Monday, October 24, 2011

Podcasts, Research and Marketing

by Clare Langley-Hawthorne
Ever since I purchased my iPhone and iPad a year and a bit ago, I have become a podcast junkie. I listen to them in the car, while cooking, even while walking the dog, if the mood so inspires me. I simply cannot imagine my life without listening to podcasts (of course, that might also be because Australian radio totally sucks!) After our recent blog discussions on 'discoverability' and the ebook revolution, I started thinking about all value of podcasts in terms of research, marketing and publicity for authors. Although I haven't (as yet) done my own podcasts, I can definitely see a role for them in the future for many authors.

Already I find podcasts are a great source of research and 'idea generation' - granted that is probably because, as a writer of historical fiction, I find the BBC History Magazine, BBC Witness, History of the World in 100 Objects and British Library podcasts so invaluable. I can be driving in my car when suddenly I hear a segment and I think - wow, file that away for a future novel!

I also hear about a good many books that I end up purchasing via podcasts. It might be a review on the New York Times Book Review podcast or on an NPR podcast or it might be through an author interview. Though it is just as hard to get these review/publicity opportunities for authors, I do think the wealth of podcasts out there widens the options for many authors seeking to publicize or discuss their novels.

Which leads me to the plethora of author options when it comes to podcasts. These include doing some yourself (either interviews or book readings) or appearing/speaking on other people's podcasts. There is even an option of publicizing author book tours this way ( Such as the Tattered Cover bookstore's authors on tour live podcast or Barnes and Noble's video podcasts). Apple even has its own "Meet the Author" podcast series and, for mystery writers the 'Behind the Black Mask' podcast series. I am sure this is just the tip of the podcast iceberg...and so, as I delve further into the podcast opportunities that abound, I'd like your feedback...
  • Have you incorporated podcasts into your marketing or promotional efforts, and if so how?
  • Which author/writer podcasts do you listen to?
  • Are there any podcasts that influence your book buying decisions?
  • How do you think authors might be able to use their podcasts to help increase their 'discoverability'? (Secretly I am hoping my sexy Australian accent will by ticket to my success:)!)
And finally, TKZers, what do you think? Maybe we should expand our repertoire into podcasting?


  1. Clare, good topic.

    My whole writing career started with podcasts actually. I had started a story back in 2006 but wasn't terribly sure it would be liked. Rather than just let it sit I had heard of a couple other authors who gave their novels away as podcasts via After podcasting my novel I learned that indeed people did like my work. After that I ended up doing several more of my own, as well as the short story series Fresh Kills .

    Podcasting alongside guys like Sci-Fi Horror writer Scott Sigler (who became an NYT Bestseller after podcasting several of his novels) and Seth Harwood (on the fast rise as a crime author) brought me to this writing life.

    My weekly radio show has more podcast listeners than live listeners.
    click the link and go to the "Jason Cline Show", he left a few months ago but they still haven't updated the website"

    On another note, you and the readers here as well, may also be interested in a BBC like experience to be found at My friend Nigel Killick has a wonderful array of UK, Canadian, and a few US podcasters & story tellers and essayists that make for hours of great listening pleasure. While there you might even want to check out the handful of stories by a bloke from up north titled "Our Man In Alaska". I know the gent pretty well... ;-)

  2. Thanks Basil - I knew you did audio stuff (esp. Fresh Kills:)! of course) but hadn't realize you were such a podcasting pro! I'll check out some of the links!

  3. Fun topic, Clare. I've participated in podcasts recorded by my publisher. One was a general discussion on thrillers & our upcoming releases led by James Rollins. And I've been interviewed by various people on BlogTalkRadio, including have a few chats with my editor on a few of my books. At the time, the fact that I was on the phone and the interviewer was not made a noticeable difference in the quality. But with Skype, I understand that would fix the voice issue.
    I don't know if these ever resulted in book sales but lots of people listened to them afterwards, per the stats & my publisher.

    There are things called Vlogs that are getting more popular on YA virtual book tours. Bloggers use them as a post, hence the name. These are just videos of an author talking to readers or someone interviewing the author off camera. Sometimes a blogger might do their book review on video for a change of pace.

  4. My comfort zone shrinks daily. I thought pods were people replacement devices.

  5. John, some days I think my whole life is like the invasion of the body snatchers! The Vlogs sound like an interesting idea - sort of you tube meets the blog.

  6. I don't listen to podcasts but I believe they can be useful for promotion. It would be fun if you could hear an author you admire talking about her book or answering interview questions. This could be offered as a clickable button on one's website. As for a Vlog, yikes! I always look horrible when I do Facetime with my kids.

  7. I really need to get on the podcasting bandwagon. I recently became hooked on them myself- a personal favorite is In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg of the BBC.

  8. I'll have to check that one out, Michelle! And yes, I need to get on the bandwagon too...Yet another one I am not yet on!

  9. I was just going to say that, Clare. How about turning blogs into podcast links on our websites? I think I'll give it a go. Thanks for the idea!!

  10. You're welcome Kathleen! Sounds like a good idea:)

  11. Clare - thanks for this article about podcasting. I guess the collective unconscious was at work...I'm actually launching into the podcastosphere myself. Just recorded my 2nd podcast and have the next ten mapped out.

    Basil - thank you for all the links. You just got a new listener. :)