Can Radio Interviews Still Sell Books? By Angela Hoy

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An author sent me a note this week inquiring about using an 800 number during radio interviews to sell books to people who are listening in their cars. I shared my opinions with him (see below). I’d love to hear from other readers who have attempted to sell books through radio interviews! Was it successful for you or were you disappointed in the results? Do you think ipods and satellite radio have made radio shows less lucrative for authors trying to market their books over the airwaves? Do you think my statements below are incorrect? Or do you agree with me?

While the discussion expanded from there, this author was particularly interested in offering an 800 number for radio listeners to use in their cars.

Here’s my response:

Hi G.,

I think you’re going to be disappointed. People listening in their cars usually don’t order books on their cell phones while they’re driving. They will call into radio shows to chat on the air, but they don’t typically place phone orders for items while driving because they have to pull out their credit card and read it to an operator, etc….while driving. I certainly wouldn’t want to encourage anyone to do this while they’re behind the wheel. Telling people to inquire at their local bookstore or to get on Amazon when they get to work/get home is much more convenient (and safer) for them.

That said, many of our authors (myself included) have been on radio shows and reported sales were dismal at best. I was even on National Public Radio awhile back and, while I did get some new WritersWeekly subscribers, I saw zero book sales from that on-air appearance.

I’ve had far more book selling success connecting directly with my audience online. Radio just isn’t what it used to be. So many people are listening to ipods and CDs in their cars instead. That, in addition to the difficulty of placing an order while driving, makes radio a less-effective marketing tool.

It can be good if you can use it to get people talking about your book (say things that are controversial, or bizarre, are really innovative to get them to tell their friends about you). But, as far as turning a radio appearance into instant sales, it’s just not very likely to happen. I don’t even do radio interviews anymore – haven’t for years. All the ones I did were, I felt, a complete waste of time and resulted in almost no sales. And, it wasn’t because I wasn’t a good interviewer. I was and my appearances led to requests for more appearances. But I wasted a ton of time that only led to a few new WritersWeekly subscribers. Now, I’m sure some of these people eventually bought some of my books. And I do believe that marketing through different mediums is a good idea. But, the lesson here is that they didn’t try to buy my books instantly based on the appearances. They only subscribed to my newsletter…and there was no way for them to do that in their cars.

I believe it’s a better idea to try to get people to go to your website and subscribe to a free ezine once they’re back at their computer. That way, you have their email address and can keep reminding them about your book each time you publish a new issue. People really do usually need to hear about a product several times before they’ll buy.

Another option is Internet radio shows. People listen to those at their PCs and can instantly place an order for a book. In addition, they’re archived and can be replayed on demand at the station’s website. However, I’ve done those, too, and don’t do them anymore because, for me, they’re not as effective as getting online and connecting with potential customers on discussion boards and by getting press in other online publications. But, that’s just been my experience.

In my opinion, directly marketing to the customer online has been much more effective than appearing on radio shows. You could spent a couple of hours preparing for and doing a radio interview (a one-time/one-shot appearance) and sell one or two or no books, or you could spend a couple of hours doing online marketing activities that will remain online for a long time, and will very likely sell more books.

Please send your radio experiences to Angela at: angela – at – writersweekly.com

Please include the name of your book/website so she can include those in your response in next week’s issue.