From audiobooks to readings to podcasts, audio has never been a hotter topic in publishing. But how do you use audio to market and sell books?
In search of the answers, Joanna is off to the Podcast Movement Conference in Orlando and Orna is preparing an advance summary of the audio sessions at Digital Book World.
The podcast will also focus on how you monetize audio.
Our advanced salon is brought to you by specialist sponsor IngramSpark, professional-grade publishing services at prices self-publishers can afford.
Here are some highlights:
Orna Ross, on Providing Audio Content
So it was really about giving people, in the same way as with a book, giving the consumer the content in a in the way that they wanted to consume it. You couldn’t ignore the fact that so many people were listening to podcasts, and so many people are listening to audiobooks and it would be foolish not to do so.
Joanna Penn, on Consuming Audio Content
And so I don’t read blogs anymore and probably haven’t for 18 months, and I listen to podcasts. That’s where I get most of my book recommendations. And then I listen to audiobooks. I was reflecting on this feeling. I will not find you if you are not available in audio.
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About the Hosts
Joanna Penn is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling thriller author, as well as writing non-fiction for authors. She is also a professional speaker and entrepreneur, voted as one of The Guardian UK Top 100 creative professionals 2013. She spent 13 years as a business IT consultant in large corporations across the globe before becoming a full-time author-entrepreneur in September 2011. For more information about Joanna, visit her website: http://thecreativepenn.com
Orna Ross launched the Alliance of Independent Authors at the London Book Fair in 2012. Her work for ALLi has seen her named as one of The Bookseller’s “100 top people in publishing”. She also publishes poetry, fiction and nonfiction, and is greatly excited by the democratising, empowering potential of author-publishing. For more information about Orna, visit her website: http://www.ornaross.com
Read the Transcript: How to Use Podcasting to Market and Sell Books
Joanna Penn: Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Alliance of Independent Authors Advanced Self Publishing Salon for September 2019. And I’m Joanna Penn, as ever I’m here with Orna Ross. Hi, Orna.
Orna Ross: Hi, Joanna and hello, everyone. Are we all in back to school mode here in the Northern Hemisphere?
Joanna Penn: Indeed. Now today’s show, we’re going to be talking about how to use podcasting to market and sell your books. I’ve recently come back from Podcast Movement in Orlando, really interesting. So we’ll be talking about a lot of things that will be useful to you. You don’t have to start a podcast. We have lots of tips for you coming up. But before we get into the news and any updates, we have an exciting new sponsor, don’t we, Orna? Tell us about that.
Orna Ross: Yes, indeed, We are very grateful to Ingram Spark, our news special sponsor of this Advanced Self Publishing Salon. So we’d like to welcome Ingram as our sponsor and thank them very much for their support of the show. A lot of you listening will know that Ingram is an award winning indie publishing platform and is particularly good for your print on demand books. But it gives you a way to share your book with over 39,000 bookstores and libraries worldwide. So if you haven’t looked at Ingram Spark, maybe now’s the time to have a look.
Joanna Penn: Yes, absolutely. And we both use IngramSpark for our books and I do hardback now as well as large print and paperbacks which is super exciting. So yeah, I love Ingram Spark. So let’s get into the news and the updates, so Orna, any updates from the Alliance we should know about?
Orna Ross : Well, it’s always a busy time of year for us, September, our self publishing conference comes around every September or October. This year it’s in September, mid September, we’re doing it in association with Digital Book World again, as we did last year. So we’re in preparation for that at the moment. And we are, we have a huge amount of conference content now. We are sifting through old the sessions and saving the evergreen and really valuable stuff. And we’re going to put that together into an all access pass, which ALLi members will have a free of charge. And we’re also setting up on Goodreads genre groups for our members and a way of it’s a bit of an experiment, but we want to see if there’s a way in which we can help our members to cross promote more and get to know each other better. And the authors who are in their genre groups and see, you know, what way we could use Goodreads to facilitate that.
And the other big news is all around poetry. We have started our Self Publishing Poetry Podcast with the wonderful Dalma from PublishDrive is the co host for that, and as part of that, we’re going to actually have some indie poetry. And so that falls into our topic of today very nicely because we’re asking indie poets to submit their poetry in audio. And so oh yeah and one more thing is we are also doing a rights roundtable project where we’re bringing a few chosen authors through the advice they need to perhaps try and sell their rights at London Book Fair next spring. So we’re working with a group of people on that Michael Anderle from 20 books to 50K. And literary agent Ethan Ehrenberg and a number of authors and yeah, we just want to see what really happens when people try to sell their rights as an indie, all the different ways we can approach that.
Joanna Penn: Fantastic.
Orna Ross: That’s ALLi, how are you?
Joanna Penn: Yes. So I had a bit of an unexpected book arrive this month, which was I hadn’t, like, sometimes you set your plans and then something happens. And someone said, “Did I want to be in a Nanowrimo bundle? Did I have a new book to go in it?” and I was like, “I don’t, but here’s one I could do.” So I’ve written a very short productivity book based on a mini course that I have. So I edited that from a transcript, which is always an interesting experience, because there’s a lot of rewriting when you go from, like, stuff like this to actually sentences that might make sense.
And also, I’m finding interestingly, I am writing with an ear for audiobooks as well, which is quite different. So this is going to be a product that started as an audio and we’ll finish in an audio via the medium of the written word, which is really interesting, maybe the first time I’ve done it completely from a transcript. I’ve also finished the Public Speaking for Authors, Creatives and Other Introverts.
And going, there were people that, you know, who, like, have a podcast in the aviation industry or beauty niche or all and lots of fiction, obviously, but just very, very different sets of podcasts and and there were no books in sight. No one was talking about books. It was quite different and that was refreshing to get out of the niche and realize what other people were doing in other forms of creativity. So just to encourage everyone to get out of the echo chamber occasionally.
Now, what is crazy for us at the moment and what’s for years, I wanted pre orders, right for ebooks and print books, we have that, but we don’t have pre orders for audio. So you essentially have to, and you just have to wait and see. So I’ve uploaded the files and I put my pre order for the other formats for the first of October so a month away in the hope that ACX and Findaway Voices will have a process where it goes through. Now it should only take three weeks to go through those processes. But at the moment indies don’t have a way to have an exact release date for audio. So I hope that that is something we get in the future.
And then of course, I’ve been at Podcast Movement, and we’ll talk about the details of some of the things I learned but just from a going to conferences perspective, it had all the pain and suffering of going to a conference. But it was really, it was very good to get out of just the author space. Sometimes just a reminder to everyone you know, there are people who create in different mediums.
Orna Ross: Absolutely. I really think we’ve got more in common with other creative entrepreneurs who want to get into producing books, audiobooks, podcasts, perhaps than we have with our trade published colleagues.
Joanna Penn: Yeah, definitely. And what about you on a personal level?
Orna Ross: Oh, yeah, my writing, well, it’s been audio books for me, and I can’t say it’s all gone swimmingly but I’ve had to do and redo but I now have seven chapbooks, three select poetry and a Poetry for Christmas audiobook already to go. So that’s great. I took a lot of doing and redoing and this seems to be a theme for me with audio, well, with everything. My process is editing, essentially and, you know, finding mistakes and fixing them up. So also thinking more about audio for the Indie Poetry Please part of our podcast I’ve been looking at how to record audio well, and I have a long post on that at ornaross.com/recordingaudio.
And I also, I wasn’t gonna mention this, but I decided, “Yeah, I probably should” because I did, it’s taken up my time now. So even though there’s no evidence and it will be a long time before there is probably, I took a writing retreat to return to fiction. So as listeners know, my year of nonfiction turned into more than two years of nonfiction but January should seem me return to fiction and I can’t wait.
So I’ve started making notes. I’m beginning the planning for a new novel, the third part of my Irish trilogy and went back to the roots for the research for that fantastic, complete escape, writing retreat all on my own. That was lovely.
Joanna Penn: That is fantastic. Okay, so we are now going to get into the theme. And I’m going to start with this and then, Orna, you can come in in a minute, but basically, we’re going to tackle two main questions. Firstly, why is podcasting increasingly important? And secondly, we’re going to talk about how can you take action with some of these things, because I realized that often on the Advanced show, we might talk about stuff that, you know, essentially can take a long time to implement and, you know, have taken both of us many years, you know, sometimes to actually do that. So we want to give you some things you can get started on right now as well as things to build for the future.
So, first of all, let’s just talk from my perspective. Orna, actually, I did want to ask Orna first before I come in. I want to, because I’ve been podcasting for over a decade. But you, Orna Ross, who has often said, “I am not very technical.” You have embraced podcasting with gusto. And now podcast every week with different hosts. I know how much work this is. So why do you think you’ve embraced podcasting so much? And any thoughts for people who feel they “Oh, I’m just not technical enough?”
Orna Ross: Yeah. Well, the reason we took up podcasting was as an experiment, the Ask ALLi podcast, it was essentially a way of, first of all, providing an answer a Q & A answer for our members, and then it kind of grew from that. And it’s the perfect medium for giving advice in small buckets, which is what is most useful for people.
So that’s kind of where it started, but as time went on it developed, as these things do, and it took a long time to get it into the right shape, I think and it’s only now really, we have worked with different presenters and have different themes and so on but now we’ve settled into you know, podcasts about publishing fiction, nonfiction, poetry and then we have this our member Q & A and this advanced salon and that just seems to really work well for our members.
And so really happy about that, as you so rightly say, technology is not my strong point and I want to bring that up not just to have a moan but to reassure other people who may feel that way about it because, you know, there are a lot of younger people who seem to find this stuff really easy. I have never found it easy and made so many mistakes at the beginning and people are really forgiving, I think, if they see that you’re doing your best and that you are trying to serve them and their needs.
They will stay with you through the technical hitches on the floor. I’m not saying, you know, do it on purpose, but I’m saying if you do it, it can feel painful sometimes to make mistakes so publicly, but it’s important to kind of get over yourself. And I think that’s one of the great things about podcasting is it does strengthen that resilience muscle that indie authors need to have.
Joanna Penn: But why, I guess, I’m trying to put my finger on, why did you decide to embrace podcasting instead of blogging? Or because you are written word first? What is it that has changed your behavior around marketing? Because you blogged on ornaross.com a long time.
Orna Ross: I still do. I mean, it isn’t instead of and I am definitely a written word person primarily. But the immediacy of audio I think is what’s most valuable about it. And also, when people see your face and hear your voice, they get a sense, a different sense of you than the sense they get in the written word, so that may be a disappointment for some people.
So you know, there are lots of people who don’t enjoy watching video of two talking heads and talking to each other but inexplicably there are people who do. And there are other people who like to get it as audio. So it was really about giving people, in the same way as with a book, giving the consumer the content in a in the way that they wanted to consume it. You couldn’t ignore the fact that so many people were listening to podcasts, and so many people are listening to audiobooks and it would be foolish not to do so.
So I guess that’s why, really, so I struggled on and now I actually love it. It’s a highlight of my week doing these, doing these podcasts I really enjoy our chats and and all the others as well. So it took time to get here, though. I was deeply uncomfortable at first.
Joanna Penn: Which is great because you bring up all of the things. So let’s get back into these things in a different layer. So to me that first, one of the last things you said there is to meet an audience where they are. And this is why podcasting is now becoming increasingly important. What, at Podcast Movement, they said 50% of the US has now listened to a podcast. It has, this year, 2019, it has reached a tipping point where the word, like, the word “podcast” even 18 months ago, wasn’t really there.
The other thing they said is talking about “show”, that you can listen to “my show.” It doesn’t even have to be the word podcast anymore. And what’s happening is people are consuming audio, say on music, Spotify, or, you know, other music, even YouTube, and then they’re listening to audio, spoken word audio, whether it’s fiction, nonfiction, whatever, audio books on the same platforms, so that’s also very interesting. So you’re right, behavior has changed. And that’s why it’s so important.
So just for my own self, I listen to podcasts, you know, a lot, like all the time, like me and my husband we listen to them around the house. You know, listen to them when cooking, doing chores, we walk, we don’t have a car so we walk a lot and you know, if we’re on our own we’ll listen to a podcast. And so I don’t read blogs anymore and probably haven’t for 18 months, and I listen to podcast that’s where I get most of my book recommendations. And then I listen to audio books and I was reflecting on this feeling like at the moment for me, I will not find you if you are not available in audio.
So I will not know even your written voice, unless I hear you on something. So either an interview with an author or if I hear about a book, it has to exist in audio for me to consider it which is real change in my behavior from where it was and I know increasingly people who feel this way, the commuter market is huge. The older market where phones are too small, they want to use voice.
We talked about this in the AI thing, but the consumption as well as the speaking. And also, younger people who want less screen time. Listening is increasingly a way that people are consuming content, whether that’s podcasting, audio books, whatever. So, has your reading behavior changed at all in that way?
Orna Ross: I don’t think I am, as you know, not to the degree that yours has, I certainly couldn’t say that podcasting or audio is my only discovery or even my major I’m still a written word person but like everybody else, I’m listening more to podcasts and I think it’s that’s what’s so interesting about the space the way it is dividing up and particularly if you write in a niche area, podcasting in that area, and we’ll be talking about discoverability in a minute, podcasting in that niche is quick way to be found within it, I think. It’s easier and to stand out than it is just with the written word. So for discoverability, I definitely think I’m finding people that I wouldn’t if I didn’t listen to podcast. This is kind of how I would describe it for myself.
Joanna Penn: Yeah, and even moreso, if I’m interested in a topic I will search my podcast app for that topic. So it’s not just that I am just looking, like, I would search Google for a question. I’ll search Apple podcast, which is the one I use for what I want to listen to. So that’s really different. And again, yeah, I might often be, I think I’m quite millennial in my behavior, even though I’m Gen X, but you know, that will, this type of behavior filters through, you know, the population as more people use it. And so let’s talk about discoverability, because this is the biggest shift that there’s been in SEO or search engine optimization in whatever 20 years or whatever it’s been, is that Google has just announced that they are indexing podcast episodes.
So essentially behind the scenes and then big Google computers, they are, they will pick up this mp3, even if we post a transcription, they’re still transcribing mp3 in the background. And then they’re using their transcription as a way to help people find episodes. And this is being rolled out across the world. So for Americans searching in English right now, and I think you have to use the word podcast right now. But what they’re going to do is change search so that you won’t have to say the word podcast, but they will still return audio in the search results. So this is massive. And it really means that if you want to be found, like for me, 90% of my businesses really is based on organic traffic. And I do some paid ads, but it’s tiny compared to my organic traffic based on content marketing.
So for people like me, I’m sure many people listening do have, you know, that type of thing where they’re found through word of mouth and content marketing. So this is a huge shift. What it does mean is you can be very strategic with it. So like you’ve said, if you want to start a podcast now, it’s a great time to think about the right headlines for your podcast, you know, using good search SEO terms, and being very specific about your topics, not just rambling off on tons and tons of different things, but being very focused, so that when people are searching for something you come up, so very interesting time in SEO. It is a big deal, right?
Orna Ross: It’s a huge big deal. And there are two aspects to it. There is the discoverability thing whereby, you know, it’s a natural sort of progression of audio marketing, podcasting will sell your audio books, but may also sell your print and your ebook. I think it’s, you know, a listener who is already in audio mode, it has been very difficult up to now to market audio books. And I think this and a couple of other developments like Bookbub’s Chirp and stuff means that audio is going to grow even. I mean, it’s growing really rapidly, and it’s going to grow even more. And this is just fantastic, I think for those of us who rely on our work to attract our followers, and content marketing, as you say, attracter marketing.
So it’s really good news and it’s a really good time to be coming in. And I think the thing too, about coming in is to get very, very, as you say, strategic or very specific about what it is you offer as an author, what you want your books to be doing and to get a podcast that is reflective of that and to use those search terms in a in a clever way.
And I think it’s a great time for all this because I think, you know, a lot of us have kind of learned this as we’ve gone along, made mistakes doing it, couldn’t understand it, but now are much clearer through through blogging and other forms of content marketing. So now can kind of get ahead in a sense, I think in this new world, because there are a lot of people podcasting, but there are not a lot of creators doing podcasting in a creative way. And story is key to audio. It’s really back to that primal very first sort of connection of listening to the story. And as writers, I think we can develop that in much more interesting ways than the average podcaster is doing.
Joanna Penn: Absolutely, I totally agree. And also, another really important thing that they talked about was the idea that the world is tired of fake news. And the world is tired of ads. We’ve talked about this before, this kind of ad overwhelm, fake news, different, you know, even things like where Instagram influencers, you know, have now become almost fake as well, in so many ways. Where advertising, you know, radio networks, TV shows, everyone’s doing their thing.
And what they very much emphasized and it was demonstrated by the amount of money coming into podcasting is they’re seeing podcasters as the next level of influencer, which is, when people listen to our voice, you give away so much in your voice, right? So people can, some people can see your face. But even if you’re listening to our voice, you can hear me smile, you can hear if we are angry at each other, you can hear the undercurrent, which this is why we podcast so well together because we’ve been friends a long time and we know each other, but people can tell that from the way we talk in our relationship and you can’t hide, people can hear minutiae in your voice. So this is why audio is becoming more important as well.
And that connection with the person talking, coming back to driving book sales, if someone does care about you in some way and feels a connection, then they are far more likely to check out your work. You know, so when Orna talks about, you know, her Irish books, the fact that when you speak you have an Irish accent immediately makes it more real to me.
Orna Ross: Yeah, absolutely. And I want to stress also that fiction writers often count themselves out of audio and and I think it’s really important to say that the fiction space is going to take off, there are already people doing interesting things in the fiction space. And I just, my 92 year old cousin is now podcasting his novel, and he has no title technical ability whatsoever. He’s working with a service to do it, but it’s his voice.
And again, it’s very, you know, personal kind of an autobiographical tale. And it’s working really well as a podcast. And he’s already garnering some followers, and he’s not bringing the book out until he’s finished the podcast, which I think is 25 episodes or something like that. And they’re already signing up for the pre order and dying for the book to be out. So, you know, if he can do it, I think it’s very straightforward, nothing particularly creative about us. It’s just him reading, really, he is a good performer, though.
Joanna Penn: He’s performing, he’s not reading, that is not reading.
Orna Ross: He’s performing his words. Yeah, he’s a raconteur, he’s able to kind of, you know, spin a yarn, as we say. And he does it really well. So, but it’s an example, I just wanted to say, he has no technical ability, he has an email service. So he’s able to use an audio service, it’s Audiobooks For The Arts, and they are kind of making his podcast for him. And it looks like it’s going to sell his book in audio and in, you know, in print and ebook too.
Joanna Penn: Well, I think this is really important because podcasting is also incredibly creative. And it is a new, it’s not new, it’s as old as the hills, telling a story with your voice is as old as the hills. But what I found at Podcast Movement is an incredibly active fiction, audio-first fiction group, you know, wonderful voice, talent, writers, directors coming together to create multi voice fiction productions, and essentially writing audio fiction for the podcast way of doing things. And this is important, I think. I understand why your friend is doing that.
But true podcast fiction, it seems is an episodic serialized story a bit like a TV show. So this is the difference between film, which is audiobooks and Evo Tara, who started audiobooks was I met him there. And he said, an audio book is like a film. And a podcast is like TV. So I think that’s how you need to think about it because the podcast is a serialized format. Whereas an audio book is end to end journey. So and remember, when you’re writing a series, you have the story arcs, story arc, story arc, you know, in these serialized ways, whereas the story arc for one film, or one audio book has kind of one overarching thing.
So you have to if you want to do an effective audio fiction project, you’re almost thinking more like a TV series. And this is exciting, you know, writing for audio drama, if you have a look at what is being produced now in audio for podcasts, not just for audio books, it’s very interesting. Audible is doing a lot of free podcasts as part of their audiobook thing. Now, they really are trying to capture people onto that platform. But that, I think, is super exciting.
And I feel the need to create more in audio format, which is fascinating. And of course, everything starts with the written word. But then the finished product, or the first product might be audio, and followed by you might then adapt your audio drama to a book format, which is completely different writing. So really interesting creative time we’re coming into.
Orna Ross: Yeah, I think that’s really interesting what you’re saying and, thinking about my cousin’s book, actually, it’s picaresque. It is episodic, it’s one kind of almost complete, short story after another, and which kind of builds to the end. So perhaps that’s why it is doing well. We have some questions here, about, you know, what kinds of ideas people might take up for podcasting fiction? So did you come across any interesting sort of examples while you were?
Joanna Penn: Well, it was, I mean, it so very, what I would suggest is that people just go and spend some time and download some podcasts, because it’s all free after all, and see what people are doing. I, you know, there’s things like, you know, one woman shows that, like, as if it was a, and again, also look at things like Netflix and Amazon Prime, it’s almost exactly the same type of thing but in audio.
There’s some very interesting, I’m listening to a podcast at the moment called Land of the Giants, which yes, is nonfiction. But it’s investigative journalism, where his thesis is kind of his article, but then he’s interspersed in it with quotes from interviews that he’s done. So it’s more and there’s obviously some of the famous ones, true crime. True crime is huge.
But with fiction, yeah, I mean, you can obviously do you audio plays, radio play style with multiple characters, you can do, you can do so many things. But the best thing to do with any of this is like when someone says, “Oh what genre is my book in?” well, then you say, “Go and read, like, find 10 books that are like yours and see what category they’re in.” You have to do this. Just go and listen, download a load of podcast episodes and see what you like. And then think, how can I create something that is like that? So that would be my tip there.
But shall we move into how you can take action? Because that’s probably the next bit. So let’s first start with the feeling of, the issue that many authors have with their voice. And Orna, I think you have a beautiful voice and you have this lovely accent. But you’ve said many times to me that you struggle with with your voice, too. And I have over the years too, so how do you tackle that need to get over yourself?
Orna Ross: Yeah, I covered this in that post. Because I think these are the behind the scenes things that we don’t talk enough about maybe, for me, it’s about doing it over and over and over again, so much that you, it kind of becomes almost part of you. So I’ve been recording mostly poetry. So learning it off by heart, by repeating it so often, and doing it in funny voices and all the rest of it. So when I come to actually stand there and record it, it’s almost part of me, and I’ve forgotten about the voice kind of thing. I will never like the sound of my own voice. I don’t think that matters. Some people don’t like the sound of my voice and some people do. And that’s the way it is with your books. That’s the way it is with everything. And it doesn’t matter. Some people always will like what you do, some people always won’t like what you do, the main thing is just to get on and do it, I think, so it really is just about saying, “I gotta get over myself and I’ve got to get over that fear.”
Joanna Penn: I think what’s lovely is we, in fiction, or nonfiction, even with our written word, we use the word voice, like this is written is, where’s your original voice, but it’s a metaphor, whereas now it’s actually true. It’s your voice. If people don’t like our voice, they’re not listening. And this is another, you know, if I start down into podcast, and I can’t stand the voice, I don’t listen, or you know, the same with audiobook.
So that’s basically the first thing is you have to get used to it. And the best way to get used to it is to speak out loud a lot, as Orna said you have to practice and practice or, like have an author friend and do this type of thing, like interview each other about your books and just get used to having a conversation. Because there’s and this would be the thing you do have to upscale. So whatever, if you’re going to get into this, you have to upscale, you have to practice you have to give it a go because you won’t get better otherwise.
So number two, is really to be a guest on other podcasts. Now this is actionable by anyone in any genre, whatever you write, there will be a podcast out there. And if there isn’t, then maybe you should start one. And we’ll come on to that in a minute. But essentially pitching podcasts that are in your niche. Now, this doesn’t have to be a fiction podcast if you’re a fiction writer.
So for example, I was interviewed on a Jungian psychology podcast about how I used to call Jung’s red book in my novel Stone of Fire. And so we talked about Carl Jung and the psychology behind fiction and stuff like that. So that was probably, well, that was an interesting side angle for my fiction. And that’s why I’ve started Books and Travel podcast, because it’s a side angle into my fiction. So that’s just one example. And so pitching, I would suggest you pitch the smallest possible podcast, first, newbie podcasts, your friends, anyone where you are not at risk of damaging anything. And then at least if you get things technically wrong, or you hate it, that’s just a practice run. So that would be a top tip.
And wait until you have done like 10 episodes of something before, you know, as a guest before you pitch a higher level podcast with more traffic, because that is going to be a harder pitch and you need some evidence that you can be a good guest. I’ve had guests on my show that I’ve just been appalling guests. And now I’m very careful to research how people are going to be on the show. So any tips there, Orna, for appearing on other people’s podcasts?
Orna Ross: Yeah, I think you’ve covered that one well. I think it’s also possible to practice with a small closed group, so that, you know, a trusted group of people. So not everything you do needs to be designed to go out to the big wide world. So for example, I do an audio and meditation with a small group of people each morning, with no attempt to take up beyond the shores. But doing this has definitely helped me to, you know, in my audio work, and I think if you do, the more you do in different kinds of ways, the more comfortable you become with it and comfortable enough is all we need, just that we’re kind of taking our risk from a place where we still feel safe, not, you know, giving ourselves such a fright that we do it once and so we never do this again.
So whatever works for you, you might even want, if you’re really shy, you might even want to do some private sessions with a friend where you practice together before you put it out there at all. But there is a lot to be said also for leaping in. So, you know, I, that’s what I did with podcasting over two years ago. And a lot of people kind of stayed with it through the ups and the downs and the ins and the outs. And, you know, when people see you being vulnerable, it doesn’t necessarily put them off you it can be, depending on the kind of person they are, it can actually deepen the connection. So, you know, I think it always comes back to that thing I know, I’m repeating myself of just kind of do it and drop it and then do the next thing and drop that and just keep on keeping on and that’s really good practice for us as authors when it comes to writing our work as well.
Joanna Penn: But I think if your pitch, I agree with all these things, if you’re starting your own show, you can let it all hang out. But if you’re pitching a podcaster to appear on their show, it’s their show. And you are at their, in their house-
Orna Ross: Absolutely, I didn’t mean onto those conditions. Sorry, I was moving on to-
Joanna Penn: You were moving on. Yeah, I’m still on getting on other people’s shows. I mean, I get pitched like five times a day to appear on The Creative Penn podcast. And it has to be something that I think my audience will find useful, that I will be interested in talking to that person. And it’s incredible still, how many times a day I get an email that says, “I’ve written a book, can I come on your podcast?” Like, you know, “I’ve written a book, here’s the title, can I come on your podcast?” with no knowledge of who the audience are. What will help me?
Like and the best pitches are, you know, I’ve been listening to your show for x, I loved this episode, I’ve written a book on this topic that I think would be useful to your audience in this way. These are the five talking points. If you’d like a copy of the book, here’s a downloadable, you know, a book funnel link or whatever. And I, you know, and I’m flexible on timing, like, that’s a good pitch. And if it fits, I’m all in. So that’s just some tips there. But getting on a-
Orna Ross : Sorry, just before you leave that one and just to say that that goes on forever. So if you want people to turn up to your podcast in time, you are going to have to go out and be on other podcasts. So pitching well, understanding your value, understanding which podcasts are aligned to you to you and your audio books, if you can get it all lined up as closely as possible so that your podcast picks up on something that is very close to your audio books and get your books into audio, if you can. I understand that it is a financial commitment, both the return on audio when it’s done well is and you might say that it’s probably not worth podcasting unless you have an audio book. Would you agree with that?
Joanna Penn: No.
Orna Ross: Okay.
Joanna Penn: But just before we move off the getting on other people’s podcasts, the blog tour that has been a staple of book marketing for so long, is now the podcast tour. So I would expect all these different companies to be popping up getting you on podcasts. And that’s already happening. But that will happen. So having a, okay, so having a podcast without a book, or you know, a book at all, or an audiobook.
So I started my podcast before I had anything. And I built an audience so when my first novel came out, two and a half years later, I had people who were ready to buy. So it was definitely, it’s a way to build an audience. It’s a way to attract an audience like your cousin, or whoever it was doing that book, you can podcast before the book is out. And what’s wonderful is is it’s evergreen. So if you’re on topic, and then you produce a book later, you’re going to sell more of that book.
So I would suggest that it’s actually quite a good way to, like many people would say “Start a blog,” like in the olden days, it was start a blog before your book is out to build an audience or an email list. Now it’s start a podcast before. So think about it that way, podcasting is kind of the new blogging. And that that will help but just on starting your own podcast, because this is a leap. So the first thing was much, I say much easier. But if you have control, and we are Indies, so we like control. If you have control, you get to learn things.
So, you know, but you and I both enjoy learning things and we always learn from each other and other guests. I love learning from my guests, I learned something every show. And also you get to talk about your books, you get to do a more personal segment about what you’re writing. So you always get to market, you also get to build credibility.
And also you get to talk to people you might not otherwise so, like, I don’t do any written guest posts. People ask me and I say “Sorry, I don’t do written guest posts.” I don’t do consulting. But I do a lot of podcast interviews, because it’s easy. It’s a good use of my time. It’s good marketing. And it’s much quicker than the written words. So what about you? What, what are some of the benefits of having your own podcast?
Orna Ross: I think, you know, we’ve covered a lot of the benefits. I’d like to pick up if you don’t mind, because we are running out of time. And we have a few people here in the comments who are a little bit unsure. And the question “Doesn’t developing a podcast take away from real fiction writing?” that’s from Regina, who is also, you know, concerned about the cost of an audio book and sorry that blogs no longer have the weight that they had. Do you think the podcasting needs to take away from inverted commas real fiction writing can become part of the process?
Joanna Penn: Yeah, yeah, I mean, it. I think, unless you understand… Well, I think there are two different times of day one is creative time and the other time is marketing time. And I’ve written 30 books in the last 10 years. And that’s been done in my creative time. My podcasting is done in my marketing time, and podcasting has been my primary marketing mechanism for 10 years. So everyone has to be marketing, people. We know this. So what do you choose to do? I personally do not like doing ads, paid ads, I love podcasting. What’s happened is it’s turned into something I never knew it could be, which is the most, I say the most, right now podcasting is so satisfying.
To me, it’s part of my creative body of work, its intellectual property asset. It’s relationships, it’s reaching people, it’s helping people. So when you say “real fiction writing”, in a way, I feel almost offended, because this is my creativity. And you can write for audio, as much as you can write for the written word. So let’s not think that this is just marketing, either. This is a form of creativity, but you can keep it completely separate and use it just for your marketing. But I want you guys to get the excitement of using a different medium to create. Yeah, that’s how I feel. How do you feel?
Orna Ross: I found reading my own fiction aloud, when I thought I might narrate my own fiction, I found that incredibly useful as an editing tool. And, you know, if I had the performance skills, or if I upskill, maybe performance wise, I don’t know if I ever will, I think a fantastic process would be to do your, you know, your first, your good first draft, and then try to do, narrate your own audiobook. And in the doing of that, you will see your errors screaming back at you in a way that you definitely don’t when you’re just sitting at the computer.
So I think some people can build this into their process, particularly if they’re going to write their own books, I took my poetry book and my audio, you know, the recording into my creative time, because I did feel that it was a sort of, creative itself. It is different to the actual text. And somebody also in the comments said, you know, that poetry is meant to be read aloud but fiction isn’t, and I’m not so sure that that’s true. I think stories, you know, stories have been told out loud by the voice since humanity, you sat around fire and a lot of paid poets are resisting hugely the audio movement in poetry.
So, I, you know, I think it’s worth looking at this and seeing, of course, it’s not for everybody, nothing we talk about is for everybody, it may not be for you. We’re not saying that it is. But what we are saying is, take a look at this. There is a lot happening here. And when there is this kind of excitement and growth, it’s a good time to step in.
So stepping in now, you will be a bit ahead of the curve. And you know, if you like it, if it can become part of your process, if you can come up with a creative podcast, if you can use podcasting in some way to supplement what you’re doing already. And or if you want to use it as a marketing tool, because you’re sick of typing words, and you’d actually find it easier to speak them, then it could make a lot of sense for you.
Joanna Penn: Yeah, and I think that’s a good note to end on. And I credit my podcast and now I have two podcasts with really the basis of my author business and my book sales. And I have the confidence if, you know, I lose everything on Amazon, because they’re changing the blooming algorithms again, then I can still sell books because I have a direct reach to a market, a global market. So my podcast has been downloaded into 218 countries, which is almost every country in the world, far more people have listened to my show than have read my books.
So this is a renaissance, as we’ve said many times, this is not, this is part of the maker movement. This is part of independent creation. I don’t see it as that different and this audio fiction group at Podcast Movement, they were awesome. I was kind of like, “Oh, I wish I was with them, you know, because they were so creative.” And so just making stuff in an audio way. So let’s free our minds and see, you know, what we can do with audio.
So we’re not going to talk about making audiobooks tonight. Because we don’t have time left, we’ve talked about audio books before ad will again, I’m sure but tonight was all about how podcasting can help you sell and market your book. So I hope you found that useful. So, Orna, any comments or things you want people to be looking at for the next month?
Orna Ross: Yeah, well, we’re going to be focusing on rights at ALLi over the next six months. And this has relevance for audio as well, because traditionally, audio books were a subsidiary right. And now indies have the ability to create their own. And so yeah, I think, thinking in terms of what is your body of work? And where might audio fit into what you consider to be the impact that you are trying to have in the world? That’s the kind of approach that we would encourage.
So yeah, the only thing I want to say to people, two things, is that we have our self-publishing conference coming up on the 14th and 15th of September. So if you haven’t registered for that already, if you’ve registered before you’re registered for this one, if you haven’t registered for that it’s at selfpublishingadviceconference.com. Yeah, it’s a long one.
And the other thing is just to remind you that the Advanced Self Publishing Salon was brought to you today by our special sponsor, Ingramspark.com. And next week, next time, we’ll be talking about licensing. We’re off to the licensing show, and this is where the rights come in. Yeah.
Joanna Penn: Fantastic. So we’ll look forward to seeing you next month. Happy writing. Happy publishing. We’ll see you next time.
Orna Ross: Bye
Joanna Penn: Bye.