Where Can Authors Promote their Books in Media? How about Podcasts?

Prior to the 1940s, the radio was the primary form of mass communication in entertainment.  It took years of experimentation, but television evolved rapidly through the 1930s and 1940s.  In 1946, just a year after World War II formally ended, standardized television schedules and broadcasts were just coming into existence.

Television’s first years of existence were not as innocent as they may seem.  Much like the radio stations that preceded (and ran concurrently with) them, popular shows were sponsored.  Some of these sponsors are still household names: Kraft, Esso, and Texaco are among them.  Beyond that, shows would regularly have a significant cast member, whether Harriet Nelson pitching ketchup or Lucille Ball pitching food conglomerates (in the early 1950s), or the narrator, such as Dick Wesson of David Janssen’s The Fugitive, announcing that the show has been sponsored by Acme Safe Company.

Ads today are more overt, separate productions that have production costs beyond John Wayne endorsing a line of cigarettes.  The 2017 Super Bowl has the most extravagant examples of this, with price tags in excess of $2.5M for a 30-second spot.  That may seem like a lot of money –indeed, it is – but consider that approximately 111M people saw the Super Bowl; that’s 2.3-cents per viewer!  I don’t know what kind of estimates they make based on a funnel of viewers to buyers, but I’m sure 2.3-cents is worth it when considering the average price for a Big Mac in the US is now $4.62.

Interestingly enough, authors have also used television ads.  In the past, I’ve seen trailers for James Patterson and Dean Koontz.  I’m sure there are others that I’ve missed, but I rarely watch any network television at this point in my life.  Still, television is not necessarily the medium of readers.  I know many book fans who also are fans of many authors, spanning across multiple genres, but I’d find it hard to believe that fans of reality television would kick back with a nice Thomas Pynchon novel and dive into his world.  With authors like Stephen King and Danielle Steel, there probably is more of a crossover between television fans and book readers, but these authors have had their books adapted into many movies and TV shows (successful and unsuccessful alike).

Where does that leave authors?  Books generally don’t have ads (although I see them pop up on my wife’s Kindle when she’s put it down for the night).  Television and the radio remain media that are dominated by corporate interests.  I’m sure you’ll find more ads for beer than you’ll find for any New York Times Bestseller.  Another medium, the Web, has become the refuge of the self-marketing author.  Social media like Facebook, Twitter, and even Pinterest allow writers to reach a broad community, while book-specific social sites allow writers to reach known readers.  In recent months, I’ve also seen “book trailers” on YouTube, and some of them have been done to great effect.  I’ve even mentioned Michael Wallace’s Quill Gordon book trailers in a previous blog.

However, there’s another resource that reaches the ears, if not the eyes, of targeted audiences every day: podcasts.  If YouTube is the democratizing of visual media (let’s not kid ourselves, it’s different from TV), then podcasts are the democratization of audio media.

There are plenty of podcasts out there for readers.  Bookriot provides one list of them right here.  I am in the process of recording for one podcast, but this takes a slightly different tactic.  The Modern Meltdown Network provides a podcast for writers every two weeks.  This podcast, Beyond the Words, hosted by Holly Hunt, takes writers through various aspects of the writing process.

I hope to share the link with you if / when it is released.  Until then, I plan on sharing some lessons learned about recording interview questions and thinking up responses to a recorded interview in an upcoming post.  At least one of these lessons learned will also apply to writing, so I hope you’ll enjoy the parallel.

In the meantime, I am continuing to write.  My first complete draft of Their Sharpest Thorns is still a few weeks away, but I am optimistic that I will finish this month.

Picture credit (applies to links from other sites only): Tookapic via Pexels, CC0 License.

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