“Are you freakin’ crazy?” my annoying cat, Oscar, asked.
“What?” I stared down at him and played dumb, which fortunately comes quite easy.
“Why in the world are you creating a podcast?” Oscar continued with a flick of his tail. “You should be spending your time writing the next book.” He thinks he knows everything.
Of course Oscar-the-Annoying-Cat didn’t say those words out loud–I’m not that crazy. But I know he was thinking it. I could tell by the look in his eyes. That stare meant only one thing: he thought turning my book into a podcast was a dumb idea. Or, he wanted me to feed him for the thirteenth time today. And it’s 8:43 in the morning.
I’m taking the plunge. I’m turning my new book 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management and I’m going to turn it into a podcast. Why would I do such a crazy thing? Shouldn’t I spend my time just writing the next book?
What’s A Podcast?
If you’re not familiar with podcasts at all, a simple description is that they’re sort of like radio episodes that are really easy to create–literally done from your own home or office–and anyone can listen to your shows for free if they have an Internet connection. You don’t have to “tune in” live to listen to podcasts, you can download the episodes and listen to them whenever you want.
How do you actually find a show you like and listen to it? Most people use iTunes and subscribe to shows and then they can listen each episode as it’s released. Others use a podcast listening app like Stitcher which is a little bit easier to figure out then iTunes. And of course each podcast host typically puts a link to their shows from their own website, some even upload the episodes to YouTube, so listeners can “tune in” without even bothering with podcast apps. About half of podcast listeners listen to podcasts from their computers while the other half listen from smartphones or tablets.
Right now podcasts are still sort of an itch niche item. It’s estimated that 17% of Americans listen to podcasts each year which is about 46 million people.
Podcasts Ready To Get Big
But many people feel that podcasting is at an inflection point and is getting ready to take off. In 2015, the shows Serial and StartUp, were breakout hits and brought many new non-techie listeners to the podcast world. Last year President Barack Obama went on the Marc Maron WTF podcast which was certainly the first time that’s ever happened.
And podcasts are supposed to get easier to find and listen to in the near future. The popular music streaming app Spotify has slowly been rolling out podcasts along with their popular music streams (this isn’t yet available to all users). There have long been rumors that Apple is working with the car companies to put podcasting hardware into all of the new Wi-Fi equipped automobiles.
Many Authors Already Podcasting
There are already many authors who are producing great podcasts. Joanna Penn writes primarily fiction and has The Creative Penn Show. Johnny, Sean, and Dave have the popular The Self Publishing Podcast. These are examples of fiction authors (primarily fiction) who have podcasts that are aimed at other authors. The benefit of their podcast is that it connects them with influencers in the industry, and many (myself included) actually have discovered the fiction of all of these writers just from the podcast.
Scott Sigler is an example of a fiction author who uses podcast to share audible readings of his novels. He was the first one to ever do so and is basically using podcasts as a way to build his tribe. If you want to try his novels, or don’t want to pay for the audible version or even the paperback, each week you can listen to him read the next installment for free. While no doubt many people take advantage of this free way to listen to his books, many are certain to convert to the paid for audible version or the paper back to get the story all at once. It’s like the freemium software model.
There are also many non fiction authors who have podcasts out there, most notably Steve Scott and Barry Davenport’s Authority Self-Publishing show.
Different Types, or Formats, of Podcasts
There are many types of podcasts out there. Some are daily shows, but most are weekly.
Some are designed to go on basically forever, while other podcasts are intentionally only 10 episodes or 20 episodes in length. Many people are creating these smaller fixed episode podcast as a way to teach a particular subject matter.
Most podcasters follow an interview format where the host interviews guests, usually over Skype. These are typically 30 to 60 minutes in length.
Other podcasters do a monocast, which is the host just talking out loud about whatever the subject matter is. Of course these monocasts are much easier to produce since you don’t have to recruit and schedule guests.
TWO GOALS: Tickle the ‘Zon & Get New Opt-ins
So why am I going to convert my book into a podcast?
The short answer is that I’m going to do it as an experiment to (1) tickle the ‘Zon and (2) to get new email subscribers.
My book continues to do well three months after launch, selling about 100 copies a day in Kindle and Createspace versions. Many people are frustrated that after their big book launch, their book falls lower and lower in the rankings with fewer and fewer sales. This phenomenon actually happens with traditional booksellers as well, where 80% of lifetime sales happen in the first month or two. Then there’s just very low long-tail sales after that. Unless of course you have some kind of breakout bestseller or continue to invest marketing dollars in it.
While nobody knows outside of Amazon what their ranking algorithm and recommendation engine is based on, I have to believe that they are tracking sales and interest over time. They probably know that low-quality scammers will always be able to juice up a book for a day or maybe even a week, but quality generally sell well over an extended period of time. I don’t know who originally said it, but someone called it tickling ‘Zon–sending buy signals to Amazon as a way to goose their algorithm.
And your email list is always the number one variable to publishing success. And if there really are millions of podcast listeners out there, maybe I can get a bunch to join my list.
My Secret Plan–Shhh!
So my plan is to create a short monocast where I cover material from one section of the book in each episode. I don’t plan to read it word for word, but I will take specific sections each week and share it in a more conversational and lively way. Each episode will be about 10 to 15 minutes long, and I will record 52 episodes, enough to release one per week for an entire year.
While most podcasts have official sponsors and the host reads off a small commercial on behalf of the sponsor, I will in essence be sponsoring my own show. Instead of reading a commercial I will make sure to mention my book and I will also offer a lead magnet so that even if people don’t want to buy a book, and not everybody is a reader, they might still hop on over to my website and give me an email in exchange for a Nifty digital prize.
So Many Questions
Oscar jumped onto my desk and then leaped onto the top of my high-backed chair. He was now looking down on me. “So how the heck do you put together a podcast? How much will it cost? How hard is it to record? How hard is it to upload the files? How hard is it to put links to these files on your own website? What’s the best way to get listeners to actually give you their email address? Will any of this work? How many listeners will you get? How many subscribers will you get? Will it help book sales?”
“All very good questions, Oscar, which we will both learn the answers to, together, in real time.”
Want To Help?
I’m launching Extreme Productivity with Kevin Kruse in early February 2016. I will blog out my journey as usual, with my wins and my failures. Hopefully you learned something from both and have a laugh at my expense along the way!
And if you’re reading this and it’s not yet February of 2016, I need to put together a launch team who will (1) subscribe to the podcast and (2) leave an honest review. Similar to Amazon’s Hot New Releases, iTunes has New a Notable. I’m told I need to try to get on that list to maximize my early exposure does the process sound familiar already?
If you want to join the launch team just email me at info @ kevinkruse dot com. I will be forever indebted, and I’ll make sure to send you a lots of free goodies for your time.