Your book is written, it’s in production, and you are waiting for its release with bated breath. So, what do you do in the meantime? The short answer is . . . a lot. Writing your story is just the first of many steps in getting your book on the market and into the hands of readers. One important element to work on during this time is creating and building your author brand. Let’s touch on the main points of building your brand.
What is an author brand?
Your brand is how you represent yourself and how readers and industry professionals perceive you. It’s a mix of your personal and professional values, interests, and skills. Ultimately, your author brand is what people think of when they hear your name or see your book out in the wild.
How do I define my brand?
Step 1: Define Your Target Audience
Knowing who you are writing for will make it easier to know how to talk to your ideal readers. You want to present yourself in a way that connects to your readers, whether that is through the way your website is designed or how you talk to them. You want your readers to find you relatable, that way they want to follow you throughout your writing career.
Step 2: Define Your Style Guide
The main goal in having a style guide is to remain consistent. You want your reader to know that it is you when they visit your website or see a post on social media. Your style guide can be kept to a simple document, with a few key elements:
• Your color choices
• The fonts you use as headers and text
• How your logo (if you have one) can be used in different settings
I recommend looking up other style guides for examples as you create your own. Be sure to share your guide with anyone who will be helping you with marketing your brand and your books.
Step 3: Define Your Content
Again, consistency is key. Your content should be consistent with your brand. When a reader visits your website/blog/social media, you want them to know what to expect. People find comfort in the expected. If your posts are all over the place, your following will not stay for very long. Think about how many times you have followed a content creator for a specific reason and once they derail from the expectations you have of them, you click that unfollow button. No one wants that. Decide on what your voice is and stick to it. Post what you are passionate about, people can see right through you when you are just posting something simply because it is trendy. And when you do make a post that aligns with a current trend, make sure that it is clear that the post still aligns with your voice and brand.
Now that you have your author brand defined, it is time to project your brand across all platforms that you are using; this includes your social media, website, and emails. Are you doing anything with local or national press? Follow your branding guidelines. Are you going on a blog, vlog, or other media tour? Follow your branding guidelines. Just get out there and represent yourself the way you want people to perceive you. You got this! You know who you are and what you want to accomplish, so let’s make it happen!
Finally, there is one major note I want to share with you. You are going to evolve, as a person, as an author, and as a social media presence. During this time, your author brand will evolve, too. So don’t feel like what you pick now as your style and content is what you have to be for the rest of your writing career. Don’t stress while you are figuring out your brand, and if you need help developing your author brand, ask for it. If you are working with a publisher, chances are they will be more than happy to assist you through this process. A sound author brand can lead to a successful author, and that’s what we all want in the end.
by Michael Hardison
1.72 trillion. That’s how many photos are taken every year! That’s 4.7 billion a day! 95 million of those photos are posted to Instagram per day, and we share 1.3 billion photos daily on Instagram alone. Is your head spinning from these numbers? Because mine sure is! In this vast sea of imagery, how do we get the pictures you take noticed and shared? There is no golden answer for this, but with these tips I am about to share with you, you will be on the right path.
Tip 1: Wipe off your camera lens!
Chances are you are using a smartphone for your pictures and your phone has been handled quite a bit. It’s very easy to smudge your lens, and cleaning it before taking photos will guarantee that your photos will not appear foggy.
Tip 2: Remember the rule of thirds.
As Adobe puts it, “The rule of thirds is a composition guideline that places your subject in the left or right third of an image, leaving the other two thirds more open. While there are other forms of composition, the rule of thirds generally leads to compelling and well-composed shots.” Recognizing and utilizing this rule becomes easier the more photos you take, but until then, enable the "grid" on your smartphone camera to make this easier to follow.
Tip 3: Before you take your photos, tap on your subject.
This will let your camera know the focal point of your photo and ensure a sharper image.
Tip 4: Check your lighting.
If you are using natural lighting or a light ring, be sure to check where your shadows are being cast. If you are taking pictures outside, the “golden hour” is ideal. This is the hour before sunset, and you can get some pretty great pictures using this natural light source.
Tip 5: Take multiple photos from different angles.
By doing this you will give yourself different options when selecting your photo to post. Straight on images don’t always work and can lack character depending on the subject. Be adventurous with this, if it doesn’t work out, just delete it.
Tip 6: Negative space is a good thing.
According to Adobe, “Negative space photography is related to minimalist photography. It emphasizes not just the subject, but the empty space around the subject. The viewer's eyes may be drawn to a central figure, but they can't help noticing the large section of emptiness that surrounds and defines that figure.”
One mistake people commonly make is to zoom in on their subject so it takes up most of the space in the photo. But this can be jarring and unappealing to the viewer. By using negative space, you call more attention to the subject of your photo.
With these tips you will be off to a great start. Now let your creativity free and have fun! Happy photo-shooting!
written by Michael Hardison
Join Christina in conversation with Becky Robinson, founder of Weaving Influence, host of the Book Marketing Action Podcast, and author of Reach: Creating the Biggest Possible Audience for Your Message, Book, or Cause.
Christina Kann 00:06
Welcome to How Do I Book? by Wildling Press. We like to chat about book writing, book publishing, book marketing, and, of course, book reading. We're trying to help new and experienced authors develop their craft, widen their perspectives, and learn to get a little wild every once in a while. I'm Christina Kann, and I'm extremely excited to be joined today by Becky Robinson from over at Weaving Influence! Becky, say hello to the listeners.
Becky Robinson 00:33
Hi, everybody, I'm so happy to be here with you.
Christina Kann 00:36
I'm really happy to have you here. Tell everyone a little bit about what you do over at Weaving Influence and your podcast.
Becky Robinson 00:45
I would love to. Weaving Influence is a full-service comprehensive digital marketing agency, and we specialize in serving authors and thought leaders. I founded Weaving Influence in 2012, and we have primarily served nonfiction business book authors. However, in recent years, we've had the opportunity to support some fiction authors. What we've found is that many of the approaches we use in nonfiction translate well to fiction. In the meantime, we've been learning about the differences in how to market fiction as well. My podcast is the Book Marketing Action Podcast. We are just wrapping up our third season, and we primarily focus on actions authors can take immediately to expand the reach of their books in the world. I'm also an author myself. My first book, Reach: Create the Biggest Possible Audience for Your Message, Book, or Cause launched in April of 2022. I was so glad to be able to bring together the thinking and framework I use in helping authors figure out how to reach more readers with their books. I was really happy to be able to put that all into writing, into something people could access easily.
Christina Kann 01:55
I'm also incredibly happy you were able to put that into writing, because it's such a valuable resource. You were kind enough to send me a copy of your book, Reach. It really has so much excellent information for people who are engaging in the digital marketing arena, so definitely check it out. I'll put a link in our episode notes. If you are trying to build an online audience and engage in an authentic way, this is a great, great, great place to start getting in the right mindset.
Becky Robinson 02:27
And if you don't mind me mentioning, Christina, we also have started the Reach More Readers Workshop, which is a live and interactive workshop that authors can join. It's 10 hours of training across two days. While the content is similar to what's in the book, there's the chance to interact with other authors. One of the things I'm most proud of is the way the groups who participate in our workshop are really an inclusive community where anyone is welcome. People can really meet and connect with others who might want to support their work. In those workshops, we have had fiction, nonfiction, memoir, self-help, business -- all different genres of people, but they all share this common goal of making a difference in the world. When we get together for the workshops virtually, it's the most beautiful chance to connect. And I love doing it.
Christina Kann 03:18
That is so amazing. We're here to talk today about one really specific facet of your book. Your book addresses your four commitments, the four components you break digital marketing into. I love that. Do you mind telling the listeners briefly -- because, obviously, they need to buy your book -- what those components are?
Becky Robinson 03:42
As I was crafting the book, what I started to notice as I interviewed different authors and thought leaders about what reach meant to them or how they achieved reach for their work, hat kind of surfaced were these. At first, I called them "four factors." They were things that every author or thought leader I talked to seem to have in common. The amazing thing is, when we got to the point of editing the book, my editor said, "Well, 'factors' is super boring." So he threw out a whole bunch of different words that I could use instead. "Commitments" is really special and powerful to me, because if you want to do something big in the world, it's not something you can take lightly. It does require a commitment; it requires focus. I love that we ended up calling them the four commitments in the book, and I'm happy to share them briefly.
The first commitment is value. If you want to build an online presence, the only way you can attract an audience is if you have something they perceive to be a value. If you're a fiction author, maybe you're telling a particular kind of story; the value you're providing is entertainment, art, craft. If you're nonfiction, you're providing value around a topic, and your audience has a felt need in that area. Every author who wants to build reach really has to start with getting clear about the value they have to offer and who the audience is who's going to find that valuable. Value is determined by the person receiving the value. So that's the first commitment:" value.
The second commitment is consistency. It's not enough to just create a thing of value. What you want to do is consistently show up with value. In the book I talk about how this doesn't mean you have to blog daily; it doesn't mean you have to release a podcast weekly; it doesn't even mean you need to tweet X times per day. The idea is that you need to consistently show up with value. I always coach authors to figure out what sustainable. Some of us can really turn out content every day. Others have a busy day job, and that might not be possible. But what you want is to be able to create an expectation that you will keep showing up so your audience knows they can count on you and trust you. So consistency is the second one.
The third commitment is generosity. This one is sometimes unexpected. When I talk about generosity with your online presence, it really has to do with being willing to share value freely with others. Sometimes that value is just your authentic self. You can be generous by showing up as your authentic self, sharing vulnerably about your experiences or perceptions, sharing what you know about the craft of writing. Fiction authors especially seem to be able to gather an online community by talking about how they do what they do as a fiction writer. Readers are interested in that. They want to hear how you do what you do. They want the behind the scenes; they want to know what's in the head of that fiction author as they're crafting their characters are telling their story. So whatever that value is that you have to offer, having kind of open hands, if you want to think about generosity that way. It doesn't necessarily mean you're giving away products and services for free. But it does mean you're giving energy, encouragement, and inspiration, as you show up consistently in online spaces.
The final one is longevity. Honestly, I think this is the one that has the biggest potential upside, because people get excited to start things. People are not necessarily always as excited to finish things.
Christina Kann 07:47
So true. My husband loves to start a video game and never ever, ever finish it.
Becky Robinson 07:53
That' s funny. I want to reference Dorie Clark, who's a thought leader in this space. She wrote a book called The Long Game, and in it, she talks about the fact that growing an online presence that's worthwhile does take an extreme amount of time. She notes that you have to consistently show up with value in online spaces sometimes for an entire year before you see any results. If you think about that, from the perspective of someone who writes a book, and then just gets online for the first time, a lot of times, if it's going to take a whole year to get results, you're gonna give up before you even see the results. Dorie Clark also says that to be recognized as an expert online, you have to consistently share value online for five years. So that long-term view, that long-game view, is critically important. Just to quote Dory one more time -- I'm a super fan, obviously -- the reason why some people become successful and others do not is because some people keep going and other people just give up. If you think about Wildling Press -- you're new on the scene -- when you're still here, Christina, in 10 years, you're likely to be successful, because other people who started publishing companies when you did will have quit by then.
Christina Kann 09:11
I love all of that. Thank you so much for sharing. For more detailed explanations and investigations into these four commitments, definitely check out Reach. I'm not gonna stop plugging it because it's an awesome book. Today we're here to talk about one specific commitment that really struck me, and I guess it struck you as well, because you said it was the most unexpected commitment: generosity. I think this is one that authors and other people who are marketing themselves online tend to skip over because it's not exactly intuitive. If you're trying to earn money writing, it's not exactly intuitive to give out a lot of stuff for free. Can you expand a little bit about the role of generosity in digital marketing?
Becky Robinson 09:55
Well, it's a great way to say it. I love that. So before getting ready to get generous, before creating their generosity plan for how to freely give value online, does an author need to shift their mentality at all? Is there anything that an author can do to get ready for that? If they have gotten online being like, "I'm here to sell," but now they're realizing they need to make a little bit of a change, how can they prepare for that?
Becky Robinson 09:55
I think that one of the reasons why generosity is so important is because it really helps us rise above the noise. There is so much noise. Especially if you show up and you have something to sell... We get sold to constantly. I get pitches in my email multiple times per day by people who want to sell me something. But I think it's so much more rare to have someone show up with an offer of something for free. So whether it's a free event where you're sharing something that you know, or a free resource that you're making available, by offering something of value to someone who needs it, you can make that more immediate relational connection. And that relational connection over time is what sets up the possibility of that person becoming someone who might share your work with others, of that person becoming someone who might continue to be in relationship with you. Generosity is the key that unlocks that relational connection door. And I've never said it this way before!
Becky Robinson 11:24
That's a good question, and it can be challenging. I'm going to roll back way too many years, more than a decade, to when I first began this journey. One of the first things I did is I wrote these ebooks. They were on different topics related to digital marketing. I'll admit, Christina, when I created them, I thought it was going to sell them. I thought I was going to actually sell them for hundreds of dollars, because they were so valuable. We set up a landing page to sell these playbooks, and very quickly, what I realized is I didn't have anyone to sell them to. One of the phrases I like to repeat to myself is before you want to extract value, you have to add value. And so the shift that that required for me is this mindset shift of "I'm gonna focus on serving instead of selling." When you focus on serving, which is an act of generosity, again, it's the key that unlocks that relational door. It also helps to cement who you are as a brand, so people can begin to know you for the value you want to bring.
Becky Robinson 12:32
I want to pause for just a minute though, Christina, because I know there might be some people listening for whom selling is not optional. If you are in a situation in which to survive, you need to sell, this advice might seem like I'm tone deaf. I want to just recognize that the ability to be generous, or the ability to serve before you sell, does in some ways require that you have a certain level of financial freedom, or that you have some other means of making money that isn't through your online presence. I'm definitely speaking from a place of privilege. I do have a business that's financially viable that frees me up to be generous. For those of you out there who may be just getting started as an author or really trying to navigate how you're going to make a living from this, it's hard to make a living from writing. I've heard people from marginalized identities talking about, "Well, it's all well and good to talk about giving things away, but I just don't have that margin." I just didn't want to go too far before I acknowledged that this content could be received in a lot of different ways.
Christina Kann 13:46
Of course. I think it's important what you said. You can give generously without that being your main thing. You and I both run businesses, but we also host podcasts that are free information for whoever needs that information. It's about balancing the things you need to do to make money to survive with the ways you can engage with your audience. It's okay if sometimes you have more spoons to give that generosity than other times.
Becky Robinson 14:15
Certainly so. It's generosity of spirit as well. Now, again, that takes time. It takes time to pause to encourage someone else or amplify someone else. But we all have something we can give.
Christina Kann 14:30
Absolutely. What kind of spaces online are good for being generous and sharing value? How are the different online spaces good to share different kinds of value?
Becky Robinson 14:44
You need to know your audience and where they're showing up to figure out what type of content would be most valuable to generously share with them. I think any online space is a place where you can be generous. I don't know necessarily that there's one particular channel that's easier than another. But because your audience is primarily people who are authors, one of the things I want to highlight is that a way to grow your network through generosity before you have a book come out is to find ways to be helpful to other authors. For example, if you're writing fiction in a particular genre, you could choose to participate in a book launch, or to help an author with their release, who's in a similar genre. That helps to build a relational connection. Not only that, but it also opens up an opportunity for you to learn from someone who's ahead of you on the journey.
Becky Robinson 15:37
I have an author who launched a book earlier this week, and I was digging into some of our older correspondence. And what I discovered is that before he was my client, he was promoting other authors by being on the launch team. For those of you who might not know, a launch team is also sometimes called the street team, and a lot of authors will gather a group of people who will read a book in advance of their publication date so they can share Amazon reviews and do social sharing. What I'm recommending is if you're an author who's listening, or an aspiring author who's listening, one of the ways you could practice generosity is through other authors who are in your same genre or niche so you can build those relationships -- not only because you want something in return when your book comes out, but also for just the joy of supporting someone else and to learn from what they're doing.
Christina Kann 16:28
I think this next question ties back a little bit into what you were saying earlier about knowing your audience. What kind of materials are good for sharing generously? We mentioned that time and energy are also things you can share generously. But if someone is interested in getting a little bit more concrete, what kinds of things are good for sharing?
Becky Robinson 16:51
I'm happy to give a few ideas here. You mentioned the whole idea of a podcast. Podcasts are typically free. Obviously, there are models like Patreon, where creators will create content beyond the free content. That's a subscription model. That is that is an approach that works for some people.
Becky Robinson 17:10
I referenced that playbooks that I wrote that I thought it was going to sell for hundreds of dollars. The shift that I had to make was, "Instead of making those playbooks for money, what if I gave them away for free?" which I actually ended up doing. The value of that was it drew an audience. Anyone who downloaded those playbooks for free could see my areas of expertise, etc. Any kind of content that you might create, you have that choice between, am I going to make this free, or will there be a cost associated with it?
Becky Robinson 17:44
If you think about all the possibilities with content... You could do free videos. You could do free audio. You could do free written articles and ebooks. You could do free assessments. You could do free interactive events, if you wanted to. I have an author I'm working with right now who created this series called "Where Fact Meets Fiction." She is interviewing other historical fiction authors about their craft and about how they researched to write their fiction. It's very cool. It's free conversations; people can join them live. There are two benefits to that, and I'll tell you what they are. One of the benefits is all the readers who get that kind of inside view of how the authors are thinking about their writing are also getting kind of that chance to get to meet their favorite authors. So that's one value to the readers. There's also the value of the relational network that my client who's an author is forming with each of those authors. So if you're an author who's really been solo in your craft, and you decide you're going to do a series of interactive webinars, every single guest you have is another person that you're building that connection with. Not only will you have the opportunity to support their journey as an author, but they also may pour into yours.
Christina Kann 19:00
Mutual support is such an important tenant of this like generosity mindset. In that same vein, how can authors engage with others and support others who are trying to share their value?
Becky Robinson 19:17
There's always the idea of amplifying other people's work. I'll give you an example. I have a friend who's also in the digital marketing space; she runs a company that produces audiobooks, and I consistently refer business to her. In fact, her company helped me with the production of my audiobook. Well, she was out there generously today sharing a little audio clip from my book and talking about me and the idea of generosity, which was beautiful to see. Anytime you can take someone else's content and amplify it, that fuels that mutual supportiveness. That's probably one of the best ways to be generous, especially when a fellow author is publishing their book on their launch day, in their launch week. That's the very perfect time to be able to amplify someone else. The other thing is buying the books of those people you admire. As often as I can, when I have a client who has a book launching or another author friend who's having a book launch -- even if I don't even expect to read it, I'm gonna buy it. If they were in my hometown and I had the chance to take them out for lunch, you better believe I'm gonna try to fight them for the check and treat them to lunch. If I would fight them for the check and treat them for lunch, I'm gonna go buy their book.
Christina Kann 20:37
Absolutely. Last question for you, Becky. What's one thing authors can do today to start being more generous in online spaces?
Becky Robinson 20:47
I love that question. I'm going to go back to some of the tips I had before. One thing I'd like to encourage everyone who's listening today is just think for a minute about the authors you admire, and whoever the first one is who pops into your head, if you've read their book, go leave them an Amazon review. If you haven't read their book, find some other way to reach out and amplify something they're doing: share a post of theirs on Instagram to your own story and shout them out. If you're a more of a LinkedIn person, find a post they've made on LinkedIn and share it to your audience. Be generous with your praise by giving a very specific reason why you admire what they're doing in the world.
Christina Kann 21:28
If you're already on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, doing your authorly social media upkeep, it is really so easy to share something to your Instagram story or to retweet something. It's small for you, but for the person you're doing it to uplift, it can feel so big.
Becky Robinson 21:50
Certainly. We all want to be seen and valued for the contribution we're making.
Christina Kann 21:55
Yeah. Well, Becky, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for being generous with your time and energy to come on How Do I Book?
Becky Robinson 22:03
Thank you for having me. For those who are listening today, be sure to come over to the Book Marketing Action Podcast, because I will be interviewing Christina very soon. I'm not sure how these episodes will be launched, but if you're listening to this episode, definitely go look for Christina's interview on the Book Marketing Action Podcast.
Christina Kann 22:22
I recommend listening to the whole backlog of episodes because y'all's podcast was actually the podcast that got me into marketing podcasts. When I first started listening to podcasts, I did a lot of comedy and fiction, because that's just more my vibe. But once I started listening to your podcast, I was like, "Oh, there's a lot of value out here in podcast land." That's another part of it: all of us producers and marketers are sharing information with each other in these ways as well. I just think that's so awesome and special.
Becky Robinson 22:57
Very cool. I'm so glad. Hopefully people will listen to episode 100, where I share my top 10 lessons of 10 years of marketing books and 100 podcast episodes.
Christina Kann 23:06
Oh my god, I'm so excited for that.
Becky Robinson 23:08
I had fun recording it. It was really a lot of fun. It was just me in a room recording, but one of the things it cemented for me is how far I've come. If I'm honest, when I started the podcast, the early episodes I was recording solo -- we didn't have any guests at the beginning, Christina -- and I hated it. I thought I would want to quit. And now, 100 episodes in, it's so much fun. I can start recording and I don't blink.
Christina Kann 23:37
Yes, I love that for you. I love that so much. Besides your podcast, where can people find you on the internet?
Becky Robinson 23:44
There are two main places to find me. If you're interested in finding out about my company, Weaving Influence, you can go to weavinginfluence.com. If you're interested in me personally and my book and my journey as an entrepreneur, you can go to beckyrobinson.com. And then on all the social media platforms except Tik Tok, @beckyrbnsn.
Christina Kann 24:13
That's linked below, as well as a link to purchase Reach, which I do recommend for everyone who's getting started on their book marketing plan. This is a great place to start sourcing ideas.
Becky Robinson 24:27
One generous offer for your listeners, Christina. If there's anyone listening and you'd like to read my book, and you can't afford to buy it for some reason, maybe you're facing some hard times -- go ahead and email me. I'm firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to get a copy of my book in the mail to you.
Christina Kann 24:43
Wow, that's so generous! That's so on-theme of you. Love that so much. I so appreciate all that you do in the community. You really are an example of generosity. I really appreciate you coming on and sharing your expertise about generosity and digital marketing.
Becky Robinson 25:01
Thanks, Christina can't wait to talk again.
Christina Kann 25:05
And that's how you book.
Follow Becky Robinson on socials:
Until late 2007, hashtags were just one of the buttons you never used on your phone. Then people started to use them to categorize social media posts, and a new way of reaching your target audience was born.
Social media is completely saturated with influencers and people vying for attention. It can be hard to stand out! That’s where hashtags come into play. Hashtags help people organize how they browse through social media apps and indicate to viewers what kind of post they’re looking at.
So, what makes for a great hashtag? Here are some tips that can help you reach your audience and hopefully up for interaction and followers . . . if the dreaded algorithm doesn’t play against you.
Keep it simple
Pick hashtags that are short and straightforward. If you’re a Tumblr user, you might be familiar with their rambling hashtags that one should read as part of the post (like #justkidding #whywouldtheywriteitlikethis #helpimtrappedinmybroomcloset, etc.). Other social platforms like Twitter and Instagram do not use hashtags like this. Instead, you’ll want to keep the hashtags simple.
Keep it relevant
Your hashtags should be true to the post you are making. For example, don’t use #PrideMonth just because you’re making a post in June, which is Pride Month. That post will need to be related to queer culture or a Pride Month event for that hashtag to be relevant.
Do your research
Look up hashtags before you use them. If the hashtag has been used a lot, your post may get lost in the mix of everyone else who is using it. An example of an overused hashtag is #outfitoftheday, often abbreviated as #ootd. Fashion influencers may still use this hashtag, but they don’t expect a huge impact from this hashtag alone.
Use trending hashtags
A hashtag’s popularity will come and go. But how do you know which ones are currently hot? Thankfully, there are sites out there that will do the work for you, like hashtags.org or best-hashtags.com. At hashtags.org, you can enter a hashtag and see how it has been trending. At best-hashtags.com, you can look up a hashtag’s popularity, and you can even cut and paste hashtags from that site into your post. Just remember to edit and add to this list and use only the ones that are relevant to you.
Limit your hashtags
Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags per post. If you exceed 30 hashtags, Instagram will post your photo without any text or hashtags. You’ll have to retype your whole caption, which sucks! (Trust us, we’ve been there.) On Twitter, you only want to use one or two hashtags that can be worked organically into the post, so make sure they are relevant. On TikTok, you’ll want to use only 4-5 hashtags.
We’ll go into deep dives later about how to use hashtags uniquely on each of these platforms, but this is a great starting point!
With these tips you will be on the right path to reaching your target audience. So, get out there and engage, and before you know it, you will be reaching your audience, and your following will grow!
In this episode of How Do I Book?, host Christina Kann sits down with Anne Claessen to chat about how authors can pitch to guest on podcasts to spread their networks and sell their books! Anne Claessen is the CEO of Podcast Babes podcast management agency and host of The Podcast Babes podcast.
Please note that this transcript has been edited for clarity and concision.
Christina Kann 00:27
Welcome to How Do I Book? by Wildling Press. We like to chat about book writing, book publishing, book marketing, and, of course, book reading. We're trying to help new and experienced authors develop their craft, widen their perspectives, and learn to get a little wild every once in a while.
I'm Christina Kann, and I'm extremely excited to be joined today by our first guest ever, Anne Claessen, host of The Podcast Babes. Welcome, Anne!
Anne Claessen 00:55
Thank you so much, Christina. It's so good to be here.
Christina Kann 00:58
Before we get started, real quick, what are your pronouns?
Anne Claessen 01:02
Christina Kann 01:02
Awesome. Thank you so much, and thank you for being here. I've been a longtime listener of The Podcast Babes. I've learned so much from your show. I'm hoping that you can share a little bit with our listeners today as well.
Anne Claessen 01:14
I hope so. No pressure, right?
Christina Kann 01:17
Do you want to tell our listeners a little bit about The Podcast Babes and your other work?
Anne Claessen 01:21
Yeah, absolutely. The Podcast Babes is a podcast about podcasting. It is also a podcast management agency. I'm gonna say "podcast" like a million times in this episode.
Christina Kann 01:37
I've been listening to The Podcast Babes for a long time, and it has taught me so much about podcasting. I love how much you share parts of your own journey with your listeners. It's a wonderful podcast for anyone out there who's interested in learning more about podcasting.
Anne Claessen 01:53
Christina Kann 01:54
Thank you for sharing all of your wonderful work. Today, I want to talk specifically about authors. This is a book podcast; a lot of our listeners are authors. I want to talk about how authors can use podcasting to promote their books and make connections.
Anne Claessen 02:11
Christina Kann 02:12
First things first: why might an author want to guest on someone else's podcast?
Anne Claessen 02:18
I'm a little bit biased, but I think podcasts are awesome.
Christina Kann 02:21
Anne Claessen 02:22
The cool thing about podcasts is they are long form content. They are there every week -- or biweekly, or monthly or whatever -- but listeners of podcasts come back to that podcast over and over again for more content. They get to know the hosts pretty well. Christina, when we hopped on this call, you said, "Whoa, it's so weird to see you now because I always listen to your voice." As a listener, you get this feeling: "I know this person, and I trust this person." The cool thing is when you're guesting on someone's podcast, and they already have a relationship with the listener, you can really easily borrow this warm audience that is already there.
As the guest, that is a pretty sweet deal. You just rock out for the interview; you're usually there for maybe 30 to 60 minutes for most interviews. Then you just go about your day, and the podcaster does all the editing and all the backend work for you. It is definitely appreciated when you help share the episode -- but that is it. Right? So you can really easily borrow someone's warm audience, and I think that makes guesting on podcasts so cool. Also, it's long form content, so you can tell people a lot about your book.
Christina Kann 03:45
That's a really great point. It's a bit of a network exchange, you know? You get to go talk about yourself and your subject matter to their audience, and then in exchange, you plug their show to your audience. So it works out for everybody.
Anne Claessen 04:01
Christina Kann 04:02
Where should an author start? If they're interested in guessing on podcasts -- maybe they don't listen to a ton of podcasts, maybe they're not sure exactly what to do -- how can they find the right kinds of podcasts? Where do they begin?
Anne Claessen 04:14
I think question number one is: where does your audience hang out? The people that you want to read your book, where are they? Do they even listen to podcasts? Maybe not! That's probably not a good fit. But a lot of people nowadays do listen to podcasts. Knowing your potential reader very very well is so important in marketing in general, of course, but also when you're looking for podcasts to guest on. That actually already answers your question of which podcasts to pitch to. That's literally it. Now, I will add that usually you want to provide value to listeners. It may make sense if what you talk about aligns with the rest of the podcast. If it's a podcast about topic A and you talk about topic B, it can work, but it's easier if the whole podcast is about what you also talk about in your book. So know your audience well, or the potential audience that you want to reach, and then see how you can provide value. Value first.
Christina Kann 05:27
Yeah, absolutely. So maybe listen to some podcasts that are near your subject matter, and figure out, "Would the things I have to say fit in with what I'm already hearing?"
Anne Claessen 05:41
Yeah, absolutely. You want it to make it a win win for everyone: for the listener, for the podcaster, for yourself. It just kind of needs to make sense.
Christina Kann 05:51
Yeah, absolutely. Because otherwise, the listeners might be like, "Oh, what's this?" You know?
Anne Claessen 05:56
Yeah. And they're not going to buy your book then. I mean, if it's super random, they're probably not gonna buy your book. Maybe also the episode won't perform as well as when it is a good fit. And I also think it's gonna be a lot more difficult to get invited on a podcast.
Christina Kann 06:13
Yeah, that's very true. If the pitches don't make sense, they're not going to be fruitful.
Anne Claessen 06:18
Christina Kann 06:19
When an author finds a podcast, and they are like, "Okay, I like this podcast, I think this is my target audience, I think I would fit in nicely." What can they do to get ready to make that pitch? What do they need to do before they send the email or the DM? How can they be most prepared for that?
Anne Claessen 06:37
Know what you want to talk about. I think that is just so important. Everyone always says, listen to the podcast, research the podcast, and all that, and I don't disagree. But for me, as the person who is usually on the other side of the pitches, who just receives pitches of people who want to guest on my podcast, I love it when people are just really clear. "This is what I can talk about. This is why I think it's interesting for your audience." Maybe you even have a potential title for the episode in mind. I love that because it makes my work so much easier.
Christina Kann 07:09
Well, I'm I'm sure it helps people envision it, you know?
Anne Claessen 07:12
Yeah! True. I know exactly what I'm gonna say yes or no to. I know what to expect. I can really easily say, "Yes, that's a good fit for my audience." "No, that's not a good fit for my audience." I really love that. And I think a little bit of research about a podcast is also definitely something that you might want to do. If you just write me an email that says, "Hi there." Meh. That's like not usually the email I like to answer when they're just popping up in my inbox. If you say, "Hi, Anne!" then I'm like, "Okay, like this person, at least knows my name." Just the basics, you know? Just the basic stuff. I think you also don't have to listen to all the episodes, but just make sure that it is a good fit, or at least you think it's a good fit. Because if you just send out like 100 random emails, like, "Hey, I can speak about this topic," it's just a waste of your energy, and also of the energy of this person who's reading your email. So I would say, don't just send like a million emails out without really thinking about: is it actually a good fit?
Christina Kann 08:19
Yeah, it's quality over quantity. If you get a couple of really good pitches out, that can be so much more valuable than sending 100 stock pitches that are all the same.
Anne Claessen 08:29
A hundred percent. Yes.
Christina Kann 08:31
It seems like it's kind of on par with like preparing for a job interview, you know? You want to go in making it clear that you have looked into the company, you know what you're there to talk about. You're really going in with like a goal in mind.
Anne Claessen 08:45
Yeah, I think so. I mean, I'm not an expert in job interviews, but in a job interview, you also want to show what value you can bring to the company. When you're pitching podcasts, it's what value can you bring to the podcast?
Christina Kann 08:58
Yeah, absolutely. With all of this information that the authors have received doing their research, how do they craft the perfect pitch? How do you write a great pitch that's going to grab the podcaster's attention and really convey the value that you hope to bring?
Anne Claessen 09:14
What I really like is if the pitch is just short and sweet. I don't want to go through a really long email. It pops into my inbox, and I didn't ask for it, so you have to catch my attention immediately. The first sentence needs to be enticing, or at least like needs to say what you want from me. If it's just like, "Hey Anne, I want to come on your podcast, and I think it's a great fit, because..." then I'll probably keep reading. And also, if you say, "My name is blah, blah, blah, and I do this," that's also fine, but it needs to be really, really short because I don't want to read three paragraphs about you when I have no idea what you want from me. So you really want to keep it short. I always like it when there's bullet points or something; "These are some of the topics that I can talk about on your podcast," and then like three bullet points, maybe, or max five. Even if I scan the email, I know what you have to offer. So I think that just works really well. Yeah, I think those are my main tips: keep it short, and make sure it's easy to scan, and don't talk too much about yourself.
Christina Kann 10:24
Right. I think that probably sending a really long pitch email says to the podcaster that you might come on to their show and ramble, and say words that aren't providing value.
Anne Claessen 10:42
Yeah. I think also, when you talk about yourself a lot in your pitch -- I mean, yes, it is about you. But it's not really about you. It's more about the value you can bring. I don't know you, and honestly, I don't really care. I just want to provide really good value to my audience. That is why I do the podcast.
Christina Kann 11:04
Right. That's who you care about.
Anne Claessen 11:06
Yeah. I think it's really important to keep that in mind. Yes, I want to know a little bit of who you are, but if you just ramble on about what you do and what you accomplished -- I zone out pretty quickly when I get an email like that.
Christina Kann 11:23
Yeah, it's kind of like being a salesperson. It's not really about talking about how great this item is; it's about making the customer feel like they need this item. I feel like it's kind of the same way with podcasts pitches. It's not really about you. It's about convincing the podcaster that they need you on their feed.
Anne Claessen 11:43
Yeah, absolutely. Also, what a lot of people don't do after pitching is following up. If you don't get an answer -- not in three days, but -- if you don't have an answer after two weeks, then I would usually follow up and say, "Hey, maybe you missed my email," or "Also let me know if you're not interested. No worries," but at least I'll know then. A "no" is also a win, because then you know it's not a good fit, which is fine, and then you can move on. But yeah, you definitely want an answer, so usually I would follow up at least like five times, which sounds like a lot. You just really want a "yes" or "no." Maybe also people don't see the email. So usually, after following up two or three times, I would send a message on Instagram or on LinkedIn, on a different platform, because maybe it's the wrong email address. You know?
Christina Kann 12:39
Maybe it's the wrong email address. Maybe it's going to the spam filter. Something like that. Technology's weird. So I think trying to hit it from a different angle through social media, DMs, or something is a really strong move. "Let me know if there's a better way to get in touch with you."
Anne Claessen 12:55
Yeah, exactly. That always works really well.
Christina Kann 12:59
If an author is trying to pitch to several different podcasts -- maybe they're like, "Okay, this is the the week or the month where I'm gonna do podcast pitches" -- what's a good way for them to keep track of what they're doing, who they're reaching out to, whether they hear back?
Anne Claessen 13:14
I'm a spreadsheet girl.
Christina Kann 13:17
Anne Claessen 13:17
I have spreadsheets about everything. But definitely this. You definitely want to make sure that you know who you reached out to, where you are in the pitching process, when you want to reach out again or follow up. There is definitely a big spreadsheet involved in this work.
Christina Kann 13:35
Yes, yes, absolutely. I have a spreadsheet that I just call "Potential Guests," where I keep a spreadsheet of everyone I want to come on my podcast. I have a spreadsheet of my podcast episodes and when they're coming out. That's my life tip for everyone: get a spreadsheet for everything.
Anne Claessen 13:53
Absolutely. Yeah, I didn't do that when I started my first podcast, and it just got messy at one point. I had not really any idea where I was in my post production and also what episodes went live.
Christina Kann 14:07
It's a lot to keep track of.
Anne Claessen 14:09
Yeah, at one point, you're like 100 episodes in, and you're like, "I don't know who I spoke to." When it's like two years ago, it's becoming a problem. So yeah, definitely have spreadsheets. Another free bonus tip here: It always works really well to leverage your network that you already have. Sending cold pitches can be cool, but getting people to connect you and then sending a pitch? That works like 100 times better.
Christina Kann 14:40
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Definitely, no matter what kind of marketing you're doing, start with your network and your networks' networks. That's the equivalent of your first connections and your second connections on LinkedIn. If somebody can connect you to someone -- a podcaster or any other kind of blogger or social media influencer -- that can really get a foot in the door for you.
Anne Claessen 15:05
Christina Kann 15:07
After they have sent their pitch, they're keeping track of it, maybe they followed up, maybe they've heard back no, maybe they've heard back yes. If you hear back yes, then you get to guest on a podcast, and that's really exciting! I think we'll probably need to do a second episode about that someday, because that's a whole nother can of worms: how to be a respectful and valuable guest on another person's podcast.
Anne Claessen 15:33
Yeah, I think there's definitely a lot to learn if you've never done that. Yeah. I learned a lot over the past three years. Having my own podcast and guesting on other people's podcasts... There are a lot of different ways that people are guests on podcast, and some are really nice to work with, and then some people are really not that nice to work with.
Christina Kann 15:55
Right. I don't know if you've had the same experience as me, but I've been podcasting for about three years now as well, and I just feel like the only way to get started in podcasting is to just start.
Anne Claessen 16:06
Christina Kann 16:07
You just have to dive right in.
Anne Claessen 16:09
Yeah, just jump. See where it ends.
Christina Kann 16:12
Exactly. Because if you wait for it to be perfect, if you wait to have all of the perfect equipment, if you wait to feel really good about it, you might never get started.
Anne Claessen 16:23
Yeah, exactly. And as a guest, usually listeners are quite forgiving with audio quality and things like that. You don't necessarily need a mic, I think, when you're casting for podcasts. It also might depend on how big the podcast is. For my podcast, I don't require guests to have a mic. If the audio is really bad, I'm gonna say like, "Sorry, but this is impossible. We're not going to do this." But if it's okay, if you just have headphones and probably not your computer mic, but an okay mic, that is already fine as a guest. That's probably what you can get away with. You don't need the whole setup if you're going to start pitching.
Christina Kann 17:10
Most of my guests that come on my podcasts who are not professional podcasters, I'm like, "Honestly, if you just pull up the voice memos on your phone and keep it close to your face, that'll be totally good enough." But you would want to speak to each individual podcaster to see if they have different requirements. But I think you're right, that a lot of people are really forgiving with the audio quality of guests, especially those guests who are not podcasters. Why would they have all of this stuff set up if they're not even a podcaster?
Anne Claessen 17:38
Christina Kann 17:38
Is there anything else that you want authors to know about looking for podcasts that guest on and pitching to those podcasts?
Anne Claessen 17:45
it can be a little bit of work to find a podcast, craft a pitch, and things like that, but at one point, you just have some pitches out and you have to follow up. You just have to do this research maybe once or every now and then, but it gets easier. Yes, it is a bit of a time investment. But you'll figure it out as you keep pitching and you keep getting answers and yeses and noes, and you can tweak the pitch as you go. That is also a reason why I wouldn't send out 100 pitches at the same time, because you want to tweak your pitch as you go. And also, this never happens, but if you got 100 yeses, then you have a problem.
Christina Kann 18:31
Wow. Yeah! How do you book that?
Anne Claessen 18:35
Christina Kann 18:36
That's terrifying, actually.
Anne Claessen 18:39
Yeah, I had someone on my team at The Podcast Babes. She pitches me to be a guest on podcasts. She has gotten so good at it that I had to ask her to stop because they couldn't fit it on my calendar anymore, which is a really good problem to have. Be mindful that you don't over pitch because it would also be annoying for the podcaster. Maybe when you pitch, they say yes, and then you're like, "Okay, cool. I'm available in four months."
Christina Kann 19:05
Right! I think maybe like if you keep your open pitches to like as many interviews as you could do within a month or something, so you don't get too ahead of yourself. Awesome. Well, Anne, thank you so much for coming on the show. I so appreciate you sharing your expertise with our listeners.
Anne Claessen 19:23
Yeah, thank you for having me. It was so exciting to be on. I didn't even know that I was the first guest, so I feel really special.
Christina Kann 19:29
We're pretty new. We're only about two months into the podcast. So we're starting our guest phase. So everyone get ready for some other cool new guests in the future. And yeah, Anne, thanks for being our first.
Anne Claessen 19:42
Christina Kann 19:44
Where can people find you on the internet? Where can they catch your podcast? Where would you like for them to connect with you?
Anne Claessen 19:50
Yeah, come to my home on the internet, www.thepodcastbabes.com.
Christina Kann 19:55
A beautiful website, by the way.
Anne Claessen 19:56
Oh, thank you! You can find everything there. You can find The Podcast Babes podcast. You can find more of what we do what we offer. We also offer podcast guest pitching services. So that is pitching you to be the guest, not to get guests but to be the guest, which can be a little bit confusing. But we can also do that for you. Like I said, it is a bit of a time investment doing all the research and getting the pitch right and everything. If you if you want to just show up for the interview and just tell your story and talk about your book and not worry about all the research and you don't have time for that, then we can do that for you. Let me know if that is something you're interested in. You can find my email address and also a link to book a discovery call on the website.
A lot of new authors, when asked for their Facebook link, send us a link to their personal Facebook profile. What we’re looking for, and what we encourage all of our authors to develop, is a professional Facebook page. Pay careful attention to the language here -- for the purposes of this blog post, we will refer to personal Facebook profiles as “profiles” and professional Facebook pages (also known as “business pages”) as “pages.”
Sure, you already have a personal Facebook profile, so why add something else onto your plate? The answer to this question is that profiles and pages are not the same. They do not serve the same purpose, and you cannot simply trade out one for another. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between the two.
A personal Facebook profile is a great place to let your own personal audience, your friends and family, know that you have a book coming out. If you’re on Facebook personally, we certainly recommend making use of this audience. But profiles are not appropriate for professional, public author use.
For starters, unless your personal profile is “public,” your fans won’t be able to find you! The purpose of developing a Facebook presence as an author is so you can connect with fans and keep them updated about news and events. Even if your profile is “public” and fans can find you, you don’t want this kind of connection with strangers. When you accept a friend request on your personal profile, you become friends with that person in return. That means you’ll see their photos and updates in your feed, even if you have no idea who they are. They’ll also be able to see personal information that you have listed on your profile, like where you went to high school and who you’re dating -- details you may not want all your fans to know!
If you have a professional Facebook page, fans can “follow” you -- meaning, they will see the updates you post on your page, but nothing you post on your profile. You will also not see any of their updates unless they directly interact with one of your posts. This is a much more appropriate creator-fan relationship. Fans aren’t your friends, lovely though they may be, and having this boundary will benefit your personal life and your professional life at the same time.
You also cannot use your personal profile when collaborating with event venues, reviewers, or your publisher. For example, if we were to post on Facebook about one of our books, we couldn’t tag that author’s personal profile in our public post, because we are running a business page. If you were doing a book signing at Barnes and Noble, they could not tag you in their social media marketing efforts for that event. If a reviewer reviewed your book, they could not tag you in that review. It could lead to you missing some updates or even missing out on fans who would have followed you, if only they could!
Worse, someone might choose not to collaborate with you if you’re not on social media. If a reviewer posts their reviews primarily on Facebook, and you are not on Facebook, what good does that do either of you? Even if they read the book and publish the review, they’re not getting anything out of that exchange, because they aren’t getting exposed to your audience; you’re only getting exposed to their audience. That’s not a fair trade, and lots of reviewers would pass on that sort of one-sided transaction.
Furthermore, if people are searching on Facebook for “fantasy authors” or authors of your genre, you will not show up in their search if you’re only using a personal Facebook profile. In order for Facebook to categorize you in this way, you need to create a professional page and select the correct category for yourself -- in this instance, “author.”
Another benefit to having a professional Facebook page you use publicly for author purposes is that you’ll look like you know what you’re doing. If someone asks for your Facebook page in a professional setting and you send them your personal profile link, it will look like you don’t understand how Facebook works, and that would affect that person’s perception of you and your capabilities as an author. Every creator these days needs to be dedicated to learning about social media -- always learning, no matter how much you know now, because social media is always changing.
The bottom line is, your fans will expect to be able to find you in certain places. Just like they’ll expect your book to be available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, they’ll expect you to have a website. They’ll expect you to be on Facebook, and possibly even Twitter or Instagram. If they can’t find you in these places, you will likely lose out on that connection, which could mean losing out on future sales or collaborations. Do yourself and your book a favor, and set up your professional Facebook page now.
by Christina Kann
Whether you call it a domain name, a URL, or a web address—you know, something like www.whateverforever.com (incidentally a silly clothing line)—choosing one is almost as hard as choosing your child’s name. Your domain name is so important and will be used in so many places that it’s crucial to think carefully before committing. Moving your website from a domain you weren’t set on to a new one is a pretty involved process, so it’s better to just pick the right one in the first place!
Here are some things to consider:
by Christina Kann
How Do I Book?
We'll try to find the answer to that question in our blog.