers, and use the names they collect as a result to sell more books.
● The host may promote the interview via email and social networking, and may even post a link to the book’s sales page on the program’s Website or within announcement emails.
● The content is evergreen, so new listeners can always find it on the Website where it resides as a podcast after being aired.
● Internet bookers and hosts are not as picky as broadcast bookers and hosts when it comes to self-published content, or content from smaller independent publishers.
● Internet hosts are hungry for content and easy to book.
● They don’t care whether a book is new, as long as the content is of value to their listeners.
● You can saturate a specific market by booking a ton of interviews within a key subject segment.
● Although some shows, such as those on Blogtalk radio, still draw small numbers, most established hosts have built substantial audiences, and they also syndicate content to iTunes and other Web platforms. The most viable Internet radio shows capture an audience of at least 2,000, and some have huge aggregated audiences —live plus podcast plus iTunes plus one or more networks—in the hundreds of thousands or more.
● While selling books is a primary goal for authors, many care a lot about changing lives and influencing listeners. Building a large wave of Internet radio allows for that in a major way.
● Internet radio hosts are often also coaches and entrepreneurs. Some can offer more than just a media platform, by helping authors create speaking engagements in their cities, or offering revenue-generating teleseminar opportunities. Astute authors can see ways to engage these hosts beyond the initial interviews.
● Authors can build their own network of shows and return on a regular basis. An engaging guest will receive many return invitations.
Authors may often also receive invitations to appear on Internet shows or podcasts that charge for appearances, which is increasingly frequent, but still a small minority. It’s up to the author to determine how essential these might be to his or her marketing strategy.
Steps for Getting Started
To get booked on Internet radio for a book launch or relaunch, or for ongoing promotion of a title, you can, of course, hire a publicist or media relations specialist who will incorporate Internet radio in a wider publicity campaign.
But you can also get booked on your own. Here are my suggestions:
● Write a strong pitch letter that concisely explains your topic and the benefits it provides for the host’s listeners. Your letter should have a compelling subject line starting with “Guest for Your Show . . . ”
● If you, as author and/or publisher, have friends, associates, or affiliates who have radio shows or podcasts, reach out to them first with your pitch—by phone or in person or in writing.
● At events, connect with authors who have radio shows, grab their cards, and follow up.
● Find likely prospective hosts on BlogTalk, VoiceAmerica, and other networks that host shows in your genre by searching for your topic. Or Google “[your subject ] + radio show,” or just “[your subject] + radio.” Then be creative about finding each host’s contact information.
● If you have strictly limited time, focus on the larger Internet networks, check Alexa and other ratings to identify show Websites with the highest traffic, and wrap the larger Internet shows around a selection of broadcast shows.
● Keep in mind that many Internet hosts and producers book well in advance since they do only one to four shows a month (unlike broadcast producers, whose shows often air five days a week). This means you need to start early and realize that you may be booking a slot three months from now.
● If you haven’t heard back from your highest priority shows within a week, call and leave a concise version of your pitch letter as voicemail.
● Create and maintain an updated database of shows, for easy and effective outreach next time.
The ideal book campaign would encompass a variety of media. But on a tight budget, arranging for a mix of broadcast and Internet radio appearances (and perhaps also trying for coverage by a few selected publications and TV shows) is an excellent alternative.
Jackie Lapin’s company, Conscious Media Relations, creates Radio Media Tours for authors using her list of more than 2,000 Internet and broadcast radio hosts who seek interviews with leaders in health, spirituality, and personal development. The company also offers full book-marketing campaigns and à la carte services. To learn more: ConsciousMediaRelations.com.