Today more and more readers are going to the Internet to find their information. The Internet has moved beyond solely being a place to read to being a place to see and listen to information. Radio has moved to the Internet, and anyone can set up his or her own Internet radio show. Authors can find plenty of Internet radio shows where they can be guests, and they might even want to host their own shows to provide added exposure to their own books and to discuss topics they care about that tie into their book’s subject.
Plenty of Internet sites and programs are available to host your own podcast show. But first you may be wondering what a podcast is. Basically, a podcast is a recorded show put on the Internet so people can listen to it. It is simply a recording stored online. The advantage of podcasts is that listeners do not have to tune in when the show airs but can visit the website later to play the recording. Options exist today for both live radio shows and for recording shows and placing them online so people can listen to them at their convenience.
Having your own Internet radio show is fairly simple. Different programs and websites offer various options, but they all operate similarly. A conference bridge line allows the host and guest to phone into the show. The host is able to record the interview using Audio Acrobat or a similar program. After the show, the recording can be edited to delete background noise, awkward phrases, or anything the host feels might be better left out. While editing and posting the recording to the website can take a little work, neither is technically all that complicated and can easily be learned—even by non-technically savvy people.
Technology and technical skills aside, the key to creating an effective podcast to get people to listen is not really different than creating an effective talk radio or TV show. First, the host must create a platform for the show that will draw an audience. The host may have a title for the show, simply naming it for him or herself, such as “The John Smith Show” or something more specific relating to its topic like “Fiction Fan Radio.” If the latter, then I would assume the host will look for fiction authors or talk about fiction books each week and the audience will be people who like to read fiction. The host then finds guests who fit that category—perhaps a horror fiction author, then a science-fiction writer, and then maybe an editor of a fiction journal. It’s best to create a platform or purpose for the show that fills a need with audience members—a topic you feel many people will be interested in, something currently in the news, or something likely to create a large following. Authors of non-fiction books, especially on topics such as health care, religion, or politics, will be able to create an effective platform because their topic is something many people are interested in or concerned about.
Finding guests is really not difficult—you can simply look online for authors—they are easy to find on Facebook or any of the social networking sites where they are trying to promote their books. You can advertise on your website for author guests as well as send out emails to different online discussion groups you may have joined; then you should easily receive many requests to be on your show.
The important thing is to find good guests, which is a bit trickier. When you consider people for the show, request that the prospective guest provide you with a proposal for a show that will let you know whether the guest will be articulate and interesting. Ask for some key talking points or questions so you can find out what the guest might talk about and whether you would enjoy talking to him or her—it’s key that you feel you’ll be able to create a conversation with the person. Find out also how much the prospective guest really knows about his or her topic. If he wants to talk about writing fiction but has never published anything, pass him over for the author with six novels. If she wants to talk about creating graphic novels, find out what kind of background she has in graphic novels—has she written or illustrated one, or does she simply like reading them?
Once the show takes place, be relaxed and most importantly, help the guest to feel comfortable. The prepared talking points are great to fuel conversation and prepare you for the show, but do not simply read down the list of questions. Start with one or two but then let the conversation flow naturally as you ask questions based more specifically on what the guest says. At the same time, remain in control of the conversation. Let the guest talk, but only for a few minutes at maximum. A constant back and forth is necessary to keep the conversation interesting to the audience. Be positive and supportive by making transition statements such as, “That’s really interesting, Susan, but tell me more about how you found a publisher.” A good host will make the guest feel good about the show while maintaining a professional manner and asking what he or she knows his audience most wants from the guest.
Once the show is over, the work is not done. You may want to edit the recording to improve it. Then you need to post it online and you need to notify people it is there. Create a mailing list by asking people to subscribe when they visit your website. Send out notices whenever a new podcast is posted so people remember to listen and keep coming back for more. If the show is live, be sure to let people know ahead of time who will be on your show and when. Plan ahead and have a list of prospective guests for several weeks or months in advance.
Finally, enjoy the process. Enjoy talking to people and feel good knowing you are providing an interesting program for your audience.
If I’ve given you enough information to make you think having an Internet radio show just might be for you, then a great resource for more information can be found by listening to a recent podcast from the January 9, 2010 www.AuthorsAccess.com show “Podcasting for Authors.” On that show, my co-host Victor Volkman and I interviewed author Alan Smith about how to create an effective radio show. You will find links at the website and additional information on the podcast about everything from the technical aspects of recording and editing a show to being a good host.
Having your own radio show can be a fun and fulfilling experience that can also help to build exposure for your book. After a few shows, you’ll feel like a pro at it, and interviewing others will also help you to talk about your own book more effectively when you are interviewed yourself.
Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.