Most writers are familiar with general promotional channels including advertising on sites, blog exchanges, social media marketing, and having your own author website. One that slides under their radar is getting interviewed on podcasts and talk radio. Shows like Keystroke Medium will always need new and interesting material to keep their listeners tuning in. If you’re comfortable having a conversation with a show host, you can get your name in front of a new audience.
You might be surprised at the number of available radio stations in your area. In Denver, Colorado, there are 50 FM radio stations and even more AM stations. If you’re wondering why bother with AM or you are surprised it still exists, note that it can sometimes be heard thousands of miles away by people who purchase more books on average, according to several studies. Old AM Radio can and should be on your radar when it’s time to find an interview spot. Online, check places like Wikipedia and RadioMap.US to see what’s out there in your area. RadioMap has links to the stations and even a way to listen to what’s on the air right now.
Traditional over the airwaves (OTA) radio shows are obviously still thriving, and some of them fill up their programming with a few talk shows. The subjects can range from bringing in musicians and artists to discuss their work to shows dedicated to literature. As an author, these are the types of shows you should focus on. Local radio stations are your best bet since they have a vested interest in promoting the local neighborhood connection. Additionally, there are thousands of licensed low-power radio stations that provide limited coverage.
You can combine two or more different subjects to make your appearance more appealing to show hosts. I was asked to appear on a traditional Denver FM radio show that focused on veterans. The host invited me to have an hour-long conversation about my service in the US Navy, which led into my ebook “Tales from the Fleet”, filled with essays, stories, and observations about my time in the military. The time flew by, and it gave me a good bump in sales.
I already had all of the individual stories and essays written and had previously published several of them over a ten year period. I combined all of them into a small ebook specifically because of my radio appearance, and the book sold well for several months. A little additional effort was required to take advantage of the marketing opportunity. The audience was already interested in a military topic and tuned in, and in turn they purchased my new book.
If you’re more of a techie and prefer podcasting and Internet-based radio stations, use Google to search for shows in your preferred genre. Ask other authors what podcasts they listen to. The science fiction crowd used to tune in to Patrick Hester’s SFF Signal on a weekly basis, which has carried over to his new independent podcast. I kept running into Patrick at most of the Denver conventions. We became friends, and eventually he ran out of top-tier writing talent and asked me to appear on his show. I was ecstatic, and we did an interview over Skype.
Another semi-retired Internet radio host asked me to be on one of his shows, The Funky Werepig. This one focused on dark fiction and lots of irreverent humor. The hour-long discussion ranged from writing horror to how to market underwear-scented candles. The Werepig, who is secretly author Greg Hall in disguise, had a small yet very dedicated audience. I spent a lot of time muting the microphone to stop laughing out loud over the live show.
A third example was an interview I did for “What Are You Afraid Of?”, a Ghost Host show with Fox and Phil.
Don’t forget Keystroke Medium!
There are three focused podcasting video shows here at Keystroke Medium. On Mondays there is Keystroke Medium LIVE!, on Thursdays we have The Writer’s Journey, and soon there will be a third podcast tentatively titled Keystroke Medium International, which will focus on authors, editors, and publishers located outside of the continental United States. Feel free to contact KSM if you’d be interested in being interviewed.
Tips for Interviews
If you decide to give talk radio or podcasting a shot, here are eleven tips to help you become the kind of guest every host wants to invite back.
- Be real, and be yourself. Don’t put up a fake persona unless it’s something that is well practiced and established. If an audience perceives you to be fake, what you say won’t matter.
- Be sensitive about political, religious, and sex topics. No matter which way you choose, you might alienate half of your listening (and purchasing) audience. This is not to say don’t speak your mind about controversial subjects. Just be cognizant about how others may react and make your own decision on whether or how to answer a controversial question.
- Familiarize yourself with the current news and publishing topics. Stay up to date on current events. Projecting yourself as knowledgeable will help to build your credibility with listeners.
- Tie-in a local angle if at all possible. Whether you are talking to a radio show out of St. Louis, Detroit, or Sacramento, be sure to tie the local area in to what your conversation is about, especially if one of your novels takes place in or near the city or state where your listening audience resides. By localizing the message as much as possible, you draw your listening audience in even further and keep them tuned in. If you talk about a particular pizza restaurant in Brooklyn, the folks in the area will know exactly where that place is. Localizing helps connect audience members to the authors.
- If you’re in a studio, turn your cell phone off or put it in airplane mode. If you’re going to be interviewed over the phone, a stable landline or Skype tends to be better than cells. Cell phones are particularly unreliable for on-air interviews, and you may get cut off in the middle of your conversation. If that happens, the talk radio hosts have to fill the time originally set aside for your interview. Work out a plan with the show host in case the connection drops.
- Use an index card or small notebook with your key talking points, and use a pen to jot down the current question. Cross them out when they’re covered. Try to always remember your main focus and don’t get too off-topic. Additionally, don’t forget to make sure you let people know how to reach you (social media, blog location, conventions you’ll be attending, etc.)
- Try to match your interview pace with that of the radio host. By adjusting to the host’s rhythm, you’ll develop a better camaraderie with her. The positive rapport between you and the host will keep regular listeners interested in your message.
- Limit numbers and statistics during your interview. If you have a particular statistic that you think applies very strongly to your message, use it and hammer it home. If you throw too many numbers at the audience, they will lose interest and tune out.
- Don’t make things up when you don’t know an answer! This is not a test of your intelligence, and not everyone is an expert on all things. If you aren’t familiar with an issue the host brings up or don’t know the answer to a question, don’t be afraid to admit it. Your credibility will go up when you are perceived by listeners as being honest.
- Try to give your interviews an intimate feel. Remember that radio is a one-on-one medium. Talk to the host in a personal and conversational manner, and if there are callers, do the same with them. This will help keep the audience interested and they’ll be more likely to relate to you.
- Remember to do a lot of promotion to your core audience so they can listen in. This is helpful for both you and the show. Cross promote as far in advance as you see fit.
Remember — your goal for every interview is to enlighten the listening audience about who you are and to interest them in your book to the point where they’d like to purchase a copy. Consider gifting and signing a copy of your latest book to the show hosts.