Why Authors Should Start a Podcast

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Promoting your book can be a tough road – I know because I’m currently on it. On top of establishing trust, you need to demonstrate that you’re worth investing in. Plus, unlike online courses, it can be tough to build and keep an audience if people are just buying your book off Amazon. Luckily, a podcast can help. We’ll get into all of that in this episode. Plus, in Build Something More I’ll tell you all about my experience with both self-publishing and going through an actual publisher.

Show Notes


Joe Casabona: Real quick before we get started, I want to tell you about the Build Something Weekly newsletter. It is weekly, it is free, and you will get tips, tricks, and tools delivered directly to your mailbox. I will recap the current week’s episode and all of the takeaways, I’ll give you a top story, content I wrote, and then some recommendations that I’ve been using that I think you should check out. So it is free, it is a weekly, it’s over at howibuilt.it/subscribe. Go ahead and sign up over at howibuilt.it/subscribe.

Hey, everybody, and welcome to Episode 217 of How I Built It, the podcast that offers actionable tech tips to small business owners. I’m your host Joe Casabona. Today we are continuing a small miniseries I started a few weeks ago about why certain people in certain industries should start a podcast. Now back in Episode 154—I will link that in the show notes over at howibuilt.it/217—I talk about why everybody should start a podcast. This was a kind of general point episode. It was just before the pandemic started, and it seemed like lots of people were going to get into podcasting in 2020.

As we wade into 2021, I think that there are specific use cases and benefits for people who I am looking forward to helping specifically. So certain niches that I believe I can help because I have strong experience in those areas. A few weeks ago, it was course creators and why course creators should start a podcast. Today it is why authors should start a podcast.

I’m an author myself. I’ve written five books, four with an actual publisher. So I guess I’ve written six books, four with actual publishers. I’ve been through the process a lot. And reluctantly, with my most recent book “HTML and CSS: Visual QuickStart Guide“, I actually didn’t start a podcast where perhaps I should have. So we’re going to get into all of that today. Our sponsors for today’s episode are TextExpander, Restrict Content Pro, and Mindsize. You’ll hear about them later in the episode. But first, let’s get to it.

Now, again, in Episode 154, I covered all the reasons. It’s called All the Reasons You Should Start a Podcast. And I rehashed them a little bit a few episodes ago, I think that was Episode 214, where I talked about why course creators should start a podcast. But just the gist, it’s easier than ever to start a podcast. You no longer need thousands of dollars’ worth of recording equipment. For probably 100 bucks, you can get up and running. You can get relatively cheap audio hosting. You can also get free audio hosting, but you can get relatively cheap audio hosting, which is what I would recommend.

It’s the next great content plane. It’s where lots of people are going to get content because a podcast doesn’t require you to sit in front of a screen and read. You can multitask while you listen to a podcast. You can do it while driving or commuting. You can do it while cleaning the house or mowing the lawn. So it’s a convenient form of content. And then it’s a way to grow your business because it’s a lot more intimate than other forms of content. People have your voice in their headphones while they’re listening to a podcast. It allows your listeners to get to know you better. But those are the general points for why anyone should start a podcast, why should authors start a podcast.

Again, I have experience here. I am an author. I’ve written a bunch of books. In fact, in the extended episode of build something more, which is the members-only episode, I’m going to talk about what it’s like or what it was like writing each of my books and the difference between publishing and self-publishing, and why I didn’t start a separate podcast from my books and things like that. If you want to get that part of the episode, you can head over to buildsomething.club and sign up. It is $5 a month or $50 a year for lots of extra content, including what I’ll be talking about today.

So you’re an author, you’re writing a book or you’ve written a book and you want more people to buy it. Why should you start a podcast? Well, again, it’s one of the best ways to establish trust. If people are buying educational content from you, like a book, like a course, then people need to know, like, and trust you before they buy.

Now, a book is a little bit easier. Especially if you’re going through an actual publisher, the book might be on the bookshelves, and so people going to bookstores, as people start to do that more might just happen across your title and pick it up. But if they’re perusing Amazon, why should they buy your book over this other book? My most recent book got a few bad reviews because there was a miscommunication as to an extra part of the book. My book is the ninth edition. It’s about half the size maybe of the eighth edition, but there’s also like 40 videos that come free for anybody who buys the book. And those videos because it’s an HTML and CSS course, are invaluable.

In the book, I teach the general information, the semantics, the markup, but in the videos, you actually get to see what happens when you write some code. That is a giant value add that maybe the people who left the bad reviews didn’t know about. And when you get a bad review, as I talked with Michael Begg about in Episode 209, if you get a bad review, it’s hard to come back from that. So how do you combat that? Well, if you have a podcast where people will know, like, and trust you, and they understand that generally people like to leave bad reviews more than good reviews, maybe they’ll be more likely to buy your book because they know who you are. They don’t know who the commenter is, but they know you and they know what you’re talking about.

Similarly, it will help you establish authority in your subject matter. Again, if we just take the example of HTML and CSS, maybe I should have started a separate HTML and CSS podcast. It’s not too late. The book came out less than a year ago, and we’re coming up to a point where teachers will start evaluating what books they want to use in the classroom. So maybe I start a podcast called, I don’t know, HTML and CSS Bytes, or something like that. I’m brainstorming right on the show. I should write this down, though. That’s probably a good idea.

If you have that podcast and you’re putting out episodes and your teaching the thing that you teach in the book, or if you wrote… I should say that this is mostly nonfiction that I’m talking about here. If you write a fiction book, we’ll get into things that you can do with a fiction book. But if it’s a knowledge worker book, if it’s a business book, a nonfiction book, then you can take those topics and repurpose them and talk about them on your podcast.

And I know what you’re thinking here. Am I giving away the shop? If I start a podcast about what my books about, am I giving away the shop? And here’s the thing. No. Because maybe Chapter 10 of your book is relevant for your most recent podcast episode. If I pick an example, Chapter 19 in my book is about CSS preprocessors. Maybe news just broke that a new CSS preprocessor is coming out and I want to talk about it. So I can use some of the content from my book for that. But unless you already know CSS, the CSS preprocessor conversation will be out of context. Your book puts everything in context.

So your podcast will help show people: “Hey, I know what I’m talking about. If you want to know more about what I’m talking about, then buy my book.” That is up next, right? What is your call to action on your podcast? And that’s something really important to talk about.

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And now let’s get back to it.

Joe Casabona: So, your call to action is very clear. It’s “buy my book.” My call to action on this podcast has been “join my mailing list” pretty much, right? I’ve been working in the membership call to action. But if you’re starting a podcast where you want people to buy your book, super easy. “Hey, you like what I’m talking about? You want to learn more about what I’m talking about? Go to howibuilt.it/book and buy my book. And then you can get even more. And mention that you heard about it on this podcast and I’ll give you a shout out.” Or “if you email me a receipt from the book and say that you bought it because of this podcast, I’ll send you a bonus audiobook” or something like that. So your call to action day in and day out will be “buy my book.” And people will hear that every time: “buy my book.” All right? “Well, this episode really made me want to buy the book, so I’m going to do that.”

Again, to get people to buy the book, you can incentivize them a little bit or you can, for the podcast, include bonus materials that didn’t make it into the book. The editing process is long and hard and there are a lot of things that maybe you thought about including in the book, but because of time constraints or because of other constraints, you maybe decided not to talk about those things. Maybe it wasn’t relevant to the final edition of the book.

A really good example from the HTML and CSS book that I wrote is I had a section maybe on doing mockups and why you might want to do mockups, and how they can help you. But when I wrote the outline and then started to write the chapters, I realized this is not a how to design websites book. This is a book about HTML and CSS. So the markup section, not super relevant.

Another thing that I have in my mind map is linters and JavaScript libraries, static site generators. Those are things that as a web developer you might want to know. But if we’re trying to fit everything for HTML and CSS into 400 pages or so, then some things had to go. And that was those three topics had to go. So I have a lot of stuff here in this mind map that I can talk about on the podcast.

So in your writing journey, be sure to keep notes about things that do or do not make it into the final product and that stuff that you can then share with your audience in a different way. Again, you can take it out of context, and then tell the listeners, “Hey, if you want all of this in context, today’s episode goes really well with chapter five. So buy my book, take a look at Chapter 5. You’ll get even more out of it.” Or “now Chapter 5 will have even more meaning to you.”

Along with that, you can also share your journey through the book writing process. So include the bonus materials that didn’t make it, but also talk about the process in general. When I was writing my book… I’m going to make just a gigantic excuse here. So I’m going to steal this excuse from you. This is not a good excuse. While I was writing my book, I was doing a lot of other things as well. I wasn’t as cognizant as I could have been in preparing for the marketing of the book. So I didn’t pay super close attention to all of that. I just wanted to get it done, especially because I was supposed to be wrapping up as the pandemic started, and the pandemic pushed the process back a little bit. So by the time I was ready to publish, I was pretty much at my wit’s end with everything. I just wanted to get it out the door.

But if you’re writing your book right now or you took better notes than I did about your book, then share your journey, talk about the research you did, talk about the apps and tools that you used. I used the MindNode for mind mapping. Did you mind map or did you draw it all out on a whiteboard? What did you use to write the book? I wrote a lot of my booking Ulysses, which is a fantastic writing app, but then I did have to move it over to my publisher’s template in Microsoft Word.

“How’s editing going?” Editors can be brutal. And they need to be. My editor was brutal. And I’m grateful for it because I have a much better book now. But talk about how editing is going. What’s something that maybe got pointed out to you in the editing process that made your media book better? Talk about other behind-the-scenes stuff, cover design, image creation. If you’re self-publishing, how’s that going? What kind of research are you doing for self-publishing? Are you going to put it on Amazon with Kindle publishers direct or are you going to use something else?

And then you can get early feedback as well. Maybe if I had a dedicated podcast for my book, I could have talked about the things I covered in say Chapter 3, and then gotten feedback from listeners. Is there anything I’m not covering here that you want to see? Is there anything unclear? What else can I do to make this chapter better? And then all of this will again make people feel more attached to the book. You’re going to be talking about this behind-the-scenes stuff, they’re going to want to know what the final product looks like.

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And now let’s get back to it.

Joe Casabona: Your podcast will also help you leverage your book’s audience, so people who buy the book. And I should say, if it’s not too late, mention your podcast in the book, too. This could be a two way street. But it could help you leverage your book’s audience to join your mailing list, to get other products, to join your community.

So up until this point, I’ve kind of talked about the podcast as being a way to get more people to buy your book. But it can also help connect with the people who’ve bought the book already. Because that’s hard, right? If you are an author, especially if you go through a publisher, then you know that you don’t get direct access to all the customers’ information. Heck, the publisher might not even get direct access to all the customers’ information.

My publisher sells to bookstores. You think Barnes and Noble is giving my publisher a list of all the people who bought my book that day? They’re probably not. So my publisher doesn’t even have all the information. And then certainly, unless there are very intense disclosures, they wouldn’t pass that along to me either. That’s why you see a lot of authors say, “Hey, download the bonus materials at mywebsite.com/book or book.com/bonus or whatever.” Because that’s how they are connecting with their audience. That’s how they’re getting their audience email addresses.

But if you have a podcast and you say, “Hey, listen to my podcast. If you want even more content around this topic, listen to my podcast.” From there, you can get them to join your mailing list. You can get other products to them. You can get them to join your community. Imagine having a community of people who’ve read your book and talk about the book. You can engage much more with your audience on your book-related podcast. Or even if you write a book… Maybe you’re James Patterson and you write like four books a year, you get to talk about those books more. You get to talk about the process more. But you get to engage with your audience more than with a book.

As the author, you write a book, people read your words. And unless they really want to take action and email you, you’re probably not going to hear from most of those people. Now, maybe you do. At a conference, people have walked up to me and they’ve told me like my book helped them become a WordPress developer. And that is just such a rewarding feeling. But that’s few and far between. It’s certainly fewer than the number of people who bought the book. But again, if you have your podcast, you’re talking about your book and bonus materials, now you can engage with your audience more. You can ask them to write in on today’s topic or a topic that they want to hear about.

The other thing with that is you can go deeper on topics or you can update topics. With the HTML and CSS book, CSS has a new text-based proposal that came out recently, several months after my book is published. So, again, if I have this HTML and CSS podcast—I’m kind of convincing myself to start one—I can share updates on that stuff. I can share errata. I can have like an errata episode where “Hey, in this part of the book…” hopefully I wouldn’t have too many of those. Hopefully, you wouldn’t have too many of those. But things happen, things change. So you can share updates, errata, and current events related to the book.

If you have an SEO book or a digital advertising book, that’s a good example. If you have a book on how to leverage digital ads that’s out, you probably wouldn’t have written about Google’s FLoC, which is like federated learning of cohorts or something like that. So you can have a podcast episode about that and then relate it back to the content in your book. So it makes your book content a lot more dynamic. It makes it living, especially if it’s a printed book as well as a digital book. But even if it’s a digital book, how often are you going back to that well to update your book when there are updates? Ideally, your book should be passive income. People buy your book, they get knowledge out of it. But the podcast can be that outlet for updates, errata, current events, and things like that.

So what do we have so far? Why as you the author should you start a podcast? It’ll help people establish trust in you. It’ll get them to know, like, and trust you. It’ll establish you as an authority in the subject matter your book is about. You can have a very clear call to action: “buy my book.” Now, in lieu of what we just talked about, maybe the call to action is “join my mailing list.” And in your onboarding sequence, say, “Have you bought the book already?” And then you can segment your people that way. And then for people who haven’t bought the book, you can market the book to them. But for people who have bought the book, you can share behind-the-scenes stuff.

You can include bonus materials that didn’t make it into the book in your podcast. You can share your journey through the book writing process. Again, this helps people become attached to you and like you even more. You’re sharing a process that lots of people are excited about or are at least interested about. I get tons of questions. What’s it like writing a book? Did you publish it? Did you go through a publisher? Did you self-publish? What was that like?

So that’s really good content, not just for the people who want to buy your book and your target audience, but in general. So you can share your journey. It’ll help you leverage your book’s audience and connect with them more, and it’ll help you kind of sudo update the book as time goes on.

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Joe Casabona: So that’s a bunch of stuff that we just talked about. But it can help you without being directly related to your book too, right? I mean, yes, it can help you because more people will buy your book. You’re putting a voice to the words. I think that’s really important. You can engage with your audience more, because people who are buying your book might listen to your podcast then or people who are listening to your podcast can buy your book. Either way, that’s two contact points for a single audience member.

Get them on your mailing list, and then you can ask them direct questions. “What did you like about the book? What didn’t you like about the book? What do you want me to cover on the podcast that you think I should have elaborated more about in the book?” Or “I just finished Chapter 4, here’s what I cover. Do you think I’m missing anything?” Or “is there something that’s unclear?”

But then you can also book more speaking gigs. Because here’s the dirty little secret. Writing a book is probably not going to make you rich. I mean, unless you’re like James Patterson or J. K. Rowling. Especially in a nonfiction title, right? That’s why every business book you read constantly promotes whatever service is related to the book they wrote. “Hey, we just talked about this in Chapter 5, if you’re trying to do this and you’re having trouble, hire one of our experts.” And that’s fine. I mean, that’s fine within reason.

I read like an 80-page book recently, where he promoted it like every five pages. And I’m like, “Well, I’m not going to hire you. You only wrote this book to promote your services. It’s not really helpful.” But anyway, you can book more speaking gigs. That is something that pays pretty well if you find the right conferences. And the more people buy your book, the more clout you get, and then the more speaking gigs that you have. And if people are listening to you speak on your podcast, they know your cadence. They know the kind of content that they’re going to get. So, I mean, your podcast can be an audition for speaking gigs.

So, all of these things put together, I think that a podcast can not only help you sell more copies of your book, but it can help you create super fans for your book, because you’re giving them a lot of extras that they wouldn’t otherwise get. So people will buy your book, people who bought your book will listen to your podcast, and they’ll learn more about you. Maybe if it is a nonfiction book, and you do have consulting services, you can offer them. I know my books that I usually write are specifically written for the classroom. And so maybe teachers will listen to the podcast, and they’ll pick up my book so that they can teach it to their students. Maybe I get a guest lecturer gig. Things like that.

That’s everything that I have for why authors should start a podcast. Oh, and I should mention this really quick actually. Friend of the show, Brittney Lynn from Human Connection Agency and the Human Connection Podcast had a really good episode about PR for authors and how and when authors should start promoting their book. And I was shocked. I think she said… I want to say six months before. For a course launch, they usually say eight weeks. But you want to start the merry go round of book promotion. I will link the episode in the show notes over at howibuilt.it/217. But it was a longer lead time than I expected. I want to say six months.

So if you start a podcast while you’re writing the book, that is a built in marketing channel for you, because you’re starting the book, you’re doing it out in the open, which people love behind-the-scenes stuff. You are maybe getting real-time feedback as much as your publisher will allow. Or again, if you are self-publishing, you’re just doing it in the open, you’re generating buzz. Throw up that preorder page and start getting orders. And then when it comes out, you have a big launch episode and then you continue creating great content. And that’ll open up a lot of opportunities for you.

So that’s it for this episode. Thanks so much for listening. Thanks to TextExpander, Mindsize and Restrict Content Pro for sponsoring the show. If you liked this episode, head over to howibuilt.it/217 and join the mailing list. Maybe join the Creator Crew. Right after I end this, I’m going to talk behind the scenes of my books, all of the books I’ve written, and what the process was like publishing versus self-publishing.

I feel like this was a cathartic episode for me though. It gave me some ideas for—even though my books have been on the shelves for about six months—why I should start a podcast for that book. So maybe I should eat my own dog food. Let me know. If you’re an author, write in. You can do that over at howibuilt.it/217 as well, if you got any good ideas or if you’re looking for help promoting your book. All right, thanks so much for listening. And until next time, get out there and build something.

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