Promoting Your Book With a Podcast By Patrice-Anne Rutledge

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Excerpted from top – The Web-Savvy Writer: Book Promotion with a High-Tech Twist.

Just the Facts

+ Traffic to Apple’s iTunes website and use of the iTunes application has skyrocketed 241 percent over the past year, from 6.1 million unique visitors in December 2004 to 20.7 million in December 2005, reaching nearly 14 percent of the active Internet population. Source: Nielsen//NetRatings

+ Between 2004 and 2010, the use of podcasting among US consumers will enjoy a compound annual growth rate of 101 percent, approaching nearly 60 million consumers by 2010. Source: The Diffusion Group

Think of a podcast as an Internet radio show you listen to on demand. The term podcast comes from the words iPod and broadcast. However, the iPod aspect of podcasting is misleading. You can listen to a podcast on an iPod, but listening on another MP3 player or a computer capable of playing audio files works just as well.

With podcasting, the online audio content that you create is delivered via a feed. It’s similar to your blog’s feed, but it’s for audio instead. Using the feed, listeners can “subscribe” to your podcast so they’re aware of every new episode.

(See chapter 5, “Promoting Your Book with RSS” and see chapter 11, “Promoting Your Book with Multimedia,” Promoting with Audio
Podcasting 101)

In order to determine whether podcasting is a good choice for your book promotion efforts, you need to learn the basics of podcasting.

Advantages Of Podcasting

As an author, you can use podcasting to connect with your audience by:

+ Telling a story
+ Reading a book excerpt (serialized audio books are also called podiobooks)
+ Delivering tutorials related to your area of expertise
+ Producing your own talk show
+ Providing audio travel content for travelers with an iPod or other MP3 player
+ Offering paid subscriptions to value-added audio content

Listening To Podcasts

Before creating your own podcast, you should listen to other podcasts to get a feel for what works well in this medium. There are several ways to listen to a podcast. You can:

+ Listen directly from the web
+ Download a podcast and listen to it later on your computer
+ Download a podcast, transfer it to your digital audio player (such as an iPod or similar device), and listen to it whenever and wherever you want

When you find podcasts you like, you can subscribe to them just like you do with your favorite RSS feeds. You can listen and subscribe to podcasts through a podcatcher, which is very similar to the feed readers you use to read and subscribe to RSS feeds. In fact, many feed readers also enable you to subscribe to podcasts. Podcatchers are also called podcast readers, podcast receivers, and aggregators.

Here are some well-known, and free, podcatchers to check out:

+ Doppler. Offers downloads of Doppler for Windows and DopplerMobile Beta.

+ iTunes. With iTunes for the Window or Mac you can subscribe and listen to podcasts as well as take advantage of other iTunes music management features.

+ Juice. Juice, formerly known as iPodder, is available as a download for Windows and Mac platforms. A Linux version is in development.

+ Yahoo! Podcasts. Enables you to listen to podcasts directly from the web or subscribe and listen with either Yahoo! Music Engine or Apple iTunes. Also offers a large podcast directory and good background information on podcasting. Tip: If you’d like to listen to podcasts on your mobile phone, check out Mobilcast, which supports selected Nokia, Motorola, and Sony Ericcson phones. When you complete your own podcast, you can also add it to the Mobilcast directory. Most podcatchers also offer podcast directories so you can search for interesting podcasts. Some book-related podcasts to check out include:

+ Eye on Books Bookcast (www.eyeonbooks.com/bookcast)

+ Holtzbrinck Publishers Podcast (www.holtzbrinckpodcasts.com)

+ Podiobooks (www.podiobooks.com)

+ Publishing Basics Radio (www.wbjbradio.com)

+ Simon & Schuster SimonSays Podcast (www.simonsays.com)

+ The Big Thrill (www.thrillerwriters.org/bigthrill.html)

+ The Penguin Podcast (thepenguinpodcast.blogs.com)

+ The Web-Savvy Writer Podcast (www.websavvywriter.com/blog)

Planning Your Podcast

In order to develop a podcasting plan, ask yourself the following questions:

+ Who is your audience? What content do they want to listen to?

+ What other podcasts target your same audience? How will your podcast be different?

+ What is your podcast’s goal? How does your content fit with that goal?

+ What is your format? Will you be the sole speaker? Or will you interview others?

+ How long will each podcast be?

+ How frequently will you podcast? Monthly, weekly, daily, or on another schedule?

Web-Savvy In Action: Trevor is the self-published author of a mystery novel he has chosen to deliver as a podiobook, an audiobook delivered as a serialized podcast. He posts each chapter on his blog and also created a podcast feed to promote his podiobook. His blog includes a link to Amazon.com, where listeners can purchase the print version of his book. A large graphic of the book’s cover appears prominently on his blog.

Trevor isn’t a well-known novelist, so he needs to promote his podiobook to develop an audience. He starts by contacting websites that target mystery buffs and then creates a series of online press releases related to his book. Because podiobooks are still a new concept, he is able to generate some press coverage on his book and expand his audience.

Creating Your Podcast

There are several basics steps to creating a podcast:

+ Record your podcast, either on your computer using recording software and a microphone or, alternatively, by phone

+ Save your podcast as an MP3 file

+ Upload your MP3 files to your server

+ Create your podcast RSS feed

+ Publish and promote your RSS feed

Don’t worry if this sounds difficult to you. Many automated tools make podcasting easier.

Tip: If you’re interested in podcasting, but don’t want to create one on your own, consider an Author Audio Showcase Podcast, a fee-based service that handles all the details of creating an author podcast for you.

(See chapter 5, “Promoting Your Book with RSS.”)

Choosing Your Podcasting Tools and Technologies

If you plan to record your podcast on your computer, you’ll need a good microphone and some basic recording software. Popular recording software programs to consider include:

+ Audacity. Audacity is a free, open source software program for recording and editing sound. Popular with podcasters, it’s available as a download for Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms. If you need to export your sound file to an MP3 format (many podcast services do this for you, so it may not be necessary), you can download the optional LAME MP3 encoder to handle this task.

+ GarageBand. Apple’s audio recording software for the Macintosh is particularly good for recording music, but also has many solid podcasting features. These include the ability to add a podcast artwork track, a built-in sound effects and jingle library, a speech enhancer, iChat interview recording, and one-click podcast publishing.

Don’t plan to use the microphone that came with your computer, or your notebook’s built-in microphone, for recording purposes. You need a solid, professional-quality microphone for high-quality podcasting. Plantronics, Behringer, and Stageworks all make affordable microphones that are suitable for author podcasts.

Creative Podcast Ideas

Here’s a trio of ideas for those who want to create a more sophisticated podcast:

+ Add music to your podcast. To do so, find royalty-free music suitable for podcasts, known as podsafe music. A good source to check out is the Podsafe Music Network.

+ If you want to include video in your podcasts, consider creating a video podcast. A video podcast is also referred to as a vidcast, vodcast, videocast, or vcast. Yes, the podcasting crowd does love catchy new names. This technique is similar to videoblogging, but it’s delivered via an RSS feed to which listeners can subscribe.

+ Include phone interviews in your podcasts using services such as FreeConference.com, Conference Calls Unlimited, or Maklitel. Another option is to use the call recording features of Internet phone services such as Gizmo or Skype. Skype users should check out the third-party HotRecorder software for call recording.

(See chapter 4, “Promoting Your Book with a Blog,” New Trends in Blogging, Videoblogging)

Web-Savvy In Action: Berrie is the author of a series of adventure travel guidebooks to the American Northwest. She likes the idea of creating a podcast to expand her audience and promote her books, but she wants to try something a little different. Berrie enjoys making videos with her camcorder and creates a monthly video podcast that covers some of her favorite adventures in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. She promotes her video podcast in podcast directories, on her website, and on other travel websites that are interested in both her content as well as the new video podcast technology.

Hosting Your Podcast

Here are three podcast hosting options that make things easy for the novice podcaster:

+ Hipcast. Enables you to create your podcast in three ways: by telephone, through your web browser with a microphone and no additional software, or using audio software such as Audacity or GarageBand. You can incorporate your podcasts into your blogs hosted by Blogger, TypePad, WordPress, and other blogging tools. Hipcast is also compatible with FeedBurner and iTunes. Monthly fees vary based on storage requirements; bandwidth is unmetered. Offers free seven-day trial. Formerly called Audioblog.com.

+ Liberated Syndication. Offers four levels of podcast syndication services based on your storage requirements (from 100 megabytes to 800 megabytes). There is no charge for bandwidth usage. You can use their blogging interface or work with your own blogging tool.

+ Podblaze.com. Provides an easy-to-use podcast hosting service, including iTunes compatibility. Charges varied monthly fees based on storage and bandwidth requirements.

Creating a Podcast Feed with FeedBurner

In addition to generating an RSS feed for your blog with FeedBurner (www.feedburner.com), you can also use FeedBurner to create a feed for your podcast. Although regenerating your feed with FeedBurner is optional, it does offer certain advantages, including the ability to create a browser-friendly feed, track your circulation, and enhance your feed with its SmartCast technology.

Profiting from Your Podcast

Do you want to make some money from your podcast? New ways to profit from podcasting are just beginning to develop, but here are some recent ideas:

+ Consider accepting advertising in your podcasts, also referred to as podvertising or advercasting
+ Secure podcast sponsors related to your podcast topic
+ Offer special discounts on your books, products, and services to your podcast listeners to generate more sales
+ Discuss affiliate products that you recommend and refer listeners to your website for more information and related links
+ Place ads, such as Google AdSense, on the web pages related to your podcast

Podcast advertising is currently in the early adopter stage, but here are some options to consider:

+ Fruitcast. A podcast advertising network that allows advertising to bid for ads on your podcast. Podcasters receive revenue for each downloaded episode that contains advertising.

+ Kiptronic. A podcast sponsorship marketplace that enables you to choose sponsors for your podcast. Offers both exclusive sponsorships with a single advertiser or a pay-per-download plan with multiple advertisers.

+ Podcaster Ads. A podcast ad network that lets you create predetermined pod spots (advertising spots) in your podcast and offer them for sale to advertisers. You record the ads that you select, insert them in your podcast, and receive 75 percent of the revenue.

+ Podtrac. Podtrac creates a free audience survey and custom media kit for participating podcasters who are then eligible to participate in their advertising auction.

Tip: Are you looking for even more advertising options? Also consider Blast Podcast, CastFire, and Podvertiser. Alternatively, do a search on “podcast advertising” for other new services. If podcast advertising is something you’re interested in pursuing, you should wait until you have a reasonable number of subscribers before seeking advertisers. No one wants to advertise on a podcast with just a few subscribers. Focus on developing an audience, and then sign up for an advertising program. Web-Savvy In Action: Elmer is the author of a series of books on home-based business who produces a popular podcast in a talk show format. In each podcast, he covers an area of interest to home-based business owners and interviews an expert in that field. In addition to providing useful information to his audience, these guests usually promote their appearance on his podcast on their own sites and blogs. To give his podcast a professional touch, Elmer adds an introduction using podsafe music. Elmer hopes his podcast generates revenue as well as promotes his books. On his website and blog, he provides detailed information on his consulting services and seminars and recommends affiliate products that his audience may be interested in buying. At appropriate times throughout his podcasts, Elmer discusses these products and services and mentions his website URL.

(See chapter 10, “Promoting Your Book with Online Advertising,” Generating Advertising Revenue Promoting Your Podcast.)

To develop an audience for your podcast, you need to let people know it’s available.

Promoting Your Podcast on Your Website and Blog

Once you create a podcast, the first thing you should do is to let your blog and website visitors know about it. One of the easiest ways to do this is to add feed subscription buttons, also called chicklets, enabling your readers to subscribe to your podcast feed. To add these buttons, you need to generate HTML code that includes information about your feed and insert this HTML code into your web page or blog. Don’t worry. Generating the HTML code is usually an automated process. There are several ways to do this:

+ If you use FeedBurner, click the Publicize tab and then the Chicklet Chooser button to generate the HTML code for the buttons you want to use, including those for podcatchers such as Odeo, PodNova, My Yahoo!, and more.

+ Go to the websites of the podcatchers whose buttons you want to add to your page (for example, Juice, Odeo, Podnova, iTunes, Yahoo! Podcasts, and so forth) to find instructions on how to add their feed subscription buttons.

+ If you use TypePad, the ability to add a podcast link to your sidebar is built into the existing template. Tip: If you’re planning to issue an online press release, consider PRWeb’s press release podcasting service. If you purchase their SEO Tools distribution plan, PRWeb records a podcast interview with you and posts it with your release.

(See chapter 12, “Promoting Your Book with Online Marketing,” Promoting Your Book with Online Press Releases, Distributing Your Online Press Release.)

Pinging Update Services

When you complete a new podcast, use a ping utility to notify multiple update services that you have a new show. Using a utility to notify multiple services with a single entry is a big timesaver. For example, you could notify Fresh Podcasts, Odeo, PodNova, iPodder, Podscope, BlogDigger, and Audio.weblogs.com all on one form. Some free ping utilities to consider include AllPodcasts.com and King Ping.

Submitting Your Podcast to Podcast Directories

Listing your podcast in the most popular podcast directories also helps new listeners discover your podcast. Here are some good choices to start:

+ iPodder.org (www.ipodder.org)
+ iTunes (www.apple.com/itunes/podcasts)
+ Odeo (www.odeo.com)
+ Podcast Alley (www.podcastalley.com)
+ PodNova (www.podnova.com)
+ Podzinger (www.podzinger.com)
+ Yahoo! Podcasts (podcasts.yahoo.com)

Finding where to list your podcast on iPodder.org can be a bit tricky. To do so, choose a category from the directory and then click “Suggest a Link.”

If you want to find more places to submit your podcast, search on your favorite search engine for “podcast directory.” Web-Savvy In Action: Molly is the author of a memoir about raising a family of ten children. To promote her book, Molly creates a “slice of life” podcast filled with humorous stories about her family. The main challenge for Molly is that her target audience generally isn’t very familiar with podcasting. When she first started her podcasts, she mentioned them on her website home page and provided a link to her podcast feed. Few of her readers subscribed, however, and many people at her in-person talks admitted to not understanding podcasting. To educate her audience about podcasting, and increase her number of listeners, Molly reworks the information on her website to provide more basic background information, referring to her podcast as an “Internet radio show.” By providing direct links to listen online, her audience begins to develop. As her listeners become more comfortable with the concept of podcasting, they refer to Molly’s advanced information about RSS, subscribing via a podcatcher, and playing podcasts on iPods and other MP3 players.

Podcasting Step-by-Step

Podcasting helps you connect with – and entertain – your audience using the spoken word. Having your own “online radio show” is easier than ever. Here’s your step-by-step “to do” list:

+ Research podcasting and verify that you understand the basic concepts
+ Listen and subscribe to several podcasts to get a first-hand view of how it works
+ Create a concept and theme for your podcast and plan several shows
+ Research and choose your podcasting tools and hosting technologies (don’t go overboard on expensive equipment when you’re first starting
out with podcasting)
+ Record your podcast, either on your computer using recording software and a microphone or, alternatively, by phone
+ Save your podcast as an MP3 file and upload it to your server (many podcast hosting services simplify this step)
+ Create a podcast feed with FeedBurner or another tool
+ Publish your podcast
+ Promote your podcast on your website, blog, and ezine; on the web; and in search engines and blog directories
+ Consider incorporating advertising into your podcast when your subscriber volume warrants it

Patrice-Anne Rutledge is the bestselling author of 24 books, a successful technology journalist, and an online book promotion expert. Her most recent book is The Web-Savvy Writer: Book Promotion with a High-Tech Twist, which shows authors how to profit from the latest techniques in online book promotion. To sign up for her ezine and receive a free special report on author websites that generate results, visit her website at http://www.websavvywriter.com/ezine.htm.

Excerpted from bottom – The Web-Savvy Writer: Book Promotion with a High-Tech Twist.