The Overlooked Power of Author Radio Interviews
Every author, whether indie or traditional, faces the same challenge: how do I sell more books? While not every book can be a runaway bestseller, your chances of having a book that does well in the marketplace relies on good marketing. After all, a book unseen is a book unread. That’s why authors spend so much time and effort building social media accounts, creating a slick website, attending readings, organizing launch parties, making postcards, and so on. These are all great tactics, but there’s another effective strategy that rarely gets talked about, which is ironic because this tactic is all about talking. That’s right, we’re talking radio.
Radio, you say? Isn’t that the media equivalent of an abacus? Actually, there are many compelling reasons that radio marketing adds up. (Get it? Abacus . . . adds up . . . No? Okay, moving on.)
Loud and clear.
Far from being out-of-date, radio is one of the most effective and cost-effective offline demand generation tools you'll find. Why? Because people still listen to radio. On their daily commute. At their office. While making dinner. While painting the house.
How do we know that radio works? Here’s what multi-million selling author and book marketing coach David Chilton has to say about why writers should use radio:
People who listen to thoughtful radio programs are far more likely to be book buyers, too. Impress listeners on the radio, and they will check out your book. And if you've done a great job on your cover design, back cover copy, and summary blurbs, there's a great chance that interest will turn into sales.
Sometimes size doesn’t matter.
It’s fine to aim for Oprah’s Book Club, but let’s face it, getting into her club is like winning the lottery. Ten times in a row. A much better bet is to aim for local radio shows first—especially those that air during morning commute hours or over the dinner hours.
That said, and as David Chilton points out, the best radio program for your book isn’t necessarily the one with the most listeners. That might sound counterintuitive, but it’s true. Your local hard rock station probably isn’t a great place to discuss your book about orchids. Or perhaps it's the best place. How is a writer to know? Dave suggests walking into the best local bookstores and simply asking them, “Hey, which radio program sells the most books?” The answer may surprise you. It may not be the station with the greatest wattage, or even the most listeners, but the station with the kind of listeners who buy books and are accustomed to hearing about them.
Send a kit. Pick up the phone.
Once you’ve decided which radio station you’d like to appear on, get in touch. Find out who the show producer is (hint: check their website’s “contact us” page) and call them up. Or better still, send them a pitch kit that outlines who you are, what your book is about, and, most critically, why this book will appeal to their listeners.
Your pitch kit needn’t be too fancy, but it should prove why your appearance will be valuable and leave the producer hungry to know more. Pose questions that interest and entertain. Shock them, make them laugh, tell them something they’ve never heard before. Be sure to send a link to your website and, best of all, if you have a strong book video trailer, use it! If you can’t intrigue the radio show’s producer, they won’t believe you can intrigue their audience.
Oh, and if you decide to mail a pitch kit to the radio station, put it in a brightly coloured or patterned envelope to stand out from the crowd.
Some tips for a great interview.
You've probably heard that the secret to a good interview is to relax. And while this isn’t bad advice, it’s not easy to simply decide to be relaxed. Two techniques to try:
Forget you’re on the radio and focus on the interviewer instead and,
Make sure you’re prepared with soundbites and stories.
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that you’re there to tell stories. Bring your book to life in a way that people can relate to. The more involved and invested your listeners feel, the more they will want to read your book. What’s an aspect of your book that listeners can relate to? When people imagine themselves into the situation, the story becomes more visceral.
A word of caution: don’t say too much. If you tell listeners about all the best parts, you may inadvertently persuade them that they don’t need to buy the book. A better approach is to give listeners enough information to provoke their curiosity but not enough to satisfy it. As they say in showbiz: always leave them wanting more.
Finally, remember to plug your author website and where your book is available for purchase. Repeat it if you can.
Tips for getting more radio interviews.
When your interview draws to a close, say, “Thank you.” When you get home, send the station a card, thanking them for their time. Blog about it and include a link back to the radio station. Many—perhaps most—radio stations offer archives of recent interviews. Be shameless about promoting those links and thanking the good folks who were kind enough to host you. Also, be sure to email the show’s host and/or producer and ask for an endorsement. As you do more interviews, those endorsements should be added to your pitch kit. “Jenny was a fabulous guest. Our phone lines lit up with people wanting to know more about her fabulous book.” Those kinds of endorsements are music to a radio station’s ears.
Of course, radio is but one piece of the marketing puzzle. But it’s a piece that often gets overlooked—especially by writers publishing their first or second book. The good news is that competition for airtime is less than it once was, and the effect of a good radio interview can be greater than a year’s worth of social media posts. So when planning your book promotion strategy, make sure that radio is at the top of your strategy list.