GIVEAWAY: Dorit is offering a 45-minute slot on her radio show, “Giving Voice to Your Story” for one lucky reader to talk about his or her memoir! See below to enter and you could win a chance to be interviewed in February or April 2015.
When we talk about author platform, many writers think about print media such as books and blog posts. Based on my own experience building my own author platform, an audio component such as an Internet radio show makes a great addition.
A radio show adds a different dimension to your writing and generates interest in you and your book. When people read your website and guest posts, they are “reading your voice” and imagining what you sound like. On a radio show, your fans can hear and “feel” you much more directly than they can through an article.
In addition, a radio show helps you build public speaking and media credits. If you’re looking to get on syndicated news, local radio and news channels and even national television, a radio show will help you share your personality with producers.
Sound like something you might want to do? Here’s how to develop your own radio show.
My experience as a radio show host
My global radio show, “Giving Voice to Your Story,” went live in July 2013 as part of the Creating Calm Network Broadcast Group. I had already established myself as a blogger, but I wanted to create a more solid online platform and prepare for the release of my memoir, even though the publishing date was over a year and a half away.
I connected online with non-fiction authors and memoirists I liked and to my surprise, many wholeheartedly wanted to be interviewed! It wasn’t long before I’d built a following. Within five months, I was able to bring on board noted authors such as Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, and Linda Gray Sexton, memoirist and daughter of the Pulitzer-prize-winning poet Anne Sexton.
Since I launched my radio show, people have started recognizing me as an expert because I associate myself with expert authors.
Planning your radio show
As when writing an article, blog post or novel, the first thing you do is plan the subject matter of your radio show. Keep in mind that the topic should be something about which you are knowledgeable and feel passionate about, and one that potential book-buyers will be interested in.
Your show might include chapter-by-chapter readings of your book, how-to tips or interviews. In my experience, listeners are a lot less interested in stories than they are in the lessons they can learn from them. Talk about the life lessons you learned or share advice from your experience, and then allude to your book, which of course goes into more detail.
On my blog as well as on my show, I talk about various craft issues related to memoir such as the voice of experience versus the voice of innocence, how to break the silence and write about challenging emotions or painful parts of life, or how to write about uncomfortable issues so that one’s memoir doesn’t read like a journal, but an actual story.
I refer to specific scenes to talk about these issues. For example, I finally broke my silence to write about a bullying experience while serving in the Israel Defense Forces, and my next step is to broadcast a “break the silence” radio episode. I shared these insights on a recent LinkedIn discussion along with a previous link to the show and readers were not only grateful, but shared their thoughts behind the challenges. The comments quickly turned into a great discussion and helped create a supportive community.
Aim for a show between 15 and 60 minutes long. You’ll want people to be able to listen to it in one sitting (or one trip), but you don’t want it to be so short that your listeners will resent the fact they bothered to tune in or download it. Consider adding music to open and close the program. Google “public domain music” or “royalty-free music” for download options.
How often you choose to put out a new episode is up to you, but I feel the frequency of a radio show follows the same rules as blog posts: Release a new episode as often as you think you can commit to regularly and faithfully. The shorter the show, the more frequent you can be without overloading your audience.
Interested in interviewing guests?
You’d be surprised how happy agents are to book one of their authors as a guest on a radio show. You can also put a call out for guests on your social media channels. With self-promotion so necessary to book sales, authors are hungry to spread the word about their work.
Whenever I finish a great memoir, I immediately connect with the author online and inquire if he or she is interested in being on my show. Almost 99% of the time, the answer is yes. This is how I’ve secured most of my guest appearances. The key is to start with your local community of authors and build your way up. After a while, you’ll build a following and you can quote your number of listeners when you’re approaching bigger-name authors.
To broadcast your radio show, you’ll need a few things:
- A computer or laptop with high-speed Internet connection. The beauty of hosting your own radio show is that you can do it from the comforts of your own home.
- A headset with both headphones and microphone. The benefit to the headset is that you can adjust the distance of the mic from your mouth and it stays there.
That’s it! Easy, right?
Broadcasting a show
Blog Talk Radio is the most popular venue for Internet radio and offers an easy start up. There are three tiers of monthly payments, with more benefits as you move up to the account types. There’s also a free account, but it only allows five listeners, so it’s not as useful.
The main difference between the three packages ($39, $99 and $249) is the number of shows you can broadcast as well as more promotions. With the $249 package, you can live-stream from any website rather than just on Blog Talk Radio’s site.
I’ve made the switch to Instant Teleseminar, which is user-friendly for both the listener and host. My recordings are immediately available after the show, so I can post them on my site for listeners to download.
Get ready for your first show
Here’s a handy checklist of how to prepare before and during the show:
- Make sure you’re recording in a quiet place. Microphones pick up strange sounds that can easily distract listeners.
- Write an outline or script for your show before recording. This cuts down on the “ums” and “ahs.”
- If you’re doing a live recording (a show you’ve promoted with listeners tuning in live, rather than one recorded for later download) make sure you’re comfortable with your equipment and software. Practice beforehand so your first live show goes smoothly. Offer listeners a chance during the show to ask questions.
Marketing and promoting your radio show
Now that you’ve finished your first episode, you need a home base to fully capitalize on the marketing potential of your episodes. A blog or writer website is a good option and makes you easier to find. Make sure that your site has the link to your latest show prominently displayed along with your information.
Since I’m part of a network, the show producers help promote all of the network’s shows. My show appears on its own home page and on the network’s social media channels.
Promote your show on your own by creating tweets and Facebook posts highlighting different points in the radio show. For example, you could mention a lesson you learned in an unlikely situation, then link to your upcoming episode (or recording) for people to learn more.
Make your latest episodes easy to find, and distribute recordings on established networks such as iTunes or Audible, which let you upload your recordings for wider distribution. Be sure to include your name and URL at the beginning and end of each recording, and consider crafting a short, catchy promo to share on your networks.
Not ready to host your own show?
Instead of going it alone, take on a cohost or two. You could either record together for a talk-show-like adventure, or host your own episodes as part of a group show. You’d see many of the same benefits, but without having to record a new episode quite as often.
If hosting a radio show sounds too daunting, consider being a guest on a show. Choose one that speaks to you. One great way to get started is to check the daily listings over at Help a Reporter Out (HARO). I see requests for radio show guests almost daily. Subscribe to the daily digest to receive updates on all kinds of media requests. You can also set up a Google Alert for “radio show” and “guests wanted/needed” which you can receive up to several times a day straight to your inbox.
Another option is to search for radio shows in your genres. You’ll find lots of them out there, so again, you’ll need to be choosy. Approach the host or producer and ask if he or she has slots for guests for future interviews. It never hurts to ask! As a guest, you’ll still have to prepare for the show, but you’ll be spreading the word about your book, building your brand and creating a following with less pressure than hosting your own show.
Hosting your own radio show can be an effective way to round out your online presence while giving you one more way to engage and connect with your audience. Have fun and happy recording!
Have you tried hosting a radio show? Would you consider adding one to your author platform?
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment below with the words “pick me!” to enter to win a 45-minute slot on “Giving Voice to Your Story.” To win, you must have written or be working on a memoir. Leave your comment by January 5, 2015, to enter.
If you haven’t written a memoir but still want to comment, we’d love to hear your thoughts — just don’t include the words “pick me!” (UPDATE: Lori won!)