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.
How Do I Book?
We'll try to find the answer to that question in our blog.